Apple cider vinegar part I: use instead of hair conditioner


For me, hair products are probably the hardest to let go in my pursuit of a greener life. Let’s be honest, I still have some not-at-all-natural ones sitting there on the shelf, looking pretty and asking me to use them. And I use them too. I’m a bit obsessed with my hair, you see. I suspect that my hair had something to do with S. first falling for me, so I have to keep it looking good.

In addition to all those products I’ve found something absolutely natural that is doing great things to my hair too. That something is apple cider vinegar aka ACV, which I occasionally use in place of conditioner. I’m not using it every time I wash my hair because I still like my all-natural conditioner (Urtekarm No Perfume Organic Conditioner) too.

The first time I used it I followed the instructions in this article “How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Beautiful Hair and Skin” and made a 1:1 solution with water. Later I found out that people use also weaker solutions – 1:2 or 1:3 –with great results, so I made my solution a bit weaker too because it is acidic, after all. It still works great.

How to use?

  • Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1–3 parts water. I have no idea how much difference the strenght of the solution actually makes, so I encourage you to test and find out the best solution for yourself and your water hardness. But I haven’t seen any instructions telling to make it stronger than 1:1, so don’t either.
  • After washing and rinsing your hair as usual, pour the solution over your hair and wait for a couple of minutes. Avoid getting it in your eye. If you have a spray bottle, that might come in handy because it allows even and sparing application. I’ve also noticed that the hair is easier to comb afterwards, if I spray the solution on towel-dry hair and comb it through.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
If you are worried about the smell, which you might not find all that appealing, then remember, this will be gone after you have dried your hair.

The verdict

My verdict is that it works.


  • The first thing I noticed after using ACV was that towel-dry hair was surprisingly easy to brush. So it seems to work as a natural detangler.
  • After drying the hair was very soft. Might be that even a little bit more than after using my conditioner.
  • My hair was also easier to style. I did not use any styling products, just a blow-drier and brush, and I was amazed how nice it turned out.


  • The hair also felt lighter in weight, which I’m not sure is good or bad. I think it depends on the hairdo. For mine too light hair is actually not a good thing so that’s one of the reasons I’ll keep on using conditioner too.


  • I did smell vinegar a little bit next time I made my hair wet before starting to wash it. And I’ve read it too that when hair gets wet the smell can resurface. So, maybe that’s something to keep in mind when you’re planning a romantic date involving a bath, skinny dipping or singing in the rain. Unless your partner is drawn to the smell of salad dressing. I speak from first hand experience here, but as S. is aware of my experiments with vinegar, he just complimented me on being the Queen of Vinegar and carried on… With singing in the rain, of course, what did you think?


  • I’ve tried both the cheap stuff from our local grocery store and the good stuff, i.e. ACV with the mother of vinegar, but I did not see any difference in my hair. Organic is always a better way to go though, if for nothing else then for environmental reasons. (You can get the good stuff from here.)

If that’s enough for you to go and try it out, you can stop reading now. I personally also wanted to find out how it works.

What’s the secret?

Unfortunately I could not find any scientific sources about how ACV works, so we’ll have to settle with non-scientific sources this time (please treat them accordingly). The following is a list of facts that I could find about it:

  • ACV helps break down product build-up in your hair1. This seems to back up my hunch about my hair feeling lighter in weight – less residue, less weight. So it basically deep cleanses your hair.
  • It balances the pH of your scalp.2
  • It closes hair cuticles.3 This as far as I can understand means that it makes hair shinier.
  • It helps get rid of dandruff.4
  • It removes dead skin cells that interfere with hair growth.5 In other words it boosts hair growth through exfoliating.
  • As for it’s effect on dyed hair, I found totally contradictory information some articles saying that it is not recommended on dyed hair4 and some people sharing their experience that it has made their colour last longer6. Go figure! I cannot test it on myself because I don’t dye my hair.
  • I’ve also heard that ACV can make blonde hair a little darker (brassy) because of its natural colour, and that blondes should use white vinegar instead. I have yet to find out how that works, but I’m sure I’ll try it soon. 


1. TLC, DIY Organic Hair Remedies: Stop Build-Up with Apple Cider Vinegar.

2. WikiHow, How to Balance pH in Hair Naturally.

3. Naturally, Apple Cider Vinegar as Hair Cleanser.

4., The Many Miracle Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar.

5. YAHOO! Voices, Apple Cider Vinegar Great For Hair Growth.

6. Long Hair Community, Question on ACV or vinegar rinse on chemically dyed hair.


  1. Katte says:

    I’ve been using Baking soda and purified water as shampoo (we have hard water) and the ACV rinse as conditioner. I hate the smell of vinegar but it’s tolerable when it’s only one tbs of vinegar to one cup of water and like you mentioned, the smell does NOT linger afterwards (thankfully!) By the way, you have pretty feet!

    • K. says:

      Thanks for the comment and the compliment! I’ve done some reading on the shampoo-free method with baking soda and ACV, but not found the courage to try it out yet. We have hard water too, and that has been one of the reasons to give the idea up for now. But if you say that it works with purified water, I might just try to do the same.

      • Sue says:

        My cosmetologist has me using 1 teaspoon of baking soda with my shampoo (whether it’s my handcrafted shampoo bars or her shampoo). It provides a deep, gentle clarifying to the hair shaft to get rid of the hair spray, etc. A couple of the soaps I make baking soda included as an ingredient. White vinegar is a chemical used for cleaning; ACV is produced from apples. ACV is great for brunettes, auburns and darker hair shades; lemon juice is perfect for blondes and red-heads. In the ’60s we used to comb it through our hair before sun-bathing (honest, we didn’t know about skin cancer). Distilled water is always best to dilute/produce vinegar rinses and make soap.

        • K. says:

          Thanks for the comment! So interesting to hear about the endless possibilities for using baking soda. Lemon juice sounds like a good option too. But as far as I know, white vinegar can be produced either by fermentation of distilled alcohol (the good stuff) or synthetically, which can indeed involve petrochemical feedstock. The main use for white vinegar is cooking. If you have eaten pickled cucumbers, you have most probably eaten white vinegar. Just remember (with any of these solutions – ACV, lemon juice or white vinegar) – a little goes a long way, and you really don’t need much of it in the hair rinse.

      • emma says:

        I’ve been using baking soda as shampoo for about 9 or 10 weeks now – and I love it!! my hair feels super clean like with shampoo only without the frizz!! I had still been using regular conditioner though so excited to try acv now :) thanks for the tips!

    • Diane says:

      can i have more details on the baking powder, quantities and how to use please

      • K. says:

        Hi Diane! Thanks for commenting! It’s actually baking soda (also bicarb, bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate) that’s used for cleaning hair without shampoo. Baking powder is not the same thing.

  2. Katte says:

    Sure!Definitely try it out but don’t quit too soon.Some people try the no-poo method for like 3 days and give up…haha be absolutely sure it doesn’t work for you before going back to shampoo. I’ve read your other posts as well and I like them too! I bookmarked your blog; I can’t wait to read future posts. Stay classy (and green):-)

    • K. says:

      Thanks, Katte, for the nice words!

    • Diane says:

      Hi i am 50 and dye my hair so have now found out i cannot use the bp shampoo, will the vinigar strip my colour as i would be horrified if i got out the shower to alot of grey hairs :O(

      • K. says:

        As I don’t dye my hair I cannot speak from first-hand experience, but I did try to do some research on this question when writing this post. I found totally contradictory information some articles saying that it is not recommended on dyed hair and some people sharing their experience that it has made their colour last longer. See the last but one bullet point in the post (there are some references too that you could check out). I’m thinking that it might depend on the type of dye too and the chemicals used in it. I’m sure it won’t strip your colour after just one use, though. So I suggest you experiment with it, and see if there are any signs of your colour fading after prolonged use.

  3. Melissa says:

    I second Katte on the Baking Soda! My hair has never felt as gunk free as it does now.

    • K. says:

      Thanks for the comment! You are really helping me build up the courage to finally go through with it. :)

  4. Jamie says:

    I’m going to chime in on the no-poo method, too. I’m on day 7 of no shampoo/conditioner and I love love love it. I have naturally curly hair that took umpteen styling products to behave and I’m down to 0. No products. Nothing. Baking soda wash and ACV rinse, air dry and I’m done. My hair is lighter, shinier and softer.

    • K. says:

      So encouraging to hear of your great experience. I wonder, if anyone knows whether it works better on curly hair than straight because I have totally straight hair that does not look very good when it isn’t shiny clean. I don’t even know why, but I’ve somehow got this inkling from reading about the baking soda + vinegar method that it works better on curly hair.

  5. Naomi says:

    I tried baking soda instead of shampoo, then vinegar rinse today for the first time on my post-home-permed, heat damaged, over-washed hair and I was skeptical, but so happy. Amazingly, my hair is much smoother, shiny and MUCH less flakes. It is so silky I just keep running my fingers through it! I can’t wait for a second run to see if it gets even better.

    • K. says:

      So cool to hear that it works on so many people. If it’s not too much trouble, keep me posted on how your hair is doing after you have used baking soda / vinegar for some time.

  6. Sam says:

    Been using baking soda (we call it bicarb) and vinegar for about 3 months. Hair is good!
    My hair is very dry, and oily scalp after 1.5 days so I started to leave the vinegar in. No after smell and might be a little less oily but not much.
    Used it on my daughters hair and when it didn’t get washed for nearly 2 weeks, you just couldn’t tell. Looked clean still.
    Also used it on the dog!

    • K. says:

      Used it on the dog – now that’s a good idea! I’m sure they don’t need the chemicals in dog shampoos.

  7. Been doing baking soda nopoo and ACV nocondish for about 7 weeks. I have fine thin hair. I LOVE it!!! My husband said the other day that my hair looks really healthy! My daughter has very thick, curly hair and it has worked very very well for her. We do use regular shampoo and conditioner about once every two weeks on the scalp. Any flakes we’ve had are long gone. Also, to mask the vinegar scent, I put 3 drops of peppermint oil in it. Works great!

    • K. says:

      Thanks for sharing! It’s really encouraging to hear that the baking soda + ACV method could work also on fine thin hair. As far as children are concerned, I have to admit that I’ve never used shampoo on my son (he is 2.5 years old) because water is totally enough to get his thin and short hair clean.

  8. debrinah says:

    All these comments just makes me want to go wash my hair and try it out. Can’t wait 4 my next hair day…

  9. vidya says:

    Is apple vinegar and apple cider vinegar are same????

  10. olympia says:

    do it have to be the organic kind of acv?

    • K. says:

      No, it does not have to be organic ACV. I prefer organic because of environmental reasons, but as far as its effect on hair is concerned I don’t think it makes much difference.

  11. shabnam says:

    I have very dry hairs…is ACV also good for me? Bcoz i’ve tried too much chemical products bt nthing works

    • K. says:

      I have to be honest with you – I don’t know what ACV will do to already dry hair, but my first thought would be to get some oil back in your hair. I do a coconut oil mask once a week and it makes my hair softer and shinier. Just massage some coconut oil in your hair and scalp and wrap a towel around it. Leave it in for about 30 min and wash your hair as usual.

  12. Prerna says:

    I want to know baking soda and water proportion for dry hair type to use instead of shampoo.pls mail me at

  13. Mbc says:

    I would also like to know the baking soda/water ratio for shampoo. Thanks

  14. Eggbert says:

    Hi, I was just wondering if you spray the vinegar on your scalp, and if not, how far down from the scalp do you use it? Thanks for the informative article. :)

    • K. says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment! Yes, you spray the solution all over the hair (also scalp). You can also pour the solution over the hair, if you don’t have a spray bottle, but be sure to avoid getting it into the eyes.

  15. jane says:

    Wow! This is very useful info!I will be trying the vinigar rinse on my baby fine hair!

  16. Sarah says:

    I have been using ACV for awhile as conditioner and have noticed breakage recently. I usually wash and blow dry every other day. Anyone else have this problem? The ACV must not protect against the heat.

    • K. says:

      I cannot really comment on that myself because I don’t use ACV every time. I still use my conditioner too – I think more often than ACV. And I don’t blow dry so often either. Does anyone else have similar experiences? Please share!

  17. Heather says:

    Your own posting, “Apple cider vinegar part I: use instead of hair conditioner –
    Green and Classy” ended up being worth commenting here!
    Really wanted to admit you actually did a remarkable job.
    Many thanks ,Corinne

  18. Jennifer says:

    Hi ladies, this is what i’ve found to work for me. I have fine but naturally curly hair. I sometimes co-wash, which is putting conditioner on first, then shampoo, then condition again. so. adding in the baking soda & vinegar to all of this, first i put conditioner on my ends, & then make a paste with the baking soda & water …… I put the paste on my roots & scalp, & scrub lightly. Then i rinse.
    I find if i put the baking soda all over my hair, it will make the ends dry. the conditioner on first helps me stick with my co-washing regime & keeps the baking soda from penetrating the ends (if any runs down from my roots). After i rinse the conditioner & baking soda out, I put organic apple cider vinegar & water all over my hair & rub it into my scalp. Let sit for the duration of my washing & shaving, then rinse & condition again. My hair is clean & soft without being dry. Sounds like a horrible process but I only wash 2 – 3 times a week & it’s worth it! I’d say the baking soda & vinegar is good for oncea week or every other week

  19. Savanna says:

    are there any other conditioners similar to acv?

    • K. says:

      Hi, Savanna! Thanks for you comment and sorry for the delay. I’m not sure what you mean by “similar”, but the most similar is probably white vinegar, which is better for blonds (try to find a natural white vinegar). If you are just looking for different homemade/natural conditioners/hair treatments, there are plenty – from coconut oil (I use it on my ends) and honey to avocados and banana. It really depends on what your hair is like and what you wish to achieve.

  20. suggi says:

    could u tell me how much of vinegar should i actually use for the 1:1 in dilution with water?

    • K. says:

      Thanks for the comment! I usually make about one cup of rinse, which means that I for 1:1 dilution you should take half a cup of water and half a cup of vinegar, but in my opinion 1:1 dilution is too strong. I would take about 1/4 cup of vinegar (or even less) and 3/4 cup of water.

  21. suggi says:

    thank you very much for the reply. ok i ll try 1/4th cup of vinegar with a 3/4th cup of water.
    may i know whether you have any suggestions for post acne scars and post acne blemishes? thank you.

  22. suggi says:

    should i use the acv rinse after drying hair or directly on wet hair? is there a way to get rid of the smell following rinse? thanks.

    • K. says:

      ACV rinse should be used on wet hair after washing. Just like conditioner. Pour the solution over hair and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then rinse out. The smell goes away when the hair is dried.

  23. suggi says:

    thanks for the info. i have bought brads acv and will try it out from now.

  24. Pat Mattfeld says:

    I have very fine hair and whenever I have tried creme rinse it seems to weigh my hair down and look yucky. I am good with soft water, but recently our soft water died and we replaced it with a new fangled invention that is supposed to do the same thing but takes awhile to kick in. Also when I travel I have to use hard water so I’ve been using a salt water rinse but it isn’t as good if I have to use it for long. Would vinegar work better in hard water and what would it do to a perm?

    • K. says:

      I’m afraid I don’t know about whether vinegar rinse would be better than salt rinse because I haven’t tried salt rinse. I have rather hard water and vinegar works fine. Also I cannot say anything about its effect on perm as I haven’t tried it on perm. If you do try, please let us know how it works! I’m sure there are others out there who would like to know. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help and I hope you’ll find the perfect solution for your hair!

      • Pat Mattfeld says:

        Thanks. Yes I will let you know how it works.

        • Pat says:

          Well I tried the vinegar and it didn’t work as well as the salt so I’m back to the salt. I think I wouldn’t have the problem if my hair was all one length and straight, but it’s layered and I curl it so it looks worse with the hard water.

          • K. says:

            Thank you so much for the comment! It’s great to hear about the different experiences. I guess different hair types should be handled differently and everybody should find what works for them.

  25. E.B. says:

    I was SO excited to try this, and was extremely disappointed. After using 1:1 ACV and Water in place of my conditioner in the shower, my hair was as tangled as if I had used no conditioner at all! I couldn’t even get a brush through it, without using a ton of detangler. My hair is a little long, straight, and easily gets tangled. Not sure what happened, but was really excited to hear that it detangles (considering my hair type). I do use ACV as a face toner and I also drink it, works great both ways! Any suggestions for me on the hair conditioner? Thanks!

    • E.B. says:

      I think I’ll just have to use a conditioner after the ACV rinse….!

    • K. says:

      Sorry to hear that! I would use a weaker solution than 1:1. My own solution has also become much weaker over time. I guess it’s something like 1:4 or even 1:5 by now because I felt that it started to dry my hair. I would suggest you do the same. I also don’t use it every time, just once in a while as a deep cleanser. But if you feel that it’s not right for your hair, maybe it’s just not. I would love to hear how it worked out for you in the end.

    • Andrea says:

      I read to use a spray bottle to spray the AVC+water onto hair to avoid getting a tangled mess.

  26. Lauren says:

    I have just started the baking soda, no-poo method. Wow! I started by weening my hair off shampoo, but then just cut it all together. Definitely does not leave your hair oily! In time, I hope to only have to use it once a week. I am playing with the vinegar. Think I diluted TOO much and got some frizzies like when I used shampoo and conditioner. So, less dilute. Much better at controlling frizz than any conditioner, gel or serum.

    I expect it to take a long time to reduce the use of baking soda and vinegar, but I am impressed that I already started to see a difference within one week.

    • K. says:

      Thanks, Lauren, for your comment! Let us know how it goes for you with the no-poo method. The experiences that I’ve heard are so different…

      • Carol says:

        Just tried ACV for the first time… Absolutely LOVE it!!! Great for my dry, dyed, blonde straight hair! Thanks!!!

  27. Sonya says:

    Just wanted to add my two cents. I’m a natural blonde (dark blonde),with normally uncontrolable wavy hair. Unfortunatelu I’ve been fighting thinning damaged hair for years (ironically it seems my pantene strengthening and anti breakage products are the culprits). Anyway… My experiences this far using ACV,first time I tried it my blonde was definetly brassy, extremely shiny, not to mention softer than it has been in 10 years. Now everytime I use Acv not only is my naturally untamed mess much easy to handle… It no longer looks like I’ve stuck a fork in an electrical socket on humid days,but my blonde locks are a slightly lighter shade each time I use it. Although rather than following a guide I do my own experiments.

  28. Andrea says:

    If you add essential oils to the Apple Cider Vinegar + water conditioner will that help remove the vinegar scent when your hair gets accidentally wet?

  29. I like using a very simple hair mask with olive oil. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on my hair and comb your hair carefully. Wait for about 30 minutes, then use your hands to massage the hair gently for 1-2 minutes. Wash off with water. That’s all. I apply this 2 times per week.

  30. unop says:

    I have hair down to the middle of my back and have cut down to washing every other day. I use the Somaluxe Exotic Conditioner from just below my neckline and down through the ends. It rinses out nicely and I can comb through my hair nicely (I use a wide tooth comb and the “wetbrush”). I love that it has argan oil already in it, so I dont have to spend so much money buying an extra argan oil!

  31. Sarah says:

    Hi, I wanna ask, may I use Apple Vinegar for hair instead of Apple Cider Vinegar ?
    Is there any major difference ?
    Waiting for reply.

  1. […] Apple cider vinegar can be used as a hair rinse. It really makes my hair soft, and once my hair dries, it doesn’t smell anymore. […]

  2. […] (Another ACV tip: I use it as a daily hair conditioner.) […]

  3. […] Sources: and […]

  4. […] Apple cider vinegar hair rinse If you really love the idea of having shiny hair, rinse after shampooing with apple cider vinegar it really does have lots more uses. […]

  5. […] hair cleansers. Guess what. Apple Cider Vinegar, while not a substitute for shampoo, was listed as a conditioner that stripped out chemicals and helped restore a healthy shine to one’s hair. I tried it out and was impressed with the results, then tried it again a couple days later (with a […]

  6. […] Apple cider vinegar part I: use instead of hair … – My cosmetologist has me using 1 teaspoon of baking soda with my shampoo (whether it’s my handcrafted shampoo bars or her shampoo). It provides a deep, gentle …… […]

  7. […] 1. Apple cider vinegar: use instead on hair conditioner […]

  8. […] Apple cider vinegar part i: use instead of hair conditioner […]

  9. […] now use it instead of conditioner. You can leave it in but I prefer to rinse it out to prevent my hair smelling like a salad […]

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