How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar To Cure Dandruff: Benefits + Side Effects

Bid goodbye to the flaky scalp by including this game-changing vinegar in your haircare routine.

Medically reviewed by Vd. Naveen Sharma, BAMS Vd. Naveen Sharma Vd. Naveen SharmaBAMS facebook_icon
Written by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
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Can you use apple cider vinegar for dandruff? Let’s have a look!

Dandruff is probably one of the most common hair problems, affecting nearly 50% of the world’s population (1). There are numerous anti-dandruff products available online and over the counter. However, some products may contain harmful chemicals that damage your tresses. A study showed that apple cider vinegar could reduce dandruff, among other hair issues (2). This article has put together a list of the 10 apple cider vinegar methods to help you get rid of dandruff. Keep scrolling.

Benefits Of Using Apple Cider Vinegar For Dandruff

Flask of apple cider vinegar with an apple
Image: Shutterstock

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermenting the liquid obtained by crushing apples and squeezing out the juice. Here are some of its benefits:

  • A Palestinian study showed that apple vinegar helped reduce many hair issues like dandruff, head lice, scalp acne, alopecia areatai  An auto-immune disorder characterized by sudden and unpredictable patchy hair loss anywhere on the body. , baldness, and hair loss and rejuvenated hair endings (2).
  • Product build-up is another factor that leads to dandruff. Apple cider vinegar helps remove product build-up and cleanses your scalp and hair. The above study showed that apple cider vinegar also worked as a hair cleanser, which might help reduce dandruff (2).
  • According to a study, when the pH of hair turns alkaline, it may lead to cuticle damage and hair breakage (3). ACV contains acetic acid that could help lower the pH level of hair.
  • Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties (4). It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties (5). These may help maintain the health of your scalp and reduce dandruff.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that ACV aids hair growth and reduces hair issues, though there is not much scientific backing to support this.

In the next section, we take a look at the different ways you can incorporate apple cider vinegar into your hair care routine.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Dandruff

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Massage

Woman applying apple cider vinegar on hair
Image: Shutterstock

Massaging ACV into your scalp will help it penetrate your follicles, removing any build-up, and also balance pH and oil production. This is one of the most efficient ways to maintain scalp health and ensure that it is squeaky clean.

You Will Need

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Prep Time

2 minutes

Processing Time

10 minutes

Process
  1. Gently massage apple cider vinegar into your scalp.
  2. Leave it on for about 10 minutes and then wash your hair with a mild shampoo.
  3. Finish with conditioner.
How Often?

You can do this 1-2 times a week.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar And Tea Tree Oil Massage

Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that can help in dealing with dandruff (6). Apple cider vinegar mixed with tea tree oil is the perfect combination to help curb flakes and improve scalp condition.

You Will Need
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 drops tea tree oil
Prep Time

2 minutes

Processing Time

10 minutes

Process
  1. Combine three tablespoons of ACV and three drops of tea tree oil in a bowl.
  2. Gently massage the mixture into your scalp.
  3. Leave it on for about 10 minutes and then wash your hair with a mild shampoo.
  4. Finish with conditioner.
How Often?

Once a week or once every two weeks.


protip_icon Did You Know?
Tea tree oil is extracted from the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia through the process of steam distillation (6).

3. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

Woman rinsing hair with apple cider vinegar
Image: Shutterstock

This rinse helps remove build-up, add shine, and maintain the pH balance of your scalp. It helps promote hair wellness by resolving issues like follicle-clogging from product build-up and also acts as a deep cleanser for your hair.

Jule, a blogger, shared her personal struggle with a sensitive scalp and dandruff. Despite trying numerous expensive shampoos and treatments, she finally found relief by using an apple cider vinegar rinse. She wrote, ”After I dried my hair my scalp felt great, my hair was shiny and smooth and my head didn’t burn or itch! After all the money and experiments I had tried something that costs just pennies cleared up my dandruff (i).”

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
Prep Time

2 minutes

Processing Time

5 minutes

Process
  1. Dilute two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water in a jug.
  2. Set this aside and proceed to wash and condition your hair.
  3. Once you have rinsed the conditioner out of your hair, pour the diluted ACV through it as a final rinse.
  4. Do not rinse your hair any further.
How Often?

Once every two weeks.

4. Chamomile Tea And Vinegar Rinse

Chamomile tea helps add a healthy golden glow to your hair while conditioning it (2). It also helps soothe your scalp, relieving itching. It can also help fight dandruff.

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup freshly brewed chamomile tea
Prep Time

10 minutes

Processing Time

5 minutes

Process
  1. Brew a cup of chamomile tea and add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to it.
  2. Set the solution aside in a jug and proceed to wash and condition your hair.
  3. Once you have rinsed out the conditioner, pour the chamomile-vinegar solution through your hair as a final rinse.
  4. Do not rinse your hair any further and let it air-dry.
How Often?

Once every two weeks.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar And Aspirin Rinse

Backshot of a woman applying mixture of apple cider vinegar and aspirin
Image: Shutterstock

Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which is an active ingredient used in most anti-dandruff shampoos (7). This can give you immediate relief from the problem.

You Will Need
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 crushed tablets of aspirin
Prep Time

2 minutes

Processing Time

5 minutes

Process
  1. Mix one cup of apple cider vinegar with three crushed tablets of aspirin in a bowl.
  2. Keep it aside and proceed to shampoo your hair.
  3. After you have rinsed the shampoo out of your hair, pour the vinegar-aspirin solution through it, massaging your scalp as you pour.
  4. Leave the solution on for about 5 minutes and then rinse your hair thoroughly.
  5. Finish with a conditioner and let your hair air-dry.
How Often?

Once every two weeks.

6. Baking Soda And Apple Cider Vinegar For Dandruff

Baking soda is an excellent cleansing agent. Using it as a scrub will help exfoliate the flakes and dead skin that are a result of dandruff. It helps balance the pH of the scalp without being extremely harsh and stripping away the natural oils (2).

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Prep Time

2 minutes

Processing Time

5 minutes

Process
  1. Combine two tablespoons each of baking soda and apple cider vinegar until you get a thick paste.
  2. Apply this mixture to your scalp and rub gently to scrub away dead skin and build-up.
  3. After about 5 minutes of massaging, rinse your hair with cool water.
How Often?

Do this 2 times a week.

7. Lemon And Apple Cider Vinegar For Dandruff

Lemon’s antifungal properties and rich content of vitamin C can prove to be helpful in treating dandruff (2). It is also an excellent cleansing agent that soothes itching and reduces irritation.

You Will Need
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 5 drops tea tree oil
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 cup water
  • Spray bottle
Prep Time

5 minutes

Processing Time

30 minutes

Process
  1. Pour all the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well to combine.
  2. Section your hair and spritz the solution onto your scalp and hair.
  3. Once your scalp is saturated in the solution, wrap your hair with a towel and wait for 30 minutes.
  4. Finish with shampoo.
How Often?

Do this 2 times a week.

8. Aloe Vera And Apple Cider Vinegar For Dandruff

Small bottle of apple cider vinegar and aloe vera
Image: Shutterstock

Aloe vera helps heal your scalp and boosts healthy cell growth, preventing flaking (8). It also helps moisturize and get rid of any dead skin cells, bacteria, and any other deposits that are clogging your follicles. Not only does this treatment help curb dandruff, but also improves hydration levels and helps in moisturizing your locks. This makes your hair manageable and adds shine.

You Will Need
  • 5 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
Prep Time

5 minutes

Processing Time

10 minutes

Process
  1. Combine coconut milk and aloe vera gel in a bowl to get a smooth mixture.
  2. Dampen your hair and start massaging this mixture into your scalp.
  3. Once your scalp is covered, work the mixture through the rest of your hair.
  4. Leave it on for 5 minutes and then rinse it out with water.
  5. Dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water and use this as a final rinse.
  6. Do not rinse your hair any further.
How Often?

You can do this 2 times a week.

9. Apple Cider Vinegar And Honey For Dandruff

Honey is a humectant that helps lock moisture into the hair shaft and the cells in your scalp, keeping them hydrated. It also helps balance pH and speeds up healing with its antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatoryi  Refers to the property of a substance that helps reduce inflammation in the body, like redness, swelling, and pain. properties (9).

You Will Need
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • Spray bottle
  • Shower cap
Prep Time

5 minutes

Processing Time

15 minutes

Process
  1. Pour the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well to combine.
  2. Section and spritz your hair and scalp until they are completely saturated in the solution.
  3. Cover your hair with a shower cap and leave the solution on for about 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse the solution out with cool water and shampoo.
How Often?

Once a week. You can also add essential oils like lavender oil or tea tree oil in your hair mask to soothe the scalp and get fresh-smelling locks.

10. Apple Cider Vinegar And Coconut Oil For Dandruff

Coconut oil not only penetrates the hair shaft easily to provide nourishment, but it also helps keep your scalp healthy and maintains its microbial balance (10, 11). So if you are struggling with dry and damaged strands and dandruff, this is the one for you.

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil

Prep time

5 minutes

Processing Time

30 minutes

Process

  1. Mix the apple cider vinegar and coconut oil properly.
  2. Apply the mix to your scalp and gently massage it in with your fingertips.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes then rinse it off with a mild shampoo.

How Often?

Use this treatment once or twice a week.

protip_icon Did You Know?
90% crude honey diluted in warm water can reduce the skin lesionsi  Abnormal changes or damage in the tissue inside or outside the body that may or may not be cancerous. and irritation caused by seborrheic dermatitisi  A common chronic skin condition that affects the oily areas of the body, causing dandruff, scaly patches, inflamed skin, etc. and dandruff (9).

Side Effects Of Apple Cider Vinegar

  • If you use it in excess, the acidity in apple cider vinegar can strip away your scalp’s natural oils. If you feel your scalp getting too dry, it would be a good idea to space out your ACV treatments.
  • If you do not oil your hair regularly while using ACV treatments, it might become brittle and prone to breakage. Use ACV in small quantities as too much acetic acid can cause hair breakage and dryness. One way of avoiding this would be to use ACV in a conditioning hair pack.

Infographic: 5 Ways To Use Apple Cider Vinegar To Treat Dandruff

Dandruff can develop due to poor hair hygiene, an underlying medical condition, or hormonal changes. If you are looking for some natural ways to manage it, apple cider vinegar might be the solution you were looking for. We have rounded up the 5 best ways to add apple cider vinegar to your beauty routine and help treat dandruff. Check out the infographic below to know more!

5 ways to use apple cider vinegar to treat dandruff (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Dandruff is a common issue, and apple cider vinegar is one of the effective ways to manage dandruff. The antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of apple cider vinegar make it an excellent choice for improving scalp health and minimizing flakiness. You may use apple cider vinegar for dandruff as a rinse by combining it with other easily available ingredients. Following the recipes and methods shared in the article can help you maintain your scalp health, cleanse it, and reduce dandruff. Consult your doctor if these remedies do not show any results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I leave apple cider vinegar on my scalp overnight?

No, you should not leave apple cider vinegar on your scalp overnight because it can strip your hair of its natural oils.

Do you put apple cider vinegar on wet or dry hair?

You can apply apple cider vinegar to dry and wet hair. If you are applying it on wet hair, ensure that you apply it after shampooing and conditioning. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off with cool water.

Can apple cider vinegar be used on any hair type to treat dandruff?

Apple cider vinegar has an acidic composition. Prolonged usage or leaving it on the hair for a long time can cause damage to dry hair.

How long does it take for apple cider vinegar to show results for dandruff?

The time taken to show results depends on the dandruff’s severity. With regular usage once or twice a week, you can notice visible effects in 2-3 weeks.

Can apple cider vinegar be used as a long-term treatment for dandruff?

Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar as a dandruff treatment routine. But, you must use it in proper dilution for a suitable duration and frequency. Too much vinegar can damage hair and scalp. Begin with applying twice a week and then reduce it to once a week once the condition stabilizes.

Is it okay to use apple cider vinegar for dandruff if I have color-treated hair?

Yes, apple cider vinegar is safe for use on colored tresses and helps remove any product buildup, thus protecting the hair color.

Key Takeaways

  • Apple cider vinegar has acetic acid which lowers the pH of the scalp and helps in preventing dandruff.
  • It can soothe itchy scalp as it has antifungal and antimicrobial properties which can combat bacteria and yeast buildup.
  • Apple cider vinegar can be combined with oil to massage the scalp, or can also be used as a rinse after shampooing. It can also be mixed with honey and applied to reduce breakage and dryness.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Dandruff_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team


References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Dandruff: The Most Commercially Exploited Skin Disease, Indian Journal of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887514/
  2. Ethnopharmacological Survey Of Home Remedies Used For Treatment Of Hair And Scalp And Their Methods Of Preparation In The West Bank-Palestine, BMC Complementary And Alternative Medicine, US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5499037/
  3. The Shampoo pH can Affect the Hair: Myth or Reality? International Journal of Trichology, US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158629/
  4. Antimicrobial Activity Of Apple Cider Vinegar Against Escherichia Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus And Candida Albicans; Downregulating Cytokine And Microbial Protein Expression, Scientific Reports, US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/
  5. Authenticating Apple Cider Vinegar’s Home Remedy Claims: Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiviral Properties And Cytotoxicity Aspect, Natural Product Research, US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29224370
  6. A Review Of Applications Of Tea Tree Oil In Dermatology, International Journal Of Dermatology, US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22998411
  7. Dandruff: The Most Commercially Exploited Skin Disease, Indian Journal Of Dermatology, US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887514/
  8. Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis Using a Novel Herbal-based Cream, The Journal Of Clinical And Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5404776/
  9. Therapeutic And Prophylactic Effects Of Crude Honey On Chronic Seborrheic Dermatitis And Dandruff, European Journal Of Medical Research, US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11485891
  10. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12715094/
  11. Longitudinal study of the scalp microbiome suggests coconut oil to enrich healthy scalp commensals
    https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-86454-1
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Vd. Naveen Sharma

Vd. Naveen SharmaBAMS, Ayurveda Specialist

Dr. Naveen Sharma is a renowned Ayurveda specialist with an experience of 10 years. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery(B. A. M. S) from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, in 2007. He has a professional membership with AYUSH. Dr. Sharma’s specialties include cancer, liver disorders, autoimmune disorders, lifestyle disorders, migraine, hair fall, PCOD...read full bio

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