It’s the moment all LocStars face at some point in their dreadlock journey. You’ve been doing everything you thought was needed to keep your locs healthy and thriving and then…boom! You suddenly realize that your locs are filled with splotches of white (or grey) stuff that never seems to wash out. What happened?!?
Well, the short of it is that although waxes, gels, pomades and other styling products may look nice in the moment and give you the style and hold you’re looking for, these products accumulate over time leaving an unsightly residue in your dreadlocks.
When this happens, simply washing your hair is not enough to get the gunk out of your dreads and greater measures are necessary to restore your hair’s healthy shine and natural sheen. Luckily, there is help…
So how do you get rid of buildup in your locs?
You’ve probably been hearing the buzz in various dreadlock communities across the web about the wonders of an apple cider vinegar rinse but it still seems a bit mysterious to you.
And let’s face it, those before and after pictures are downright scary. After all, you wash your hair regularly and have a pretty solid maintenance routine going, could all of that gunk really be lurking in your locs?
The truth of the matter is, yes, it could. With the regular use of hair product and general daily exposure to lint and debris, particles get trapped in your locs and become lodged.
And because dreads are hair strands that have matted together, these particles have no easy way to escape. As a result LocStars have to take extra measures to keep things fresh.
Keep on reading to learn all about apple cider vinegar rinses for hair and what to expect when you do one…
What is an ACV Rinse for Locs? An ACV rinse for locs (and hair in general) is when you rinse your hair with a mix of raw apple cider vinegar and filtered water for the purpose of releasing unwanted impurities from your hair. Impurities such as wax, oil residue, dirt, debris, scalp deposits and build-up from hair products will be stripped away with use of the clarifying rinse. You are basically stripping this unwanted gunk from your hair strands and starting with a fresh, clean slate of untainted hair that is now free to grow and flourish.
Apple cider vinegar has been known to be a powerful clarifying agent for skin and hair with many benefits which we’ll explore later in this article.
How does it work?
Quick overview: Raw (or unfiltered) apple cider vinegar is what results when apples are fermented. It is made by combining apples with yeast. The yeast then converts the sugar in the apples into alcohol. Once bacteria is added to the mixture, fermentation turns the alcohol into acetic acid.
- the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
Apples are full of potassium, quercetin, malic acid and Vitamin C, and at the end of the fermentation process, ACV retains many beneficial enzymes and acids.
Organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar will contain the “mother,” i.e. strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria. Raw apple cider vinegar leaves all of the nutrients in the vinegar, which is why it’s recommended over pasteurized apple cider vinegar.
You’ll notice a lot of products on the market that brag about their pH balance capabilities. But what does this mean and why should we care?
“pH” is an abbreviation for “potential of hydrogen” and it’s the standard scale used for indicating how acidic or alkaline a liquid is.
The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being a neutral (i.e. water). A number below 7.0 is considered to be acidic and anything above 7.0 is considered to be alkaline.
Apple cider vinegar has pH of around 3 (meaning it’s acidic), and hair is typically around a pH of 5, so when the ACV is properly diluted with water, it helps to balance the pH of the hair. Keeping your hair balanced (i.e. around it’s natural pH number) puts your hair in an ideal range and keeps it in its highest performing, strongest state.
An ACV rinse, with its nutrient dense power pack, nourishes your hair and scalp by stripping away product buildup, dirt, oils, and sweat which contribute to an itchy and flaky scalp.
Are you locs looking dry and dull? Won’t hold a curl? Plagued by itchy scalp and dandruff flakes lurking over your shoulder? Then it’s time for a dread detox. Click on image for more details…
Using an ACV rinse for your locs will help press the reset button, giving you hair and scalp the healthy fresh start it needs. Some of the benefits include:
- Gets the gunk out of dreads
- Smooths the hair shaft — less prone to tangling and snagging
- Calms an inflamed and irritated scalp
- Encourages hair growth
- Reduces frizz
- Adds shine
Apple cider vinegar also contains natural alpha-hydroxy acid, which gently exfoliates the scalp and hair, allowing for removal of dead skin cells and build up that can occur from sweat and/or conventional hair products. This improves the appearance of the hair, reduces itchiness, and allows for better styling.
For those who experience scalp-related conditions such as dandruff, apple cider vinegar can bring relief because of its anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. In addition to being antimicrobial, apple cider vinegar is also anti-inflammatory, which can counteract the skin inflammation that typically occurs with dandruff and a dry, flaky scalp. [Source: Coconuts & Kettlebells]
The Benefits of ACV
- ACV balances hair and scalp pH. Product use will increase the pH balance of your hair, opening your cuticles and leaving them exposed. By lowering the pH of your scalp with ACV, the hair cuticle closes making your hair smoother, shinier, less frizzy, less prone to breakage and able to retain more moisture.
- ACV is an anti-fungal and anti-microbial which means that it helps prevent fungal and bacteria growth. It is also anti-inflammatory and thus can help with dandruff and hair loss too, since these conditions are often triggered by bacteria.
- ACV clarifies and exfoliates your scalp by removing product build-up and dead skin which block the pores on your scalp and inhibit healthy hair growth.
- ACV can also help make your hair feel lighter and thus easier to style.
- ACV stimulates hair growth by increasing blood circulation to hair follicles.
- ACV is natural, free of preservatives or chemicals, affordable and easily accessible. One of nature’s remedies, no need for expensive potions, pills or prescriptions.
What do I need to do an ACV rinse for my hair?
Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse Recipe
The one-two punch of combining baking soda and apple cider vinegar in your hair detox is one of the most powerful ways to deep clean your dreadlocks.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 cup pure baking soda
- 1/2 cup of raw apple cider vinegar
- Essential oils (We recommend essential oils beneficial for hair. Some of our favorites include tea tree, rosemary, lavender, peppermint and lemongrass. You can use roughly 15-30 drops of each depending on your preference and the healing properties you want to maximize)
- Water (Roughly 2 gallons but what your sink can hold is fine. If you live in an area with hard water, purchase a couple of gallons of distilled/purified water from the grocery store for best results.)
- Basin (The ACV soak can be done in a sink, bucket, dishpan, etc. just as long as you can fully submerge the majority of your locs comfortably in the basin for an extended period of time to avoid neck strain.)
Don’t have time to gather all of the ingredients? Or simply don’t want to? Loccessories makes it convenient and hassle-free fore you to ACV rinse your locs with our Honey Love Loc Detox Hair Bomb. Learn more here…
How do I do an apple cider vinegar hair rinse?
- Fill basin with warm water until it’s about 3/4 full. (If you’re using gallons bought from the store instead of tap water, go ahead and fill the basin with the water. Take a pot full and warm it by heating up this portion of water on the stove and adding it to the basin to warm up the full amount of water you’ll be using. No need to boil, just enough to make the water you’ll ultimately be using warm.)
- Pour the baking soda, essential oils and apple cider vinegar ingredients (or drop the Honey Love Loc Detox Hair Bomb) into your basin and dissolve the mixture.
- Swirl to ensure that the solution is completely dissolved and doesn’t have any clumps.
- Submerge your locs into the basin and let soak about 10-15 minutes.
- Periodically squeeze your locs to release the build-up. Swish, swirl and all that good stuff to dislodge all of the gunk.
- Rinse well.
How do I know if the ACV rinse worked?
You’ll be able to tell if it worked immediately by the color of the water once you’ve finished your soak. What started out as a clear or mildly cloudy white basin of water is now dark and murky. That’s all the accumulated build-up from your hair…eww. But better out than in right?
*Please note* This is a powerful detox and results will vary. People who use a lot of hair products or work out in the elements or have never done an ACV hair rinse before will have a more visually dramatic cleansing session than those who use only juices and berries for their hair maintenance.
You may even notice a subtle white cast on your hair afterwards. Simply follow up with a clarifying shampoo and conditioning session which we’ll discuss in an upcoming section. Remember to rinse well, you will rinse and shampoo and rinse again until the water runs completely clear.
How will my locs feel afterwards?
Immediately after the ACV + baking soda hair detox your locs may feel dry. Because baking soda and apple cider vinegar are powerful stripping agents for the hair (this is what allows us to press the reset button and start with a clean, fresh slate), the combination is also very drying to the hair. Your locs are feeling less heavy and look much brighter now, but we do have one more step…
Do you condition after an apple cider vinegar rinse?
Yes, because the hair rinse can dry out your hair, it’s important to follow up your apple cider vinegar rinse detox session with a conditioning treatment. Conditioning your hair afterwards is an important step in restoring the moisture balance in your hair. But hold on…not too fast…before you go grabbing any random conditioner off the supermarket shelves.
The best option is to use natural oils and water to infuse and lock in the moisture. Get a spritzer bottle and fill it with water and a natural oil like jojoba, sweet almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil and spray it on your locs. Three parts water to one part oil is a good ratio. Shake well before each use.
You can also add an essential oil like ylang ylang to your moisture mist. Ylang Ylang is great for those with dry scalps because it stimulates natural sebum production. Massage the moisture mist all the way throughout your locs and really work it in there.
Take your time and don’t rush through this part. This is a very important step after your dread detox and can also serve as a relaxing scalp massage (even better if bae does it for you).
What do I do next?
You can style your locs as you normally would or let them flow freely while they air dry. Loc barrels, bantu knots, ponytail updos, spiral curls, braid outs you name it. You’re not limited by any means after an ACV rinse. However, as with any wash day session you’ll want to ensure that your locs dry completely to avoid mold and the potential for dread rot.
How do I maintain the results?
The best way to maintain the results of your ACV rinse is not to continue doing things that contribute to lint, debris and build-up in the short term.
Some strategies you can start incorporating into your hair regimen include always…always…always wear a scarf at night, when you’re working around the house and anytime you might be pulling on a top that is prone to fuzz-like wool.
1) Choose a lint-free scarf
2) Switch to dark colored towels (microfiber towels are best) when you wash your hair and
3) Skip petroleum-based styling aids, which cause build-up over time
Are you guilty of using beeswax, pomades and greases to style your hair? While it may help you secure the style in the short term, it will give you a hole head of hair woes later down the line.
How often should I (or can I) ACV rinse my locs?
We usually recommend doing an ACV rinse detox session at about 2-4 times a year to refresh your locs and remove whatever your regular shampoo or hair products are leaving behind. Plus, just the natural influence of our environment and elements is good reason to ACV rinse periodically.
Don’t become obsessed with detoxing though, it’s really not necessary if you maintain a healthy hair regimen and limit the use of hair products that you use. And because the ACV + baking soda rinse strips your hair down to the basics, too much of a good thing can be damaging. This is one of those cases where less is more.
Word of Caution…
Using apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse is all about removing build-up and bringing hair back into balance. But like we said, you don’t want to overdo it.
If your hair or scalp is sensitive to ACV, don’t use it. Or, try lowering the amount you use to make your rinse, or how often you do it.
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acids which is known to be caustic. This means that, although unlikely, it could irritate or burn the skin. If you know you have skin sensitivities, do a patch test first before performing the rinse.
Never apply ACV directly to the scalp, always dilute it with water. If your rinses are too strong, try diluting it more — if irritation does happen though, it almost always clears up within a few days.
Also avoid contact with eyes. If contact does happen, quickly flush you eyes with water and seek medical attention.
And remember, everyone’s hair is different. Apple cider vinegar rinses may not work for everyone in every single situation. Give it a try and to see if it works for you. You may just add a new secret weapon for luscious looking locs to your hair routine.