Organic ACV is, of course, made from pure apple cider that has been allowed to ferment naturally. Since it is not distilled like other vinegars, it maintains the enzymes, minerals and valuable nutrients that would be destroyed by that process. One easy way to know your ACV has all this yummy goodness is by making sure it still contains what is called "the mother" of the the vinegar. "The mother" is the solid layer that forms on top of the vinegar during the fermentation process. It is also what makes organic ACV better for you than the filtered and/or distilled kind. It is quite acidic, having a pH of about 3. The natural enzymes & nutrients combined with the acidic nature of ACV are what can produce great benefits for our hair.
Our hair has a natural pH of about 5, making it slightly acidic. Different factors, such as shampooing or relaxing, can cause our hair's pH to be raised to more of an alkaline state which usually equals unhappy hair. Hair in this state often has raised cuticles, is more porous, and retains less moisture, which makes it dull, dry, rough to the touch and harder to detangle. As we know, one of the main ingredients in relaxers is sodium hydroxide, which is a very basic (alkaline) chemical that gives our hair a much higher pH than it naturally has. Not only is this just one reason it's very important to neutralize effectively after relaxing, but it is also why ACV rinses on relaxer days can be very helpful. Using ACV will further reduce the pH of your strands, putting them closer to their natural state of being acidic. This action closes the cuticles of your hair, making hair smooth as they lie down flat. This will do several things for your hair:
- Improve porosity - locks in both moisture & protein and improves you hair's ability to maintain it
- Ease detangling - raised cuticles create friction with each other and combs, making detangling a hassle and breakage more likely. Smooth cuticles glide easier beside each other, with the comb and through your fingers. This also reduces tangles.
- Add shine - because light reflects off of smooth surfaces, closed cuticles will make your hair appear shinier and reduce frizz.
- Prevent split ends - smooth, flat cuticles are less prone to splitting
- Enhance straightening results - smooth hair is easier to straighten and will take less heat passes to yield the flat, bone straight results most desired when flat ironing
In addition to the benefits of its acidic nature, the enzymes and nutrients contained in ACV have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that promote a healthy scalp. These contents, specifically malic & tartic acids, have the ability to kill the germs that are responsible for issues such as dandruff and a dry, itchy scalp. They also stimulate the scalp, which increases blood flow, and have been known to good for cleansing, clarifying and treating hair loss. I, however, cannot attest to any of the latter. I haven't used the ACV combined with baking soda method to cleanse or clarify my hair, and don't have any hair loss to treat.
What I can say for certain is that regular ACV rinses have made my hair healthier. I use a ratio of not quite 4:1 (water:acv). You should experiment some with the ratio to find out how much you need to dilute you ACV; an overly acidic mixture can dry out your hair. I spray the mixture on my scalp and the length of my hair after rinsing my deep conditioner out. I let this sit for a few minutes and then rinse with the coolest water I can stand. It is important to note the use of cool or cold water for this final rinse, as cold water also aids in the closing of hair cuticles. The only downside would have to be the stinky feet smell. Don't worry though, it goes away once your hair is dry. Oh, and don't get it in your eyes! Lol!
Since incorporating these rinses in my wash days, I have experienced all of the bullet points listed above and a healthier scalp. They are a staple. I can tell the difference immediately when I have skipped so it's always my final rinse now. I used to have issues with dandruff and a dry, itchy scalp, which I no longer struggle with. While I'm sure some of my other healthy hair habits play a role in that result, I know apple cider vinegar has also played a key role in helping with that. Best of all, all of this comes from a $6 bottle (mine is pictured above) that you can get at your local grocery store and has lasted me all of this year. Can't beat that!
Don't just take my word for it! Here are some other helpful links about the benefits of ACV:
Hair Care and Organic Apple Cider Vinegar - blackhairinformation.com
6 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar - Black Girl Long Hair
Apple Cider Benefits - ACVbenefits.com
How to Use ACV for Beautiful Hair & Skin - Huffington Post
Does anyone else do ACV rinses?