Remember back in 2011 when every other hair commercial on TV featured brand-new clarifying shampoos that targeted all that grimy scalp buildup you never knew you had, but you suddenly hated? I distinctly remember walking down the aisles of Walgreens that year and seeing zillions of clear-bottled shampoos, with the words “weightless,” and “oil-fighting,” and “deep-cleaning” on the labels, as if our scalps had suddenly turned into left-over casserole dishes. But, just like you, I totally bought into the hype…for a few months.
Because what those labels and commercials didn’t tell us was that most of those clarifying formulas actually stripped the hell out of your hair, leaving it feeling dry, straw-like, and frizzy. Sure, the product buildup and gunk was gone, but so was the health of your hair. Seeing as I wasn’t ready to go back to my life of lank curls, flattened under the grime of my heavy curl products, I did a little internet digging, and I stumbled upon a two-ingredient DIY that would forever change the life of my hair: apple cider vinegar rinses. Hear me out.
Apple cider vinegar rinses (or, ACV for short) are a cult-favorite DIY in the natural, curly, and, well, hair-in-general community for gently dissolving root buildup and leaving hair ridiculously shiny and smooth, all without stripping your hair’s natural oils. Weird, right? You think anything with vinegar in the name would be hella drying, but the citric acid in apple cider vinegar basically destroys follicle-clogging bacteria while polishing each hair strand, leaving you with bouncy, smooth, and hydrated hair—so, you know, everything those shampoo commercials promised, and failed to deliver, in 2011.
To make it at home, mix one-part apple cider vinegar—any ol’ apple cider vinegar will work, but the brand with the most sworn-by results is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar—with three-parts water, and use it after you shampoo (I fill one-fourth of a plastic cup with ACV before getting in the shower, then fill the rest of the cup with water when I’m ready to rinse). Just tilt your head back, pour the mixture slowly over your scalp—keeping your eyes and mouth closed; this stuff tastes awful—and massage it into your roots before rinsing very, very thoroughly and conditioning as usual. Yes, your shower will smell like a salad for a few minutes, and yes, your hair will smell slightly of vinegar until it dries, but you legit won’t care once you see how awesome your hair looks.
Another fun fact: Despite the scary-sounding “vinegar” part, this rinse is totally safe for color-treated, curly, dry, or all-three hair, so pretty much every hair type can benefit from this rinse. Just remember, though, that apple cider vinegar is still somewhat acidic, so you’ll want to limit yourself to doing ACV rinses only once a week (twice, max).
Of course, if DIYs aren’t your thing, and you’d rather go the pre-made route, options still exist, like DP Hue’s Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse, which combines apple cider vinegar with argan oil, aloe vera, and glycerin to hydrate and condition hair, while removing gunk. It’s pricey, but it definitely gets the job done, and your head will smell less potent by the time you rinse. Either way, though, please promptly head to the store, pick up some ACV, and get the shampoo-commercial hair of your childhood dreams.