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Washing Hair with Apple Cider Vinegar - Side Effects

5 mins

Barbara Cameron

Is ACV the miraculous cure-all for hair problems? Washing hair with apple cider vinegar side effects? What are they? What do you need to know? Read on.

People across countries have used Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) since ancient times.

During the Roman era, apple cider vinegar was mixed with spices and served as an energy-inducing drink for soldiers. The vinegar found a respectable place in Western medicine, used by the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates. ACV was used to treat colds and coughs and as a general health tonic.

Vinegar was also special in Chinese traditional medicine, serving its purpose as a toxin-remover and worm-killer. The Japanese used vinegar, water, and rice to boost their core life energy.

In Islamic tradition, vinegar was mentioned in Prophet Mohammed’s talks. Avicenna, credited as the founder of the Unani healing method, is believed to have used vinegar for digestive problems, cough, and skin inflammations.

From health benefits to its use in cleaning, food-making, and odor-removing, apple cider vinegar is generous with its goodness.

But how does vinegar rate when it comes to its benefits for hair? What about washing hair with apple cider vinegar side effects?

Table of Contents:

  • Is apple cider vinegar damaging to the hair?
  • Dandruff
  • Product Build-Up
  • Hair Breakage
  • Is apple cider vinegar bad for hair color?
  • How long can you leave apple cider vinegar in your hair?
  • Can you leave apple cider vinegar in your hair overnight?
  • Can you use the WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo every day?

Is apple cider vinegar damaging to the hair?

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid and phytochemicals inherited from apples. When used right, ACV can address several hair problems, including:


ACV has acidic properties, which counters scalp conditions that are likely to facilitate dandruff. The acidic nature of the vinegar works on the scalp, modifying its pH and making the skin resistant to dandruff.

ACV works best against dandruff when used in the following way:

  •     Mix ACV and water in equal measure (1/4th cup: 1/4th cup)
  •     Pour the mix into a sprayer.
  •     Squirt the mix evenly over the scalp.
  •     Leave the mix to settle by wrapping a towel over your head.
  •     Rest for 15 – 60 minutes.
  •     Wash your hair to remove ACV.

Use ACV twice a week to get rid of dandruff.

Product Build-Up

ACV can break build-up from dirt, grease, grime, and product remnants on your hair. If you use hard water for hair, product build-up can ensue. Hardwater comprises sulfates, magnesium bicarbonates, and calcium.

Regular use of ACV can break down and dissolve hard water build-up, especially calcium accumulation. Use ACV after a shampoo session for the best results.

To prepare an ACV rinse for product build-up:

  •     Mix equal parts of ACV and water (1:1)
  •     Pour the mix gently on the hair, over the scalp, and along the length.
  •     Allow a couple of minutes before rinsing it out.

If your skin is sensitive, you may want to dilute ACV more. ACV is highly acidic, diluting the mix makes it safer for your hair. 

Hair Breakage

Hair damage caused by split ends, dryness, and weak strands, can be well-addressed with ACV. Apple cider vinegar contains vitamins B and C, which promote hair growth.

Vitamin B promotes hair growth by increasing the production of red blood cells. These cells are crucial to supplying oxygen to the scalp. With increased oxygen, hair follicles can generate new hair.

Vitamin C promotes collagen production. Collagen protein is key to growing strong hair and strengthening strands. Antioxidant properties of Vitamin C protect hair protein from damage by free radicals. Free radical damage is responsible for dull hair and breakage.

Vitamin C is also a great hydrating agent. It locks hair moisture, preventing escape. As a result, strands stay hydrated and healthy.

Also, Vitamin C has acidic nature and a lower pH. This property of the vitamin tightens and smoothens cuticles, resulting in smoother and shinier curls.

Regular use of ACV prevents hair breakage by promoting stronger hair growth and improving its moisture content.

Give your hair ACV nourishment:

  •     Add 2 cups of water to 2 to 4 tablespoons of ACV.
  •     Apply this mixture over your hair, spreading it evenly all across.
  •     Rinse after a few minutes.

For the best effect, use ACV rinse after shampooing and conditioning.

Is apple cider vinegar bad for hair color?

Apple cider vinegar does not affect permanent hair color. But if you are using a temporary color, then ACV may strip your strands of the color. This is because ACV is acidic. But this effect is sometimes good. You can use ACV to lighten dark colors.

However, you may prevent the color-lightening impact of ACV by timing your application right.

Apply ACV rinse immediately after your color treatment. Hair colors are mostly alkaline. As a result, hair cuticles are open on colored hair. An acidic solution such as ACV helps seal the cuticles, which preserves the color and extends its life.

To extend the new color of your hair with an ACV rinse:

  •     Mix one part of vinegar with five parts of water.
  •     Pour the mix into a spray bottle.
  •     Sprint the rinse over your scalp and hair.
  •     Spread the rinse by rubbing it gently over the scalp and hair.
  •     Leave it for 2 to 5 minutes.
  •     Wash, then rinse off with cool water.
  •     Use a lightweight conditioner.
  •     Rinse hair again so that the conditioner and ACV are all washed off.

How long can you leave apple cider vinegar in your hair?

The duration varies depending on the purpose of the use of ACV rinse. If you are using ACV, rinse for general hair health; leaving it for a couple of minutes would suffice.

Increasing the duration if you use the rinse to address specific hair problems such as dandruff. For example, a rinse to get rid of dandruff could stay on the hair for 20 to 60 minutes. If you are using ACV for hair lightening, then leave the rinse for about 10 minutes.

Can you leave apple cider vinegar in your hair overnight?

There are different opinions regarding leaving ACV overnight. For some people, leaving ACV overnight (diluted) does not result in any side effects. Some people say they have been leaving ACV at a stretch or overnight for years. On the contrary, some people refrain from doing so, given the vinegar's acidic nature.

As ACV shows results within a lesser time, there is no need to leave the vinegar overnight.

Prolonging ACV use, especially without dilution, can burn the scalp given the vinegar’s highly acidic nature.

Even if you use diluted ACV, check the extent of dilution that works for your hair. You may want to start with a weaker ACV rinse and decrease dilution in steady smaller measures till you reach a workable dilution.

Can you use the WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo every day?

The WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo brings the richness of raw ACV to your hair. The specialty of the formulation is that the deep cleansing effects of ACV are well-balanced by other enriching ingredients.

Argan oil provides omega-6 fatty acids, which keep strands soft and moisturized. Sweet almond oil is highly nourishing with its Vitamin C and fat content. Nettle leaf extract is soothing on the scalp with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

With this powerful natural combination, this shampoo provides deep detox without stripping your hair of natural oils and moisture.

In addition, the shampoo is 100% free from chemicals, parabens, sulfates, and silicones. It is gluten-free and cruelty-free as well.

You can derive the powerful effects of the shampoo by using it twice a week if you have dandruff, oily hair, or product build-up. If you have a dry and sensitive scalp, using the shampoo once a week is enough.

ACV has many benefits for the hair, including its efficacy in eliminating dandruff, hair breakage, and nutritional deficiencies. But the vinegar needs to be used properly for the benefits to materialize.

Apple cider vinegar does not damage hair when used in a diluted form. But using more than a few tablespoons, or leaving ACV for more time than required on the hair, can have side effects. Scalp irritation and burns can follow if ACV is not used properly. 

If you are using ACV-based shampoos, use them once or twice a week, depending on your hair type.

Try the WOW Skin Science range of natural ACV-based haircare essentials for the best benefits.

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Barbara Cameron

If you are looking to make lifestyle changes that can transform your life for the better, then you need to take the advice of Barbara Cameron. She has explored a range of jobs in the beauty, health, and wellness industries, earning unparalleled experience and knowledge.

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Barbara Cameron

If you are looking to make lifestyle changes that can transform your life for the better, then you need to take the advice of Barbara Cameron. She has explored a range of jobs in the beauty, health, and wellness industries, earning unparalleled experience and knowledge.
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