The scalp - like the rest of our skin - has a natural pH of 4.5 - 5.5 and is protected by an acid mantle that provides a natural defense against harmful bacteria, viruses, and environmental hazards. Soaps and shampoos - which often have a very basic pH - can disrupt this acid mantle, leaving your scalp more vulnerable. Because of vinegar's acidity, vinegar rinses can help to bring your scalp back to a healthy pH and restore the acid mantle. They're also great for killing bacteria and fungus, smoothing the hair cuticle, and reducing dandruff.
I add rooibos (or African redbush) mainly to temper the strong vinegar smell, but the tea also brings a whole host of other benefits. Rooibos is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, which help prevent free radical damage. It's also high in flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and to reduce allergic responses and histamine release, making it excellent for anyone with scalp irritation or sensitivity.
The two combined make a versatile rinse that you can use every time you wash your hair or as a more occasional clarifying treatment. I notice the best results when I use it occasionally - once every few weeks - and when I really saturate the hair and scalp with about 1/2 of this recipe each time. I also follow with a conditioner, but you may or may not need that step, as the vinegar's conditioning and detangling properties may be sufficient for some people.
I haven't found any accounts of rooibos dying hair and I haven't noticed any change in my own hair color, but if you have light hair and want to err on the side of caution, I recommend replacing the rooibos with with a lighter colored tea like chamomile.
Now, on to the (super simple) recipe!
1 teaspoon rooibos tea leaves
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Steep tea in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Let cool and strain. Add in apple cider vinegar and mix well to combine.
To use, shampoo hair normally, then apply rinse, making sure to really work it into the scalp. Let sit on hair for at least 5 minutes, then rinse out. Follow with conditioner, as needed.
Store any leftover rinse in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Have you tried ACV hair rinses before?