Vinegar makes a great hair rinse that induces natural shine. It doesn’t strip permanent hair color but can change the shade, so it’s best avoided by people who dye their hair. (There are other options available for those who’ve just gotten colored and don’t love the results.) Otherwise, vinegar is surprisingly beneficial in hair care.

Vinegar Benefits to Hair

A vinegar hair rinse removes shampoo buildup, minerals that come from washing with hard water, and sodium residue from using water treated by a softener. Vinegar also closes the hairs’ cuticles, making locks smoother and more light-reflective—aka shinier.


Acids and enzymes in apple cider vinegar eliminate bacteria that clog hair follicles and cause dandruff, itching, and hair loss.

How to Use Vinegar on Hair

Regular white vinegar and apple cider vinegar both work, but the latter generally smells better. Either way, the odor doesn’t linger once hair is dry. For longer hair, 1/2 tablespoon vinegar mixed with 1 cup water is a good ratio. After shampooing, pour the rinse over hair and then wash out with plain water. Vinegar can be drying, so use it only once a week.

To improve clogged follicles, apply undiluted apple cider vinegar to the scalp, leave on for 30 minutes, and then wash out.

Boost With Essential Oils and Herbs

Adding essential oils or herbs to a vinegar rinse can condition hair and enhance color. Horsetail and marigold are good for dry hair. Lavender, thyme, and witch hazel work with oily hair. Chamomile and marigold brighten light hair, while parsley, rosemary, or sage enriches dark shades.

How to Remove Permanent Hair Color

Vinegar does not remove permanent hair color. To fix unwanted shades, call a colorist immediately—professionally colored hair might not set for 48 hours, so there might still be time to remove it.

Color mishaps at home are best fixed by a professional as well. If that’s not an option, shades that are too light can be dyed a darker shade—but wait at least two to four weeks to avoid over processing. For hair that comes out too dark, the old trick is to wash several times with Prell shampoo, which can fade permanent hair dye. There are some home-use color removers on the market, but they can cause hair breakage or unusual color, and they should never be used on permed or damaged hair. L’Oreal Color Zap and Color Fix by Jheri Redding both remove permanent color and have a reputation for being less harsh than some color removers.

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Vinegar Hair Rinse Recipes