Apple cider vinegar has become the virtual holy grail of holistic skincare. Thought to have clarifying benefits for skin and hair, this pantry staple has become a fast favorite for people who want to give all natural skincare even a half-hearted try, and who can blame them? You’ve already got it in your house, it’s cheap, and a simple internet search can return numerous beneficial claims.
Before you get too excited and leave your house smelling like a salad bar, you should know what the benefits of apple cider vinegar skincare are, how to properly use apple cider vinegar for your skin and hair, and what products are best to try.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar
Your grandma has been taking it by the tablespoonfuls for years, and your mom makes her famous “secret recipe” salad dressing with it, but to you it looks like dirty water and smells like Easter egg dye. How can it possibly be beneficial for your skin?
Apple cider vinegar is made in a two step process. The first step is to expose crushed apples to yeast. The yeast ferments the sugar in the apples and turns it into alcohol. In the second step, bacteria is added to the alcohol mixture, which ferments it even more and makes it acidic, like vinegar. All that delightfully smelly goodness is then packaged and sold on the shelves of your local grocery store.
If this has you second guessing whether you want to put this stuff on your skin, hang tight. After all, using vinegar on our skin and hair is definitely not the craziest thing we’ve ever done in the name of beauty (we’re looking at you magic mayonnaise hair mask).
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin
- pH Balancing Act. Because of apple cider’s vinegar’s highly acidic nature, it is thought it has numerous skincare benefits. One of the biggest benefits of using apple cider vinegar is its ability to balance your skin’s natural pH levels. That bacteria that helped turn the apple cider vinegar into, well, “vinegar”-they’re experts at helping keep the quality and quantity of good bacteria on the top layer of your skin. This means your skin cells function better, your sebaceous glands produce the correct amount of oil to keep your skin healthfully lubricated without clogging pores, and you experience skin that is more comfortable, and looks healthier.
- Exfoliator. Apple cider vinegar (“ACV”) is also a great all-natural exfoliant. If you’ve still got that drugstore apricot seed scrub in your shower, toss it out and opt for a little ACV. The acid in ACV is similar to alpha hydroxy acid, which is great for acne-prone skin as it helps deep clean pores and clean out bacteria that can cause breakouts.
- Spot Treatment. The same acid (malic acid) that makes ACV an excellent exfoliator, also makes it a helpful tool in the elimination of dark spots from hyperpigmentation. Sun spots, age spots, acne scars, and other skin discolorations may fade by the repetitive and continuous use of apple cider vinegar based products.
- Anti-bacterial acne-fighter. If you’ve got blackheads, you need ACV. The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar make it incredibly effective at digging bad bacteria out of your pores and cleaning your face thoroughly, without stripping it of essential moisture. Most acne-fighting products can’t make those claims.
What Can Apple Cider Vinegar Do For Your Hair
Even though ACV is incredibly beneficial for your skin, the benefits it has for your hair are even more impressive. ACV has the ability to help clarify and thoroughly cleanse your hair without the use of harsh chemicals that can be dangerous and strip your hair of it’s natural moisture and shine. In fact, even if you struggle with dandruff, apple cider vinegar shampoo can help.
Hair that lacks shine, volume, and feels weighed down by product buildup is in need of a thorough, deep clean. Unfortunately, many of the clarifying shampoos available on the market are full of harsh sulfates. Sulfates are commonly used “detergents” that are effective at cleaning your hair…and stripping it of all moisture and good oil in the process.
Sulfates can also be really irritating to your skin and eyes. That means every time you shampoo your hair, you’re exposing your skin to something that is potentially harmful.
Apple cider vinegar can get your hair the cleanest it’s ever been, without turning it into straw. Here are some of the benefits of apple cider vinegar for your hair.
- Another pH benefit. Hair that is dull, breaks easily, feels dry and/or frizzy, is likely more alkaline than other hair types. This simply means it has a higher pH. As such, the acidic nature of ACV can help lower your hair’s own pH and bring it back within normal range. This means your hair is brought back into healthy balance, which means it will look and feel softer, shinier, and less brittle.
- Antibacterial help. You may not think your hair can benefit from the antibacterial benefits of apple cider vinegar. Think again. ACV is great at cleaning not only your hair, but your scalp; an oft forgotten part of your skin that still needs the same kind of attention and care as the rest of the skin on your body. Your scalp is subject to overproduction and collection of “bad” bacteria just like the skin on your face.
While that overgrowth of bad bacteria may lead to acne and blackheads on your face, it can lead to other problems on your scalp. Infections on the scalp and general issues like itchiness can result from improper bacteria growth. ACV’s live cultures help restore the homeostasis of your scalp, by eliminating bad bacteria and helping levels of good bacteria remain.
- Dandruff destroyer. If you’re snowing from your head to your shoulders, you don’t have to rely on a foul-smelling, neon colored shampoo to fix the issue. Apple cider vinegar shampoo contains malic acid, which can help exfoliate the scalp, remove loose flakes of dead skin, and keep your hair from creating an Elsa-like storm on your favorite black shirt.
- Hair repair. At some point, all of us experience hair that has been over-processed, exposed to too many hot styling tools, too much product, and/or too much environment. Yep. Even the smog and pollution in our environment can build up in our locks making it unmanageable, weighing it down, and leaving it dull and lifeless. The ingredients in apple cider vinegar can help strip away that damage, revealing healthy, vivacious hair underneath. In fact, ACV can bring new clarity to hair that is brittle and lackluster after just a few uses of a high quality apple cider vinegar shampoo.
- Vitamin and mineral nourishment. What makes apple cider vinegar such a great option for your hair is that it not only deeply cleanses it, clarifies it, adds shine, and protects your scalp against overload of bad bacteria, it does it without leaving your hair a desert wasteland of dryness that has been stripped of all the good stuff it needs to stay healthy. ACV contains a myriad of vitamins and minerals that can fortify and strengthen your hair, ensuring that hair is replenished and healthy.
- Hair loss helper. The vitamins and minerals in ACV are great fortifiers, which may help you lose less hair. ACV can neutralize free radicals with its antioxidant formula, helping keep your hair stronger. Strong hair stays on your head longer, meaning your hair will feel and look thicker for longer.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo
Sure, you can pour a bottle of pure ACV on your hair, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you particularly enjoy smelling pretty terrible all day. A better option is to invest in a high-quality apple cider vinegar shampoo. These shampoos contain just enough ACV to perform miracles on your hair but without the heavy vinegar scent. These formulas are tested and perfected for your hair, so you know you won’t be using too much or too little ACV.
To properly use an apple cider vinegar shampoo, follow these simple instructions.
- Use a generous, quarter-sized amount of shampoo, and gently massage it into your scalp using your fingertips. Allow the shampoo to coat the ends of your strands of hair as you work.
- Leave the product on your hair for approximately 3-4 minutes. If you have hair that is especially oily, plagued with dandruff, or has been extremely damaged, leave on for an additional 2 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly so that no residue of shampoo remains on your hair or scalp.
- Follow up with your favorite conditioner.
- Use this process to clean your hair once or twice a week. Because apple cider vinegar shampoo is so effective and cleanses so deeply, you don’t need to use it any more frequently.
Apple cider vinegar is a great, all-natural resource for keeping your skin and hair healthy and clean. It has properties that allow it to regulate the natural pH of your skin and hair, and keep both free from overgrowth of bad bacteria. It can help clarify, clean, restore, and repair hair and skin that have been exposed to environmental hazards and are in need of a detox. Skip the harsh chemicals in many detox-formulated products and opt for a more gentle option that’s just as effective.