Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has tons of benefits for your hair and scalp. Using an apple cider vinegar hair rinse will make your hair shinier, stronger, faster growing, and healthier. Read on to learn about ACV hair rinses, how they work, and which ones we think you need to try.


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Considering Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse?

Image of apple cider vinegar hair rinse
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Apple cider vinegar has been used medicinally since biblical times. It’s long been touted as a remedy for infections, a weight loss aid, and a miracle tonic for hair.

Apple cider vinegar (often abbreviated as ACV) is a highly acidic substance that can improve almost every aspect of your hair’s health and appearance.

Scientific studies have shown that ACV has properties that:

  • Make hair shinier
  • Reduce breakage and frizz
  • Cleanse the hair and scalp
  • Treat dandruff and flakes
  • Strengthen hair follicles for healthy, faster growth

With so many positives, what’s not to like?

Before you use an apple cider vinegar hair rinse, you should learn how it works, the benefits you can expect, how to use ACV rinses for the best results, and the top rinses on the market.

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse Benefits

ACV has a range of benefits for both the hair and scalp. It makes hair shiny, healthy, fuller, and stronger. It treats common hair woes like dandruff and frizz.

While many might call it a miracle tonic, there’s a lot of science backing up the benefits ACV has on hair. We’ll look at the main benefits of using an ACV rinse in your hair and the studies that prove or show evidence of each. 

1. Perfectly pH Balanced for Hair

Illustration of the ph scale showing various types of foods and substances to illustrate why you need an apple cider vinegar hair rinse
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A study done in 2014 found that most commercial shampoos and conditioners have a high pH that disrupts the natural lower pH of the scalp and hair.

Since ACV has a pH level of anywhere from 2-3, it is a perfect match for human hair (which has a pH level of around 3.6). Using a pH balanced rinse like an apple cider vinegar hair rinse has a range of benefits for your hair and scalp.

That 2014 study showed that a balanced pH rinse can reduce breakage, frizz, tangles, and static caused by negative electrical charges in the hair and scalp. Psst: You can find our top recommended low pH shampoo options here

2. Smoothes the Cuticle

The hair cuticle, or outermost layer of the hair, is made up of lots of tiny plates. When those plates are lying down flat, the hair looks shiny, feels smooth, and is sealed up to protect the inner layers of the hair.

But damaged and high porosity hair typically has a raised or chipped cuticle that won’t lie flat. The result is frizzy, dull, easily-tangled hair.

An ACV rinse actually smoothes the cuticle layer, making all those tiny plates lie down flat for hair that is silky soft, shiny, and better protected from damage. 

3. Gets Rid of Flakes and Dandruff

Image of a dark haired woman standing spreading her hair roots looking for dandruff before using an apple cider vinegar hair rinse
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ACV rinses can help you get rid of scalp flakes and dandruff naturally. Since apple cider vinegar is antimicrobial and antifungal, it eliminates any hidden causes of scalp flakes and dandruff without harsh ingredients.

Many people use an apple cider vinegar rinse in the hair to soothe an itchy, flaky scalp and reduce the effects of dandruff. It helps strip dead skin cells, flakes, and microbes that cause irritation.

There haven’t been many scientific studies on how ACV affects dandruff and scalp conditions, but there’s a ton of anecdotal evidence that’s worth paying attention to. 

4. Acts as a Clarifying Shampoo

If you’ve heard of the “no poo movement,” you’re familiar with how some people replace their regular shampoo routine with good ol’ apple cider vinegar.

This works because apple cider vinegar has the same properties as a clarifying shampoo. It actually strips product buildup, dirt, minerals, and oil from the scalp and hair.

The best part about using an ACV rinse to clarify the hair is how much gentler it is than a store-bought clarifying shampoo. It gets rid of the bad stuff without interrupting the pH of your hair and scalp. 

5. Protects and Revives Hair Color

Woman with bold hair color standing with her left hand on her face
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If you color your hair, you know it’s a pain to protect the color to make it last. Hair dye is prone to fading fast, leaving you with dull color just a few weeks after an expensive trip to the salon.

Apple cider vinegar rinses are a great, natural, and affordable way to protect your hair color and make it more vivid. The high acidity of ACV is what makes it a great color protector.

Since most hair dyes are alkaline (the opposite of acidic), introducing a low pH ACV rinse helps keep the hair’s cuticle sealed to protect the color and keep it looking as vibrant as day one.

6. Cleanses the Hair and Scalp

Apple cider vinegar rinses actually cleanse the hair and scalp with each use. Vinegar contains strong acetic acid that has been proven to kill bacteria, fungus, and other harmful microbes.

These pesky microbes can be responsible for a range of hair issues like dandruff, itching, and scalp inflammation. ACV rinses will cleanse away oil, dirt, product buildup, and harmful microbes that throw off your scalp’s natural microbiome. 

7. Protects Against Hair Loss

Young lady looking at her hair brush for a piece on why she should have used an apple cider vinegar hair rinse
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Apple cider vinegar contains some important minerals and vitamins, including iron, potassium, and manganese, that can help protect your hair from thinning and falling out.

Iron is essential for normal hair growth because it’s responsible for ensuring adequate blood flow to the scalp’s follicles.

The potassium in ACV helps protect against hair loss due to hypokalemia (potassium deficiency). Manganese helps preserve your hair’s natural color and keep it from prematurely graying. 

8. Works for All Hair Types

Apple cider vinegar is no respecter of persons. It works for all hair types, from fine to coarse and straight to coily. Since ACV rinses are so lightweight and remove buildup from hair, they won’t weigh down fine hair or make oily hair appear greasy.

It gives bounce and body to curly and wavy hair without the weight of heavy buildup or products. It’s so rare for one substance to have good results on every hair type. Think of it as nature’s gift to all of us. 

Can Pure Apple Cider Vinegar Can Harm Your Hair?

Photo showing what can happen to your hair if you use the wrong apple cider vinegar hair rinse
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So far, we’ve looked at the benefits of using an ACV rinse. But is apple cider vinegar ever harmful to your hair or scalp? It can be if used in its pure, undiluted form.

Undiluted apple cider vinegar contains varying amounts of the powerful acetic acid. It’s strong enough to cause skin burns, irritation, and inflammation.

It can also completely strip the hair of its natural protective oils with repeated use. This can result in dry hair and brittle ends that easily break off.

That’s why we recommend skipping the pure form of apple cider vinegar and opting instead for an ACV rinse. These products are laboratory tested, gentler on the hair, and often contain special moisturizing ingredients that offset the oil stripped from the hair during the rinse.

They’re also formulated with aromatic ingredients and extracts that disguise the strong, unpleasant odor of apple cider vinegar.

Whether you choose to use pure ACV, buy an ACV rinse, or mix one up of your own, make sure you avoid getting it near your eyes (or mouth – that taste!). Always dilute pure ACV in water or a carrier oil (like coconut oil) before using to avoid burns and irritation. 

What Is the “Mother” in Apple Cider Vinegar?

During your research on ACV, you might’ve seen references to something called the “mother.” High quality apple cider vinegars usually contain fragments of the mother, which refers to strands of enzymes, proteins, and good bacteria leftover from the vinegar fermentation process.

The mother is what gives unfiltered apple cider vinegar that cloudy, murky look. Filtered vinegars don’t contain the mother and will look clear. Many people claim that rinses and ACV treatments must contain the mother to be effective, but there are no scientific studies that back these claims up. 

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse: 5 To Try

Ready to start using an ACV rinse? Here are the 5 best options to try. Most of these rinses are designed to be used twice a week or so. Make sure to check the label on your rinse to find out how often you should use it for the maximum benefit. 

1. Aveeno Clarifying Apple Cider Vinegar InShower Hair Rinse

Aveeno Clarifying Apple Cider Vinegar InShower Hair Rinse
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Easily one of the best options out there, Aveeno Clarifying Apple Cider Vinegar InShower Hair Rinse offers all the benefits we’ve covered above in a convenient package.

We love this rinse because you can pour it directly onto your hair from the flip-top container without wasting a drop. Users say their hair is shinier, stronger, less prone to getting oily, and softer when using this rinse.

The reviews are impressive with more than 7,800 users giving it a solid 4.4 stars. Although apple cider vinegar is known for its unpleasant smell, users say this rinse smells amazing!

If you’re into the idea of using an ACV rinse but aren’t sure where to start, grab this effective and affordable rinse. 

2. Cantu Refresh Root Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar and Tea Tree Oil

Cantu Refresh Root Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar and Tea Tree Oil, 12 Fluid Ounce
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If you have curly, coarse, or chronically dry hair, you should check out Cantu Refresh Root Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar and Tea Tree Oil. This is the perfect ACV rinse for anyone who worries about losing too much moisture from their hair and scalp.

It’s formulated with the powerful apple cider vinegar, but pairs it with the intensely moisturizing shea butter and soothing tea tree oil for a spa-like scalp experience.

More than 2,400 users say it deserves 4.6 out of 5 stars. It’s perfect for anyone with a dry or itchy scalp – especially anyone with natural hair in protective styles like locs or box braids.

It soothes the irritation and itch while gently cleansing the scalp and hair without stripping it of natural oils. You can use it to replace shampoo or as a pre-shampoo to get soft, shiny, clean, and moisturized hair. 

3. Girl and Hair Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Girl and Hair Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
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Next on our list is Girl and Hair Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse. This is the best option for anyone who has damaged or high porosity hair in need of a little TLC.

You get all the benefits of natural apple cider vinegar plus nourishing and damage-repairing ingredients. It’s formulated with vitamin E and rice water to double the damage-fighting power.

It detangles and softens the hair to reduce breakage from brushing and knotting. Castor oil is also in the formula, which has been touted for years as a way to reduce hair loss and jumpstart growth.

All hair types can benefit from using this rinse, and it’s completely free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and artificial colors. Users rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars and it has more than 1,200 positive reviews on Amazon. 

4. dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
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We’ve already named dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse as one of the best low pH “shampoos” in a past guide because it’s amazing for both hair and scalp. This rinse will strip old product, dirt, oil, and harmful microbes from your hair and scalp for an all-over clean sensation.

It leaves hair feeling soft and manageable without tangles or frizz. It helps keep the cuticle lying flat for increased shine and protection from damage. Reviewers give it 4.6 out of 5 stars for a reason!

It also has some unique ingredients included to make it smell good and nourish the hair to keep it from drying out. Argan oil, vitamin E, lavender extract, and aloe are all in the mix so you’re getting a lot more nourishment and moisturizing power than with ACV alone. 

5. Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the Mother– USDA Certified Organic
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If you’re more inclined to go the DIY route and mix up your own apple cider vinegar rinse, ignore every ACV that isn’t Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the Mother.

This is the gold standard for medicinal and beauty use (as the 22,700+ reviews show). Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is organic, unfiltered, and raw to give your scalp and hair the maximum benefits.

It contains the mother, or traces of the proteins, enzymes, and good bacteria leftover from the fermentation process. Trust us – this makes a big difference in how effective it is for hair! 

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

To make your own DIY apple cider vinegar rinse with Bragg’s, here’s what you need to do. 

  1. Measure out 2-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and add to a container that you’ll be able to easily pour the finished rinse from. We recommend a plastic water bottle. 
  2. Measure 16 fluid ounces of cool water and add it to the container, then shake the container to mix. 
  3. Apply the rinse to your hair, concentrating on the scalp only. Tip your head back to keep the mixture from getting into your eyes or mouth. 
  4. Let the ACV rinse sit on the hair and scalp for 1-2 minutes, then rinse it out thoroughly. Any lingering odor from the ACV should disappear as the hair dries. 

Final Thoughts: Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Woman holding her hands in the shape of a heart because she loves the way it looks after using an apple cider vinegar hair rinse
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Apple cider vinegar has been used medicinally and for beauty purposes for centuries. Nothing sticks around that long unless it works! For ages, there’s been anecdotal evidence that ACV is a powerful addition to any beauty routine.

And scientific studies over the last few decades have been able to scientifically prove that many of these claims are true. Apple cider vinegar hair rinses really do make hair soft, shiny, clean, bouncy, and smooth.

They truly can help protect against hair loss, strengthen your hair, and help you maintain the right pH balance in your hair and scalp.

Whether you choose to go the DIY route and mix up a batch of your own ACV hair rinse or opt for a sweet-smelling rinse with added moisturizing and nourishing ingredients, your hair will thank you.

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Author: Debra Carpenter

Debra is a Nashville-based content creator and strategist. As the daughter of a long-time hair stylist and salon owner, she’s spent most of her life as a guinea pig for new color and cut techniques. Writing for respected publications like Forbes and HuffPost, she’s committed to bringing her passion for great hair to the masses.