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This of many such sites, claims that vinegar can help with dandruff.

Have a problem with the dreaded “dandruff?” Here’s the “sure cure” and you’ll find it in your kitchen. Vinegar!

Yes, it is just off your kitchen cupboard and you do not need to spend a dime on expensive and probably not effective anti-dandruff shampoo! ;)

Is it possible that I can stop buying all those expensive shampoos and just use vinegar?

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Sure, why not? Try it. I got rid of my dandruff, which persisted through many anti-dandruff cures, by rinsing it in naturally sparkling water. This apparently worked because it's high in carbonates, and carbonates are good against fungi and fungi is a common cause of dandruff. So why not vinegar? Have I found any research on any of this? No. Hence: A comment not an answer. – Lennart Regebro Apr 5 '11 at 8:47
@Lennart: Good advice. It seems to be working. It has cleared up. I want to be a bit scientific about it though and try it again next time I seem to have a flare up. After all, it could have been the humidity er something. I'll have to leave this question unanswered for now... – Captain Claptrap Apr 11 '11 at 22:06
I got rid of my dandruff by taking Omega 3+6+9 in addition to Cod Liver Oil (which I was taking before). It used to be terrible, and I'd have to wash my hair all the time. – Chris Dennett May 10 '11 at 2:11
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I could find no studies supporting that claim, however I suspect it's not going to be as effective as proper medication.

Dandruff is the most commercially exploited skin disease. All the medicated shampoos use various active ingredients, either alone or in combinations. None of them list vinagre (acetic acid) as an active ingredient.

Active ingredients

  • Salicylic acid
  • Salicylic acid and sulfur
  • Zinc pyrithione
  • Tar
  • Selenium sulfide
  • Ketoconazole
  • Ciclopirox
  • Clobetasol


Note that all of these medications are symptomatic because dandruff is not a well-understood disease - but this doesn't mean that the mechanism of action of the active components is not well understood.

In such a commercially exploited pharmacological I sincerely doubt that a cheap, safe and miraculous cure as vinagre is purported to be is not internally studied and exploited if effective.

In fact, salicylic acid is used for its acidic properties -- similar to acetic acid. The difference here is that salicylic acid is more effective than acetic acid. In short, therefore, vinagre is quite likely to be a less effective symptomatic cure, with respect to the pharmacological alternatives. From the linked paper:

Salicylic acid is a [...] acid keratinolytic agent that is useful in removing scaly hyperkeratotic skin. It decreases cell-to-cell adhesion between corneocytes.

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Well, if we're comparing acid to acid, Salicylic acid has a pKa of 2.97 while the pKa of acetic acid is 4.76; thus vinegar is a much weaker acid in comparison. So IF we assume that it's the acid content which is 'curing' the dandruff, then vinegar would not be able to perform as well (comparatively speaking) as salicylic acid because it's not nearly as strong. – Darwy Apr 5 '11 at 10:56
From your article "Salicylic acid Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxyl acid keratinolytic agent that is useful in removing scaly hyperkeratotic skin. It decreases cell-to-cell adhesion between corneocytes. This agent is widely used in the AD preparations" Damn I need to remember to hit shift-enter here.. Keratolytic therapy involves the use of an acid to thin the skin; therefore it is indeed the acidic properties which are in question. – Darwy Apr 5 '11 at 11:12
@Dawry I stand corrected. I'll update the answer - thanks! – Sklivvz Apr 5 '11 at 11:40
Actually, it might be more effective than "proper medication", just because all proper medication treats the symptoms and not the cause. See my comment above about water high in carbonates. That said, it may also be less effective, especially because there may be many different causes, and Vinegar (like carbonates) surely only helps against one of them. – Lennart Regebro Apr 7 '11 at 12:29
If dandruff is, what my dictionary sais, it cant be cured at all! This white/grey flakes You find on Your shoulders (especially when wearing black) is not a disease, this is absolutely natural. The cornea (horny skin) grows and after some time chips off. Stopping this process would be dangerous. – No longer here Apr 7 '11 at 17:58

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