I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Do you make a conditioner?” I have a page on my site called Shampoo Bar Success which goes into the whole reason some people develop what I like to call “Barbie Doll Hair Syndrome” where your hair feels wet and weird even when it’s dry, so I won’t go into that here.
But a vinegar rinse doesn’t have to be plain. Today we’ll talk about why apple cider vinegar makes a great conditioner, infusing herbs into the vinegar and using essential oils as well.
If you looked at your hair under a microscope it might appear to have flakes on it. These “flakes” are the cuticle and they are what protect the fragile inner layers of our hair. When the cuticle is lying flat it will reflect light causing the hair to shine. When the cuticle is lying flat it will also give out hair the silky smooth appearance we love. When the cuticle is worn down our hair will look dull, lifeless, frizzy or limp.
Commercial conditioners work by coating the hair with silicone to cause the cuticle to lie down and appear smooth. Problem is, now you have silicone covered hair. So how do we get our cuticles to behave without chemicals? Apple cider vinegar!
Apple cider vinegar strips the build-up of silicone other residue from our hair shaft causing the cuticle to lay flat (shinier hair) as well as closing the cuticles which allows our hair to slide more easily and results in less tangles.
You can use a plain vinegar rinse, starting with a 1-1 ratio of vinegar to water to strip off the residue and silicone build up when you begin using natural shampoo bar. As you go use less vinegar and more water. There is no specific ratio that is best because we all have different needs. Dry hair tends to need less vinegar than oily hair. Experiment to find what’s right for you. I like to do my rinse in the shower after I shampoo and leave it on for a few minutes. Save the hair rinse until after you’ve washed and rinsed the rest of you. You CAN leave it in. The smell will go away after your hair is dry. If you struggle with dandruff or an itchy scalp try leaving it in, the ACV will restore the natural PH of the hair and help with those conditions.
You can also make your ACV rinse as fancy as you want! Infusing herbs into vinegar is a simple way to add extra conditioning to your hair. Herbs contain many wonderful properties and you can experiment to find the ones that are right for you. Personally, I like Ayurvedic Herbs for hair.
Bhringraj is excellent for promoting hair growth, moisturizing dry hair, and reducing premature greying, balding and alopecia.
Brahmi Powder darkens hair (not one I need since I’m a natural blonde), strengthens the roots, controls premature graying and helps clear up dandruff.
Shikakai Powder cleanses the scalp, breathes new life into dull hair, fights dandruff, makes hair silky and detangles. Amla Powder stimulates the root to promote hair growth, reduces shedding, fights premature graying and is great conditioner.
Neem is a powerful antiseptic and helpful for clearing dandruff.
Don’t have access to Ayurvedic Herbs? Try some of these more commonly found ones.
Rosemary is great for dandruff and hair loss. Be aware it can darken hair so best for brunettes and dark hair colors.
Calendula is hydrating, clears dandruff, and strengthens both scalp and hair. It is also great for giving natural highlights.
Chamomile is soothing for the scalp and is said to help prevent hair loss. It also imparts a beautiful shine.
Whichever herb you choose be sure that it’s organic or if from your own yard that it’s not been sprayed with chemicals.
Place about a cup of chopped herbs into a glass jar and cover with about 2 cups of vinegar. If you’re using powdered herbs you can use about 4 TBSP per cup of ACV. Steep fresh herbs in a cool, dry place for a couple of weeks. For powders be sure to shake the jar frequently to impart the properties of the powder to the ACV.
After a few weeks, strain the vinegar into a clean jar or bottle and it will keep about 6 months in the refrigerator. If you happen to run out or are just really impatient you can also boil the vinegar and herbs together for about 15-30 minutes and then allow to sit, off the heat for another 30-45minutes. Strain, cool and refrigerate.
Essential oils can be added to your ACV rinse with or without herbs but be very careful because some oils can burn you if not properly diluted. Never use more than a 1.5% dilution of essential oils in vinegar (5-10 drops to 2 cups of vinegar).
Look for Ayurvedic Vinegar Herbal Rinses on our website within the next couple of weeks.