Vinegar can make a great hair rinse, bringing out the natural shine. It does not strip permanent hair coloring but can change the shade, so it is best avoided by people who dye their hair. There are other options available for those who have just undergone hair coloring and are not pleased with the results. Otherwise, vinegar has several benefits in hair care use.


Vinegar used as a hair rinse removes shampoo build-up, as well as minerals that come from washing hair with hard water, and sodium residue from using water treated by a softener. Vinegar also closes the cuticles, making hair smoother, so hair has fewer tangles and is easier to comb. The smoother surface also reflects more light and makes hair shine.


Regular white vinegar and apple cider vinegar both work, although you may like the apple cider version for the smell. Either way, the odor does not linger once your hair is dry. For longer hair, 1/2 tablespoon in one cup of water is a good ratio. Pour the rinse over your hair after shampooing, and then rinse again with plain water. Each person will need to experiment for a routine that works best. Vinegar can be drying, so once a week may be fine.


You can add essential oils or herbs to the vinegar rinse too, which enhance color and condition hair. Horsetail and marigold are good for dry hair. Lavender, thyme, and witch hazel work with oily hair. Light hair is brightened by chamomile or marigold, while dark hair color is enriched by parsley, rosemary, or sage.


The acids and enzymes in apple cider vinegar also eliminate bacteria that clog hair follicles, causing dandruff, itching and hair loss. To improve these problems, apply full-strength apple cider vinegar to the scalp and rub it in, leave on for 30 minutes and then wash out.


Vinegar does not remove permanent hair color, but if you’ve had your hair colored professionally and don’t like the way it turned out, call the salon immediately. The color might not set for 48 hours, and your colorist may be able to fix the problem. If you colored your hair at home, you still can try having it fixed professionally. Otherwise, contact the maker of the hair coloring product at the toll-free number on the instructions. If your hair turned out a little bit too light, you can color your hair again with a darker shade. If your hair turned out a little bit too dark, an old trick is to wash it several times with Prell shampoo, which can fade the color of permanent hair dye. There are some home-use color removers on the market, although be aware that they can cause hair breakage or unusual color. 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.

References and Resources

Vinegar hair rinse recipes