Vinegar has been lauded by many people in the "green" community for its many uses. Many experts in that community say vinegar, specifically organic apple cider vinegar, can have positive effects on skin and hair, though the subject does not seem to have been scientifically studied. Several green experts, however, and at least one popular hairstylist believe organic apple cider vinegar can help make hair shinier and skin look better as well.
Any product called "vinegar" must contain a minimum 4 percent acidity, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Apple cider vinegar is made from organically grown apples, says Edward Group III of the Global Healing Center in Houston, Texas. The product retains many of the fruit's beneficial components because raw apple cider vinegar is not pasteurized. The two-fold fermentation process of the apple juices produces enzymes and nutrients. The end result, Group notes on his website, is a liquid he calls a "powerhouse."
John Masters Organics, located in New York City's swanky SoHo section of Manhattan, does not offer any services---perms, manicures and many kinds of color---that require the use of toxic chemicals. "One must consider how the chemical ingredient was produced and who was affected during this process," owner John Masters says.
The chemicals many salons use have an impact beyond a person's body. "After you use the product, it is rinsed down the drain back into the ecosystem," Masters says.
While Masters offers a line of products that are eco-friendly---he follows USDA-certified organic food standards---he also offered LIVESTRONG.com a simple tip for those who enter his SoHo salon or order products online.
A final rinse of apple cider vinegar can follow shampooing and conditioning to remove residue, Masters reports. "Simply add 1 to 2 tablespoons to a cup of purified water and pour it over your hair," he says. "Massage into scalp and rinse. The vinegar smell will dissipate, so don't worry about smelling like a salad all day."
And while scientists have not weighed in on the matter, Masters is unwavering. "A final rinse twice a week will keep your hair clean of any environmental or product buildup on the hair shaft."
Certified organic raw apple cider vinegar is the only vinegar that should be used for a hair rinse, Masters says. Even if you opt for services or products that have chemicals, such as a perm, color treatment or shampoo with alkaline ingredients, an apple cider vinegar rinse can still be helpful, Masters says. "[It] will bring your hair and scalp back to the proper pH level. Apple cider vinegar has a natural softening effect on the hair and helps to close the hair cuticle, leaving the hair smoother, which results in light reflecting, so your hair is shinier."
The skin is the largest organ on a body. "[It] absorbs what we put on it; it is important to use natural, organic products because what we put on our bodies is absorbed into our bloodstream," Masters says.
Organic apple cider vinegar can be used as a skin rinse too. While scientific studies have not definitively proved this theory, but Masters remains steadfast. "Vinegar is antibacterial due to its high content of potassium. The vinegar naturally helps remove dirt, gently exfoliates the skin and helps rinse away excess oil," he says.
Apple cider vinegar also helps soothe rashes and other skin problems, in Masters' opinion. "I have been living in a national forest for three months now, and poison oak is a big issue here," he told LIVESTRONG.com via email. "At the first sign of a rash, I apply apple cider vinegar directly on the itchy area and leave it on, followed by a paste of water and baking soda applied directly on the rash. ... It stings at first, but the application has kept any rash from spreading, and it is cleared up in a few days."
While medical experts have yet to put their stamp of approval on such treatments, Masters remains confident in his approach.
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Susan Wessling has been a professional writer since 1986. Her articles have appeared in the "Boston Globe" magazine "On Call" and on Encyclopedia Britannica's website. She was recognized by the National Newspaper Association and New England Press Association for best sports column and by the National Newspaper Association for best sport pages. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Clark University.