Apple cider vinegar has often been used for disinfecting, cleaning, and cooking. But could it have its use in hair care too? Some advocates claim so. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) may help treat dandruff, hair loss, and scalp itching. It also is believed to balance the scalp pH and even make hair shinier. But what do the studies say? Here, we have discussed apple cider vinegar for hair loss and what science has to state about the same.
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How Is Apple Cider Vinegar Made?
Apple cider vinegar is made from the juice of crushed apples. This juice is extracted and exposed to bacteria and yeast, and its sugars are converted to alcohol. This is fermented again, and the alcohol converts to apple cider vinegar (1).
Apple cider vinegar may have anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-viral properties (2). These properties may help deal with hair issues. But how does the vinegar work?
How Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Hair Loss?
Following are the various ways apple cider vinegar may help treat hair loss:
- Balances Hair pH
The pH of hair is 4 to 5, making it slightly acidic. Maintaining the natural pH of hair is crucial to protect it from external damage, and to keep it healthy, smooth, and shiny. However, most shampoos on the market have an alkaline pH. This could alter the natural hair pH and lead to cuticle damage and harm the hair fibers (5).
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid and has a low pH (is acidic) (6). Theoretically, using it may restore the natural hair pH. However, more studies are warranted in this regard.
- May Remove Scalp Build-Up
Using different hair products, sweat accumulation, and oil secretion can cause scalp build-up and eventually lead to irritation.
A diluted apple cider vinegar solution may help remove scalp build-up. However, more research is required in this regard.
- May Boost Hair Follicle Growth
Poor blood circulation to the hair follicles could inhibit hair growth (7). Some believe that apple cider vinegar may improve blood circulation. The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar may help cleanse the scalp and the hair follicles. This may promote hair growth.
- May Boost Hair Shine
Apple cider vinegar may help smoothen the hair cuticle (the outermost protective layer of the hair). The acetic acid in ACV reduces frizz and restores hair pH, which could have been altered by alkaline shampoos. Its amino acids and fatty acids may boost hair shine (8).
- May Help Treat Dandruff
Apple cider vinegar has anti-fungal properties (9). It may help in dandruff treatment. Some believe its high acidity could make it difficult for the fungus to thrive. However, more research is required in this aspect.
- May Fight Free Radicals And Premature Aging
The benefits of apple cider vinegar for hair are yet to be extensively studied. But you may use it nonetheless. The following section tells you how.
How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Treating Hair Loss
As An External Rinse
- Water: ½ a liter
- Apple cider vinegar: 2-5 tablespoons
- Mix the two ingredients in a glass jar.
- After cleansing your hair with shampoo, pour the apple cider vinegar mixture over the hair.
- Tilt your head down to ensure the solution does not come in contact with your eyes.
- Massage for a couple of minutes and rinse again with plain water.
- Go ahead with a conditioner and dry your hair with a clean towel.
Make It A Part Of Your Diet
Apple cider vinegar can be used in cooking to add a vinegary flavor to food. However, there is little research on the benefits of ACV intake on hair loss.
As A Supplement
If your doctor recommends, go for an apple cider vinegar supplement. But ensure you stick to the dosage. Excess intake of ACV for a prolonged period can cause hypokalemia or aggravate osteoporosis (12).
One way of making the best out of ACV is knowing the right type you need to purchase. With a variety of options on the market, this could be a challenge. The next section will help you understand how to pick the best apple cider vinegar.
How To Choose The Best Apple Cider Vinegar
Here are the factors to be considered before you purchase apple cider vinegar.
- Filtered/Unfiltered: This does not matter if you are using ACV for a rinse alone. But if you are consuming it, unfiltered ACV is better as it will contain more nutrients.
- The “Mother”: The ‘mother’ is obtained from the fermentation process. It comes with brown cobweb bits floating at the bottom. It may look like it has gone bad, but actually is beneficial.
- Unpasteurized: You may purchase ACV that has not gone through any heating process. Unpasteurized ACV retains most of its good bacteria.
- Organic: Organic apple cider vinegar is ideal. One can also look for ‘raw’ apple cider vinegar that has no artificial flavors or chemicals.
Choosing the right kind of apple cider vinegar may not necessarily mean it is safe for all. ACV could cause side effects in some. It also may show adverse effects if not used in the right way.
Risks Of Using Apple Cider Vinegar
- Undiluted ACV: Apple cider vinegar has a low pH and is highly acidic. Using it undiluted may cause scalp issues. Some research shows that apple cider vinegar could cause chemical burns on the skin (13). An ACV rinse must always be used diluted.
- Excess Use Of ACV: Using a highly acidic solution too often may cause more harm. Use the ACV rinse only twice a week.
- Allergies: Some anecdotal evidence suggests that ACV could cause skin allergies. However, relevant research is lacking. You may do a patch test before using ACV on your skin/hair. If you observe a reaction, stop use and consult a dermatologist.
Using a minimal amount of ACV and diluting it with water is always safe. You may gradually increase the amount of vinegar as the weeks pass.
Anecdotal evidence and some research suggest that ACV could promote hair health. It may treat dandruff, remove scalp build-up, and restore the ideal scalp and hair pH. However, excess use may cause adverse reactions. You may start with a diluted ACV rinse after doing a patch test. Consult your doctor should you observe any reactions.
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