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Ultimate Apple Cider Vinegar Guide for Hair, Face & Body Care

18 mins

Akhila Jerripothula

Everything you need to know about using raw Apple Cider Vinegar for the hair, face, and body!

Apple cider vinegar has been popping up in wellness rituals for a while now, for a reason! For many people, apple cider vinegar (or ACV) is a digestion booster by consuming a shot of ACV a day. Now, these same beneficial properties are being used to help combat various hair and skin conditions by applying it topically. You may be asking yourself, What is apple cider vinegar good for--does it even work, or will it ruin your hair? For skin, Is apple cider vinegar a good face wash, and does it help clear skin? 

We’re here to clear the mystery behind using apple cider vinegar for skin, as a key ingredient for your head-to-toe beauty routine! Instead of using product chock full of harmful sulfates and parabens, we look to mother nature as a naturally effective alternative. If you’re ready to see just how beneficial apple cider vinegar can be, check out our Ultimate Guide To Apple Cider Vinegar! 


What Is Apple Cider Vinegar

To begin with, let's first clarify what apple cider vinegar is, and how its magical properties work. Apple cider vinegar is fermented apple juice that becomes acidic through the fermentation process! The fermentation helps to fortify the vinegar with beneficial nutrients like vitamin B’s and vitamin C, which is exactly why it’s classified as a “superfood”. However, because vinegar can be pretty acidic (a pH of 2-3), it is not recommended to apply raw apple cider vinegar directly to your hair without it being diluted. This can burn your scalp, and possibly cause further damage to your hair strands, especially sensitive scalps and damaged hair. 

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Really Work?

Before you invest in this trend, does acv even really work? Because of its natural properties like being antibacterial and antifungal, and acids like lactic, citric, malic acids, and acetic acid may help kill the bacteria the benefits of apple cider vinegar go beyond to help boost hair growth after experiencing hair fall, heat damage, chemical treatments, UV damage, and more. That is because apple cider vinegar is clarifying, which means it is specially formulated to deliver an extensive deep cleanse to remove residue and buildup, and deep detox the scalp. All the built-up dirt, oil, and product residue are removed, even from deep in your pores to hit the reset button on your hair health! Product residue or product build-up is the gradual accumulation of product residue over some time. The buildup makes it difficult for haircare products to absorb into hair follicles as the film of hardened product residue coats your strands like a fortress, preventing nourishing hydration from getting to the core of your hair strands. 

The benefits of apple cider vinegar comes from its clarifying nature to break down the product and sebum buildup on the scalp, which might have been clogging certain hair follicles and preventing healthy hair growth. If you’re frustrated about your hair woes, a clean slate is a great place to start! You can see these positive effects by rinsing with an apple cider vinegar shampoo/treatment. Most beauty companies will tout the use of pure, unadulterated apple cider vinegar in your hair as a treatment for dandruff, and while it has shown positive results in the past, the possible side effects that can come about from using RAW apple cider vinegar can be pretty damaging. Because of apple cider vinegar’s chemical makeup, it can be pretty acidic. Apple cider vinegar that isn't diluted can be too harsh, especially for sensitive skin and scalps. 

To seamlessly integrate ACV into your hair care routine, look for apple cider vinegar in haircare products!

Hair products with apple cider vinegar are best because there is no chance of the vinegar being strong enough to ruin your hair. Instead, we use raw apple cider vinegar with the mother, which contains all the nutrients to boost your hair health. Ethically sourced from the Himalayas, you can trust WOW will have the best apple cider vinegar shampoo on the market - there’s a reason why it’s the #1 shampoo on Amazon

Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair

Dandruff and Flakes

Ever got a debilitating itch that you can’t seem to stop scratching? Once you see tiny flakes on your scalp, it’s time to switch up your haircare routine! For those suffering from an itchy, flaky and/or dry scalp, you may wonder does apple cider vinegar really work, and what are the ways to use apple cider vinegar for this issue? Especially to tackle pesky flakes, apple cider vinegar is the secret you were looking for, especially considering what it can do for your hair! The benefits of apple cider vinegar for dandruff comes from its naturally antifungal properties, meaning to helps stop the growth of fungi like Malassezia, which is the cause of dandruff! The naturally antibacterial properties help fight scalp acne-causing bacteria, and dandruff-causing fungi to truly attack the root cause of dandruff. It helps balance pH levels to reset your scalp, strengthen, and fight hair fall. As well as being rich in antioxidant properties to fight free radicals and help to combat damage in your hair. Meaning our Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo gives you holistic hair care to fight flakes, boost hair growth, and protect!

In your journey to combat itchy flakes, the first step is to figure out what the root cause of it might be, because not all itchiness is from the dandruff-causing fungi Malassezia. What is happening is that our skin cells are constantly replacing themselves almost every second. New skin cells are produced in the inner layer of your skin called the dermis. As they move up to your outer skin, they start to flatten out, harden and eventually fall off to make way for newer ones. This happens on a much larger scale than we realize, but we don’t notice it because our skin cells fall off in very small amounts. But for those of us with dandruff, these skin cells fall off in larger, more noticeable flakes followed by symptoms like itching and irritation. Dandruff actually affects almost half of the adult population, which shows that this is not a singular experience-- you are not alone. 

Dandruff is normally triggered by one of these conditions-- allergies, dry skin, medical conditions, and fungal infection, which can cause irritating symptoms like inflammation or swelling on your scalp. Have you ever felt your scalp sensitive to the touch? Yeah, that was probably from a larger underlying issue that you haven't solved yet, which could be dandruff and dry scalp. Another reason why you may be experiencing a large amount of dryness on your scalp is from using the wrong kind of shampoo, or using it too often. Very intense and drying shampoos have ingredients in them like alcohols and silicones that are known to dry out your hair and the scalp to give you that “clean hair” effect. Especially if you’re shampooing more often than you need to, this can cause your hair follicle’s oil glands to overcompensate for the dryness and overproduce oils, giving you oilier hair which you wash more often, perpetuating the cycle. When you don’t know where to start, reset your scalp with our Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

How can you tackle pesky flakes? Just like your face, the skin on your scalp would benefit from exfoliation to remove dry chunks of dead skin on your scalp, and built-up product residue that is inhibiting healthy hair growth. Next, we recommend using a clarifying shampoo, like the WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo to deep detox your scalp, balance your pH levels, and nourish with hydrating bioactives, like argan oil and saw palmetto that help to soothe hair and the scalp. The key to any clarifying shampoo is knowing how often to use it. As mentioned before, using any shampoo too often will throw off your scalps balance and hurt your hair in the long run. 

Scalp Acne 

Just like your face, your scalp is also prone to acne. We have pores from head to toe, which can get clogged, irritated, and become red, angry pimples. If you ever feel bumps on your scalp, especially on your hairline, it could be scalp acne. Scalp acne, or “scalpne” is not something that only happens to those with the worst hygiene. On the contrary, because your scalp is still a part of your body and skin organs, this is considered a normal skin condition. This normal skin condition can be treated through using similar products that you would use to help treat other kinds of acne on the body. For many people that find themselves with a pimple on your scalp, don’t freak out, yes they kinda hurt, but there are things you can do to better help reduce that presence.

  1. NEVER pick at the pimples, especially when it’s not ready to pop. This can lead to deep scarring and more damage than if you left it alone in the first place. Plus, the nails you use to touch your acne can boast bacteria, causing even more acne! With the scabbing and dryness from a picked pimple, subsequent hair loss can be troubling for your journey to healthy hair.
  2. Be careful when running your hairbrush through your hair, especially at your scalp! If you are too aggressive or push down too hard on the scalp, you can cause damage to existing pimples (popping them before they’re ready), and causing greater inflammation.
  3. Make sure you are properly rinsing and removing products that are used along your hairline. This means washing out your shampoo, cleanser, and thoroughly removing makeup residue that can clog pores and cause scalp acne.
  4. Try to limit hair styling products that leave residue or build-up on the scalp. Products like waxes, pomades, dry shampoo, hairsprays, are definitely prone to doing this.
  5. Make sure to rinse any buildup by using a clarifying shampoo like the WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo on a regular basis to help fully strip out buildup. 
How To Boost Volume with Apple Cider Vinegar

For those with fine hair, apple cider vinegar could be the secret to getting that ounce back! Before we break down ways to use apple cider vinegar for volume, let's begin with the basics - what is fine hair? Well, when saying hair is “fine” what you are saying is that your strands are very small in diameter (aka thickness.) The texture of your strands typically feels smooth, soft, silky, and relatively frizz-free. By the end of the day, your hair tends to fall flat, and your scalp turns greasy from the strands not being able to support all the extra oil. The thin hair on the scalp doesn’t hide the grease easily, and it makes its way down the shaft, causing the weighed down appearance. Despite this setback, there are numerous ways to bring volume and life back to these thinner locks!

With apple cider vinegar, using our clarifying shampoo will help to remove buildup from the scalp. This is important to those with fine hair because a lot of time, any and all buildup on the scalp will cause that greasy, flat hair look from how fine and thin the strands are. This thinness makes it easy for the oils to travel down the hair shaft and also for the buildup on the scalp to further affect the volume of the hair. This is one of the top worst things for those of us with thin hair. If you have experienced this before, you know that using dry shampoos or texturizing sprays on our scalps can help tremendously with the appearance of volume, but as the day progresses, your natural oils break through the styling product’s defenses and the flat hair cycle begins.

Tackle the root cause of fine hair with essential nourishment, hydration, and a deep detox so that the aforementioned hydration will not weigh down your hair, but boost your hair’s vitality to look thicker and healthier. Our WOW Skin Science 10-In-1 Apple Cider Vinegar Mist Tonic is a wonderful way to get the moisture and hydration into the hair, without weighing it down via creams and lotions. Just a few sprays of this naturally pH balanced formula neutralizes free radicals, which damage hair cells, DNA, proteins, and cell membranes that lead to weaker, thinner hair. By helping to heal weak strands, you can restore your locks to a healthier state for proper growth to occur. 

Curly and Coily Hair

Moving on to our curly haired kings and queens, and how apple cider vinegar can work for their specific hair needs! These specific hair types are more prone to being drier, or in general have low porosity which can affect how the natural hair oils travel through the hair. What is hair porosity? Hair porosity is how porous, aka how much your hair strands can absorb. This is good to know because your porosity level can determine what formula your hair best works with. There are three kinds of porosity-- low, medium and high. The kind of porosity you have can depend on your genetics, and factors like hormonal imbalances, heat damage, changes throughout your life, etc.

  • Low porosity hair type has cuticles (the outermost layer of your hair shaft) that are compact and located close together. This creates a barrier to entry for hair products, making it difficult to absorb moisture and hair-loving ingredients very well.
  • Medium porosity is considered the average and usually does not have any problems with absorption, leaving the hair pretty healthy and shiny. The cuticles aren’t open too wide or too closed, which makes the medium porosity hair type ideal for absorbing moisture and holding styles really well. It’s also easy for color to absorb into the strands.
  • High porosity hair types have cuticles that are lifted and absorb products quickly. This hair type easily breaks and is often frizzy (hence the lifted cuticles), and is also easily weighed down from absorbing the products too easily (think of a saturated sponge that becomes heavy). 

How do you determine your hair porosity? You can test this out by putting a strand of your hair in a cup of water and seeing where it goes-- if it floats, stays in the middle or sinks to the bottom. This means that the hair has low porosity, medium porosity and high porosity, respectively. Especially for curly hair, you can have a different hair porosity levels in different parts of the scalp. To truly get a sense of your hair type, try this hair porosity test on multiple strands from different parts of your head. So what does that even mean when it comes to what kinds of products you can use? When talking about what kinds of hair products to use for different kinds of porosity, this is really where the differences matter.

If you have low porosity hair, there is a specific order to how you should be applying things to your hair, which we will touch on later.

Medium Porosity Hair

For medium porosity hair, you should just use whatever you have seen work well for you. Because there really isn't too much you can’t do with your hair, it is recommended that you use what you know works best for you.

High Porosity Hair

If you have high porosity hair, your hair absorbs too much moisture and product, so you need to make sure that you are using protein-rich products to help rebuild the shaft, and make it less porous to ensure your haircare routine won’t further weigh down the hair. Apple cider vinegar can actually be a great option for this kind of hair because it will work to adjust the pH balance of your hair, help flatten the cuticle and seal in moisture! 

Low Porosity Hair

As stated before, low porosity hair, in particular, has a very specific order in which hair products should be applied. Especially for low porosity hair types with curly hair, this can cause dryness from the lack of penetration by your hair products. If your locks are craving that additional moisture and hydration, but not able to absorb it with the low porosity, then it will be VERY hard to properly nourish those strands. That is why applying products in this specific order will deliver the best results.

  • Use the WOW Skin Science Microfiber Towel to dry your hair with the same scrunching motion. You can use your hairdryer with a diffuser attachment, but we like the no-heat option to protect your hair health.

If you have a lot of scalp build-up from styling products, dirt, oil, dandruff, pollution, etc, then using shampoo will be more effective as your first step. If you have type 2 hair, you will want to wash your hair a couple of times a week. The curlier and coilier your hair is, the less often you have to clarify the hair for hydration purposes. If your hair is wavy or curly, you can leave the conditioner in for the length of your shower routine before rinsing. If your hair is coilier, it is recommended to wrap your hair and apply low heat with a hairdryer for 15 minutes to help open up the hair cuticles and allow for the hydration to properly penetrate. Next, apply gel or curl cream to wet hair, distribute through your hair while hanging your head upside down, and scrunch your hair towards the scalp to define your curls. Use a cotton towel or shirt, or WOW Skin Science Microfiber Towel to remove excess moisture. For the full routine breakdown, check out our curly hair routine guide here

How Often Should I Use Apple Cider Vinegar?

Considering how strong this superfood is, you may wonder, how often should ACV be used on my hair? It really depends on how much deep cleaning your hair needs, since this is a clarifying shampoo, meaning it is specifically formulated to give you a deep, intensive clarifying to help remove buildup and residue. Because our scalp is still skin, there are natural skin oils and sebum, and sweat that our scalp is constantly secreting, and this mixed with the hair product residue causes buildup that clogs hair follicles and prevents healthy hair growth. Since everyone gets this kind of build-up, a clarifying shampoo like the WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is a great option to detox your scalp. Use it 1-2 times a week on oily, itchy, and normal hair types. If you have a more sensitive scalp and want to balance and strengthen your strands, use it 1-2 times every 2 weeks to get the full effect without irritating your scalp. As with any hair routine, we recommend listening to how your scalp and hair reacts because with this powerful formula, less is more!

How Much Shampoo Should I Use?

Once you got your hair care products down, it's time to figure out just how much shampoo to use on our heads. This all depends on what type of hair type you might have, whether it is thick or thin, or curly/wavy/straight, or oily or dry/damaged. A healthy dollop that fits the palm of your hand is a good place to start! For many people, they think the more shampoo the better, but in reality, more suds doesn’t mean that you are doing more for your hair health. Most hair stylists will say that regardless of how long your hair might be, you shouldn’t automatically be using more shampoo.

The idea is to get the shampoo on your scalp and where the virgin hair grows out of, not just a large squirt into the length of your hair. When applying shampoo, many people usually try to apply it to the entirety of their hair, when in reality, the hair shaft doesn’t need to be aggressively cleaned (unless you are using styling products throughout the length of your strands). When you are shampooing, the product travels down the hair shaft anyways and provides suds to the entire head, so there’s no need to add extra product. 

By rubbing and applying friction to the hair strands, we are also making the hair strands more prone to breakage, split ends, and further hair damage - aka the shorter hair strands that stick up when you tie your hair! This information is important for everyone, but especially for those that have curly or coily hair. Since this kind of hair texture can be dry from the thickness of the strands preventing even scalp oil saturation, it is not the smartest idea to dry it out further with a lot of shampoo. Lots of shampoo = cleaner hair is actually one of the hair myths we aim to bust!

Other myths we tend to believe are that those with oily hair don’t need to use conditioner, or that if you have dandruff that means that you have a dry scalp! Both of these are untrue because the delicate balance of our skin can be off for many reasons. Lastly, the last myth we want to debunk is the idea that color-treated hair can use any shampoos. This is not true because the hair color itself is much more vulnerable to being stripped with harsh chemicals, so if you’re dying your hair at home, use sulfate-free shampoos like WOW’s that are formulated to be color-safe. 

How To Boost Hair Health

If you're looking for a me-time moments for true self care, we love doing nourishing hair treatments to boost hair health. Hair masks are a type of treatment that have long been used to help provide that extra “umph” of hydration. These masks are made with thicker ingredients in the formula like butters, lotions and oils. This is good for those that want to help rehydrate hair, whether it’s because the hair is already dry, or dried out from damaging heat styling tools, product residue, etc. Some benefits of using an overnight hair mask are reducing hair breakage by strengthening hair and sealing split ends, smoothing out hair, taming frizz, adding slip to make detangling knots so much easier, boosting gloss and shine to dull, dry hair, adding volume to limp strands, nourishing from root to tip for healthy, and boosting bouncy hair. Using the WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Mask is a wonderful way of detoxing your hair and the buildup that has occurred. When looking for a quality mask, we recommend making sure that the products don’t have ingredients like sulfates or parabens. WOW Skin Science doesn’t value those ingredients in our products, and we only use vegan, natural ingredients for solutions that are effective!

Apple Cider Vinegar For Skin

Apple cider vinegar has long been used for a multitude of reasons, but one of the most interesting factoids is that in Ancient Egypt, it is said that Queen Cleopatra used apple cider vinegar to cleanse her skin, and get rid of bacteria and fungi that could grow on it. While this is still something that is up for debate, there is no doubt that the acids in apple cider vinegar are pretty much what is used in regular skincare applications-- alpha hydroxy acid, and acetic acids.

Lately, celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and Jungkook from K-Pop boy band BTS have touted their love for this product in helping clear acne scars and balance their skin. So now, after talking about all the different ways that apple cider vinegar is able to be used on your hair and how it works, let's go back to its most well known application-- on the face and rest of the body. Apple cider vinegar for skin dates back to ancient times, and contains citric acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (or AHA) used to exfoliate, brighten, and smooth skin. Even in contemporary times we can see the positive benefit that this ingredient has on improving the skin’s condition, brightening acne scars, and balancing skin's ph levels through an apple cider vinegar toner, face wash, body wash, and more! 

Stressed Skin

We all get stressed skin at some point. Stress is the biggest issue in our modern world, and a lot of that stress can have physical manifestations. Pimples, rashes, dry patches, etc. all come up in times of stress, so something you can do is try to have a routine set for when your skin is acting up and you don’t want to provide the extra mental effort. Why do these symptoms come about? When you feel stressed, the cortisol levels in your body rise. Cortisol, or the fight-or-flight hormone, is your body’s main stress hormone. This hormone impacts different parts of your body, which is why your skin can start to show signs of stress (not to mention hair loss, breakouts, skin irritation, and more).

It is very important to try to get your body back in balance, in homeostasis, by doing things that help to center and ground yourself. If you want to learn more about the signs of stressed skin, we recommend reading this post. In said post, the key takeaway was to upgrade your existing routine to combat your newfound symptoms. Try creating your own scrub for your scalp and body by adding sugar crystals to the WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and the WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Foaming Body Wash, respectively. Using the body wash daily gives your skin triple benefits of cleansing, toning and balancing. For the face, use WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Foaming Face Wash with Brush to exfoliate dryness and dullness to reveal your glow. If you have more sensitive skin, try to use apple cider vinegar products just a few times a week to get the detoxing power without irritation!

Anti-Pollution Routine

Pollution is a growing concern for our planet, and our skin health too. As climate change worsens over the years, the affects start to manifest in physical ways. With natural disasters getting worse, we need to act now to protect our skin from the elements! So what is pollution? According to a study by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, “air pollution contains microscopic contaminants, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which help produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), or free radicals." Free radicals strip the skin of its moisture, affecting how the skin keeps out dirt and other impurities. A compromised skin barrier can trigger increased skin sensitivity, irritation, and premature signs of aging, especially with pigmentation issues. Free radicals also come from UVA and UVB rays, which affect you more now with a depleting ozone layer due to greenhouse gases perpetuated by pollutants. With disruptors coming from all directions to harm our skin, it’s super important to start taking care of your skin NOW with prevention rather than treatment. 

So what kind of routine would be best for this situation? Well, to get into the details regarding this, go and read our Anti-Pollution Skin Routine post. This post helps us solve questions like  “what is the best order to apply skincare?” because it helps us to visualize the most efficient way to apply our skin products for the best protection against pollution. Following these rules regarding how and when to apply products, will work wonders for helping protect your skin against UVA/UVB rays and other kinds of gnarly things like free radicals. 

Make The Most of Your Skincare Routine

Skincare can seem overwhelming, so when choosing products to purchase, try to remember the acronym, “YMMV” or “your mileage may vary.” This acronym means one person’s experience with a product may be different from another’s, regardless of whether or not it is “considered to be the best option for x skin/hair type.” Before using other ingredients in your skincare routine, we always recommend having a clean and balanced base during your cleanser step, by using the WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Foaming Face Wash with Brush. This will reset your skin, balance pH levels, and help fortify your skin’s barrier against irritants. For an on-the-go boost, spray WOW Skin Science 10-In-1 Apple Cider Vinegar Mist Tonic to replenish moisture to irritated skin. Like the other natural solutions from WOW Skin Science, we know that these ingredients work very well together because of testing and reviews.  

Apple Cider Vinegar is Historic

In all, we can see that apple cider vinegar has a lot of beneficial uses, whether that be through internal consumption or external application to your hair or skin. Apple cider vinegar has been used in multiple ways throughout the centuries-- legend has it that Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, treated many of his patients using apple cider vinegar, and was a big proponent of consuming vinegar daily. He used this folk remedy to treat various conditions ranging from bad breath, sore throat, ulcers to even ‘fractures’. The presence of ACV has also been traced back to Egyptian urns as old as 3000 B.C.

It is incredible to know that apple cider vinegar’s properties were beloved even back then! It was also used to fend off certain diseases, as a body deodorant and a healing tonic. Like we mentioned before, Queen Cleopatra was said to use apple cider vinegar in her beauty rituals and to help cleanse her skin-- all things that apple cider vinegar is being used for until this day. Now that we all know a lot regarding this superfood, we can go ahead and use this ingredient with full confidence and with the appropriate expectations. Good luck on your journey! 

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