Years ago, while I was getting my hair done, my stylist asked what kind of shampoo and conditioner I was using. I said some cheap brand from Costco. She said she could feel the residue it was leaving on my hair. She then told me the secret to getting rid of that buildup: apple cider vinegar. Many high-end hair product companies sell an apple cider vinegar rinse—basically a clarifying rinse. I have tried the fancy-schmancy clarifying products and shelled out the dough for them. Using a homemade apple cider vinegar rinse is so smart and way more affordable. There’s not an exact recipe for this, but a mix of 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar to one quart distilled water should be just about right. You can pour this mixture into a spray bottle and keep it in the shower.
So how does vinegar help your hair? The cuticle (the outermost layer of each hair) determines how your hair looks. When it’s in good shape and lying flat, your hair looks smooth. When the layers of the cuticle are tightly knit together, light reflects off the cuticle, and your hair looks shiny. The opposite is also true. When the cuticle is covered in residue or its layers are open and not knit together, hair feels coarse and brittle. The cuticle absorbs light rather than reflecting it, so your hair looks dull. Apple cider vinegar removes scaly buildup and closes the cuticle. It balances hair’s pH level and leaves the hair shiny and clean. It also promotes blood circulation in the capillaries of your scalp, so I use it in the winter when my scalp can get dry and itchy.
After you shampoo and rinse your hair, apply the vinegar mixture, leave it on for a minute or so, and rinse. No need to condition. Use this once or twice a week, depending on how your hair reacts to it. Don’t worry if your wet hair smells like vinegar after you’ve rinsed it out. The smell will go away as your hair dries. I have read that this isn’t good for color-treated hair, but I haven’t noticed a difference in mine—and yes, there is a bit of highlighting happening there.
When you’re shopping for apple cider vinegar, I suggest Bragg Organic. Don’t be afraid of the strange look of Bragg cider; it’s supposed to look that way. A lot of apple cider vinegars don’t have the amazing health benefits that this one does. In the next few weeks, I’ll be following up on this article with articles about some of the health benefits—so stay tuned for part two!