As more and more people eschew expensive, chemical-filled shampoos and conditioners for more natural hair treatments, a superhero in the realm of hair care has emerged, and it could be as close to you as your local supermarket. Apple cider vinegar, particularly when paired with baking soda, is something natural hair aficionados swear by.
While the evidence of apple cider vinegar’s efficacy as a hair care supplement is mostly anecdotal, the anecdotes are compelling; writer Lauren O’Neil has written for woman’s magazine website The Hairpin about her journey into the realm of natural haircare, commenting on the effects of long-term use of baking soda and apple cider vinegar as substitutes for shampoo and conditioner:
“My hair looks ridiculously good now,” she wrote in 2014, three years after her initial article about giving up shampoo and conditioner. “I never use any product – I just blow-dry it with a finger diffuser and it stays in beautiful perfect waves all day.”
But it’s not just the texture of her hair that has improved; the colour has improved as well.
“My hair is also several shades blonder, to the point that people regularly ask me if it’s my natural hair color. It’s weird to realize that yes, it is my natural hair color, and the borderline-brown dirty blond from before was artificially darkened by shampoo. Or rather by grease that shampoo caused my scalp to overproduce, because the human body is a soggy box of horrors.”
Is there legitimate science behind this effect, or is this anecdotal evidence just coincidence?
According to recent studies, the pH value of shampoo – or other hair treatments – can significantly affect the quality of one’s hair.
“Alkaline pH may increase the negative electrical charge of the hair fibre surface and, therefore, increase friction between the fibres,” one study noted. “This may lead to cuticle damage and fibre breakage.”
Many advocates of apple cider vinegar as a hair care product cite the fact that apple cider vinegar can balance the pH of your scalp, leading to healthier, stronger hair; certainly there may be evidence that apple cider vinegar may be able to do this, and with significantly fewer ingredients than most commercial shampoos, which typically contain 10 to 30 ingredients.
So how do you make apple cider vinegar part of your haircare routine?
The answer is remarkably simple. Follow these easy steps, preferably over an extended period of time, and you’ll reap the benefits of using apple cider vinegar on your hair.
- Take a bottle and fill it with half baking soda, half water.
- Then take another bottle and fill it with half apple cider vinegar, half water.
This seems to be the optimal level of dilution—not too basic, not too acidic (though of course all our individual scalps require their own unique). If you have very oily hair use a higher concentration of ACV. Start from the lower dilution and experiment to find the dilution that works best for your hair type.
- Apply baking soda mix to a small section of scalp, gently scratch it in, apply it to another small section, gently scratch it in, and continue like that until you’ve covered your whole head.
- Do the same with the apple cider vinegar mix.
3. Repeat once every 5–7 days, washing with just water in the meantime.
Note: Always shake the mixtures before using as the materials will separate. Use as much as you need.