When I first heard of Apple Cider Vinegar(ACV) as a 4C hair rinse, I was in disbelief. This triggered my curiosity and hence why I decided to do a bit of research before using it on my natural 4C hair. In this article I share what I found out.
Here is what I will cover:
Apple Cider Vinegar for 4C Hair Growth?
Apple Cider Vinegar can be used as a hair wash to improve scalp health, strengthen hair and also to enhance shine.
Apple Cider Vinegar is made in a two-step fermentation process. The fermentation process enriches the solution with live cultures, minerals and acids.
In the first step, apples that have been cut up are exposed to yeast which ferments the sugars in the apples turning them into alcohol.
The second step involves adding bacteria to the alcohol solution. This further ferments the alcohol turning it into Acetic acid. Acetic acid is the main active compound in vinegar. The presence of acetic acid gives the final product a sour taste.
ACV is found in many local stores but if you would like to learn how to make ACV at home, here are links to two Youtubers that I think have done a good job in explaining the process:
Why Apple Cider Vinegar on 4C hair?
The main reason why ACV is used in hair is because of its acidic nature. To understand the relationship between your hair and ACV, here is some explanation.
Human hair has a slightly acidic PH. The PH ranges from 4.0-5.0. The acidic nature of hair and scalp keeps the cuticles closed and healthy and works to protects it from bacteria and fungus.
Below the skin are the sebaceous glands which secrete sebum through the hair follicle. The sebum, which is acidic in PH, lubricates the hair and scalp, this works to maintain and protect the hair and scalp.
The acidic nature of hair also makes the hair cuticles scales lie flat which give hair a shiny, smooth appearance hence protecting the hair from moisture loss. Shampoos, because of their cleaning agents, are alkaline in nature, this is why after shampooing, your hair may feel dry and brittle. This is why conditioners are used! Conditioners are acidic in nature and thus restore the hair PH to its natural state. Here is an article to help you understand the purpose of conditioners on your 4C hair.
When the hair PH level is tampered with, the hair strands swell and the cuticle scales open causing breakage. This result in frizzy, brittle hair, which makes the hair dry, hence dull appearance due to light absorption.
Even the most ‘natural of naturals’ run to the stores to get hair products for days when they have run out of homemade products or simply need to try something different. Some of these store bought products tamper with the natural hair PH and thus why Apple Cider Vinegar is used as an alternative to balance the hair PH.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar on 4C hair
1 – Balances the PH of hair
Apple Cider Vinegar is acidic in nature and hence when applied to hair, it helps lower the PH of your hair, if your hair waived off to a more alkaline PH. ACV contains a good amount of acetic acid which helps in balancing the alkalinity. Hair that is alkaline is dull, brittle or fizzy. This is the reason why after using some shampoos (alkaline in PH) on your hair, you need to restore the PH back to normal, which should be at slightly acidic(4.0-5.0).
**Caution- always ensure ACV is diluted before using it in your hair because it is very acidic. You can do this by diluting with water.
2 – Scalp health
ACV restores the hair’s PH to slightly acidic which is great to keep of bacteria and fungus that causes dandruff away from the scalp. Due to its anti-inflammatory nature, ACV can counteract skin inflammation that typically occurs in dry and flaky scalp.
3 – Removes build up from your hair
ACV contains alpha-hydroxyl which helps in exfoliating the scalp and hair allowing removal of dead skin cells and sweat build up which improves hair appearance, reduces itchiness and allows for better styling.
4 – Conditions the hair
Apple Cider Vinegar can be used as a conditioner to soften hair and restore moisture to your hair.
5 – Increases shine and minimizes tangling
Using ACV stabilizes the hair PH which leads to flattening of the cuticles which results in shiny hair that is less prone to tangling or snagging hair.
6 – Promotes hair growth
Because of the above mentioned benefits: Scalp health, removing build-up from the scalp and conditioning hair. The hair has the optimum conditions to thrive and grow.
How to use Apple Cider Vinegar
Here are some suggestions on how to use ACV on your hair.
ACV can be used as a pre-final rinse especially when the shampooing process has left your hair dry and frizzy.
- Mix the ¼ cup ACV with 1 cup water and put aside. (I found this quantities to work best for my hair, you can vary the quantities depending on your hair volume and condition)
- Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo.
- Condition your hair and rinse thoughrouly, then pour the vinegar mixture on your hair evenly, massaging your scalp, let it sit for 15-20minutes.
- Rinse it out with warm water.
- You can mix a few drops of essential oil like lavender oil, olive oil, jojoba oil or coconut oil into the mixture if the acidic smell is too strong.
- Again because all our hairs are different, with experimentation, should be able to determine the frequency to use the ACV. I personally use it once a month
ACV can be used as natural hair conditioner when mixed with a store bought conditioner to give it an extra boost. This will leave the hair smooth and shiny.
ACV can also be used as herbal hair rinse by mixing various herbs like rosemary, chamomile, henna, and lavender among others.
Caution when using Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is known to contain acetic acid which may irritate or burn the skin. Always dilute ACV with water before directly applying to your scalp. Avoid contacts with eyes and incase of irritation during rinse, reduce the amount during the mix.
Always consult a skin or hair specialist whenever in doubt. The information I share is my opinion, supported with research from authorities in the subject and my personal experiences in using Apple Cider Vinegar.
The last thing you need to know about Apple Cider Vinegar.
ACV helps balance PH due to high acetic acid substance on the vinegar. Increasing acidity by promotes smoothness, strengthens and adds shine to hair. A study on hair shampoo done by (Trichology ,2017 A 2014 study) found that high alkalinity can contribute to hair breakage and dryness. The research goes on to argue that most hair care products don’t actually address the hair PH and that most shampoos are always alkaline.
I hope the information I have shared will help you make a decision on whether to include ACV in your hair care routine or not.
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