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What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Vinegar for Dandruff?

By Angela Colley
Updated May 21, 2024
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Vinegar can help relieve those annoying flakes known as dandruff. When using vinegar for dandruff, users have mixed reviews of how well white vinegar and apple cider vinegar work. Vinegar can effectively treat dandruff for a relatively low cost, and as an all-natural treatment, it is fairly gentle on the scalp and will not harm the environment. There also are some downsides to using vinegar for treating dandruff, such as its strong odor, the amount of time it takes and the number of treatments that might be necessary.

Dandruff forms when dead skin cells blend with the oils that exist naturally on the hair shaft. The mixture creates the white flakes that fall onto a person’s shoulders or clothing. The causes of dandruff include hormonal imbalances, vitamin deficiencies and infrequent shampooing, and they depend heavily on the sufferer’s personal habits and physical makeup. Dandruff responds well to over-the-counter and homemade treatments.

When using vinegar for dandruff, a person can use either apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Sufferers can use the vinegar in full potency or dilute the liquid with water. There are several ways of applying the vinegar treatment. The user can add the vinegar to a spray bottle and spray the mixture directly onto his or her scalp, allowing it to dry. Alternatively, the user can pour the mixture directly onto his or her wet hair and allow it to sit for several minutes before washing the mixture out with water.

To its advantage, vinegar is an all-natural treatment. All-natural treatments do not contain added dyes, perfumes or chemicals, so they typically are gentler on the scalp than many over-the-counter treatments are. Vinegar contains only one ingredient, so it also reduces the chances of allergic reactions or skin irritations. All-natural treatments will not damage the environment, unlike manmade treatments that can pollute water sources.

Typically, a sufferer can purchase a bottle of vinegar at a lower price point than purchasing a manufactured dandruff treatment. Unlike the pre-made treatments, vinegar also can serve a variety of other purposes in the home. This might make using vinegar for dandruff more cost effective to buy and use than other treatments.

Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar have a strong odor that most people find unpleasant. By using vinegar for dandruff, a person exposes himself or herself to this strong odor. Although the odor fades as it dries, some people might find the smell unbearable.

For the treatment to work, the sufferer will need to repeat the vinegar wash two or more times a week for several weeks. Applying the mixture, allowing it to rest and washing the mixture out can take 30 minutes or more. Some people might find this process too time consuming. Over-the-counter treatments exist that work as a daily shampoo or require only one application. These treatments might prove more time effective than using vinegar.

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Discussion Comments
By anon991940 — On Jul 30, 2015

I don't have true dandruff, but I do have dry scalp that causes itching and flaking. Lately its been worse than usual, so last night I made a paste with baking soda and regular vinegar and massaged it into my scalp really well. I got my hair wet first so the paste could reach my scalp more easily. It was so messy! I let it dry and actually left it on overnight. I looked totally crazy! I washed my hair this morning and was amazed. There were absolutely no flakes at all, and believe me, I looked. I always have little flakes after I wash my hair, so I'm extremely pleased. I could smell the vinegar on my hair while it was still wet, but it faded to almost nothing as my hair dried. My hair also felt a lot cleaner than it has in awhile. The mixture is extremely messy, and as it dries, the baking soda tends to fall all over, so I recommend using a shower cap. Despite the mess, it was totally worth it to not have flakes. I really encourage anyone with this problem to try it.

By anon358897 — On Dec 13, 2013

I had very little luck using dandruff shampoos. The shampoos would keep the dandruff from getting worse, but even with regular use they never eliminated my dandruff. So I did some research and found a recipe for total dandruff control.

Get a spray bottle and put in 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup water. Spray scalp until it is completely moist. Let it air dry for 20-30 minutes. Then take a shower and rinse it out. You can then shampoo your hair to help eliminate the vinegar smell. I'd also recommend using conditioner on your hair as well. The vinegar strips hair of its natural oils. I had complete elimination of dandruff flakes after one application. Your mileage may vary.

By anon347213 — On Sep 04, 2013

I was having a terrible time with dandruff. Over the counter shampoos did not work. I googled how to get rid of dandruff. Well, I had some vinegar already, poured it in my hair, waited about 10-15 minutes, shampooed out and dried my hair, and to my surprise, no flakes! I am sold on vinegar forever!

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