For centuries, apple cider vinegar has been used in home remedies and praised for its natural health benefits, such as its ability to ease sore throats and boost immune systems. However, its recent popularity can be attributed to apple cider vinegar’s versatility for beauty, as well as health. ACV can be used in numerous ways to improve hair, skin, and relieve infections.
For the below DIY recipes, I highly recommend that you use organic, unprocessed, unpasteurized ACV. A good indication that your ACV is organic is if it has “the mother” written on the packaging. The mother is the thick, murky liquid that settles at the bottom of the bottle; the substance contains the bacteria and enzymes that are responsible for the fermentation process that transforms regular apple cider into ACV. The mother—similar to SCOBY found in kombucha—is loaded with health benefits.
Pro Tip: Bragg is a highly recommended brand of organic ACV and can usually be purchased at your local grocery store, bodega, or pharmacy.
1. Hair Rinse
Apple cider vinegar rinses are an increasingly popular trend in the natural hair community and have been shown to improve overall hair health. According to Naturally Curly, apple cider vinegar’s highly acidic nature smooths, seals, and flattens hair cuticles by reducing the pH balance of hair strands. Smooth, flat hair cuticles lead to increased moisture retention, elasticity, and shine. Flat cuticles also make hair easier to detangle by preventing frizz, knots, and breakage.
ACV rinses are especially beneficial for strengthening and nourishing kinky, coily hair, which, due to its delicate nature, is often dry and prone to breakage. I rinse with ACV a couple of times a week and have seen a serious improvement in my overall hair health. Prior to rinsing, my 3C/4A hair was dull, dry, and constantly knotting. After rinsing, my hair is noticeably softer, shinier, and super easy to detangle. To make the rinse, I recommend adding ⅓ of a cup of ACV to ⅔ of a cup of water. You can add more water to dilute the ACV depending on your scalp sensitivity.
2. Dandruff Treatment
ACV is a natural antifungal that can be used to rid the scalp of dandruff and other unwanted build up. ACV’s acids kill the “bottle bacillus”—bacteria that causes scalp conditions such as dandruff, itchy scalp, hair loss, and flaking. ACV can be applied directly to the scalp or mixed in with shampoo or conditioner, depending on the severity of the condition. For mild to moderate dandruff, Dr. Oz recommends applying diluted ACV (¼ cup ACV, ¼ cup water) to the scalp twice a week for about 15 minutes. For more severe dandruff, Health Ambition advises massaging undiluted ACV onto the scalp and leaving on for at least 30 minutes every other day until symptoms subside.
(Pro tip: For a deeper cleanse, add natural antibacterials like honey and tea tree oil to the rinse. If you have open cuts on your scalp from scratching or have sensitive skin, proceed with caution! ACV is highly acidic and will burn if applied to open cuts.)
3. Facial Toner
ACV is a natural astringent that contains many vitamins, acids, and minerals that improve overall skin health, making it a great addition to your beauty routine.
One of the many benefits of ACV is exfoliation and cell turnover. The acids in ACV digest dead skin cells and engage in a mild cell turnover, causing a new layer of healthy skin to emerge. This is a natural, cost-effective alternative to the pricey spa treatments and beauty products that also rely on cell turnover to produce visible results.
ACV has also been shown to balance pH levels, minimize pores, and reduce redness. To use as a toner, after cleansing, soak a washcloth or cotton ball with diluted and apply to the skin as needed.
4. Lightens Scars & Prevents Breakouts
While scientific data on ACV’s ability to treat acne is limited, some research suggests it can be effective for reducing the appearance of acne scars and preventing future breakouts.
According to HealthLine, the lactic acid found in ACV can lighten acne scars over time. In fact, lactic acid is frequently used in chemical peels in spas for this reason. Additionally, the acetic, citric, and lactic acids found in ACV can inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria, which can prevent breakouts from spreading.
ACV also prevents future breakouts by balancing the skin’s pH level. Doing so restores the skin’s protective barrier that protects from environmental agents, such as pollution and acne-causing bacteria.
5. Reduces UTI Symptoms
ACV can even relieve symptoms of UTIs. Dr. Oz states that ACV works to reduce UTI symptoms by resetting your bladder’s pH levels. Harmful UTI-causing bacteria cannot thrive in highly acidic environments. ACV increases the bladder’s acidity levels, making it difficult for bad bacteria to survive, thus reducing symptoms. ACV has very similar properties to prune juice and can be substituted. ACV also contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds that work to reduce the inflammation/puffiness in your bladder caused by bad bacteria.
For inflammation: Mix 1 cup of ACV into your bath water and have a relaxing soak.
To reset pH level: Dr. Oz recommends diluting 1 tbsp of ACV with 3 tbsp of water. Repeat as needed throughout the day.
If symptoms of UTI persist or worsen, seek out the help of a licensed professional.