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There seems to be a common claim on "natural" living websites as well as a folk wisdom I repeatedly heard from people I know:

  • Example 1

    According to the Dr. Oz website

    Mix a quarter-cup apple cider vinegar with a quarter-cup water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spritz it on to your hair and scalp, being careful to avoid the eye and ear area. Wrap your head in a towel. Leave on for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, then remove the towel and wash your hair. Try this treatment twice a week as a natural alternative to anti-dandruff shampoos that contain harsh chemicals.

  • Example 2

    Apple Cider Vinegar for Dandruff

    One cause of dandruff is excess yeast growth on the scalp. The acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, so it’s not an ideal environment for yeast to grow. Mix a quarter-cup apple cider vinegar with a quarter-cup water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spritz it on to your hair and scalp, being careful to avoid the eye and ear area. Wrap your head in a towel. Leave on for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, then remove the towel and wash your hair. Try this treatment twice a week as a natural alternative to anti-dandruff shampoos that contain harsh chemicals.

  • Note: there's a related general Q, but these claims seem to be very secifically about Apple Cider Vinegar. – user5341 Jun 9 '13 at 13:02
2

ACV is recommended a lot on beauty/hair blogs and sites as a natural treatment. I didn't see anything about ACV as a treatment of dandruff caused by yeast, but I did find this article (although not very resourceful) about treating dandruff caused by bacteria.

  1. Dandruff and Itchy Scalp Relief

The acids and enzymes in ACV kill the “bottle bacillus”, a bacteria that is one of the causes for many scalp and hair conditions such as dandruff, itchy scalp, hair loss and often baldness.The bacteria clogs hair follicles allowing dry crusts to form that itch and flake. http://blackgirllonghair.com/2012/01/6-ways-to-use-apple-cider-vinegar/

"Bottle Bacillius" is apparently a type of bacteria that can cause dandruff when used with certain types of hair shampoos and conditioners.

Bottle bacillus works with silica & polymer based shampoos & conditioners to clog the hair follicles forming dry crusts & thick film to develop on the hair & scalp. ACV breaks down the film & crusts, dissolves excess fatty deposits that form on top of the Bottle Bacillus. http://backtocurly.com/2011/04/hair-pantry-clarifying-acv-rinse/

I did not find anything specific to ACV vs any type of vinegar. Vinegar is a disinfectant and does reduce the incidence of some bacteria, which this study on the NIH shows. This study is comparing vinegar to regular kitchen cleansers, which are obviously not suitable for skin treatments.

Vinegar eliminated <3 logs10 of S. aureus and E. coli http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10656352

Relatedly, a vinegar rinse does help to improve hair texture by closing the cuticles, so hair feels smoother. This site discusses the benefits of a smoother hair cuticle. http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/kinky-hair-type-4a/apple-cider-vinegar-as-hair-cleanser/

If the dandruff is being caused by an excess build-up of products and/or a type of bacteria in combination with a build-up of products, then vinegar (which is considered a natural product by the NIH) could help reduce dandruff. There doesn't seem to be any research comparing white vinegar to ACV. And, if the dandruff is being caused by yeast, there doesn't appear to be any evidence in support of that.


FYI - FWIW: I just found something on Reddit "Skincare Addition" about white vinegar vs AC vinegar. From the archived and stickied post: "PSA: Please DO NOT use baking soda on your skin. It is NOT safe."

Edit 3: Bit of confusion over white vs apple cider vinegar. I am specifically discussing white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has a higher pH (about 4.25, from everything I can read). However, it is still possible to seriously irritate your skin with ACV (I know I have) and I have to wonder how effective it is for exfoliation."

So, it looks like there is a difference in the pH of white vinegar vs apple cider vinegar, though I don't know of evidence for why this would make a difference in treating dandruff, aside from what I've already shared.

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