Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is an all-natural health supplement that has been gaining popularity in recent years. One reason for this is due to its hair benefits, enabling you to clean your hair and scalp and accelerate hair growth.
This post will introduce you to apple cider vinegar and its variety of uses. This includes a look at the ways in which you can use apple cider vinegar for hair growth.
In addition, you will learn three ways to add ACV to your hair care routine and how to use this supplement most effectively.
The Rise of Apple Cider Vinegar
As a centuries-old folk remedy, apple cider vinegar has been used for a variety of medicinal and cosmetic purposes around the world.
This supplement contains a number of beneficial minerals and nutrients, including vitamins b and c, and niacin. In addition, it contains malic acid, acetic acid, and citric acid – all of which have their own benefits.
How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Combat Hair Loss
In addition to the above-mentioned benefits, apple cider vinegar can also be a treatment option for individuals suffering from hair loss. Here are just a few things it can do.
It Removes Buildup from the Scalp
Scalp buildup is a common occurrence, and it is a result of daily living.
Buildup consists of sebum, dirt, dead skin, hair products, pollution, and even harmful chemicals (such as DHT). This buildup can clog the hair follicles, and this makes it difficult for hair growth to continue.
As a cleansing rinse, apple cider vinegar can gently remove this buildup and prevent it from returning by balancing the scalp’s pH level.
It Improves Blood Circulation to Hair Follicles
Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), also known as Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB), is the most common cause of hair loss in men (and the second most common in women) (3). To understand why this is, it is important to know how AGA works.
DHT is a chemical believed to contribute most significantly to the hair thinning and loss suffered by those with AGA (4). This is an androgen (sex) hormone produced from testosterone with the help of 5-alpha-reductase (5AR).
Individuals with AGA do not usually have more DHT; instead, their follicles are more sensitive to the normal levels present within their hair follicle cells. Eventually, this sensitivity leads to miniaturization of the hair follicle and an interruption of the hair growth cycle.
As miniaturization occurs, blood flow to the follicles is restricted. This leads to poor delivery of oxygen and vital nutrients, as well as less removal of waste and buildup.
Apple cider vinegar, however, can improve blood circulation. While this itself will not reverse hair miniaturization, ACV can also remove DHT from the scalp and lessen the irritation.
It Treats and Prevents Dandruff
Dandruff is an embarrassing problem, but it is also one that causes much discomfort and can even lead to hair fall. There are a number of natural remedies for this condition, however.
While not much is known about the mechanism, it is believed that the acidity of apple cider vinegar makes it difficult for Malassezia – the fungus responsible for dandruff – to live and spread.
While not a direct cause of hair loss, dandruff can be responsible for increased thinning. This is because scratching of the scalp can stress the hair and follicles, and can even result in permanent scarring if allowed to continue.
It Prevents the Growth of Bacteria and Yeast
A common problem among the general population, bacteria and yeast overgrowths can lead to permanent scarring, thinning, and hair loss.
A few of the more common infections include dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (yeast), scalp folliculitis (bacteria), and impetigo (bacteria). These can be uncomfortable and unsightly, but they can also cause permanent damage to the scalp if not addressed immediately.
Malic acid is a compound found within ACV, and it contributes significantly to its antiseptic abilities (5).
With regular use of ACV then, you can treat infections and prevent them from reappearing. This is vital if you want to maintain the health of your scalp.
It Targets Free Radicals and Reverses Signs of Aging
Free radicals are atoms present within the body (6). However, they are missing an electron and must scavenge it from other atoms in order to complete themselves.
These scavenging activities lead to the degradation of vital cells, including skin and hair cells. This contributes to advanced aging, poor immune functioning, and it can make hair loss possible (7, 8).
Availability and Cost
Aside from its many health and cosmetic benefits, the two greatest things about apple cider vinegar are its 1) availability; and 2) low cost.
Apple cider vinegar can be found in grocery stores and health markets around the world, and it can also be purchased online from retailers such as Amazon.
There are a variety of brands to choose from. These include Bragg’s, EDEN, Dynamic Health, and Vitacost.
How to Choose the Best Apple Cider Vinegar
The main thing to look for when purchasing ACV is the “mother.” This is a pulpy substance, and it is where the majority of the vitamins and minerals reside. ACV without the mother will NOT deliver the same results.
If the ACV is cloudy, that is good! That means it contains the mother and is just what you need.
You should also consider how the product is filtered.
The best ACV product will be raw and unfiltered. The filtering process can remove many minerals and nutrients, and it can also remove a significant portion of the “mother.” When you buy unfiltered, you ensure you will get the full benefit from its use.
3 Ways to Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Hair Care Routine
Here are three ways to add apple cider vinegar to your daily routine.
Add It To Your Diet
While the majority of vinegar hair benefits come from direct application to the scalp, adding ACV to your diet can improve your body’s overall health. As a result, your scalp and hair will be healthier, too.
This versatile diet staple can be added to just about any recipe or meal. Add a few tablespoons to soups, stews, and broths. Or, use it as a base for your salad dressings and marinades.
If you like the tangy flavor, or if you just want a more direct way of consumption, you can even mix it into water and tea.
Use It As a Hair Rinse
If simplicity is what you are looking for, you will be happy to learn that an ACV hair rinse can be made in just a matter of minutes.
- Apple cider vinegar
Combine the two ingredients in a 1:1 ratio, and store in a cool, dry place.
Before use, shake the mixture well.
To use, pour over wet hair. Leave in for 10-15 minutes, and massage your scalp to be sure the mixture reaches all areas. Rinse thoroughly, and repeat once per week or every two weeks.
As mentioned previously, ACV is an excellent way to remove buildup from your hair and scalp. With the help of this gentle rinse, then, you can nourish the scalp while gently removing any harmful chemicals and other buildup.
Take It As a Supplement
The final way to begin using ACV for hair growth is as a supplement.
Apple cider vinegar pills are a common supplement found in health food stores. They are essentially ACV that has been dehydrated and turned into capsules.
The main benefit of using ACV pills is just how easy they are to add to your day. You simply take one or two with a glass of water, and you are all set.
But you may want to consider that the process involved in dehydration can remove some nutrients.
There is something to be said for consuming raw ACV in its natural form. If you are in a pinch, though, then ACV pills can enable you to supplement with the beneficial drink very easily.
One other thing to keep in mind is that ACV pills can be more potent. This is because there is often a higher dose within the capsules than you would be able to consume in one shot.
The Potential Downsides of Apple Cider Vinegar Use
When it comes to creating a long-term hair care routine, it is important to focus on balance and sustainability.
There are many great things about apple cider vinegar as mentioned above. It creates a healthy scalp environment which is crucial for hair regrowth. As with anything, too much of a good thing can be bad.
Apple cider vinegar, while healthy, can be drying if used too frequently.
When apple cider vinegar is applied to the scalp, it removes many “bad” things such as product buildup, excess sebum, dandruff flakes, and microbes. Along with the bad, though, there are some good things that are removed, too. Namely, sebum.
While sebum often gets a bad rep, it is actually an important part of an otherwise healthy scalp.
Sebum is the natural oil produced by the scalp’s sebaceous glands (just inside the hair follicle). A layer of sebum coats the scalp and hair strands, and this protects the scalp from various things such as UV rays and other types of everyday damage.
Just as with harsh chemicals found in many hair products, apple cider vinegar can also strip the scalp of its thin layer of sebum if not used carefully. This can result in long-term damage to the scalp and hair.
The good news is that, with apple cider vinegar, moderation is key.
We can use ACV to gently cleanse the scalp without constantly stripping it of its protective oils.
The best course of action is to begin using an ACV rinse just once every two weeks. This is frequent enough to see the cleansing benefits but infrequent enough to prevent dryness. If you find this schedule to be beneficial, you can attempt to increase ACV’s external use to once per week.
If you notice signs of dryness or irritation, then pull back to using it once every two weeks.
The goal is to maintain a healthy balance of natural oils on the scalp while also keeping the scalp clean and free from microbes, buildup, etc. This will ensure the healthiest environment for hair to grow.
While the results may not be as dramatic as minoxidil or finasteride, ACV can supplement your health and contribute to a balanced and clean scalp. This is essential for the growth of strong, healthy locks.
Of course, apple cider vinegar alone is not enough to treat your hair loss. Instead, you must find out the cause and treat it at its source.