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by sarah kester

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is one of the oldest tricks in the hair care book. Sure, it may feel like dumping salad dressing on your head, but the benefits far outweigh that. It restores life to your hair by sealing in the cuticle and leaving you with a squeaky-clean scalp. 

“It is the perfect way to detox your scalp and hair without stripping away the beneficial oils our bodies produce naturally,” explains Sandra Snell, Founder of Thermal Hair Care.

Here, the hair experts share why you’ll want to stock up on this do-it-allelixir. 

what does apple cider vinegar do to your hair?

“Natural apple cider vinegar has anti-fungal properties,” explains Nikki Goddard, a certified hair stylist and makeup artist with an associate degree in cosmetology. This soothes an irritated scalp. 

“It fights dandruff and restores the scalp pH by forming a protective layer. By removing dead cells, it renews the scalp and hair bulbs.”Since it also reduces sebum and oil production, Goddard adds that you won’t have to wash your hair that often. (Score!) 

But in order to attain these true benefits, Goddard recommends usingan all-natural raw apple cider vinegar.    

apple cider vinegar for hair

can vinegar damage your hair?

The short answer is yes. “Since apple cider vinegar contains acid, using it in high concentrations or too frequently may cause damage to your hair and/or scalp,” explains Dawn Clemens, Founder of LarweHair. This can lead to strands that are dry or brittle.

To avoid this, Patricia G. Williams, Creme of Nature Brand Educator, hairstylist and author, says to dilute it with water. She recommends one part ACV to four parts water to start. You can adjust this ratio to find what works for you. 

can you leave apple cider vinegar on your hair?

The answer to “can you leave apple cider vinegar on your hair?” gets a unanimous “NO” from the experts. "Being used in a high concentration, it can damage the scalp and hair,” explains Goddard.

The only exception to this would be if you were using apple cider vinegar as aningredientin a hair mask, rather than the base. You could make your own nutritive hair mask by mixing all of the ingredients below. 

“This mask will make hair stronger and even stimulate hair growth,” says Goddard. 

You’ll need:

  • 1 T castor oil
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t glycerin
  • 1 egg yolk

Apply this mixture on the hair, cover with a polyethylene bag and a towel. Leave for 40-45 minutes, then rinse with shampoo. 

Since collagen is key to healthy hair, nails and skin, you’ll want to also add Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides into your hair care routine.** This hydrolyzed collagen powder is unflavored and odorless, making it the perfect addition to your morning coffee or smoothie.

apple cider vinegar for hair

how long do you leave apple cider vinegar on hair?

Using ACV on the hair is meant to be a touch-and-go process. At most, Williams recommends leaving it in your hair for one to three minutes. “Rinse thoroughly after this and follow with a conditioner,” she says. 

Worried about the vinegar smell lingering? Not to worry: “Any residual odors leftover from the ACV rinse will disappear once the hair dries completely,” reassures Snell.Also,wondering how much ACV to use?If your hair is on the dry side, Snell recommends 1-2 tablespoons. But if your hair is oily, use 2-4 tablespoons. 

does apple cider vinegar lighten hair?

When life gives you lemons, some people use it to lighten their strands. But that’s not all you can use from your kitchen. 

“Apple vinegar can make the color more saturated,” Goddard explains to Lively. “For example, blondes can mix vinegar in chamomile herbal infusion instead of water - it will lighten the mane. Ladies with dark hair should mix vinegar with a rosemary infusion to make the color deeper."

If you decide to dye your hair the chemical way, you can still use ACV. “It makes the color more saturated and locks the pigment in hair shafts for a longer time,” says Goddard. 

But keep in mind that it’s not suitable for every head. If your hair has been bleached, Williams says to avoid ACV: “Test a small section of hair if you are concerned about ACV lightening your hair before applying to your entire head.”

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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.