Note to self: I need to see about using a vinegar rinse on my hair. Not that my hair’s looking unpleasant or anything, but some time ago I made a batch of homemade solid shampoo. I’ve been washing my hair about every other day with the stuff, same as I would with regular liquid shampoo. It tends to leave my wet hair very, very squeaky when I pull my fingers through it, which I am assuming is the sound of hair that does not have much in the way of oil or sebum still clinging to it. Generally my hair looks better when I apply some of the conditioner I still have in the bottle afterwards, and squeaks less, so I’ve been doing that as well.
However, that bottle’s going to run out. I went to look for info on home hair conditioning possibilities, mostly to see how they compared to buying a bottle at the store. Aside from “take $FOOD_OBJECT and smash it up real good, then rub it all over your hair and leave it there for $SIGNIFICANT_AMOUNT_OF_TIME and rinse it out” suggestions, the most common thing I’ve seen so far has been “rinse your hair with APPLE CIDER VINEGAR diluted in LOTS OF WATER, it has to be APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, don’t even think of trying white vinegar, it’s APPLE CIDER VINEGAR or nothing”. Most of the pages that talked about APPLE CIDER VINEGAR were home remedy sites that basically just assured me it’d be wonderful. Which, fine, but it’d be nice to have something a little more concrete to go on.
The Straight Dope didn’t have much to work with. Their message board included a lot of talk about uses for apple cider vinegar, but they were of the ‘swallow it for $ILLNESS, rub it on for $TOPICAL_AFFLICTION’ variety. Also, most of them were either ‘that’s what the old stories say, but it doesn’t actually work’ or ‘it works, but not very well compared to $MODERN_THING, which is really really really good at $SPECIFIC_JOB’. Which, fine, but again, I was there to look for hair information. Finally found what I was after on Snopes, in an article about urban myths and legends about shaving hair:
Lemon juice or vinegar rinses make hair shine — There was some truth in this belief back in the days when folks used soap (in liquid or bar form) to clean their hair. Soap combines with the alkaline salts in water to form a powdery deposit that clings to hair, dulling its appearance. An acid rinse (such as lemon or vinegar) neutralizes this deposit and reverses its effects, restoring hair to its rightful shine. These days almost everyone uses shampoo, and it would be a rare shampoo indeed that created an alkaline film, so there is no longer anything for lemon juice or vinegar to undo.
Now, I’m not sure if my hair is dull looking compared to its usual. I’m also not sure, or even close to sure, of whether the conditioner I use counteracts any of the chemical deposits left by my bar shampoo- which is really basically just bar soap with a few extra conditioning ingredients targeted at hair in it. (As opposed to commercial shampoo, which is apparently made with synthetic surfactants. I am not saying there’s anything wrong with commercial shampoo, I’m just saying that that’s the distinction I’m seeing drawn between ‘soap in liquid form that you put on your hair’ and ‘shampoo’.) If it weren’t for the fact that I really don’t look good at all with my hair parted down the middle I’d try using conditioner on one side of my head and a vinegar rinse on the other, but for now I suppose I am going to have to settle for a few baseline pictures to establish what I’m working with, followed by pictures as I use the vinegar rinse. It might make more sense for me to do the vinegar thing as long as I’m using my home bars. We’ll see.
(For those who might be curious, I have in the past used the baking soda-in-water means of cleaning my hair. It does get you clean, and it leaves your hair pretty squeaky, but I found myself with an amazing number of flyaways even after I’d been doing it a month or two and following up with vinegar rinses. On the other hand, it made it feasible for me to clean my hair when I was living in Hoboken and Hurricane Sandy knocked out electrical power and heat for a week; as long as I could get the water warm on the stove, I could wash and rinse my hair, then wrap my head in a towel to dry without freezing to death. So there’s that.)