Using Apple Cider Vinegar to Lighten Hair

Vinegar, in general, is said to offer multiple benefits to your hair. From getting rid of dandruff to adding shine, detangling the hair, texturizing, and even lightening the hair. It can also increase the curls on your hair by removing dirt, grime and oil buildup that weighs down the hair.

More importantly, the alcohol residues contained in vinegar; either the white or brown ACV, is very essential in cleansing and lightening the color of your hair. By simply using it as a rinse, spraying with a spray bottle, or mixing with other home ingredients, you can tone your hair two shades lighter using this main ingredient.

Read the preceding sections below to learn more.

How Does White Vinegar Lighten Hair?

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid obtained from fermented alcoholic liquids. Its main role is to clean up the hair including getting rid of dirt, bacteria, fungi, oil build-up, and more importantly, the metals and minerals that dull your hair hue.

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar

The effects of using vinegar to lighten the hair are not permanent, however with repeated use for a couple of weeks and your hair will be shinier and brighter than before. You can use vinegar to change the tone of your hair or to add DIY highlights to the ends of your hair.

How to use it (Recipe)

Below is a detailed guide on how to can use vinegar to lighten your hair.


Begin by prepping your hair for the lightening process. There aren’t any problems with using vinegar on already dyed hair, but if you’re thinking of using this natural remedy, avoid applying any bleach or dye in the weeks prior to the process. Otherwise, you risk damaging your hair or worse, causing it to break.

Gather all the necessary materials you will need for this process. Lightening the hair isn’t a hard task and it’s easily fine at home, but its best to have all the supplies ready for when you want to lighten your hair. Include;

  • Apple cider vinegar about one cup
  • Clean and empty spray bottle which you shall refill with a vinegar and water solution.
  • Hairpins or clips
  • Cotton balls
  • Bowl
  • Towel
  • Shower cap

Wash and condition your hair to remove the oil buildup and dirt from the hair. Lightening the hair is among the roles of vinegar but if you apply the mix to dirt hair, it may be focused on cleaning the hair rather than lightening its color.

Thoroughly condition the hair so that it’s fully moisturized before adding vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has a drying effect, hence if the hair is dry during application, it could break the hair further, which is not healthy for the hair.


  1. Place a towel over your shoulders to avoid getting wet or your clothes getting bleached from the vinegar.
  2. Mix up the ingredients you intend to use. You can opt to ad baking soda, honey, eggs, or spices, but for this basic method, we shall use the vinegar rinse. Half water, half vinegar.
  3. Section the hair into four sections with clips. Sectioning is a good strategy to ensure the vinegar reaches all the areas of your hair. 
  4. Unclip one section of the hair and begin rinsing it out with the vinegar mixture. Unlike using dyes you can dip your head inside the bowl or sprinkle water from the roots to the ends, it’s entirely your choice.
  5. Alternatively, dip a cotton ball in the mixture and pat it to the strands of your hair section by section. Apply the vinegar in a vertical direction, stroking up and down to ensure all the areas of the hair get the vinegar.
  6. Once you’re done, clip back that section of the hair and repeat for the other three sections.
  7. If you feel that’s not enough, take the empty spray bottle and add in the mixture above. Use the bottle to spray the hair up and down until every inch of the head is coated with the vinegar.
  8. Put on your shower cap and head out to the sun for some basking. Remember to put on some sunscreen/ sunblock. You can also use a hair dryer or steamer for this step, just as long as you introduce heat.
  9. Sit under the source of heat for approximately 30 minutes or longer.
  10. Wash your hair with a neutral shampoo or soap using cold water and apply conditioner once you’re done. The conditioner will restore moisture lost during the lightening process.
  11. Add oil to your hair and style as desired.

The effects of this process are not immediate. More so, they can only be seen for specific hair types; ginger/ redheads, blondes, and those with brown hair. Black haired people won’t see much a difference but the hair could be shinier.

You can repeat the process as many times as you’d like but abstain from doing the procedure more than once a week. In about three weeks you should see changes to the hair as the tone will brighten by one to three times lighter.

Supplementary Recipes

If you’re looking to switch things up from using pure vinegar, then you can choose to include honey as is also has excellent bleaching properties.


A cup of apple cider vinegar

Half a cup of honey

One tablespoon of a carrier oil  – olive oil or coconut oil


  1. Mix all the ingredients above in a bowl to form a homogeneous mixture.
  2. Apply to the hair and let it sit for over an hour.
  3. Wash with organic shampoo, condition and moisturize your hair.
  4. Repeat once a week.

Possible Risks and Precautions

There are four main possible risks everyone should be cautious about when using apple cider vinegar to lighten hair color. They include;

Allergic Reaction

The possibility of allergic reactions is a common concern for many. From excessively itchy scalp, redness, multiple rashes, plus other severe symptoms, it’s often wise to conduct a patch test to evaluate if you are allergic to vinegar before proceeding to use the product completely.

Sulfite Reactions

The strong pungent scent in vinegar indicated the presence of sulfite compounds. These chemical compounds used to preserve its shelf life could cause reactions to your body and skin.

It could encourage and asthma attack for those with respiratory problems plus other health issues. Sulfuric acids are also not recommended for the aged

Scalp Irritation

Just like any other natural lightening remedy, skin irritation is quite common. With the use of spices like cinnamon, hydrogen peroxide, and even vinegar; they have a warming effect on the scalp that could alleviate extreme scalp sensitivity.

This is a major issue if you have acne, cuts or scrapes on the head, or open wounds. The acid will cause immense pain to the affected areas.

Hair Damage

This is not a major concern as apple cider vinegar has multiple benefits to the hair. However, excess use of it and you’ll be looking at dry and brittle hair, just to mention a few.

Your hair will become less healthy and more likely to break causing mild to severe hair damage. Therefore, ensure to often moisture the hair after the procedure and repeat the process once a week.

More on Bleaching and Hair lightening

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