Celebrities including Victoria Beckham, Kourtney Kardashian and Katy Perry have all touted the apparent health benefits of drinking raw apple cider vinegar – usually a couple of tablespoons added to a glass of water, or bravely swallowed undiluted first thing in the morning.
Made by fermenting the sugar from apples, did you know ACV (as converts call it) can work wonders on your hair?
“When you say vinegar, you think fish and chips, but when I say apple cider vinegar, I think super clean, shiny hair and a healthy scalp,” says Simone Thomas, hair loss consultant and founder of (simonethomaswellness.com).
“Yes, it’s become a bit of a buzzword, but once you let this little beauty into your bathroom, you will never look back.”
What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar for your hair?
The power of ACV starts with your scalp, explains Cally Borg, hairdresser and owner of Cally Borg salon (callyborg.com).
“Your scalp’s natural pH level is about five, but sometimes when shampoos are made with a higher pH, like a seven, for example, it can unbalance the natural pH level,” she says. “The cuticle layer responds by opening up and becoming susceptible to dryness.”
As it’s acidic (has a lower pH), vinegar helps balance the hair and scalp pH levels. “ACV flattens and closes the hair cuticle, moisturising the hair to make it smoother and easier to detangle, shinier, less frizzy and less prone to breakage,” explains Borg.
Nicole Petty, hair expert at Milk + Blush (milkandblush.com), adds: “Apple cider vinegar can be an effective solution to several hair and scalp concerns due to its antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
“Additionally, it can help treat dandruff or itchy and dry scalps, [as it] targets yeast and the build-up of dead skin cells by balancing and controlling the bacteria or fungi.”
While anyone could potentially benefit from using ACV, Borg suggests curly hair types have the most to gain, as “frizzy or curly hair is most affected by unbalanced pH levels”.
Plus, it can be an affordable option compared to pricey hair treatments. Thomas says: “Thinking of your pocket, which many people are right now, apple cider vinegar is a cost-effective way to look after your hair, and because it is free from chemicals and preservatives, it’s kind to your body and the planet.”
How should you use ACV on your hair?
So you want glossy, hydrated locks and a healthy scalp? An ACV rinse once a week after washing your hair is a great option, but it’s not just a case of opening a bottle and dousing your locks.
“Pure apple cider vinegar is acidic, so make sure you properly dilute it, otherwise it can make your hair dry and more prone to breaking,” says Thomas. “As a guide, you are looking to mix five parts water to one part apple cider vinegar – or 500ml of water with 100ml of apple cider vinegar.”
It’s crucial to do a patch test, applying the rinse on a small area and leaving it for 24 hours to see how your skin reacts, especially if you have sensitive skin.
“It is also really important to rinse out after a few minutes to allow your scalp to rebalance,” says Tom Smith, hair stylist and international creative director at Evo (evohair.com).
Alternatively, you can buy shampoos, cleansers and pre-mixed rinses formulated with ACV, but caution is still advised. Smith says: “Be mindful with the use of these products, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, or the recommendations of your dermatologist or hair stylist.”
The acid test: 4 apple cider vinegar shampoos to try
dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Soothing Shampoo, £28, Cult Beauty
Aveeno Clarify and Shine+ Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, £8.99, Boots
Monat Purifying Vinegar Shampoo, £36
OGX Clarify & Shine+ Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, £5.65 (was £8.49), Superdrug