How to use vinegar in DIY cosmetics

Today, vinegar has become one of the most popular raw material for DIY cosmetics. Vinegar is now being sold in large canisters when it was previously found in half a liter bottle. It tells us something about popularity of vinegar. The vinegar is multi-purpose product. It is used not only in skin care but also in hair care and for variety of minor health problem treatments. The same familiar vinegar is also suitable for cleaning and many other household needs. It would be easy to write a book about tips how to use vinegar.

What is vinegar

Traditional vinegar is prepared by oxidation of either wine or spirits to form acetic acid. Acetic acid also begins to form itself, for example, in an open wine bottle. The process needs oxygen. Distilled vinegar sold in shops contains added water to keep acetic acid content only 3-5%.

Vinegar can be prepared by fermenting all kinds of wines and spirits. The name of the finished product indicates the original wine that has been used. So, there are apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc.

The active substance in vinegar is acetic acid, also called ethanoic acid. There is always acetic acid in all products wich are called vinegar. The apple cider vinegar also has this same acid. Acetic acid is one of the most important ingredients in the chemical industry. It is very multipurpose product and nontoxic.

Vinegar is a solvent

The fact that vinegar is a solvent is very important to remember. For skin and hair care, solvent should be used with caution. The vinegar dissolves in water like alcohol. Vinegar can therefore be diluted with water to the desired strength. Vinegar also dissolves inorganic salts and sugars. Again, this is a very good feature in stain removal but not so desirable in the treatment of skin and hair. When cleaning the bathroom, vinegar can dissolve well mineral deposits. Soap combines with minerals in tub water and cause alkaline soap. The mineral deposits are the accumulation of inorganic salts. If you use vinegar in skin or hair care, please take this vinegar characteristic into consideration. Skin sebum layer and minerals can be removed by using vinegar.

Beware of excessive vinegar acid hair rinse

The surface of your hair has a protective sebum layer, which consists of fats. Vinegar can dissolve this membrane from the surface of your hair. Therefore, acid rinse should be performed quickly with a dilute acetic liquid. For dry hair there is no suitable vinegar rinse. You should always use a very soft water to rinse your hair. Vinegar may react with minerals in the water and make the hair tips very tangled and fragile.

Herbal vinegars as raw material of DIY cosmetics

Herbal therapists take advantage of the vinegar’s dissolving ability by extracting different herbs with the vinegar. The extracts are usually made from white vinegar. These extracts can also be used to produce cosmetics.

Vinegar is an acid

Acids are very useful in skin care. You can obtain an excessively alkaline skin from the pH to normal, or 4,5 to 5, 5 readings by using acids. Acids are also used in hair care to close the capillaries opened by the washing. Many people keep vinegar rinses as the best treatment agent. They smoothen the hair and make them soft and easy to comb.

However, acids also have bad effects. Let me give you an example. Have you ever come across a recipe where the fish is cooked with lemon juice or vinegar? When the raw fish has been a moment in acidic broth, fish look like and tastes like it would be cooked. This is explained by the fact that the acids do denature the proteins. They change the composition of the proteins substantially so that the protein is like cooked. Unfortunately, the same kind of phenomenon can also occur on the skin and hair. If too strong vinegar or other acid is used, it can damage your skin or hair. Also, if you let acid stay too long on your skin or hair it may damage them.  Acids are very good ingredients in cosmetics, but you should be very careful. The effect times must not be long and the acid should not be too strong.

Vinegar is a preservative

Vinegar is commonly used in the preservation as it inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microbes. The anti-microbial properties of vinegar can be utilized in DIY cosmetics in many ways. Vinegar acts as an effective deodorant, preventing the work of armpit bacteria. Vinegar flushing can also be done on acne skin or on irritated scalp. Skin problems are relieving when skin becomes more acidic and the bacterial strain changes. The vinegar can also be used to lower the acidity of the product.

How to choose a suitable vinegar

How to use vinegar in DIY cosmetics

Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

You’ve probably heard about the raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is for sale in a refined and unfiltered forms.  The unfiltered apple cider vinegar is cloudy and usually has a precipitate in the bottom.  Fermented parts of the fruit leftover from the oxidation process remain also in this type of apple cider vinegar. This way it leaves a lot of useful ingredients in the vinegar. Fermented parts are good for the body and the skin. It is because of these useful fermented ingredients; apple vinegar is the most popular vinegar in the skin and hair care. The best apple vinegar is also unpasteurized. In unpasteurized apple cider vinegar important enzymes remain in the operational condition. Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar has the membrane of acetic acid bacteria (mother vinegar) on surface.

Apple vinegar is sold in 4-5% strength, i.e. acetic acid content is 4-5% in apple cider vinegar. The raw apple cider vinegar should not be heated to more than 38 degrees. It contains a lot of valuable phytochemicals and enzymes, that are destroyed in hot.

Distilled vinegar

Distilled vinegar is the familiar preserving vinegar. Distilled vinegar is generally used for cleaning, but it is ideal also for cosmetics and herbal extracts. Distilled vinegar is a very versatile product. Especially if you are allergic or hypersensitive to apples or wine, you should choose a clean, clear distilled vinegar.

You can use distilled vinegar the same way as apple cider vinegar. It is equally strong, so no dosage adjustment is necessary. The odor of vinegar has been criticized. It is pungent and repulsive. However, the odor of vinegar changes and eventually disappears. On dry skin and dry hair, not most people cannot notify the odor of vinegar at all. If you mind the odor of vinegar just add essential oils to products. Please bear in mind that adding essential oils to your hair’s acid rinse changes the composition of the product. Essential oils are strong concentrates that contain powerful plant chemicals such as resins and terpenes. Strong plant chemicals may also damage the hair, if they are used as too strong dilutions.

Other Vinegars

White wine vinegar and cider vinegar work on skin and hair, such as non-refined apple vinegar. They are purified vinegars, so they have no femininized fruit involved. Because of their light color, they are suitable for many purposes.

Red wine vinegar is a similar product than white wine vinegar. However, it has not been very popular in cosmetics because of its strong color.

Rice vinegar and coconut vinegar are exotic products that can be used for acid rinses or for other cosmetics. You can use these vinegars like white wine vinegar. However, they are quite expensive products. Therefore, I would leave them solely for cooking.

How to use vinegar in DIY cosmetics

How to use vinegar in DIY cosmetics

Hair acid Rinse

One of the most popular use of vinegar in DIY cosmetics today is the acid rinse of the hair. Vinegar rinse is a widely accepted as a hair conditioner. This is due to the widespread use of the soap bar in the hair wash. Vinegar is not exactly a hair conditioner. There is no caring ingredient that will care the hair surface. Vinegar only closes capillaries after washing. This is based on the acidity of the vinegar. Vinegar at the same time restores the scalp’s pH to acid after alkaline washing.


Facial and skin rinses

You can also use vinegar to treat your skin with an acidic rinse to balance the pH. If you use an alkaline detergent in the shower, you can rinse the entire body with vinegar water. The skin do not feel overtighten after washing and there is no need to apply body lotion.


How to make herbal vinegar

If you want some active ingredients for your products, you can prepare herbal vinegar extracts. Herbal vinegar is a very useful product. Many phytochemicals of herbs are concentrated in herbal vinegar. An herbal vinegar extract can be used as a single ingredient for example in facials and deodorants. The vinegar extract is very strong, so add just a drop at a time. Better test first to avoid over adding.


The benefit of vinegar’s disinfectant feature should be used in deodorants. If you are afraid of strong smell of vinegar, you can add herbs or essential oils to the products.

Foot spa

An acidic foot bath is a way to disinfect your feet. If you have walked all day long and you feel your feet tired, try an herbal vinegar foot bath. At the end of the day, vinegar can also be sprayed into the shoes to disinfect them and remove the unpleasant odor.

Would you have thought of how  multipurpose product is vinegar? There are many other uses of vinegar, but they are not covered by this blog.

Did you find yourself new ways to use vinegar for skin and hair treatment?

6 answers

  1. Hello, I am making a natural shampoo dilutor cum natural hair strengthener. The natural ingredients that I use are aloe, banana, rice flour, plant leaves such as curry leaves, thuja leaves, neem leaves, drunstick leaves, rosemary leaves, wheatgrass, hibiscus flowers and leaves, rose petals, dried bay leaves, cloves and gooseberry.
    I have tested the product to last for 3-4 months when it is refrigerated.
    Is it advisable to use apple cider vinegar as a natural preservative to make it last longer / without refrigeration? If not, then what natural preservatives (or combinations) can I use?

    1. Hey
      Thank you for the message. You make a really interesting hair care product. You have chosen great ingredients.

      Apple cider vinegar is not really a preservative. Apple cider vinegar makes the product acidic, but many microbes can also live in an acidic environment. I recommend using natural cosmetics level preservatives, which are also suitable for acidic products.
      I personally use Versatile preservative TBG (INCI: Triethyl Citrate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Benzoic Acid) in acidic products. It can be used even in pH 4 products.

      Best regards, Outi

  2. Hi there! I make natural products for pets. A few of them contain distilled water (typically 100ml) and essential oils. Would vinegar help preserve these and for how long? Or is there anything else you can recommend. Thank you!

    1. Hi
      All products that contain water need a proper preservative. Vinegar and essential oils are not actual preservatives. They only slightly improve shelf life.
      There are many natural preservatives that are safe for humans, such as benzyl alcohol, benzoic acid and potassium sorbate. I’m sorry, I don’t know about their suitability for animals.
      Regards Outi

  3. I’m making my own hyaluronic acid serum. Can vinegar be used as a preservative in the mixture?

  4. Hi Connie,

    And thank you for your interest. To answer your question, supposingly you will use only hyaluronic acid and water, vinegar will preserve your mixture at least 2 months.
    But in case you want to add some other ingredients like aloe vera, oils etc you will need a real preservative. I myself use Geogard 221 but there are other good ones as well.
    I hope you will get a nice mixture.

    Best Regards,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


How to use baking soda in DIY- cosmetics

Read post