Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a widely known natural remedy used in skin and hair care. It is also consumed as a dietary supplement for weight loss. ACV is obtained from the alcohol fermentation of sugars derived from crushed apples and bacteria and yeast in the sugary solution. It has medically proven hair and skin health benefits. As an over counter remedy item, ACV is commonly used in treating hair-related issues like itchy scalp, dandruff, stunted hair growth, and hair fall. Frequent use of ACV-based hair masks or oils provides natural nutrients that not only boost hair growth but also make the hair shiny and strong.
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What are the evidence-backed properties and benefits of ACV?
ACV as an Antimicrobial agent
ACV has antimicrobial properties (scientifically proven) that help in inhibiting the growth of dandruff-causing microbes, i.e., Malassezia furfur (yeast-like fungus)(Yagnik et al.) and some species of staphylococcus (bacteria). (Luu et al.)
The bacterial and fungal buildup leads to irritation on the scalp. If left unattended, it could lead to serious scalp infections. The ACV clears microbial-entrapped sebum build-up and helps maintain pH balance leaving healthy and shiny-looking hair.
ACV as a pH balancer
Acetic acid – fermentation by-product that is present in significant amounts in ACV. (Cortesia et al.) As an acidic substance, ACV lowers the pH to restore the imbalanced high alkaline hair pH to the standard range (4.5–5.5, slightly acidic). The high alkaline pH imbalance leaves detrimental consequences to hair health; the hair looks rough, brittle, and frizzy. The frequent use of chemical-based hair products and shampoo is the leading cause of hair ph disruption. (Gavazzoni Dias et al.)
AVC as a cleansing agent and for hair growth
The build-up is a mix of sweat, sebum, bacteria, and chemicals that lead to hair follicle blockage, hindering hair growth and causing hair breakage. As ACV possesses antimicrobial properties and is also rich in acetic acid, it helps clearscalp build-up to promote hair growth.
Other potential benefits of ACV
- ACV helps in improving hair blood circulation by clearing out clogged hair follicles.
- ACV works as an antioxidant to help in fighting free radicals that cause scalp irritation or, in severe conditions, might cause scalp burn.
How to use ACV in your hair care routine to boost hair health and growth?
Using ACV on the scalp
As a common practice, ACV is used to fight dandruff. You’ll find tons load of home remedies on the internet, but the most effective ones are using ACV in combination with other organic ingredients. For example, you can use it with your weekly hair masks/oiling routine or add a dash of ACV in your mild shampoo and hair conditioning products. Or, for a more straightforward option, you can spray your scalp and hair strands with a diluted ACV. But, Don’t forget! All organic remedies take time to give effective results.
Disclaimer: Make sure to do a patch test before trying out the remedies. Some individuals have sensitive scalps, and ACV might cause irritation.
Using ACV on hair
Mix large portions of water with ACV for shiny, healthy hair, and wash your shampooed hair with the mixture. Make sure that ACV is fully diluted. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then again rinse it off with cold water. ACV can also be used for color-treated hair, but a patch test is always recommended.
Using hair products containing ACV
Organic hair products targeting scalp problems often contain ACV, enzymes, vitamins, and antimicrobial ingredients. You can add them to your hair care routine. However, moderation is always encouraged because of the acidity of ACV and its side effects. To make your choice easier, let’s dive into our list of product recommendations.
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With Mother By Dynamic Health Laboratories ($5.19)
- Pacifica Beauty | Rosemary Apple Cider Scalp Detox Tonic | Shampoo Pre-Cleanse ($11.40)
- Revitalizing Detox Scalp Scrub by SUN BUM ($16.99)
- Renpure Plant-Based Apple Cider Vinegar Clarify & Shine Scalp Serum ($8.49)
- Hair Food Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse ($7.82)
- WOW, Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo & Conditioner Set ($25.95)
- ACURE Buildup Balancing Hemp & Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo ($8.99)
There’s a lot of scientific evidence that supports the role of ACV in improving overall hair health and combating dandruff and hair pH imbalance. However, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist. ACV as a remedy shouldn’t be solely relied on in treating severe scalp issues like infections, and inflammatory conditions, as it might worsen the problem rather than solve it.
ACV works differently for everyone. For some, it might work like a charm, or it might not be as effective. The best way is to see for yourself if it works for you. All you have to do is add it gradually is your hair routine and wait for the outcome.Check out the rest of the articles for more hair care tips and tricks!
Yagnik, Darshna, Vlad Serafin, and Ajit J Shah. “Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression.” Scientific reports 8.1 (2018): 1-12.
Luu, Lydia A., et al. “Apple Cider Vinegar Soaks Do Not Alter the Skin Bacterial Microbiome in Atopic Dermatitis.” PloS One, vol. 16, no. 6, 2021, p. E0252272, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34077434/, 10.1371/journal.pone.0252272. Accessed 29 Mar. 2022.
Cortesia, Claudia, et al. “Acetic Acid, the Active Component of Vinegar, Is an Effective Tuberculocidal Disinfectant.” MBio, vol. 5, no. 2, 25 Feb. 2014, mbio.asm.org/content/5/2/e00013-14, 10.1128/mbio.00013-14.
Reis Gavazzoni Dias, Maria, et al. “The Shampoo pH can Affect the Hair: Myth or Reality?” International Journal of Trichology, vol. 6, no. 3, 2014, pp. 95-99, https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.139078. Accessed 24 Nov. 2022.