I’ve used apple cider vinegar (ACV) for a long time. I drink a tablespoon of it before eating, to help with digestion. But when a fellow alopecian told me how much an apple cider vinegar rinse helped her thinning hair, I wondered: Could I use apple cider vinegar for hair loss, too?
So I started researching the benefits of ACV – and I saw how many people use it as an all-natural health supplement. That’s right, apple cider vinegar pills exist, too! And whether you decide to drink it, pop a pill or use a DIY apple cider vinegar rinse to clean your hair and scalp, ACV has proven benefits for hair growth.
Emma’s ‘not a doctor’ disclaimer
Hi there, I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences. This site is however reader-supported. When you buy through external links, I may earn a tiny affiliate commission. Learn more here.
Science bit: When you press a bunch of apples and let them ferment naturally, you get apple cider vinegar – well, almost! You also need yeast, to convert these natural sugars into alcohol. Then, in the final stage, you add “acetobacter” (bacteria) to the alcohol – which creates acetic acid, the key nutritional component in ACV.
ACV isn’t ultra-filtered – so the good parts of the apple stay present. It contains B vitamins and polyphenols (plant-based antioxidants) plus proteins, essential enzymes and the kind of friendly bacteria that’s SO good for your gut…and your overall health!
That’s why unpasteurized, non-filtered (i.e. pure) apple cider vinegar has a murky color – it proves its high probiotic content.
LA Says: When buying ACV liquid, get a brand that contains “the mother”. That’s the layer of yeast and acetic acid bacteria which forms naturally during the fermentation process. Like a scoby in kombucha, although a scoby includes lactic acid, too.
ACV has been used therapeutically and medically for a looong time. And in a moment, I’ll share a few of these uses: like lowering weight, blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the body.
But first, check out 4 ways in which a daily dose of apple cider vinegar can help hair loss.
If your hair is too alkaline, this may “increase negative electrical charge of the hair fiber surface.” Which can result in cuticle damage, causing your hair to become dry, brittle and prone to snapping.
Meanwhile, the high acidity levels of ACV help restore and maintain your natural pH balance. The result? Hair that’s smooth, strong and shiny.
How it helps hair: Lowering hair and scalp pH is a major benefit of using ACV for hair loss but please note: – we’re all different. If you already have quite a dry scalp (ie it’s not oily), using ACV topically might actually be too strong.
If you suffer from scalp issues like dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis or a dry scalp, apple cider vinegar cleans your scalp and restores it to health.
It’s all down to that lovely acetic acid and its antimicrobial properties – which lowers “oxidative stress” in the body, a common trigger in the above scalp conditions and in all forms of hair loss, particularly androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) and alopecia areata.
Plus, when you’re under oxidative stress, you either don’t have enough antioxidants or you have too many free radicals attacking your immune system. Which is something we alopecians want to avoid, big time.
How it helps hair: To prevent this autoimmune response, we need to up our intake of antioxidants. Luckily, apple cider vinegar has plenty of antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress. Which at the same time, wards off bacteria to keep pesky scalp infections, irritation and scalp itchiness at bay.
That apple cider vinegar hair loss study shows how ACV lowers oxidative stress in the body and maintains an optimal pH level. But what if you’ve got oily build-up or the bacteria known as yeast…which can cause conditions like folliculitis?
Well, an apple cider vinegar rinse doesn’t just leave your hair soft ‘n’ shiny. It also deep cleans the scalp to rid it of excess sebum, oil and dirt that can clog hair follicles and cause these issues. Sometimes oily build-up is a result of other hair care or styling products; often it’s down to your environment (pollution, traffic etc).
How it helps hair: ACV removes this nasty build-up and lowers levels of yeast on the scalp that can cause inflammation and flaking. This means your follicles and hair fibres can breathe again and have more space to grow. ACV is therefore a non-toxic, natural antibacterial cleaning agent.
Probiotics are friendly bacteria, which promote a healthy digestive tract and boost your immune system. (If you’ve ever used antibiotics, you may have used probiotic supplements afterwards to restore the friendly bacteria in your gut.)
With its high probiotic content, ACV is a natural way to “heal your gut” from any issues you may be experiencing. It’s also acidic and for those with low stomach acidity (or sluggish bowels, or conditions like IBS), ACV can raise these levels to get things moving along. Phew.
Finally, since ACV is antimicrobial, it helps kill bad bacteria in the stomach and intestines. (FYI: too much bad bacteria =severe bloating. Bleurgh.)
Lots of anecdotal evidence (including my own!) supports apple cider vinegar as a digestive aid. Some people dilute it in water with meals to relieve post-food “heaviness”; I have a tablespoonful of it 10 minutes before meals as my Functional Medicine doctor advised. The scientific evidence is limited, though – and many articles warn to consult your doctor before “self-medicating” with the liquid.
How it helps hair: Hair loss is often linked to gut microbiome issues – which is true in my case. So if you can improve your digestion and boost your immune system with apple cider vinegar, it should have a positive impact on hair growth, too!
Like many natural remedies and health supplements, the evidence supporting apple cider vinegar is mainly anecdotal. Which can lead to a lot of spurious claims – it’s hard to know what to believe. Plus, ACV comes with a couple of caveats and contraindications, which I’ll get to soon.
Still there have been small studies into the overall health benefits of unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
Several studies show ACV can control blood sugar, lower insulin levels, even manage diabetes. Plus, acetic acid in vinegar leads to lower blood sugar levels than acetic acid in other forms.
While research is limited and focuses largely on animal studies, apple cider vinegar does lower oxidative stress – which is linked to Type 2 diabetes and, as we’ve seen, hair loss.
Ok, so there’s not a lot of evidence behind this claim – but one or two studies back it up. The theory is that acetic acid improves our metabolism to prevent fatty deposits.
Apple cider vinegar also lowers triglyceride levels and cholesterol, – both of which are linked to heart disease. So maybe an apple a day can keep the doctor away!
Ever heard “healthy gut = happy brain?” Well, it’s true – and the gut-brain connection is getting more and more attention these days. When my own digestion is sluggish, I have the brain fog and the irritability to go with it! 😉
But since starting my autoimmune diet and making a few lifestyle changes I’ve noticed a BIG difference in my energy levels, my mood and my immune system, too! I feel better in myself, more positive. A lot of that’s down to diet and exercise – but I supplement these things with my daily dose of ACV!
In this section, I’ll explain:
This is a quick ‘n’ simple way to use ACV for hair growth – although be warned, it smells strong! 😉
What to do:
This is the one I do, which my FM doctor recommended to help digestion. However, some research warns against drinking too much of the straight stuff – it could damage your tooth enamel, even your esophagus! Yikes.
So you might want to dilute ACV in water OR add it to your diet in one of the following ways:
Try it in a pickle: Fermented foods are amazing for gut health – even more so if you swap the traditional white or rice vinegar (used in the pickling process) with apple cider vinegar instead. Here’s a big ol’ bottle for pickling in bulk. 😉
This is a great option if you don’t like the taste of apple cider vinegar, or if you want to protect your teeth. It’s made of the same stuff but the vinegar is dehydrated into either tablet or capsule form. So you should get all the health benefits I’ve mentioned from drinking ACV – without burning through your esophagus. 😉
If you do decide to take apple cider vinegar pills, there are plenty of options out there. But I recommend this product by VitaPost because I’ve read great things about their turmeric capsules, their ginger tablets – and about these ACV vegetarian capsules, too!
Recommended use: 2 capsules daily, with food.
Admittedly, this is a new area for me. Until recently, I’d only ever heard of ACV in liquid form. I didn’t know capsules were an option! But from what I’m reading, taking apple cider vinegar as a supplement has plenty of benefits – you get all that antioxidant, digestion-boosting action without the strong taste or fear of damaging your teeth.
And while I use liquid ACV in the shower to rinse my hair, I’m not as consistent with drinking it for my gut issues. I’ll remember to take my tablespoon of ACV liquid faithfully for, oh about 3 days. Then I forget.
Plus, if I’m out for a meal with friends, it’s unlikely that I’ll carry a bottle of ACV with me! A small bottle of pills is far more portable.
Disclaimer: Be aware, these pills aren’t for everyone. Like if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have an underlying health condition (as well as alopecia), it might be a good idea to check with your doctor.
I love Jarrow Formulas. I already take their SAM-e and 5HTP supplements daily (as my FM doctor advised, for anxiety) and although I haven’t actually tried their apple cider vinegar yet, I can 100% vouch for this brand.
Their version is unpasteurized and unfiltered, with a nice ‘n’ murky colour and without any preservatives or additives. It also contains “the mother” – oh, and it’s really good value!
The Lady Recommends...
This is the apple cider vinegar I’ve used in recipes and drank as a digestive aid before meals for years. It’s also the one I’ve started using as a rinse in the shower – and I’ve noticed how soft and shiny my remaining hair is as a result!
I love this version in a glass bottle – but you can get it in plastic too, in different sizes on Amazon. Whatever the packaging, it holds certified organic raw apple cider vinegar that’s unfiltered, unpasteurized and unheated.
Bragg ACV contains “the mother”, too. Plus it’s kosher, gluten-free and non-GMO certified. Good to know.
The Lady Recommends...
Like I’ve said, popping an ACV pill is a great way to get your daily dose of acetic acid in a more palatable way. Suitable for vegetarians, these cellulose capsules are made in the US within an FDA registered facility that follows GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) guidelines.
The capsules are easy to swallow and you just need to take 2 a day, with food. Each capsule has 1300mg ACV, equivalent to a quarter teaspoon. I always find it’s easier to remember in the morning – so you can take them after breakfast and enjoy their mood-boosting, energizing effects!
They’re also great in the morning if you suffer from digestive issues. While I take a tablespoon of the raw liquid for this (and sometimes swig from the bottle!) this reviewer mentions how capsules are a safer bet…
I used to take a shot of ACV every morning but my dentist recommended I take it in a capsule to protect my teeth. I am happy with this product, the same results as the real thing. – Claire
It’s probably a good time for me to make the switch, too – I feel like my teeth will thank me for it!
The Lady recommends...
Ok so technically these are chewy gummies rather than pills to swallow – but I just had to include them on my list! Goli ACV Gummies are getting amazing reviews for their taste, plus their many health benefits: like fighting acid reflux and helping digestion. Note, they’re not nearly as concentrated as VitaPost ACV (only 500mg per gummy) – but they’re a good “gateway” to the superfood!
100% organic, vegan and gluten-free, Goli’s ACV gummies don’t have any artificial ingredients – just a delicious natural offering of ACV, beetroot, pomegranate and B vitamins. Take 2 a day, first thing in the morning, for an extra energy boost.
Plus, Goli partners with a company called Vitamin Angels – and for every purchase you make, it donates a 6-month supply of vitamins to a child in need in a bid to tackle malnutrition around the world.
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Before drinking the liquid, popping a capsule or washing your hair with an ACV rinse, note that apple cider vinegar is not for everyone. Yes, it’s natural but it’s also quite acidic – so some people may not be able to tolerate it.
Buyer beware: Like many natural remedies, you should avoid low-quality imitations, which can actually be quite toxic. This is because cheaper products include fillers, binding agents and harmful additives – or they have a super-low concentration of ACV.
So use a trusted brand from this post or do your own research – find out where the brand is based, where it manufactures ACV and if it sticks to GMP guidelines.
Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that studies on apple cider vinegar’s health benefits focus on the liquid, rather than the pill form. These supplements aren’t FDA-approved, either – although the VitaPost ones are made in an FDA-approved facility.
Avoid taking ACV (or consult your doctor first) if:
Since an ACV rinse can be quite strong, I’d recommend doing it just once a week. Especially if you have thin or dry hair.
Yes – but in small doses. If you notice any adverse effects (irritated throat or damaged tooth enamel), try it as a supplement or gummy instead.
As research into the supplements is limited, side effects are inconclusive. But with a way lower concentration than the liquid form, it stands to reason that they’re even safer to take (if you find a trusted brand with pure capsules).
If you already have quite dry or thin, brittle hair, I wouldn’t recommend an ACV rinse. It can dry out your hair further and make it prone to snapping. But try it once and if the side effects are positive – more shine, better texture etc – keep it up, one day a week!
This very much depends on the person. For some ACV is strong enough to just leave on for a few minutes before rinsing out. Others might like to leave it overnight to prevent tangles. See what works for you.
Yes, great idea! Your apple cider vinegar shampoo will be more diluted, but you’re still getting all its benefits.
While 10-15 minutes is the recommended time, usually I’m in the shower when I rinse with it – so 2-3 minutes is enough for me!
Very much, actually! Although, apple cider vinegar is one natural remedy that divides opinion. Probably because it’s one of the few that actually comes with potentially harmful side effects. Still, it follows the “great in small doses” principle – so as with anything I recommend, use your best judgement.
Try the liquid first if you like, and if that feels like too much, you can take the supplements or gummies. In all cases, if you’re unsure, ask your doctor!
Personally, I’ve really benefited from bringing apple cider vinegar into my daily routine. And I’ll continue being a loyal fan, whatever form it takes!
I’m curious to know…do you use ACV for hair growth? Or for any other health reasons? How has it helped you…or not?! And how do you use apple cider vinegar in your daily life? Share your thoughts below!
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Alopecian. Yoga Teacher. Copywriter. Here to share information, offer support and show people the adventures that can lie in hair loss. I’m proud to have alopecia and I want to help others embrace their baldness, too!
I’m NOT a doctor, not even close. I’m just a normal bald girl. That said, I do as much research as possible. If you want to check up on any of the claims I make above, here are my sources.
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