Apple Cider Vinegar as Hair Cleanser

apple cider vinegar
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One of the reasons I’m glad I went natural is the versatility and experimentation that my coily hair offers. I don’t have to worry about washing my flat iron job out or ruining my perm. I can try different products and techniques, secure in the fact that I can just wash it out if I don’t like it. So cruising through the aisles of my local organic food store, I stumbled upon some apple cider vinegar and remembered a YouTube video from one of my favorite naturals, naptural85.
To be completely honest, I didn’t do my research until after I tried out the apple cider vinegar rinse. Here is the recipe she gave:In her quest to use more natural ingredients in her hair, she used apple cider vinegar as a shampoo or hair cleanser. She said it added the bounce and shine back to her coils. I bought a bottle (a little over 3 bucks) and decided to find out if it was just as good as she said.

My afro-textured hair is more thin and fine than it is thick and coarse, but one thing naptural85 and I share is the coiliness of our hair, which tends to get fuzzy if neglected. I did an ACV rinse in place of my weekly shampoo, and I have to admit, my hair was not that dirty, which affected my results. I was distracted by the smell of the ACV, which can be quite strong, and of course, I didn’t bother to do any exact measurements. I think the ACV rinse would be better after a long stint with braids or kinky twists, or after a rough summer day outside. I am definitely going to try this rinse again, and even though I didn’t get noticeable results, I decided I should at least research what is supposed to happen with the health of my hair and why.

In my last Pantry Products article, I talked about the importance of pH in restoring health to your hair. In that article, I talked about baking soda and how it is alkaline, or a base. Apple cider vinegar on the other hand, is quite acidic. It has a pH of about 3. Wet hair has a pH of 4.5-5.5. If you add an acidic rinse like apple cider vinegar to the hair, it will further reduce the pH of your hair strands. Making your hair slightly more acidic will close the cuticles of the hair, making the layers lay down flat. A smooth, flat cuticle will do four things:
  1. Lock in protein and moisture. Flat cuticles will not let out moisture and protein through evaporation.
  2. Add shine to your hair. Light reflects off of smooth surfaces. While you may not have as much shine as a person with bone straight hair, shine is an indicator that your cuticles are smooth and closed.
  3. Flatten the hair for detangling. Raised cuticles give the hair that jagged, rough feeling we often talk about with shampoos that “strip.” These raised cuticles are more likely to grab and snag on each other.
  4. Add elasticity. Remember that low pH substances have more hydrogen ions (as opposed to hydroxide ions). The more hydrogen bonds, the more manageable and elastic your hair will be over time.
Keep in mind that temperature of water affects cuticles as well. Warm water opens the cuticle so that shampoos and rinses can get the oil and dirt out, while cool water shuts the cuticle as conditioners (that are usually acidic) smooth the hair down and lock moisture in.

If your hair tends to get fuzzy and tangled, or loses its luster over time, test out an apple cider vinegar rinse, followed by a thorough conditioning and detangling session. After you’ve perfected your ACV rinse recipe, and used in moderation, apple cider vinegar can be a very beneficial pantry product for our wavy, curly, coily, and kinky hair.

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