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How to make a simple hair rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar

February 16, 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar is a great substitute for a shop-bought hair conditioner but the smell and its water-like rheology do tend to put people off and even make it an un-economical choice (thickness and good flow are so under-rated by consumers but not by cosmetic chemists who know and appreciate how hard it is to get these things just right).   So, what can you do?  With a few simple extras you can turn your vinegar water rinse into something a little bit more robust and special.

Ingredients you will need:

Xanthan Gum

Essential Oil (for perfuming)

Vitamin B5 (optional extra but this is very good for scalp health and for helping reduce static).

Distilled Water

Preservative (I use plantaserv M from New Directions which is a pre-mixed blend of Benzyl Alcohol, Sorbic Acid, Salicylic Acid and Glycerine).

Decyl Glucoside (this is your solubiliser for the perfume/ essential oil. If you don’t use perfume/ essential oil you won’t need this).


Equipment you will need:

Measuring scale or device

2 x Plastic measuring cups enough to hold 100g

A hand mixer or equivalent

Spoons for decanting ingredients.

Packaging of your choice (suitable for bathroom use so preferably no glass).

How to make a simple hair rinse


As I took the photo of the finished product just after I had finished shaking it up to mix it it is still looking a bit bubbly.  It will eventually settle and should remain usable for long enough to get through the 100g.  I am unsure of the long-term stability of this mix as I haven’t kept any for longer than a month and so wouldn’t recommend using this exact recipe for retail.  Also keep in mind that different perfumes/ essential oils will require different amounts of solubiliser. However, a general rule-of-thumb starting point is 3 x solubiliser to 1 x perfume.  It can range from 1:1 – 10:1 though.  Other solubilisers are Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 85 and PEG 40 hydrogenated castor oil.

So why bother with a natural conditioner?

The key active ingredients in shop bought hair conditioners are usually quats (quaterniary ammonium compounds), silicones, cetrimonium chloride or equivalent and while none of these things are particularly bad or nasty, it is a difficult formula to make all-natural.   After washing the hair tends to become more negatively charged, conditioners are usually positively charged so that they are attracted to and stick on the hair shaft for long-lasting conditioning.  The chemicals that I mention above are all positively charged.  If you want to a) be as self-sufficient as possible,  b) give something simple yet effective, c) are wanting to avoid anything petrochemical derived or d) are using the product in an environmentally fragile environment and want to reduce chemical burden then this may be worth a try.  The preservative I have used isn’t 100% natural so you may want to source something else but in my case I trust the plantaserv M.

As I mentioned in the beginning you can use the apple cider vinegar straight from the pot if you like but sometimes it is nice to add to what nature serves up.  Think of it as value-added garnish.

Have fun with your natural hair rinse and let me know how you get on!



4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2013 4:03 pm

    Love this! I want to try this soon! : )

  2. February 17, 2013 12:38 am

    Thanks for sharing your formula.
    I am on my way to give this a try. I’ll be using the polysorbate 20 instead of decyl glucoside (but that’s mainly due to what I have on hand right now). I have a question: you call this a rinse, but is it meant for use as a leave-in? If so, I’m curious as to why it would need thickening. This just may be a question of terms, but I would think the addition of a thickener brings it into a different category – a conditioner. I’m just trying to understand the exact use.

  3. RealizeBeautyEd permalink
    February 19, 2013 9:19 am

    By the way I’ve been using it for three days now (I wash my hair daily) and while it’s no salon style super rinse it certainly does leave the hair feeling softer and makes it easier to comb through. Overall I’m pretty happy with this eco-friendly conditioner alternative.

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