11 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Clean and Naturally Beautiful Hair

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Apple cider vinegar may be one of the most versatile ingredients in your pantry. When applied to hair, its antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties can help deep-clean, strengthen, and protect your scalp and tresses. As an acidic substance, it can also help balance your hair's pH, reduce product build-up, and tame frizz.

Our round-up of 11 homemade recipes to use apple cider vinegar for your hair includes everything from deep conditioning treatments to shampoos and hair rinses. They can all be made using a few inexpensive, natural ingredients.

How to Get Rid of the Apple Cider Vinegar Smell

Apple cider vinegar does have a distinctive smell that some people can find unpleasant. Luckily, this smell disappears after rinsing well with water.

If you can still detect a slight vinegar smell, consider using one of our recipes with essential oils added, which help counteract any slight lingering scent of vinegar.

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Rosemary and Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Three bottles of rosemary essential oil sit surrounded by sliced lemon, small pink flowers, rosemary stalks, and a wooden bowl

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Rosemary essential oil is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. To make this rinse, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and then cool. Add 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and up to five drops of rosemary essential oil.

After shampooing and conditioning your hair, pour 1 cup of the rinse over. Leave for 30 minutes and then rinse with cool water.

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Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar DIY Shampoo

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This DIY shampoo uses all-natural ingredients and can help reduce your use of phthalates which are found in many commercial shampoos.

Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda to 2 cups of tepid water. Then, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. You can use this as it is now, but adding 5–10 drops of your favorite essential oil can help to override the smell of apple cider vinegar.

Place the mixture into a bottle. Before use, give it a shake to make sure the baking soda is blended thoroughly. Massage the mixture into your hair and scalp before rinsing well. 

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Soap Nut Shampoo With Apple Cider Vinegar

A bowl of soap nuts sits on a white wooden surface. Some soap nuts sit next to the bowl and there is a cloth in the background

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Soap nuts are the dried berries from the Sapindus mukorossi tree which is native to India and Nepal. These berries contain saponins, a natural and biodegradable soap. Their cleaning and foaming properties can be used to replace your regular shampoo and also as a body wash or laundry detergent.

To make this shampoo recipe, place six to eight soap nuts in a muslin bag and add to a saucepan containing 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, leave the soap nut bag in place and allow the water to cool. Squeeze out the muslin bag and remove.

Add 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. You can also add 10 drops of your chosen essential oil. Pour into a bottle or jar and use instead of your normal shampoo.

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Olive Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioning Treatment

Olive oil glass bottle

Olive oil has excellent moisturizing qualities, so the combination with apple cider vinegar will make a great deep conditioner for dry hair. Use it once a week to improve your hair's softness and strength.

Blend 1/4 cup of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You can treat just the ends of your hair or your entire head. Apply the mixture and leave for up to 15 minutes.

Shampoo your hair as you normally would afterwards, and follow with an apple cider vinegar hair rinse if you'd like.

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Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Two small jars of apple cider vinegar sit next two three apples covered in drops of water

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This simple hair rinse only needs two ingredients: apple cider vinegar and water.

Mix 2 cups of water with 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This can be poured over your scalp and hair after shampooing.

You can rinse your hair with water afterwards, but there's no need. If you find the smell of vinegar slightly overpowering, you can add a few drops of essential oil and mix well before using.

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Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner

A bowl of apple cider vinegar mixed with water sits next to a bottle of apple cider vinegar and an apple in the background

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Rather than a hair rinse which you’ll wash off with water, this recipe can be left on your hair to continue working.

Blend 2 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Add an essential oil of your choice—sweet orange, tea tree, lavender, or bergamot essential oils work well. Stir to combine.

Using a funnel, pour into an old shampoo bottle or other container. Use in place of your regular conditioner.

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Greek Yogurt, Honey, and Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Mask

A bowl of Greek yogurt and a bowl of honey sit next to each other on a white tray. There's a white lantern in the background

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The honey and yogurt blend will help add moisture to your hair, while the apple cider vinegar cleanses away impurities.

Mix 1 tablespoon of honey with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and add to 1 cup of greek yogurt. Blend well.

Cover your hair with the mask and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing off. Shampoo and condition as normal. Keep any leftover mask in a jar in the fridge for up to one week.

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Rosewater and Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

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Tone down the smell of apple cider vinegar with some sweet-smelling rosewater. This ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties and may help soothe a dry, itchy scalp.

Blend 1 cup of water with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of rose water. After shampooing, pour this blend over your hair and massage it in well. You can leave this mixture on or rinse it off with cool water.

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Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Hair Rinse

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The acidity of both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar can help remove excess oils from greasy hair, but this blend may be too drying for normal hair.

Mix 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. If you'd like you can add the grated zest of the lemon.

Pour over your hair after shampooing and conditioning and leave for up to 20 minutes. Rinse off with cool water.

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Aloe Vera and Apple Cider Vinegar Pre-Shampoo

Someone squeezes a cut leaf of aloe vera, with the gel falling onto a wooden spoon below.

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Aloe vera is well known for its soothing properties; combined with apple cider vinegar, it can make a good pre-shampoo treatment for dandruff-prone hair.

Mix 1 cup of fresh or store-bought aloe vera gel with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey.

Apply to unwashed hair, massage well into the scalp and leave for up to 20 minutes before rinsing off. Follow with your regular shampoo and conditioner.

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Exfoliating Scalp Scrub With Apple Cider Vinegar

A jar of salt sits on a wooden counter, with someone scooping out a spoonful

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Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, a natural exfoliant, and this scalp scrub can help your hair and scalp feel super clean.


  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 15 drops essential oil


  • Mix apple cider vinegar and salt.
  • Add melted coconut oil and honey.
  • Add up to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil.
  • Once your hair is wet, apply around a tablespoon of the scrub to your scalp and massage it with your fingers. Leave for up to 15 minutes before shampooing as you normally would.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar Safely in Homemade Beauty Products

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which in high concentrations can irritate or even burn your skin. To avoid this, only apply diluted apple cider vinegar to your hair and scalp.

The acidity of apple cider vinegar can help balance the pH in hair that is easily breakable or dry due to high alkalinity. But overuse can cause irritation, so limit using these recipes to once or twice a week, or create a more diluted blend with less apple cider vinegar.

Avoid getting apple cider vinegar in your eyes, as this may sting. If it does come in contact with your eyes, rinse well with plenty of water.

View Article Sources
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  2. Thring, Tamsyn S.A., et al. "Antioxidant and Potential Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Extracts and Formulations of White Tea, Rose, and Witch Hazel on Primary Human Dermal Fibroblast Cells." Journal of Inflammation, vol. 8, 2011., doi:10.1186/1476-9255-8-27

  3. Vardy, Da, et al. "A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of an Aloe vera (A. barbadensis) Emulsion in the Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis." Journal of Dermatological Treatment, vol. 10, no. 1, 1999, pp. 7-11., doi:10.3109/09546639909055904

  4. Xia, Ting, et al. "Nutrients and Bioactive Components From Vinegar: A Fermented and Functional Food." Journal of Functional Foods, vol. 64, 2020, pp. 103681., doi:10.1016/j.jff.2019.103681