Make Your Own Natural Vinegar Hair Rinse


Apple Cider Vinegar Rinses are an excellent addition to any natural hair care routine. Apple cider vinegar, packed with nutrients, can help with tangles and frizzy hair, bring back body and shine, decrease residue and clarify, stimulate the scalp, decrease dandruff, and unclog hair follicles which may help with excess shedding or hair loss. 


The use of vinegar with a variety of plants, herbs and essential oils for
cosmetic purposes can be traced back to the Romans and was
fashionable during the nineteenth century as "vinegar de toilette."



Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Detangle and Reduce Frizz: The outer layer of hair, the cuticle, covers the hair shaft and protects it like the bark on a tree. The cuticle is made of overlapping layers of long scales that lie along the surface of the hair like shingles on a roof. It is the condition of the cuticle scales that determines whether you are going to have a bad hair day. 

  • ACV helps smooth the cuticle which allows knots and tangles to comb out more easily.
  • Frizzy hair is caused by lifted, open cuticles. ACV helps smooth and tighten cuticles to help decrease the frizzies.

Increase Shine: When the cuticle is in good shape, is unbroken, and lies flat, your hair has a smooth appearance. When the layers of the cuticle are tightly knit together, the light is able to reflect off the cuticle. This is what makes hair shine! The cuticle opens when we shampoo our hair. When the cuticle layers are open and not knit together, the hair will feel rough, coarse and brittle. The hair will absorb the light rather than reflect it, which gives the appearance of dull and lifeless hair.

Decrease Build Up: ACV removes scaly build-up and residue from hair shafts to cleanse and clarify the hair and scalp without stripping the hair of its natural oils. Since residue coats the hair causing it to look dull, removing residue also gives hair more shine.  

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Add Body and Define Natural Curls: Unlike conventional conditioners, vinegar does not weigh down the individual hair strands which can cause hair to feel heavy and look limp. Also, by taming the frizz and removing residue, vinegar rinses help add body to all hair types and renew the bounce to naturally curly hair. 

Stimulate The Scalp: Vinegar has a tonic action that promotes blood circulation in the small capillaries that irrigate the scalp with essential nutrients. This helps encourage hair growth and strengthens the roots. 

Decrease Dandruff and Flaking: ACV has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties that help treat a dry itchy scalp by killing the bacteria and fungus that may be associated with dandruff (and even hair loss) and other scalp conditions, without harsh chemicals.  

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Why Apple Cider Vinegar?


Although plain white vinegar will work just fine, Apple Cider Vinegar seems to be the favorite hair care vinegar. Some say that wine vinegars may be less drying for those with dry scalp conditions.

The process for making apple cider vinegar begins with the juice of fresh apples. Bacteria and yeast added to the juice begin the fermentation process which breaks down fructose, the naturally occurring fruit sugar, into alcohol. The alcohol is converted vinegar (which means “sour wine” in French) by acetic acid forming bacteria. 

I recommend and use raw apple cider vinegar with "mother."

The natural raw non-pasteurized vinegar appears cloudy with stringy stuff and sediment on the bottom due to the "mother" which contains the natural bacteria and enzymes that make this product so wonderful. 

The difference between raw apple cider vinegar and a commercial clear vinegar, is that the commercial vinegar is heated, distilled and clarified. This processing removes much of the naturally occurring bacteria, nutrients and living enzymes, thus stripping away the natural benefits.


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Simple Vinegar Rinse Recipe

Mix 1/2 to 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) with 8 ounces of water in a plastic squeeze bottle, spray bottle or other container. Experiment to find a dilution that works best for your hair type (dry hair likes less ACV and oily hair like more).  

If you want some variation, create a vinegar rinse tailored to your hair by adding herbs and/or natural essential oils. I have included an herb and vinegar rinse and an essential oil vinegar rinse that I use below.

How Do I Use The Vinegar Hair Rinse?

After shampooing apply the vinegar rinse. Pour, squirt or spray the rinse onto wet hair. Massage into hair and scalp and pay special attention to the ends. Let sit for a couple minutes.

Now you have a few choices. You may rinse it all out if you want, or leave the rinse on your hair. I rinse a little--one quick spray of water. Leaving the vinegar rinse on your hair helps prevent tangles in long hair. Since the vinegar restores natural pH it also helps prevent an itchy scalp. As your hair is drying you will smell vinegar, but once your hair dries, no smell. I was skeptical at first--but this really works!

How Often Can I Use The Vinegar Hair Rinse?

Since everyone's hair is unique you should use your own judgment on this. You will need to experiment to find a dilution that works best for your hair type. Remember--dry hair likes less vinegar and oily hair likes more. 

Some say that vinegar rinses may be drying if used every day and it is best to restrict use to two times per week. I used a vinegar rinse every other day for the first few weeks when I switched to natural shampoo bars--until my hair adjusted to the new shampoo--now once or twice a month keeps my hair healthy and shiny. Many customers have found this regimen to work, but do some experimenting!

Some Helpful Hints

While you can use any container to make your vinegar rinse I like using a plastic squirt top bottle. It is easier to squirt it all over my scalp and then massage it through, rather than pouring it all over my head from a cup. Recycle any clean plastic bottle with a squirt top.

Pouring a cold vinegar rinse on your hair in the shower may be a more invigorating experience than you would like. (Although if you're feeling brave, the cold water will give your hair added shine.) If you would like a warmer rinse, make it just before you step in the shower using very warm tap water. 


For many folks dandruff is simply a scalp condition in which there are excess flakes of dead skin that appear in the hair. This can be caused by dry skin, oily skin, too much or too little hair washing. 

For some folks the cause is an irritated skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is marked by red, greasy skin and scalp covered with flaky white or yellow scales.

Researchers now believe that for many people severe dandruff is caused by a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia globosa. While this fungus normally lives on the scalps of most adults, it can be an irritant for some. This irritation causes excess skin cells to grow on the scalp which die and fall off as white flakes. 

A stronger ACV rinse may help with fungal dandruff. Apple cider vinegar has natural anti-fungal properties to help prevent and alleviate dandruff. Mix together equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and massage into your scalp before shampooing. 

An ACV rinse may also help with seborrheic dermatitis. Since ACV can sting the sensitive skin irritated by seborrheic dermatitis, begin with a dilute ACV rinse using 1 tablespoon of ACV to 10 ounces of water. Allow the mixture to sit on the scalp for a few minutes and rinse. If it seems to help, you can slowly increase the concentration. ACV may also help with patches of seborrheic dermatitis on the skin. Dab the dilute vinegar mixture (1 tablespoon of ACV to 10 ounces of water) directly on the affected skin. Leave on the skin for a few minutes and rinse. If you feel any burning sensation, wash the mixture off, let the skin rest and then you can try an even more dilute mixture. 


Hair Stimulation Rinse


HerbS & Vinegar Hair Rinse

Rinsing your hair with vinegar after shampooing leaves it shining. Certain herbs can highlight or enhance your hair color, as well as condition it.

For example, rosemary and parsley are good for dark hair, sage will darken graying hair, chamomile will highlight blonde or light brown hair, calendula conditions, lavender and lemon verbena add fragrance, linden is good for frequently shampooed hair, and nettles will control dandruff.

This rinse is made from the herbs themselves, not essential oils. You can use either fresh or dried herbs. If you have a rosemary bush handy, use a sprig or two-- each about 5 inches long. For dried rosemary use about a tablespoon. Rosemary is one of the best herbs for hair.

Fresh lavender is also nice to use. Most of the herbs you can grow in your garden will probably be useful in some way or other. Fresh herbs are wonderful to use, but do remember to rinse them if they have been sprayed with anything. Cut fresh herbs in the morning after the dew has dried.

If using dried herbs, you can use them either loose, tied up in cheesecloth or muslin fabric, or in teabag form (like one chamomile teabag). If use using loose herbs, you will need to strain your "tea" prior to use (I use a coffee filter)--you don't want to have bits of herb caught in your hair afterwards!

Although there is no need to sterilize equipment, since this is not going to be a food product, clean all equipment thoroughly before starting. Wash in hot, soapy water and rinse well in hot water.


HerbS & Vinegar Hair Rinse Recipe #1: A quick recipe for one application


  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • herbs of choice**
  • 2 cups boiling water

**For a list of great herbs for hair please see our 
"Hair Care Herbs" page.



  1. Boil the water only in a small saucepan.
  2. Add the herbs. Cover and allow the "tea" to steep for at least 15 minutes. If you want a stronger herbal infusion, add more herbs, cover and simmer on the stove for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Allow your infusion to cool. Then add the vinegar.
  4. It should be used that day or refrigerated for later use. You may also double or triple the recipe. Just be sure to refrigerate the unused portion.
  5. When you have finished rinsing the shampoo out of your hair, pour the rinse on your hair and massage your scalp. If you have very long hair, as I do, you can dip your hair into the jug before pouring its contents over your head. Avoid getting the rinse in your eyes, particularly if you have used essential oils. Also make sure the temperature of your rinse is just right for you.
  6. Rinse it out with fresh water or, for extra conditioning benefits, just leave it in and towel dry hair. The vinegar scent will disappear as your hair dries.
  7. Make sure you rinse out the shower afterwards, as some herbs can leave it looking slightly tea stained; similarly, watch out for your towels. The staining is only temporary and washes out very easily; it is more likely to occur with extra strong infusions.


Organic Herbal Hair Tea Rinse

Herb & Vinegar Hair Rinse Recipe #2

This recipe makes a larger batch and takes longer to prepare?


  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped herbs of choice**
  • **For a list of great herbs for hair please see our 
    "Hair Care Herbs" page.



  1. Place approximately 1 cup of chopped herbs in a glass jar.
  2. Cover with 2 cups of vinegar.
  3. "Steep" this mixture in a tightly closed jar or bottle in the refrigerator or in a dark, cool place for two weeks.
  4. Strain steeped vinegar from herbs through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a fresh, clean bottle.
  5. The infused vinegar (without water) will keep for 6 months to a year if stored properly in a cool and dry area.  (I always leave about a weeks worth in my shower!)
  6. Tip: If you don't want to wait two weeks, speed up infusion by gently heating the vinegar before pouring over herbs. "Steep" for a few days!  Be aware that if you are using natural raw non-pasteurized apple cider vinegar heating may kill natural enzymes and reduce its natural health benefits.
  7. When ready to use: dilute 1 to 2 tablespoon of the herbal vinegar in 1 cup of water. Rinse through wet hair after shampooing. Rinse it out with fresh water or, for extra conditioning benefits, just leave it in and towel dry hair. The vinegar scent will disappear as your hair dries.

 For a chart of USEFUL HAIR HERBS visit our HAIR CARE HERBS page



There are many wonderful essential oils for hair care.  Essential oils can be diluted in water, vinegar or added to an herbal vinegar recipe shown above.

Some words of CAUTION:

Essential oils are very strong and many can be skin irritants if not used correctly. Lavender is one of a very few essential oils that can be used directly on skin, others will irritate skin if used full strength.

Some essential oils are stronger than others. You must be knowledgeable about the amount of essential oil to use in your dilution.

Essential oils are expensive. But do NOT use the cheaper fragrance oils or "nature identical" oils. These are synthetic, can cause skin irritation and provide none of the benefits of natural botanical essential oils.

Essential Oil & Vinegar Hair Rinse Recipe


  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar (herb infused or plain)
  • 5 to 10 drops of essential oil

See our information on Essential Oils for Hair Care  for more recipes using essential oils


  1. Mix vinegar and essential oils.
  2. This mixture should be stored in a glass bottle since the essential oils may react with plastic.
  3. Mixture can be used right away, but if you allow it to sit for a day or two the "flavors" will blend.
  4. When ready to use: dilute 1 to 2 tablespoon of the vinegar/essential oil mixture in 1 cup of water.
  5. Rinse through wet hair after shampooing. Rinse it out with fresh water or, for extra conditioning benefits, just leave it in and towel dry hair.

Gently cleanse your hair with our herbal infused Shampoo Bars