ACV…Don’t Believe The Hype


Unless today is your first day as a natural, you’ve probably heard about ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinses. I decided to try one last weekend after reading yet another thread raving about it on Nappturality.

I looked at five different recipes and found five different ones. Additionally, no one can seem to agree on ACV’s actual use.

Some say it’s a clarifier. Others proclaim that it simply restores your hair’s pH balance after shampooing. And I’ve seen dreadheads swear that it eliminated all signs of lint.

To further complicate things, everyone seems to use it at different points in their routines. I’ve seen it done before a wash, before conditioning, as a final rinse, and even in lieu of actual shampoo.

That being said, I’ll definitely be trying this again to give it a fair shot. The information that I found during my research was all over the place.

(Always do your own research, readers. What works for one doesn’t work for all.)

Let’s get started.

My tools:

  • ACV purchased from a grocery store
  • 13 oz spray bottle
  • measuring utensils

acv rinse

I opted to wash, ACV rinse, condition, then apply leave-in.

I measured out 1 tsp of vinegar. Some of the recipes I read were using as much as 50% vinegar 😯

Vinegar is acidic, people. And that stuff can burn!

tsp of acv

I filled the rest of the bottle with lukewarm water. I sprayed my entire head, being sure to thoroughly saturate everything.

When I was finished there was this much left:

spray bottle

I threw on a shower cap and let it marinate for 15 minutes:

shower cap

I then rinsed it out ans continued with my routine (condition, leave-in).

This was my final result after adding my Neutrogena moisturizer and vitamin E oil:

final result

Can you see how clean my scalp is? The sheen? The fluffiness?

Yeah, me neither free smileys

After all the hoopla I’d read about ACV, I expected to see Jesus Himself come down and lay hands on my head.

Truth is, my hair looked and felt as if I hadn’t even used it.

Like I said, I’m going to try it again this week. I believe I need to use more vinegar and I maybe do it before I shampoo or as a final rinse.

So stay tuned for part two.

Have any of you lovely readers done an ACV rinse? How do you do yours? Help a sista out!

(BTW, if you’re totally lost about this post’s thumbnail, click here. Shout out to all my old school hip-hop heads.)

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78 Responses so far.

  1. ~*BW*~ says:

    wow, really?! Sorry it didn’t work for you but that’s how it goes when it comes to hair. This has been one of my staples for years now and I can def. tell the diff when I skip that step. I use mine as a final rinse and I don’t wash it out (seems it would defeat the purpose of sealing cuticles if rinsed off IMO). Also I diluted prob. a lot more than most people. I use less than a cap full in an empty 16.9 oz water bottle then fill the bottle all the way with cold water.
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    • nappy headed black girl says:

      Here I was worried that I was using too little vinegar but it seems you use even less than me…go figure.

      I’m a bit worried about leaving it in my hair. From what I understand, cold water alone can close the hair cuticles. So I think rinsing it out with cool water would still do the trick.

  2. I am actually using a pre-mixed ACV rinse that is sold by Koils by Nature. I am still experimenting with where in my routine to use it. I’ve tried it before shampoo, after shampoo, and as a final rinse. Like you said, there is so many different methods out there. I have not settled on one specific time yet. I always rinse after finishing.
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    • nappy headed black girl says:

      Thanks for the info.

      I checked out that site and the AVC rinse ingredients sound yummy.

      They also recommend that you do the rinse after the wash and before conditioner, like I did. I guess I’ll stick with that and just up the vinegar next time.

      • BwnGurlzMom says:

        I’m thinking the dilution portions depend on the needs of your hair. For most, the vinegar is used as a solvent to dilute or loosen oil,dirt, odors,debris, dandruff, product, etc. I used the rosemary to aid in the cleansing/health benefits. The tea tree and other essential oils also aid in killing bacteria, fungi, etc. But I just use that formulation because I’m an active product junkie, I rarely cover my hair at night, and I have small children who love to touch it (eek). So, my “formula” is a bit much. Also, I’m an avid overdoer:)

  3. BwnGurlzMom says:

    I love my ACV rinse! I make mine a bit differently. I use about 50% ACV and about 50% rosemary water. I simmer fresh rosemary sprigs in water, let cool, strain and add to vinegar. I also add a couple drops of peppermint, lavender, and tea tree oils. (I make about two quarts at a time) Then I pour into a spray bottle, spray and message into my locs and scalp prior to shampooing. I feels good and I LOVE IT. If I’m patient enough I put on the bag and wait about 15 minutes (sometimes I’m not)It makes my hair softer, stronger, and gets out any product build up and odors that shampooing may not completely remove. I do it first because I hate the vinegar smell. For me, it’s fabulous!

    • BwnGurlzMom says:

      Oh yea, forgot to mention! Don’t sleep on the ACV. I also bath and wash my face with it. It cures my acne flair ups and restores my itchy winter dryness. It naturally restores your ph balance and kills bacteria. I use the white vinegar to clean my bathrooms and soften my laundry. Can’t live without this stuff:)
      Read up on it and give it a try!

      • nappy headed black girl says:

        Ooh, I see you get all fancy with yours…adding fresh herbs and whatnot 😆

        If I figure out the correct portions for me I may add the extras later.

        And I didn’t know vinegar was so versatile. How do you use it on your face? Do you dilute it or is it like a final rinse?

    • Star says:

      Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  4. A Jefferson says:

    I used full strenght ACV to cure my severe dandruff. I read that it kills bacteria so I tried it on my scalp 15 minutes per day for 7 days. It stopped the itching and dandruff so for me it works. When my scalp acts up with the itchiness, I use the ACV and I am good to go.

    • nappy headed black girl says:

      That seems like it would be very strong for daily use, especially full strength.

      Has it dried your scalp out any?

  5. Tinuke says:

    Wow!!it didn’t work for you? Everybody’s hair responds to products differently.

    I love ACV!!!! Use it as a final rinse to seal my cuticles. I use about 1/3 cup mixed with 3 cups of water. I really don’t have to add anything else to my hair after that.
    Tinuke recently posted..Fine Natural Hair is fragile-Part 1My Profile

  6. Ness says:

    I love using ACV! My hair feels very clarified, very light, and has a nice shine after an ACV rinse. Nowadays, I really just eyeball it, at least 2 tbs of ACV and the rest is just water, I put it in a random bottle. I only use it once a week, or whenever I remember to use it lol. I also infuse herbs into it once in awhile too.

  7. I didn’t used to use ACV but I do now that I live in an area with fairly hard water – I thought it lessened the effect of the minerals in the water, so that I didn’t get build up from the hard water. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t really do anything for you, because there was nothing wrong in the first place?

  8. Tinuke says:

    I don’t have to apply a leave in but I would still seal with oil.
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  9. JustMe says:

    Hi, I am a strong advocate of Apple Cider Vinegar. It is without a doubt one the best tools in the natural girl’s arsenal..I don’t measure the vinegar, when I use it, but I use alot. I use it after shampooing to remove buildup and to tighten my hair cuticles. AS SOON as I put the ACV in my hair the curls pop and become defined and “sheeny.” I have used the ACV rinse as a loose natural and continue to swear by it now that I have locs. I only use raw organic ACV. I use a squeeze bottle filled usually half and half ACV and water. I squeeze it all into my hair in the shower after I shampoo with Dr. Bronner’s pepermint soap (two latherings and rinsings.) Then I just let it sit for a few minutes. Sometimes for deep conditioning I mix the ACV with a little ( 1 tsp) avocado oil and water, squeeze it on, wring my hair out a little so it’s not totally dripping wet. Then I put on a plastic cap and let it sit for a while. Then rinse with warm water, then a cool rinse. I twist my locs with NO product. I don’t even add anymore oil because there is a little oil left in the hair even after rinsing. I find that too much oil can make the hair hard. My locs are very soft and people are usually really surprised. When I had my locs started the loctitian used alot of product and my hair felt hard to me. My hair is the shiniest and feels the softest when it is clean and has an ACV treatment.

  10. HappyToBeNappy says:

    I do mine as a final rinse. I wash & condition as usual, then while rinsing the conditioner out, I do the acv rinse as a final step. Mine is 2 tablespoons acv in 2 cups water. I’m not sure the exact reason, but when I do it my curls look their best. They are super curly and defined. But everyone’s hair is different.

  11. Naturally Cryss says:

    I mix mine a little bit differently. I mix 1/3 cup of ACV, 1/3 cup of Aloe Vera Juice, 15 drops of PPO, Rosemary, Lavender, Orange, and Tea Tree Oil…then I qs the bottle up to 16 oz. I use it ad a final rinse after I rinse my conditioner out. The oils help with the smell…I tried it full strength once and when air dried my hair was SOFT AND SMOOTHER than its ever been but the smell never really faded and I was smelling ACV all day…smh This one leaves my hair soft shiny and smooth. I add my leave-in and I seal afterwards…my hair is still soft after that…I love what it does for my hair.

  12. Naturally Cryss says:

    I mix mine a little bit differently. I mix 1/3 cup of ACV, 1/3 cup of Aloe Vera Juice, 15 drops of PPO, Rosemary, Lavender, Orange, and Tea Tree Oil…then I qs the bottle up to 16 oz. I use it as a final rinse after I rinse my conditioner out. The oils help with the smell…I tried it full strength once and when air dried my hair was SOFT AND SMOOTHER than its ever been but the smell never really faded and I was smelling ACV all day…smh This one leaves my hair soft shiny and smooth. I add my leave-in and I seal afterwards…my hair is still soft after that…I love what it does for my hair.

  13. Naturally Cryss says:

    Sorry about the double post…smh I hate my phone 🙁

  14. edie says:

    I tried it for the 1st time today, and honestly, I feel like it made my hair hard and VERY tangled. I relax as needed, I wash and DC every week, religiously. I used the acv as a final rinse, but I hated the smell, (reminded my of dying eggs for Easter)so I added a little more conditioner just to get rid of the smell. And I agree, that I just dont see what the hype is all about. Well, @ least not yet, anyway.

  15. edie says:

    OOPS! I meant to say reminds ME, not my…

  16. Ann says:

    You used the wrong kind of ACV. You should be using raw organic unfiltered kind. That kind contains the mother, in it, the kind you buy at the grocery that is ‘sparkling’ isn’t the proper kind for the acv rinse.

  17. […] shocked at some the results people were receiving and became intrigued. So despite my lackluster ACV rinse results–not once, but twice–I decided to give it a […]

  18. Delise says:

    You didnt use enough vinegar… And you shouldnt use shampoo period!!! Shampoo actually strips your hair… You should perform a “co wash”/cold wash which simple rinses ur hair and then use acv as a conditioner… If you want u can also add a little of another conditioner then wash it out!!! Shampoo is a wsaste of money that just allows ur hair to smell good… Before shampoo exited woman were still washing their hair ans keeping it well groomed… I myself make an at home herbal cleanse that has acv, thyme, rose petals, rosemarry and sage w/ a drop or vitmen e oil… Let sit and age for 3 weeks

  19. I tried this rinse again with more vinegar (click the part 2 link) and had similar results. I don’t think it’s something I care to do on a regular basis.

    As for conditioner rinses…I’m aware of them but don’t feel they properly cleanse the hair. They’re great for preserving moisture but they don’t actually clean your hair. You said it yourself…it rinses your hair.

    In order to penetrate/break down the dirt certain ingredients are needed. To me a conditioner wash is akin to pouring body wash on and just letting it run off. My skin may smell good and be smooth, but I’m still dirty.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  20. skiwidme says:

    I am new to the ACV cleansing due to having a very itchy scalp and small itchy scabs. My follices were a mess! I do not have locks or dreads, but have been wearing my hair naturally for many years. Lately, I’ve had itchy scalp, I assume due to an over abudance of products to make my natural curls more distinct. I wet my hair each day to apply those products, my hair is very short and close cropped, no color or chemicals in it. Well, I used organic ACV, 1/4 cup to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. I rinsed my hair with warm water first and then sprayed and massaged in the ACV for 2-5 minutes. Left it in for 30 minutes, rinsed with cold water, then massaged my scalp with Jojoba oil and tea tree. My scalp feels great and I am doing this now once a week. All I can say is that as far as my scalp feeling great, it does and my short cropped hair is quite soft.

  21. Hmm says:

    It didn’t work because you didn’t use it right. 1 spoonful? Really? You’ve got a lot of hair. And ACV’s acidity is close to that of your own hair’s ph, so it won’t hurt your hair unless you use it every day. That’s like using a drop of shampoo for your whole head.

  22. Brianna says:

    the acv rinse is meant to get rid of everything. its a clarifier meaning that it rids your hair of buildup with that being said it also balances pH, because if you have buildup the pH balance in your hair is going to be off. if you rid your hair of buildup and then put conditioner AND a leave in conditioner on it, that’s like your defeating the purpose of the acv rinse and adding products right back into your dreads. I did my research and tried it myself and I am absolutely positive that its your method of how youre doing it. it is meant as a final rinse. take 1/4 cup of baking soda and 3/4 cup of acv into a (bathroom)sink full of water and dunk your dreads in it and let it soak for about 5 or 10 minutes. when you take your hair out of the water, the water will literally be a dark dirty brown color and this is all the gunk from gel, shampoo and conditioner that you have used over time and got locked into your hair. Make sure you rinse with hot water thoroughly and then when your hair dries you will be amazed at how luminous, soft, clean and less frizzy your hair feels. the vinegar smell will go away once your hair dries. when i did it people thought I actually had used a black dye on my hair because it was so radiant, whereas before it looked dull and ashy. Also for moisture use hot oil treatments instead of conditioner because even though conditioner is a staple for loose natural hair, in locked hair conditioner leaves residue that causes buildup.

  23. tasha says:

    An ACV Rinse, which consists of Apple Cider Vinegar, sea salt, baking soda, and lemon juice is a natural alternative to shampoo for those with dreads or just natural hair in general. The reaction of the baking soda and vinegar dig deep into the dread to help better clear out any residue that shampoos, oils, and other products commonly used in a salon may leave behind. Once the rinse is used they leave your dreads feelings softer and lighter than usual. This rinse is best suited for locs that are at least a year old as this mixture might offer undesired reverse effects for newly formed locks. For this recipe you need:

    1/4 cup of baking soda
    1 teaspoon of lemon juice
    3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
    and 1 teaspoon of natural sea salt

    (I have changed the recipe based on personal trial and error, there are many different measurement ratios available.)

    To start, plug your sink, pour in the sea salt, and baking soda then begin filling up your sink with warm water. Do it this way to prevent the salt and baking soda from clumping. Then pour in the lemon juice, then vinegar and watch the reaction. Once the sink is full, tilt your head back into the sink making sure that your dreads are completely covered in the solution. Squeeze your dreads like a sponge to ensure the solution soaks all the way through. Keep repeating this process until the water has turned a dark brown color (believe me it will surprise you). Let the water out and fill the sink up again with just warm water alone and soak your dreads again, repeat until the water runs clear. Make sure all of the solution is out of your hair as the acidic mixture can be damaging if left in. Use a light conditioner to restore the moisture to your hair as this solution will dry your hair out, and continue with your usual hair regiment.

    Other benefits of this rinse are that it reduces itchiness of the scalp, brings back to life your natural curl pattern, and brings back the natural darkness of the hair.

  24. Darya says:

    You didn’t buy the correct brand of ACV my dear.

    • Umm…ok lol Wanna recommend a brand?

      • LaToya says:

        The only way the ACV treatment works is if you use the raw, organic, undiluted and unfiltered brand. It’s called Bragg-Apple Cider Vinegar. Bragg is the brand name. It will need to be with ‘the mother’…this brand is not found at your local Walmart or Publix…you will need to purchase from Kroger or Whole Foods stores.

        • nappy headed black girl says:

          Thanks, sis. It’s been a minute since I’ve done a rinse but it did leave my hair feeling clean if nothing else.

          I’ve heard this brand mentioned a few times. I’ll see if I cab find it for the next time.

  25. love says:

    Organic AVC

  26. masy says:

    well, you put a teaspoon of ACV, that would REALLY NOT WORK, you completely neutralize the vinegar

    • etsprout@aol.com says:

      I’ve been using full strength with WONDERFUL results! I don’t leave it on longer than a minute or two, and have noticed no ill effects.

      I also don’t use shampoo, if that matters. Maybe the oil from my scalp protects my hair? I also don’t condition anymore. I used to have a complicated regiment I followed of condition, deep condition, oil, etc. But even since ACV I’ve been basically product free.

      🙂

  27. Letia says:

    I am one who swears by ACV. I however use about half a 20oz bottle every few months when my dreads feel extra heavy and my scalp is a wild mess, not with every wash. First I shampoo, rinse, then literally pour ACV on my scalp (it runs through my dreads) I help the effectiveness by gently squeezing my dreads so the can absorb the vinegar. I know when I have used enough because the texture of my dreads is different and they are almost stiff. I don’t let it sit, I rinse immediately, VERY thoroughly.

    I am not sure what Neutrogena products consist of, but be wary of sulfates and unnatural additives as they will build up and weigh your hair down. It may be hard for even acv to cut through. Try doing a diluted baking soda rinse a couple times a year to help.

    As far as my moisturizing habits; I use a combination of rosemary, tea tree, orange blossom and argon oils directly on my scalp and then rub whats left on my hands through my dreads. It softens and hydrates plus adds shine without going rank in a few days, plus they smell AMAZING!

    I hope this helps mama, good luck!

  28. Letia says:

    Also, my broke self uses the cheapest ACV I can find, lol. My dreads are light and bouncy and I love it, I just walk around shaking my head after the rinse because they feel so good! Anyways, my point is that it doesnt really matter how much you spend, ACV is ACV. Maybe you don’t have to use as much if it’s unfiltered, but essentially it’s all the same.

    • Thanks for the tips, fam. So you just pour it straight on your head undiluted? Doesn’t it burn?

      And yes, since this post I have tried a baking soda rinse, which worked a little better: http://nappyheadedblackgirl.com/2012/08/baking-sodanot-just-for-cooking/

      I was surprised by the results but didn’t care for the time it took, especially since I seem to get similar results using a plain ol’ clarifying shampoo.

      And thumbs up to argan oil. I’ve been hooked ever since I won a bottle in a giveaway. That stuff is fab.

      Thanks again for the advice, sis. I hope you decide to stick around.

  29. says:

    For me I recently tried using an AVC rinse in a spray bottle that I sprayed on over the conditioner on my hair as I attempted to detangle my hair before rinsing it. My hair felt super soft and felt easier to detangle. I also combine it with a yogurt for a deep conditioner which helps detangle before washing or co-washing my hair.

  30. Lynn says:

    I read what you said and evryone else…. & your rite evryone gots did recipes and ratios…. But i am here to tell you that all that othr stuff is bullstuff. The only truth ive seen on your comments is from tasha on april 14th. THAT IS THE CORRECT WAY TO DO AN APPLECIDER CLEANSE FOR LOCS!!! ITS what you are looking for as far as results. You actually see and feel the difference. sea salt, lemon, bakin soda, vinegar and water. I do almost equal vinegar tho….bettr results. u fill that sink up and dunk your locs in and like she said work it thru by squeezing and get a cup and keep pourin over your hair as well. Yes its uncomfortable on neck and back but i jes leave my locs soakin in the solution. & you will see all the buildup of dirt and products that shampoo leaves and contributes to! The water will be brown and the first time i did it my water was almost black…murky…. ive had my locs 10 years did first rinse a few months ago. anyway i actually prepare another sink full and do it again… now what happens is the rinse breaks up the build up and dirt and brings it to surface to be washed away… now i tried evrything to remove the greasy dirt and bulidup….call me crazy but the commercial came to mind….dawn takes grease out your way!!! lol…and yes i washed my locs in dawn and my hair came out squeaky clean literaly!!! healthy feeling and shiny. Now i will not lie my hair was dry as that thang!!! but my next step remedy evrything and had me feelin sexy…… WEN!!!! Yes the conditonin shampoo….and if you dnt have access to WEN then go to PANTENE… they have made their own version of wen. Saturate hair throroughly and let sit… rinse and dry and style as usual….I promise you will like the results!!!

    • Lynn says:

      antibacterial dawn too!!!! lol

      • Lynn says:

        one more thing…the organic is nice and more natural organic and all that but not neccessary…. u can use real lemons or by that concentrated squirt bottle….IT MUST BE SEA SALT THOUGH & BAKING SODA!!!

        • Lynn,

          Thanks a million for the advice, sis. Since this post I tried Tasha’s method and it worked pretty well. You can see the results here: http://nappyheadedblackgirl.com/2012/08/baking-sodanot-just-for-cooking/

          And you’re right, my water was straight nasty looking lol It looked like I had never washed my hair at all. Yuck.

          The main reason I wasn’t impressed is because it takes so darn long for results that, to me, are similar to what I can get with a clarifying shampoo.

          I think I’ll revisit it in the new year after I get a hooded dryer. I want to make sure I get all the moisture back in afterward.

          Thanks for dropping by. I hope you’ll stick around 😉

    • YaYa says:

      Yasss! Tasha nailed it!

  31. I’ve used the ACV rinse as my final rinse just before getting out of the shower. Then I apply my leave in. It’s also supposed to be good for dandruff. I do a 50/50 dilute with water and use it on my son’s scalp. I prefer it over chemical dandruff shampoo. I think it works but to be honest I haven’t been consistent.
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    • Thanks for sharing, sis. I still haven’t mastered the technique but I’m improving. I’m not consistent, either, because it’s still not a priority on my routine.

      • Elo says:

        Hey there.. Ive been looking for information on how the vinegar works on hair. I found out that it clarifies because it removes the build up on your hair.. also softens (it sure does, it worked for me!) because it seals the hair cuticle.

        There are several reasons why it didn’t work well for you.
        1. First of all, you have A LOT of build up and you are using less vinegar than a blonde with no build up uses every day.
        2. Also, because of your very curly or kinky hair, your hair cuticles are naturally much more raised so it takes EVEN MORE vinegar than an every day amount to seal the cuticle. Im sure you don’t wash your hair every day, and yet you’re using less than is recommended for every day use.

        Vinegar will not burn you if you mix it with water and then rinse it, its not that extremely harsh.

        The way I use it, I have curly hair and some kinky hairs, is that I shampoo normally and then in the shower I put 50/50 vinegar and water.
        I tie up my hair and for 7 minutes do my other shower duties like washing my body.
        Then I rinse my hair with COLD! water which helps seal the cuticle. A cold water rinse on hair helps seal the cuticle on its own. Try that 🙂

  32. Danielle says:

    I take a 1/2 cup pf acv an pour it in my hair whilst i face my head diwn in my shower scrub my scalp an rinse in cool water. Then add my leave in, comb, an add my oils.

  33. Zarina says:

    Greetings,
    From my experience, using a ratio of 50% water to 50% vinegar works well. I rub baking soda into my dread locks and then spray the acv mix onto my locks after shampooing my hair. I find that my locks are softer, cleaner, and less oily residue. I use a soft brush to gently remove lint before washing.

  34. Alisha says:

    Kay I was cracking up at this! I actually use my ACV when I make a bentonite clay mask for my face or hair. But since I have color treated hair now I can’t use anything that clarifies that much or has sulfates -_- But I use this one mist that has it in it and I have no clue if it makes a difference on my hair either LOL
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    • OK, so I’m not crazy lol I know it’s a gift from God for some naturals but it didn’t do a darn thing for me.

      Plus it just seems so harsh, ya know?

      How does the clay mask work out for you? I received one a while back but was afraid to use it because it seems like it’d be hard to get out of dreads.

  35. maureen rigley says:

    Love this article! I am an 80 yo white gal with curly hair (not as curly as it was when I was younger) My mother would wash my hair and then rinse it with white vinegar and warm water. The reason was to cut the soap that would otherwise dull my hair. In the 50″s I had a few nappy headed foster girls.
    Used the same thing.

  36. MichaelPubs says:

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  37. Trista says:

    the ACV should be “of the mother” it’s extremely cloudy and isn’t as acidic. I use this on your hair as well as my daughters. It makes her 4b/c hair very soft and manageable. My husband is using it for his locs. I’m actually happy to see other options of oil to put in the rinse cause he complains about the smell.

  38. Mat says:

    I place mine I the sink with baking soda, salt, lemon juice and warm water. I dip my locs in the solution and I can see the dirt and lint come off within an few minutes. After the rinse I wash and deep condition.

  39. Samoné says:

    I’ve never seen anyone use a spray bottle and plastic cap. Most of the videos I’ve seen you have to actually let you hair soak in the sink, bucket, or whatever you prefer. Have you tried it that way? Im going to try it for the first time today. Im excited.

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