Friday, 24 January 2014

Ghana Hair Chick's Letters: Is it important to do an ACV rinse on your Natural Hair?

Hello gogeous readers! I believer we're all healthy and strong. In last week's post, I began answering the question on what an ACV rinse is and if its benefecial. Today's post is continuation of that post and will conclude on the benefits of an ACV rinse.

Question
What are the benefits of an ACV rinse and are these benefits supported by scientific research?

To answer this question, please be sure to read last week's post on what an ACV rinse is. Some form of vinegar has been used for centuries by women to rinse their hair. At the tme it was to remove limescale deposits on their scalp. Today, an ACV rinse is recommended by people for all manner of conditions, including,

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  • dry, dull looking hair
  • damaged, limp hair
  • dry or oily scalp
  • acne or dandruff in scalp and hair
  • highly porous hair
  • to close the hair cuticle
  • provide some nutrients to the hair
  • anti-fungal and anti-bacterail
  • restore hair pH to acidic levels
  • remove buildup in hair and scalp
  • give hair body and volume
  • etc etc.

As you can see from this far from exhaustive list, there are many supposed benefits of an ACV rinse. However, are these benefits unsupported by scientific fact? Let's look at some of the most popular claims and try to find out.

1.Making hair shiny, reducing hair porosity and closing the hair cuticle
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ACV rinses are claimed to result in shiny hair and less porous hair. It is also supposed to assist in closing the hair cuticle because of the acidic pH. The shiny-ness of hair is result of the cuticle lying flatter, giving the hair a smoother shinier appearance overall. The hair's cuticle is a protein structure which can be examined microscopically. When its structure appears raised under the microscope, hair feels rough to the touch, it is not as shiny and loses moisture quickly (high porosity). When the cuticle structure appears flat microscopically, hair looks smoother and shinier with a higher ability to retain moisture.The structure of the cuticle is known to be affected by several things, including heat and alkaline chemicals like relaxers. These can change the structure of the hair cuticle/protein and make it look flatter.
The hair cuticle has been shown in experiments to stay unchanged in solutions in the pH range of 3-9.This means that the cuticle is unaffected by a pH between 3 and 9, but reacts in pH conditions below 3 or above 9. (Please note that the hair cuticle lying down or being raised is a figurative description, as the cuticle is a protein structure that simple changes in response to different conditions, not a door that opens or closes).
Since the pH of undiluted ACV is not below 3 and does not exceed 9, it cannot scientifically affect your hair cuticles. In fact, diluting it with water may  raise the pH, since water is neutral to alkaline in pH. Rinsing your hair with cold water would probably have more of an effect on your cuticles than an ACV rinse, theoretically.

2.Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal,anti-dandruff action, anti scalp irritation
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This is true to a certain extent , since acetic acid is a well studied anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent. However, the effects vary with the strength of the acid in your vinegar. If you have dandruff caused by a fungus, then ACV may be able to help, but if the dandruff is of a different cause, then an ACV rinse may not be helpful. Please consult a dermatologist in this case in order to diagnose the real cause and find appropriate treatment for it.

3.Removing Build-up
Historically, women used vinegar to rinse their hair in order to remove limescale. This action is attributed to the acid in vinegar and not any other component. There is no research on modern chemical build-up in hair and scalp and how vinegar might remove that, so with this claim I cannot make a conclusion. Acids are generally known to help in removing lime-scale, but since most build-up is chemical, it is very difficult to determine if acids are effective in this case.

4.Providing nutrients to hair
The mother of ACV is supposed to contain some nutrients which are good for your hair and body. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. After fermentation most of the vitamins and minerals are broken down and are no longer present. Aside from this, hair is dead material. It is not living and therefore cannot absorb nutrients or process it. Any product that claims hair will absorb nutrition from it is simply incorrect. The only way to feed your hair is to eat the nutrients you want it to have.

5.Restore hair pH to acidic levels
The pH of hair is normally around 5 depending on the products you use in your hair. Since ACV has a low pH, it is possible that it might help to balance your hair's pH. Ideally we would want our hair to remain in its natural pH range, but it becomes necessary to adjust it ourselves only when we use a lot of alkaline products in our hair. Again, not much has been done scientifically here, so unfortunately we cannot conclude.

6.What does the mother in ACV do then? Can you use any type of vinegar?
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So far, it would seem the mother of vinegar is not contributing anything to the hair. The yeast and bacteria present have not been investigated to see thier effect on hair. Most of the effects that can be supported scientifically are derived from the acid in ACV. Therefore, at this point we would have to conclude and and say it doesn't matter what vinegar you use in your hair. However, future research could reveal some role for the mother so it doesn't hurt to use the unfiltered version of ACV. Plus, the natural unrefined version of a natural product is usually the best. Scientifically though, it really shouldn't affect your hair whichever one you use.



Conclusion
You can use ACV, but do not expect to get some kind of miraculous solution to your hair issues with it. Its definitely not something I'd make a hard and fast rule about, but as with everything hair related, try it out and see how it affects your hair. Then you can make a decision on whether to keep using it, how often to rinse your hair with it or how much to use. Someone using it may be able to tell you its useful, but everyone's hair is different. Also remember to take any allergies or reactions you may have to acids into account when trying this out. Above all, take care of your body and see a doctor if some conditions are medical with your hair.

I hope this has been a helpful post. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below and they will be addressed. Till next time then, stay blessed and fabulous!
The Ghana Hair Chick

4 comments :

  1. Hi you said the hair can't absorb nutrients because it's dead, but the scalp isn't and since that is basically skin, it should absorb nutrients

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    1. Hi Cytnthia..thanks for commenting!Thats actually a very interesting point and is the subject of this week's post!Please check back soon for it..I will try my best to get good info on that!

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    2. I know the hair cuticles actually lift to absorb some things into it, even if it is dead cell. That is why some oils are able to penetrate out hair shaft. Some other herbal nutrients are also good for our hair too.

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  2. Because of the allergic reactions I get on my face/mouth, I have to stay faaaaaaar away from vinegars, ACV included. But this is a good post for anyone curious about ACV rinses.

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