-By Hair Team Manager Linda Loria, MSN, RN, CNE
In a previous blog, we discussed possible causes of hair loss. Along with the use of certain medications, hormones and medical disorders, we mentioned stress as something that can contribute to thinning hair. We are all experiencing a unique amount of stress whether it is from stay-at-home orders designed to protect us all, families who find themselves looking for unique ways to entertain children while trying to keep up with their virtual studies, or concern for our older family members.
With increased stress, we sometimes see increased hair loss. While we are all taking a step back and many find themselves at home, what if we allowed our hair time to rest? Chemical treatments can contribute to hair loss. It has been said that within the next four weeks we may all see people’s true hair colors growing in as salons have been temporarily closed. If you will be coloring your hair at home, be careful to choose plant-based products as much as possible to avoid damage. If it is part of your routine to curl and blow dry or flat iron your hair every day for work or school, and you won’t be going out, maybe experiment with a different hair style that will minimize damage. If you are currently taking finasteride or using topical medications to help manage your hair loss, we encourage you to continue to use those to maintain growth and continue to block the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is a key component in hair loss.
As most of us search our pantries to find something for dinner so we can avoid going to the grocery store, what if we also considered some of what we have on hand as natural remedies to some of the common complaints we have about our scalp and skin? Is it safe to substitute these products? My grandmother, like many others, was very used to making do with what she had. When she advised me as a teenager to rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar (ACV) after washing to help with irritation and flaking, I questioned her and she said, “If it’s safe to eat, it should be safe to put on your head.” The rinse smelled a bit but worked wonderfully, not only helping with the flaking and irritation, but also leaving my hair shiny and less frizzy. I didn’t know at the time that Hippocrates (467-330 BC) had used vinegar to treat infection, including skin ulcers, due to its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties (Barrel, 2018).
The acidity of apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help to neutralize alkalinity that is found in most shampoos, leading to a more optimum pH for scalp health. ACV rinses have become commercially available and can sell for $35 or more today. A cost-effective recipe for ACV rinse combines:
- 2 to 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 16 ounces of cool water
To use, after washing and rinsing your hair, tip your head back to avoid getting any irritant in your eyes, pour the vinegar rinse over, and let it sit on the scalp for 1-2 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Be sure to dilute the ACV with water as it can cause skin irritation if used full strength or if left on too long. It is recommended to use the rinse twice per week, because it can be drying to the hair if used more frequently. I’d like to note that risks to the use of undiluted ACV when used orally include damage to tooth enamel, increased risk of ulcers and reflux, and low potassium (Huzar & Whitworth, 2019).
Will this help with hair loss?
While the use of ACV as a rinse may improve the health of the scalp and provide more shine and fullness to the hair, it has not been proven to reduce or stop hair loss. Flaking that does not stop, worsens or is accompanied by itching, redness or oozing should be evaluated by your primary care physician or dermatologist, as an anti-fungal, steroid shampoo, or topical medication may be necessary to treat this.
Other possible benefits of ACV that are being studied are the effects it has on blood sugar, blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and cancer. As with all things, moderation is key, and “necessity is the mother of invention” (Plato, n.d.).
Barrell, A. & Cobb, C. (2017). Does apple cider vinegar work for hair loss? Medical News Today.
Retrieved April 3, 2020 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319396
Huzar, T. & Wightworth, G. (2019). Side effects of apple cider vinegar. Medical News Today.
Retrieved April 3, 2020 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324184