Have You Used Apple Cider Vinegar On Your Hair?

*We first published this in the early days of the site, and guess what? We still love ACV as much as ever. How about you?

Every time someone new comes over, I wonder if they’ll be alarmed by the magnum of apple cider vinegar that sits next to my tub. The salad-dressing staple, most of us know, is amazing for use on our hair, in part because its pH is similar to that of most conditioners—making it an easy nontoxic way to get smooth strands without forking over the big bucks for a fancy conditioner.

(Not that I don’t love forking over for fancy conditioner. Because I do.)

What’s fun about ACV is that there seems to be no end to the different ways people will use it. I’ve tried it as a stand-alone conditioner, and as a treatment—heck I also used to drink the stuff every night before bed—but here’s what works best for me:

About once a week, after I shampoo (with shampoo, not ACV), I pour a little of the stuff on the top of my head. Then I put conditioner on my ends, and wait a few minutes. Maybe I shave my legs, or exfoliate with a washcloth or something. After a few minutes, I rinse it all off, and voila! Silky shiny tresses. Mmmmm. Well, sort of.

There’s a slight issue of smell.

A couple of months ago, Virginia from Beauty Schooled and I met for a glass of wine at Eataly and she relayed a very funny story about going for a hair cut and having her stylist catch a whiff of vinegar on her still-damp hair. I’ve had this problem too, and I’m big on smell, so it bugs me.

So the other day, when Tricia from Yourjoyologist.com tweeted at us about using ACV as her shampoo, I had to ask her: What do you do about the smell??

Well, Tricia wrote us a letter:

I have been washing my hair with just the water and Apple Cider Vinegar for almost a month now and loving it.  I was wary at first, but since none of the shampoos I have been trying lately have been to my liking I figured why not?

I am quite active and sweat a lot.  I did notice that in some of the hot yoga classes I take I can smell vinegar, but its not too bad.  One time, my sweat went into my eyes, and stung a bit, but that only happened once.

I have been putting Argan oil on the ends while it is still damp and that is it.  I have not needed any styling products at all.

Two days ago out of laziness, I used my Kiss my Face shampoo and conditioner, which I bought because Alicia Silverstone and her site recommended it, and I had to seriously load on the products after and it still didn’t look as good as it has been with just the ACV and argan oil. Also, I have always battled dry scalp dandruff and using the ACV I have not had any scalp issues. The day I washed with shampoo last week my scalp immediately started to itch like crazy.

Quite the endorsement! So we want to know: Have you used ACV on your hair? If so, how? Conditioner? Shampoo? And what on earth do you do (or think about) the smell?

This story was first posted on January 21, 2011.

Image of vintage French apple cider poster via

90 Responses to “Have You Used Apple Cider Vinegar On Your Hair?”
  1. Jennifer Sammons says:

    I just started using ACV the other day and I absolutely love it! I don’t think I will use it every time I wash my hair ( I usually wash my hair every other day or every 2 days). But I will probably use it once or twice a week…My current mixture is 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons ACV and a bit of something good smelling such as essential oils (although currently I am out of that so I am using pure almond extract instead)

    I love it!

  2. Cyndi says:

    Anyone heard of ACV for alopecia or hair loss?

  3. Jeff says:

    I have been using Apple Cider Vinegar on my hair and noticed the first wash, my hair was soft and shinny, the second time I noticed that my hair took on some volume, I continue to use it even though it is not the easiest to take in the shower with the smell, but I will continue to use it since I prefer a more natural and green way to clean my hair.

  4. Floyd says:

    watch out don’t get it into your eyes, burns alot!

  5. I’ve used ACV as conditioner after shampoo bars. I love it, and for me the smell isn’t bothersome. I’ve heard of people adding essential oils and vanilla extract to it as a sort of scent mask, but haven’t tried it myself

  6. Coletha says:

    I use it and love it. The first time I did it I must have had an infection or something. I had no symptoms, but oh how it smelled! It was like something died in my hair was resuscitated and died again. I thought wow I can’t do this…the smell is horrible, so I followed it with shampoo. I immediately noticed a difference in my hair. It was soft and silky. So i tried it again about a week later. Other than a light vinegar smell it was nothing out of the ordinary. That scared me. Why did it smell so bad the first time? Anyway, I eventually stopped using shampoo and only use Apple cider vinegar to wash my hair. I do follow-up with essential oils, especially coconut and vanilla, both are perfect for masking the smell and you don’t need a lot. I struggle with hair loss due to alopecia, which is caused by the DHT hormone. It leaves a waxy build-up on the scalp and in the hair follicles. Apple cider vinegar breaks up that build-up and strips it out of the follicles., something I didn’t know until after I started using it . I was very pleased to see new growth

  7. Mei says:

    How frequent should we use acv to wash our hair if we are to replace it with shampoo?
    Is it ok to use daily ? Especially when we sweat a lot, we need to wash our hair daily else the scalp will be a little greasy. Anyone can advise on this? And does long term using helps to stop hair loss? Thanks for your sharing.

  8. LB says:

    I began using apple cider vinegar as a conditioner and baking soda as a shampoo in July 2012. For the past 2 months I’ve been using just apple cider vinegar to wash my hair with and I love it! I rinse my hair after washing, with water and don’t really notice a smell.

    My hair is soft, silky, conditioned and so easy to style. Also, I dilute the acv with water quite a bit. I find that if I use too much acv my hair is too silky, almost flat, so I don’t use a lot.

    I also started using acv to wash my face and even my entire body! I’ve always had dry’ish skin and very very dry legs that would itch because of the dryness. I tried all kinds of soaps and lotions from every price range and also tried the natural organic products. Nothing seemed to help. Since I’ve been using acv to wash my skin, it is so moisturized and smooth! I can’t believe it. I am sold on apple cider vinegar!!

  9. MCasey says:

    Please help ! I color my hair black…. It gets oily fast, but my scalp drives me nuts! It is dry and flaky on a top ….but oily underneath … I think I am going to give ACV a try … Any ideas?

  10. Patty says:

    What kind of ACV do you guys use? Is it the kind with the mother in it, Bragg’s?
    Anybody use ACV without the mother in it?

  11. Sherry says:

    Omg I love this stuff. It has turned my long blonde hair into silky and shiny gold! It’s just incredible stuff and it brings out my natural highlights better than any other product. I don’t mind the smell at all…in fact I like it. I pour it undiluted onto my hair and scalp after shampooing and conditioning with Joico products. I leave it on for about 5 minutes then I rinse with cold water. I can almost see my reflection in my own hair, that’s how smooth and shiny ACV makes it….like a mirror! I get compliments all the time.

    I also drink ACV in warm tea daily. My complexion has never been more beautiful. I feel so much better since I’ve been ingesting it on a daily basis. What a wonderful all-purpose staple to always have in the house. I use Braggs raw and unfiltered ACV that contains the mother.

    I’ll never give this stuff up and intend on using it for the rest of my life! It makes my skin so incredibly soft. My boyfriend can’t stop touching me and complimenting the softness of my skin and hair. This stuff makes you sexy from head to toe.

    Thank you God for apple cider vinegar. xoxoxoxoxo

  12. Dean says:

    I have bad dandruff and flaky scalp issues. I’ve used T Gel, Nizoral, Head&Shoulders, etc. After I use these, my scalp is still flaky! I thought it was due to the harsh chemicals drying out my scalp. Now all I do is massage vinegar into my scalp and wash out with lukewarm water. It works AMAZINGLY! My scalp isn’t dry afterwards and hair feels fine (i.e. it feels clean). The only problem is that the vinegar smell still lingers. I’m trying to find a way to get rid of it without wasting a lot of water. It also makes my bathroom smelly so I have to leave the windows open for long. BUT the bottom line is that is actually helps against dandruff. I don’t wake up to flakes on my pillow anymore.

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  14. Melissa says:

    I use ACV tomwash my hair. For years I batled scalp issues that were horrendous. While using the ACV, I dont have scalp issues. On two occasions, in haste, i used conventional shampoo and conditioners and that gave me scalp problems for weeks. In addition, I have a difficult hair texture which is curly yet both fine AND coarse, and with the ACV, my hair feels silkier and better than with any product of any price. I add a few drops of the following depending on what I have and what i feel like: argan oil, vitamin e oil, orange oil, lemongrass oil (which i find masks the vinegar well) and sometimes a few drops of tea tree oil and or peppermint oil. In addition, sometimes if i feel like i need a little extra cleansing of my scalp, i take a little baking soda and rub it into my scalp and then when i pour the vinegar solution (which by the way, i find that it is quite sufficient for me to do a 50/50 solution ACV and water) then the reaction bubbles up and if I act quickly, i get a nice “lather” that i can massage around really well. But i do not do that every time. Conventional shampoo strips the hair way too much… Then we are supposed to put conditioner on it to correct it. Flip over a bottle of conditioner and look at all of the chemicals, and thats why many folks have dandruff, or worse scalp issues. Another thing to point out is that many folks think that oil in the hair is bad but it is not… With my method: the logic is that th clean, good smelling oil is gently washing away the dirty oil. Im not a scientist or expert or anything, but i can only say that this has worked better for me than any shampoo from cheap to expensive or even prescription.

  15. Marie says:

    Will Apple Cider Vinegar cause my hair color to fade quicker? I use Clairol Natural Instincts which washes out after 28 shampoos. Thank you!

  16. Reiza May says:

    I have used ACV as a conditioner and yes, it leaves locks shiny. What I do, after shampoo, I dilute the ACV with water, about 1:4 (ACV to water), and let it run from the top of my hair to the ends. Why dilute it? because my husband doesn’t like the smell, lol

  17. Tierra says:

    Hey it’s completely safe to use ACV as a shampoo and really wonderful actually! I am a cosmetology student and I have learned about the hair and skin for 2 years now. How it works is the PH SCALE your hair is anywhere from a 4.5-5.5 wich is acidic. Water is a 7 wich is neutral and anything above a 7 is alkaline. Bleach/lightner is alkaline that is why it’s soo rough on your hair. When you use something acidic on your hair say ACV it has a really low acidic PH of about 1.5-2 so what it does is smooth, close down your frizzy cuticle, and love on your hair. It’s like giving your hair a diamond ring, it loves it! Your skin is also acidic, so if you have dry skin it is great to use on skin, if you have really oily skin then try using a product more alkaline. You can find out the exact ph of your skin and hair since it can vary a little depending on certain traits, elements, etc, by purchasing PH strips used to test a chlorine pool. -Tierra Cosmetology Senior

  18. Debra says:

    Hi, I was using Wen for almost 2 years and about every 5 months I was coloring my hair. I had an unfortunate stay in the hospital and lots of meds and when I came home, it was about 4 months more and my hair started falling out every time I brushed it or even combed it, the hair came out in handfulls. I was devastated. I quit coloring my hair and remembered my mother who is 90 years old still rinses her hair with ACV and her hair is so soft and shiny so I thought that I would try it. What I would like to know is for your hair is white vinegar good or the yellow vinegar? I also drink vinegar every morning, (2 Tbls. to a glass of water); have not seen any results for this yet. The ACV I drink is Braggs with the mother. The kind for your hair; which is best? White or yellow? Please advise as I want to stop my hair from falling out!! Thanks.

  19. Rebecca Bailey says:

    @Debra, I don’t think ACV is going to make your hair stop falling out. You seem to have a deeper problem that needs to be addressed. There could be hormonal issues like with the thyroid or sex hormones. Changes in diet or certain supplements, or other sensitivities/allergies can cause hair loss as well. If your hair is literally coming out in handfuls you should see a medical professional. Hope you are able to figure things out.

  20. J.D. says:

    @Debra I used to use Wen and it was great- but then, after a couple of years without it, I was given a bottle and it made my hair fall out, a LOT- I read up online and it has happened to a bunch of other people, too. It took a while after I stopped using Wen, but my hair stopped falling out. Wen is actually full of some really harsh things, including menthol- I find that anything with menthol and/or eucalyptus makes my hair fall out like crazy!! Try stopping the Wen- it might take a little while to stop falling out, but you might see improvement- Good luck!

  21. Jenn says:

    I’m in love with acv!! I started using braggs with the mother in it 3 weeks ago, I mix 2 teaspoons of it in 8oz of water once a day. I also use it as a rinse in the shower or as a mask that I leave on until it’s almost dry. I used wen for the past year & nexxus before that & I’ve never had my hair look or feel so smooth. Btw wen is absolutely horrendous for your hair. Not only was my hair limp & lifeless it was also FALLING OUT in chunks. I’m happy to say my hair is getting thicker & is growing. Plus my skin is glowing :)) I’m a acv buyer for life!!

  22. Morgan Janes says:

    I am thinking about using acv but I am afraid it’s going to ruin my blonde hair. Just wondering if anyone who has platinum blonde hair has done this and how they mixed it and used it?

  23. Rebeccah Johnston says:

    I swearrrrrrrr by this! I’ve had dandruff to the point of bleeding scalp and apple cider vinegar does wonders to my hair as scalp. It’s the only thing I use. It dost even smell to me. I love it
    I am an organic diet kinda person but I tried the organic apple cider vinegar with the mother in it and it actualy was a little to potent on my hair…made it greasy, even when diluted. I just use the cheap stuff, dosnt have any chemicals in it, it dosnt have the mother in it but it does the same antibacterial ph balancing scum killing thig that the organic does. It is said that the pasturized or not organic dosnt have the good enzymes and minerals that organic acv does but I’ve also seen where because it’s unpasteurized it can have bad bacteria as well…..I drink organic apple cider vinegar and wash with the cheap stuff. My scalp is at peace and my hair is in love

  24. Nash says:

    Debra have you tried Reetha , amla and shikakai. Henna is fabulous for strengthening hair.

  25. Chrissy says:

    When I wash my hair, I just use mix of half ACV and water, rinse add conditioner, rinse and air dry. My hair is so soft now, and full of volume.

  26. Lisa says:

    I’m in love with ACV. I put it in a color applicator bottle with Terressentials Organic Clay Wash in a 1:1 ratio and let it sit on my scalp for about 20 minutes. Then I lightly scrub my scalp and rinse. Awesome for curly hair!

  27. Valerie says:

    I haven’t tried just plain ACV on my hair, but I have mixed it undiluted with bentonite clay as a hair cleanser. It works awesome! My hair feels so silky and my scalp feels invigorated after. It also does a great job cleaning buildup from my hair and I feel like it helps to detox my scalp. I’ve heard steeping herbs or dried flowers in vinegar will help with the smell, but I have yet to try it. Right now, I just add EO’s to my mix to help combat it.

  28. Hazel says:

    @Debra Yes I agree with the others. Stop using the Wen & let your hair recover. For strengthening the hair I use cammelia oil. It makes my hair so thick and shiny. It may take a while for your hair to recover. Just keep going the natural route. My hair used to be horribly damaged. But now its healthy.

    I use only a DIY conditioning rinse I make with ACV. You can find that recipe on my blog (http://wp.me/p3MUI4-hr). I find that adding essential oils helps get rid of or mask the smell. I used to have dandruff but since using this rinse I don’t have dandruff anymore. I don’t use shampoo either. I love ACV.

  29. Sara says:

    Not sure how useful my two cents will be after all the other comments, but just in case…

    I have very curly hair that gets cranky if I don’t moisturize it daily. Yet I’ve also found that if I only shampoo once a week my scalp isn’t happy. For me ACV isn’t a conditioner precisely – it’s more like an intermediate step between shampoo and conditioner. When I shampoo (using usually either Desert Org coconut or the Acure for dry hair) I do an ACV rinse immediately after, mostly focusing on my scalp. Of course it gets only hair too, and seems to have a nice effect, but the biggest benefit seems to be for my scalp. I’ll let it sit for a minute while soaping up, then do a lazy rinse so it mostly gets out, but there’s definitely still some in. Then I use “regular” conditioner (usually Des Org coconut or the Acure for dry hair) to de-tangle and moisturize. After washing my face or shaving or whatnot I do a thorough rinse to get all product out. Huge scalp benefits while also keeping my hair de-tangled and moisturized, which the ACV alone doesn’t come close to, yet the “regular” products fall short of. For easily cranky hair types that also experience scalp irritation, give this method a try!

  30. Sara says:

    It makes your hair silky soft.

  31. Jessi Disuza says:

    I am using apple cider vinegar from last one year. My hair became very rough and thin, I tried many expensive shampoos to repair my hair but there was no improvement in my hair . One of my friends suggested me to use True elements apple cider vinegar as conditioner after shampoo. It made my hair silky and also there is reduction in hair fall. You can also prepare a hair mask with apple cider vinegar to get rid of various hair problems.

  32. Desirée says:

    My scalp problems completely disappear when using an ACV rinse with two drops of tea tree oil. I use salon shampoo and conditioner.

  33. John Gardner says:

    Thank you.

  34. Donna says:

    I suggested ACVto a friend who dyes her hair. I saw questions from others if it will affect the color from others as well. Did any one have an answer they can share? , thank you.

  35. tester oils says:

    I have been using an apple cider vinegar and argan oil combination in my hair and absolutely love it!

  36. FELICITY says:

    My Dr. swears by apple cider vinegar as a dandruff treatment, as the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow. Mix a quarter cup apple cider vinegar with a quarter cup water in a spray bottle and spritz on your scalp. Wrap your head in a towel and let sit for 15 minutes to an hour, then wash your hair as usual. Do this twice a week.

    On days when you do not have time for this, go with the Somaluxe Paradise Shampoo – its ultra moisturizing, and does not give me ANY dandruff. No harsh chemicals either

  37. Lana says:

    Omg I was just looking for dandruff solutions online and it really seems like ACV is the way to go! I really hope when I try it that it takes care of this gross dandruff. I hate seeing the flakes! They literally make me nauseous everytime. Since I have very sensitive skin, I think I’ll try a smaller ratio of ACV to water then increase it if I think my scalp can handle it. Thanks so much for these reviews and tips. Really really insightful info here!

  38. Jayden says:

    Hi there, I have recently started using ACV as a way to stop the dandruff that is plaguing me.
    I have only used it three times over the last week or so, but I still find that my hair is super flakey even after using it. Is this normal? Does it take a while for my scalp to readjust and for things to improve?
    Any help would be great.

  39. Warren says:

    I have a scalp that breaks out if I use anything with any kind of oil in it. The first time I used ACV, I first washed with a 1:3 baking soda and water, washed everything else, then rinsed with 1:4 ACV and water. It seemed to work well except that I smelled like a tossed salad afterward. I read to add essential oils to mask the smell. I added 2 drops of tea tree oil. It got rid of the smell, but my scalp broke out again due to the oil. I tried 1drop, but it didn’t get rid of the smell 100%, it just cut down some of the smell.

    What can I use to get rid of the ACV stink that are not essential oils? I dont want to use ACV if I end up having people tell me that I smell funny.

  40. Sue says:

    I use a mixture of 1tbsp ACV with 2 1/2 tbsp conditioner (varies depending on the season) and 1/2 cup purified water as a co/wash daily. Everyday I put John Frieda color glaze on top of that to keep the color fresh. Comb through my hair, finish up my shower and rinse out. My hair has never been healthier, softer or shinier. I have baby fine wavy/curly hair.

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