So, you tried washing your hair with apple cider vinegar, and it wasn't exactly the luxurious self-care experience you thought it'd be. Maybe it stung a little bit on your scalp, and maybe now your hair smells faintly like salad dressing. But don't lose hope—even the best laid plans usually need some tweaking.

It's actually super easy to make your own hair apple cider vinegar rinse at home, but there are some key things to know before you start pouring a bottle of ACV on your head (spoiler: that's not the way to do it). Read on to learn how you can make a safe and gentle DIY apple cider vinegar rinse for a more beautiful, lustrous mane. Plus, learn more about how to develop a routine to support your hair's specific needs.

Why Use Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse?

Because apple cider vinegar is acidic, it can create a tingling sensation when applied on its own to the scalp—one that feels invigorating and exfoliating (if overly pungent). Though pure ACV might seem appealing in all its harshness, it is far too astringent to apply to the scalp without diluting first. Instead of plain ACV, use an apple cider vinegar rinse—a diluted mixture that provides that same refreshing feeling without the abrasiveness of straight ACV on the skin. Plus, it provides some additional benefits to support healthy hair (and scalp), making it an excellent and low-maintenance addition to your existing hair wellness routine.

How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Support Hair Health?

Healthy hair should be slightly acidic. However, your hair's natural acidity can be depleted, whether from putting harsh products in your hair, stripping hair color (to remove hair dye, for instance), using chemical treatments or even from exposure to pollutants in the environment. For you hair to be at its healthiest, you also need a healthy scalp that is free of buildup of dead skin cells or chemicals.

Apple cider vinegar serves a dual purpose here: For one, it helps to re-acidify the hair (That's a good thing!), and at the same time, it clarifies or cleanses the scalp, removing impurities and dead skin. Along with re-acidifying and clarifying, ACV also smooths the hair cuticle, restoring shine and improving the appearance of strands, even on color-treated hair. Raw apple cider vinegar specifically also provides healthy prebiotics and other nutrients.

Read more: Here's How Gut Health and Hair Loss Are Related

Why Do Apple Cider Vinegar Rinses Work?

In short, an ACV rinse helps clean the hair (and support hair and scalp health) because it has a low pH, falling between 2 and 3. Without reverting fully back to high school chemistry class, here's a quick review: The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is, from zero (most acidic) to 14 (most basic—the opposite end of acidic). Healthy hair should have a pH of roughly 4.5 to 5.5, while the scalp's pH should fall between 4.2 and 6.5. Since ACV falls on the acidic end of the pH scale, it can help restore the natural pH balance of the hair and scalp when used appropriately.

VEGAMOUR spoke with Madison Dufour, licensed barber and cosmetologist and author of The Exquisite Find blog, about how to use an apple cider vinegar hair rinse as part of a hair care routine.

"[ACV is] strong enough to clarify and cleanse the scalp while removing build-up [and] gentle enough to help the scalp restore the [healthy] pH," Dufour explained. "[ACV is also] rich in vitamins B, C, calcium, potassium and malic acid, which nourish the scalp and encourage growth."

You can amp up your haircare routine with an at-home apple cider vinegar rinse as long as you pay careful attention. Be sure to dilute the ACV, and because of its high acidity, avoid leaving it on your hair for too long. To ensure proper hydration and to strengthen hair, try pairing it with a weekly deep conditioning treatment.

What are the Benefits of an Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse?

ACV treatments are suitable for most hair types for at-home hair care to smooth hair follicles and maintain hair health, especially when used in combination with the right hair products that help protect your hair and scalp. Read on to find out if an ACV rinse is the right treatment for you.

Recommended For

  • People with thin, greasy hair, oily hair or fine hair: All of these hair types may benefit from the pick-me-up of a weekly apple cider vinegar hair rinse.
  • A gentle replacement for shampoo: It gently cleanses the hair without shampooing. Follow with a lightweight conditioner.
  • Dry and itchy scalp: A rinse can help rebalance your scalp's pH, as well as help clean the scalp and gently exfoliate away dead skin cells.
  • A replacement for dry shampoo: If you want a change of pace.
  • An at-home clarifying and vitamin-rich hair treatment: ACV is a natural source of vitamin C, calcium and potassium, among other nutrients.
  • Anyone who is struggling with hair loss: A weekly clarifying scalp treatment can help free your scalp of toxins and buildup, supporting your scalp's health to promote optimal hair growth.

Not Recommended For

  • People with sensitive skin.
  • People with wounds or abrasions on the scalp.
  • Brittle or dry hair: Unless followed with a deep conditioning treatment.
  • People with permanent hair color or treatments: Apple cider vinegar may make colored hair (or color-treated hair) feel more dry or brittle. If you do an apple cider vinegar rinse, you should follow it with deep conditioning to replace your hair's natural oils.
  • Those with sensitivities or allergies to apples or apple cider vinegar: Hair isn't permeable enough to absorb the ACV into your system, but the pores of your skin are.
  • When applied undiluted: We can't say this enough times—do not use full-strength ACV, since it may burn or irritate the scalp.

How to Make a DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

Important note: For any apple cider vinegar hair rinse, follow these three rules:

  • Dilute the pure apple cider vinegar with plenty of water (a 1:12 ACV to water ratio is recommended).
  • Do not use the mixture on your skin for more than five minutes, to prevent irritating your skin.
  • If at any point the rinse burns or feels uncomfortable, wash it out thoroughly.

Directions to Make an ACV Rinse

  1. Mix 2-4 tablespoons of unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar (with the "mother" in it) with 12-16 ounces of distilled water.
  2. Transfer the mixture into a spray bottle or small bottle with a squeeze lid.
  3. Make a fresh batch of ACV rinse each time, just before using.

Use Your ACV Treatment With ENSO

Perhaps the most important part of using an apple cider vinegar rinse on your hair is pairing it with the right shampoo and conditioning products for your hair's unique needs. Always choose shampoos and conditioners that are sulfate-free and free of toxins or other harsh chemicals.

We recommend ENSO Shampoo and Conditioner to use with your ACV home hair care sessions for several reasons:

  • ENSO is designed with revolutionary "smart" hair care technology to respond to your hair's particular structure, delivering results that are individualized and tailored to your needs.
  • It provides the ideal amount of moisture, volume, repair, and protection for your hair—choose from fine, medium, or thick hair options.
  • ENSO shampoos and conditioners are 100% Vegan, hormone-free and cruelty-free for at-home haircare that protects both you and the environment.
  • As with all VEGAMOUR products, ENSO is sulfate-free, and also free of toxic chemicals, phthalates, silicones and synthetic fragrances.
  • ENSO is color-safe and can improve the look of hair, enhancing color and shine.
  • It uses superior (and planet-friendly) proteins for building hair strength: plant-based Karmatin™.
  • The aromatherapeutic blend of all-natural jasmine, ylang ylang and yuzu helps boost mood, alleviate anxiety and promote an overall sense of lasting well-being, all while—most importantly—neutralizing the acidic scent of apple cider vinegar.

Learn more: What's Your Hair Type?

How to Use Your ACV Hair Rinse with Shampoo & Conditioner

Combine the power of ACV with your favorite shampoo and conditioner. VEGAMOUR's ENSO collection has options for everyone. Here's a step-by-step routine you can use to combine your favorite ACV with the shampoo and conditioner suited for your hair type:

  1. Shampoo your hair with the ENSO shampoo designed for your hair type. For personalized cleansing to perfectly prep your hair for your ACV hair rinse, we recommend ENSO 01 Shampoo for Fine Hair, ENSO 02 Shampoo for Medium Hair or ENSO 03 Shampoo for Thick Hair.
  2. Gently rinse out the shampoo with tepid or comfortably warm water and squeeze out the excess water from your hair.
  3. Spritz or squirt the ACV solution onto your hair and massage it in with your fingers. Allow the solution to remain on your hair for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Rinse the ACV mixture out of your hair with cool water. (Cooler water helps to polish the cuticle of the hair.)
  5. Apply a lightweight conditioner for your hair type and work the product from root to tips. For the perfect moisture balance that your hair needs, we recommend choosing from ENSO 01 Conditioner for Fine Hair, ENSO 02 Conditioner for Medium Hair or ENSO 03 Conditioner for Thick Hair. Plus, it'll leave your hair smelling divine—even after pungent apple cider vinegar.
  6. If your hair is very tangly or curly, de-tangle with a wide-tooth comb, distributing the conditioner throughout your hair. Leave the conditioner on for several minutes; then rinse with tepid or cool water.

ENSO

ENSO Products and ACV

Now you know how to create your own apple cider vinegar hair rinse right at home—and by coupling it with VEGAMOUR's intuitive, tailored ENSO line, you can enjoy healthy, shiny hair that practically glows with radiance. Keep up with the VEGAMOUR blog for more tips for hair and scalp health and optimal hair growth to ensure you continue on the path to your most beautiful, luxurious hair.

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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.