Every year it’s the same old thing. As winter sets in and the New Jersey air grows cold and dry, my scalp gets angry. At first, it’s just dryness, and I can keep it under control by cutting down on how often I shampoo my hair (usually to two or three times a week) and keeping my showers below scalding temperatures. But, by the time it finally starts warming up outside, my scalp is itchy, irritated, and flaky.
Over the years, I’ve tried all sorts of store-bought products and DIY remedies in attempts to ease my sensitive skin. While medicated shampoos helped with the flaking, they turned my actual hair to straw. And though coconut oil sugar scalp scrubs felt good in the moment, they left my head (and my shower) a greasy mess.
This winter, I all but gave up hope. Then, my hairdresser told me about another client of hers who started rinsing her scalp and hair with diluted apple cider vinegar. It had worked! Even my hairdresser admitted to noticing a significant difference.
So, I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose? I already had a bottle of ACV under my kitchen sink—and I wasn’t interested in growing the already out-of-control collection of unhelpful products and homemade concoctions accumulating in my bathroom cabinet.
A New Use For My Apple Cider Vinegar
Now look, I’m no stranger to the hype around apple cider vinegar. I’ve used it in salad dressings and even added a teaspoon or two to my water here and there for years. I just never thought about putting it on my head.
Given how sensitive my skin is, I’d always assumed that ACV would just irritate it. I mean, the stuff is acidic! After some quick research, though, I learned that the natural pH of our scalp is actually slightly acidic—so the intensity of ACV is actually what makes it a good scalp balancer.
That was all the convincing I needed. The next day, I grabbed my bottle of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, and using instructions from naturopathic doctor Olivia Rose, N.D., diluted one ounce in about eight ounces of water. After finishing my usual routine (which involves a natural shampoo bar and Shea Moisture deep conditioner), I poured my cup of ACV mixture over my head and massaged it into my scalp for about a minute. I let it sit for another minute, then rinsed it out, again trying to really massage my scalp to wash away any remaining flakes.
The moment of truth came when I combed my hair after toweling off. Usually, in the winter, my part—even freshly scrubbed—would reveal loads of flakes. This time, I combed through my entire head of hair and my scalp looked so much better. I stuck my head right up to the mirror to investigate more closely. My part looked squeaky-clean and irritation-free. I honestly couldn’t believe it. After all this time!
Did my hair smell a little bit like vinegar? Yes, it did. But did I care? Not one bit.
My New Hair-Care Routine
Of course, I should have known that my ACV hair rinse wouldn’t be a one-and-done deal. After that first remarkable trial, I reverted to my regular routine. Within about a week or so, I noticed the flakes starting to make a comeback.
I figured my solution was easy, though: The next time I washed my hair, I finished with an ACV rinse—and decided to incorporate the stinky (but seriously helpful) mixture once a week.
Since making this change, my scalp feels significantly healthier—and I feel significantly less self-conscious about the state of my flakes when out and about. Though I’m certainly looking forward to not rocking the faint scent of fermented apples when the weather warms up, I’m relieved to have found a natural, inexpensive solution for my biggest cold weather beauty woe.