Getting the right balance with acv, oil and soap

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Hi I just signed up after having enjoyed reading on this forum first years ago and then again this week. I have been experimenting and finally decided to post to ask for some advice!

Apologies if I haven't yet got the hang of where things go and if the answer's already out there. (I did search!)

I did my first acv rinse recently and it made my hair shiny and smooth! but when I washed it with natural (saponified oil) soap then acv rinse... it was beautifully shiny and smooth but a bit dry... so I sprayed on water shaken with oil and it went nicely hydrated... but then I put more on and over did it. (so hard to get the right amount of oil!)

So the next time I tried washing it with the soap and oil mixture, then acv rinse and although the curls went a nice shape... it look dull and dry.

Do you think that it was the alkalinity of the soap making it rough? when I put this soap on my hair it does feel rough so I am going to go back to using the other one I have that is more like Castille as it feels silky when I apply it.

I would love general feedback about what is happening... although please note that I am going as natural and basic as possible so no product recommendations please.

What I would really appreciate advice on is this...
- How much oil should I mix with the natural liquid soap?
- Should I mix acv with it too? and would this be sufficient or would I need to do an acv rinse afterwards?
- Should I add acv into the soap/oil mix to adjust PH to more acidic AND do acv rinse as well?
- How much oil should I mix with water for my refreshing/hydrating spray?

I look forward to your replies!
You need to use some conditioner! Oil is not conditioning nor hydrating, it's a sealer which keeps the moisture in and out of your hair. Saponified oils are naturally high in pH, and while it's good to balance it out with a low pH like ACV, this can be damaging to your hair. It will definitely make your hair dry. I used to use this routine the first time I went CG, and thought it would be so good for my hair. My hair ended up with 2" of dry, strawlike hair that I needed to cut out, because it was way beyond repair. I was also straightening it, so I did damage on top of damage.

I would recommend a pre-poo treatment with coconut oil, a low poo, and a conditioner as a leave in, and a styler if you like. You can use oil as a sealer if you wish, but you only need a few drops, not a whole palmful.
Zeldahime and yestheyrereal like this.
2c-3a - coarse - normal-high porosity - high density - growing out to donate

NP/LP: KMF Whenever Conditioner/ YTCucs
RO/LI: Sevi Pumpkin Seed DC / CJ Argan & Olive Oil, KCKT, YTBbs
DT: Coconut Oil + scalp massage
OIL/STYLER: SM Elixir / KCCC
COLOR: henna, amla & indigo
You need to use some conditioner! Oil is not conditioning nor hydrating, it's a sealer which keeps the moisture in and out of your hair. Saponified oils are naturally high in pH, and while it's good to balance it out with a low pH like ACV, this can be damaging to your hair. It will definitely make your hair dry. I used to use this routine the first time I went CG, and thought it would be so good for my hair. My hair ended up with 2" of dry, strawlike hair that I needed to cut out, because it was way beyond repair. I was also straightening it, so I did damage on top of damage.

I would recommend a pre-poo treatment with coconut oil, a low poo, and a conditioner as a leave in, and a styler if you like. You can use oil as a sealer if you wish, but you only need a few drops, not a whole palmful.
Originally Posted by sixelamy
Thanks sixelamy!

I hear what you are saying about the properties of conditioner and oil... but surely there must be a way of doing it without conditioner... I would like to not use any products... even natural ones!

Consider this reasoning... plenty of animals in the wild have super healthy, smooth and shiny coats of fur... so surely we are designed the same way... to thrive without man-made concoctions that are supposed to 'make' our hair hydrated!

I know that we wouldn't exactly find acv etc out in the wild either... but at least these things are more natural and just one ingredient.

I would love to not have to leave anything in my hair... I want to feel clean and natural and free.

Sixelamy... I don't straighten my hair so it's different... but what routine is it that you tried?
You don't necessarily have to use conditioner. I just started using it again after going almost 4 months without it. The change in soap may certainly be your issue. I know certain bars don't play nice with acv. In my regimen I always did the following:

1) Wash with a shampoo bar by Chagrin Valley
2) Apply acv rinse to both my scalp and hair (2oz acv + 8oz water). I let this sit while I wash my body
3) Rinse the acv and detangle under the shower stream
4) Once I'm out of the shower I apply cold aloe vera juice to my scalp and hair
5) At this point it depends on the style I'm doing but if doing a wash & go then this is when I'd apply some oil.

Following this method I was able to get softness and shine I never achieved using conventional products/methods. I'm now back to using some commercial products simply because I wanted to.

You may need to experiment with different types of oils and/or soaps.
Soap isn't really any more natural than shampoo or conditioner. If you want to be completely natural, you should look into methods such as WO/SO (water only/sebum only) or herbal washes (soapnuts, soapwort root, etc.) and conditioning herbal rinses. I did herbal washes/rinses for about a year on long hair (waist to hip length), but ultimately found them to be not conditioning/moisturizing enough. There are lots of alternative cleansing methods out there, although to be honest I don't think most people stick with them for lengthy periods of time.
Zeldahime, xariel, Jimipe and 1 others like this.
3a/b, fine, normal porosity, high density

Wash: CJ Daily Fix, As I Am, TJs TTT
RO: YTB
LI: Suave TC + CJ CCCC, brushed through with Denman
Styling: Smooth in LAL Wet Look gel, scrunch, and plop 10 minutes, then add a little more gel, cover with silk cap, and sleep on it
Refresh: 3:1 water/Suave mix as needed
I know that some use soap/acv with success, but to me that seems like so much more work than using a low-ph or ph-balanced, mild lowpoo (or cowash conditioner) with perhaps little to no additional benefits. I guess for some it works, and it seems like you have gotten some good advice re: soap & acv.

Just do know that soap is highly alkaline, and high alkalinity can be damaging. You "reset" the ph with acv, but your hair still underwent the ph changes, so it's not quite the same as foregoing the high ph step completely.

I don't think necessarily subjecting your hair to something alkaline is "natural" or whatever. Also, many animals have ridiculous spit that breaks down everything with which they clean themselves (and which humans lack). I wouldn't look at Simba and friends for hair advice. Plus, you do see some matted-ass animals out there! Omg I saw this picture recently of a dog that was rescued... people didn't look at it because they thought it was TRASH its hair was so matted! They had to shave it off! It was disgusting!

BUT I digress. Just know that there are many ways to have a routine that is safe and effective, and even natural. People tend to conflate safe and natural. Plenty of natural things are unsafe, conversely plenty of things made in a lab are safe. Still, I think you can find products that fit your needs and your criteria.
Zeldahime likes this.
fine - normal porosity*?- medium density - normal elasticity. Hard water. SoCal.
*Used to be low-porosity, but I lightened my hair 1-2 shades, so I may be normal-porosity now.

New climate! Current favorites:
Low-poo: CJ Gentle Cleansing Shampoo, Giovanni SaS
RO: V05 Kiwi Lime
Styler: UFD CM (old formula), FSG + CNPF
PT: CJ Repair Me, IAgirl's gelatine

Experimenting with: JC Confident Coils, JC Rockin Ringlets, CJ CIAB, gelatin gel

iherb discount code: CFN646
Omg I saw this picture recently of a dog that was rescued... people didn't look at it because they thought it was TRASH its hair was so matted! They had to shave it off! It was disgusting!
Originally Posted by wavydaze
Here it is: Rescued stray dog transformed after passers-by assumed he was trash | Mail Online This dog is very natural.

You may wanna put down your sandwhich though!
fine - normal porosity*?- medium density - normal elasticity. Hard water. SoCal.
*Used to be low-porosity, but I lightened my hair 1-2 shades, so I may be normal-porosity now.

New climate! Current favorites:
Low-poo: CJ Gentle Cleansing Shampoo, Giovanni SaS
RO: V05 Kiwi Lime
Styler: UFD CM (old formula), FSG + CNPF
PT: CJ Repair Me, IAgirl's gelatine

Experimenting with: JC Confident Coils, JC Rockin Ringlets, CJ CIAB, gelatin gel

iherb discount code: CFN646
But you still are using products... so I guess I don't get what you're trying to achieve then. A better bet would be water washing, which was previously mentioned.

My routine was washing with a soap bar, then doing a diluted ACV rinse. Same thing you are doing now. I was just telling you my experience. I never had dry hair like I had after using the soap bars + ACV. ACV is not a problem for me, which was also verified by a hair analysis I just received, so I know it was the soap bars (which was also verified that my hair swelled up big time, meaning it opens the cuticles allowing protein loss). If you have hard water, be careful about soap scum on your hair (this is what the 'dullness' is). I make soap bars, and I can tell you they do undergo a chemical process with sodium hydroxide (which is a dangerous corrosive) to turn them into soap, if you were not aware. You definitely do not find this in nature, and a lot of naturalists will argue this til their death that they aren't purely natural. They also contain naturally-produced glycerin as a result of the chemical process, so this is something else to watch out for when the dew points are low.

Like wavydaze said, just because something is considered "natural", it doesn't mean it is safe for us to use for certain things. By all means, do what you need to do, but I don't exactly think soap bars are the way to go for the health of your hair. I steer customers clear of using them on their hair all the time and point them to good low poos or cowashes at the store.
2c-3a - coarse - normal-high porosity - high density - growing out to donate

NP/LP: KMF Whenever Conditioner/ YTCucs
RO/LI: Sevi Pumpkin Seed DC / CJ Argan & Olive Oil, KCKT, YTBbs
DT: Coconut Oil + scalp massage
OIL/STYLER: SM Elixir / KCCC
COLOR: henna, amla & indigo
Animal fur is meant to be functional and not necessarily beautiful--sometimes it is, of course, but have you ever seen musk ox hair? Not particularly attractive, but does the job it's meant to do. Human hair, at least at this evolutionary point in time, is purely asthetic. So I don't think comparing the two is particularly useful. Going all natural (and to me, "natural" means from whole materials--herbs and so forth) is an admirable idea and doable, but it does take work. I'm not sure that SO would work for curly hair, and even WO is probably difficult, because of the amount of preening involved (pulling out the curl). Herbs, either Western or Indian, are probably your best bet, although as I said earlier, they proved to not have enough conditioning effect for me.

ETA: The LHC (Longhair Community) has lengthy threads on both WO and SO, so you could check those out. I think there are also articles on Western and Indian herbs, but there were some server issues so I'm not sure if those are still up. You might need an account to view articles, but not the threads in the main forums. HTH.
sixelamy likes this.
3a/b, fine, normal porosity, high density

Wash: CJ Daily Fix, As I Am, TJs TTT
RO: YTB
LI: Suave TC + CJ CCCC, brushed through with Denman
Styling: Smooth in LAL Wet Look gel, scrunch, and plop 10 minutes, then add a little more gel, cover with silk cap, and sleep on it
Refresh: 3:1 water/Suave mix as needed

Last edited by CurlyInTheFog; 03-31-2014 at 03:01 PM.
Thank you for your responses!

Lady Judah... this is what I want to hear... other people having success without conditioner! I will keep experimenting.

Curly In The Fog... yes I know... soap isn't natural either! I went through a phase of researching plants that could be used... looking into what tribal people use... found out that apparently some leaves have soapy properties, although didn't find where I could get them. I tried aritha powder but found it drying and a sandy nightmare. Are there better herbal ways? I can't WO atm because I have eczema which gets worse if my scalp gets dirty... but when my health is where it's meant to be I would like to try water only... but I think that my body has to be functioning optimally for that.

Wavydaze... thank you for pointing out the difference between safe and natural.. it is important that we acknowledge such things in discussions of this nature. Alkalinity... yes I am just learning about this and am going to comment on it further at the end of this message. Animals... lol! Oh yes I forgot that some animals use spit!! but what about rolling in dirt? there's plenty outside where I am and it's free... could be worth a shot...

Sixelamy... I like the idea of using the most natural things that I can, i.e. the most basic ingredients, preferably one at a time or mixed by me and avoiding things that have been made by others as much as possible. Yes I found bars too much for my hair and ahve been using liquid soap... but am going to dilute it with water to make my own low poo. I find it interesting about the cuticles/ protein loss etc... thanks for sharing this info.

EVERYONE... is mixing acv with liquid soap good or bad? some seem to say that it's good for balancing PH... others say that it reacts badly with the soap.

EVERYONE... what ratios of liquid soap/water.. and liquid soap/water/oil do you recommend I try? and acv if recommended too.
sixelamy likes this.
I found aritha powder (soapnuts) very drying, and it caused a lot of shedding as well. What I used when I did herbal washes was soapwort root. I couldn't get it at my local herb shop, but Mountain Rose Herbs carries it. Basically, you boil a couple of tablespoons of the root in about a pint of water, and wash with that. I found you could also soak overnight and that worked, too. You can add additional herbs for conditioning, strengthening, etc. It won't get out heavy oilings, but will remove light oiling. Soapwort root contains saponin, which is essentially soap. I always did a final citric acid rinse. I stopped doing the washes when we were having a drought, and winter was just too dry for my hair with just herbs.

If you want to wash with soap/ACV, I would keep them separate, and then oil lightly after. I think trying to mix soap and ACV might give you a reaction (between alkaline/acid) that you don't want.
3a/b, fine, normal porosity, high density

Wash: CJ Daily Fix, As I Am, TJs TTT
RO: YTB
LI: Suave TC + CJ CCCC, brushed through with Denman
Styling: Smooth in LAL Wet Look gel, scrunch, and plop 10 minutes, then add a little more gel, cover with silk cap, and sleep on it
Refresh: 3:1 water/Suave mix as needed
Forgot to mention I also used Dr. Bronner's castile soap bars for a period of time too. They always left my hair very soft. With these bars though I could not immediately follow up with acv. I applied a mixture of coconut milk and olive oil and let that sit while I washed. I then did the acv rinse after rinsing that out.
Curly In The Fog... I like the idea of soapwort... and what you said about soap/acv sounds sensible. That just leaves the concern about how some people warn that acv is too strong/acidic to use regularly. (Although of course I dilute with water.)

Lady Judah... reallly... are these bars different to other natural bars? anyhow... I will use liquid because I can dilute it. What do you mean that you 'could not' follow up wit acv immediately, i.e. what happened? Did you wash the oil off with soap? because when I used oil and then acv... it didn't turn out well. (Tried sesame and today coconut oil as it's lighter... but I clearly need to wash out oil before using acv.)

I saw a recipe and someone raving about shampoo cubes that they froze... made of coconut milk and aloe vera... I tried to find it just now so that I could show you all the link... but alas I could not. It seems odd because I don't see how that would clean ones hair and scalp... surely it would just make it greasy from the milk!
I personally don't think an acidic rinse is harsh, as long as it's a weak dilution. I did citric acid rinses with every wash for over three years without damage. Try tasting your ACV dilution. If it's more than just slightly sour, try diluting more and see if it does the trick.
3a/b, fine, normal porosity, high density

Wash: CJ Daily Fix, As I Am, TJs TTT
RO: YTB
LI: Suave TC + CJ CCCC, brushed through with Denman
Styling: Smooth in LAL Wet Look gel, scrunch, and plop 10 minutes, then add a little more gel, cover with silk cap, and sleep on it
Refresh: 3:1 water/Suave mix as needed
Hmm.. interesting though about the freezing, I kind of like that idea.

Oh, trust me, I like natural products as well. Totally know where you are coming from. I just don't want to see your hair suffer using something that could possibly be damaging. I used to use Dr. Bronner's with chamomile tea and something else, can't remember the recipe. I really liked it when I had soft water. Gosh I miss my good water.

I used to do ACV rinses, mainly do them in the summer. I don't measure, but I filled a regular sized water bottle just so it covers the bottom of the bottle with ACV and filled the rest with water. Seemed a good ratio.
2c-3a - coarse - normal-high porosity - high density - growing out to donate

NP/LP: KMF Whenever Conditioner/ YTCucs
RO/LI: Sevi Pumpkin Seed DC / CJ Argan & Olive Oil, KCKT, YTBbs
DT: Coconut Oil + scalp massage
OIL/STYLER: SM Elixir / KCCC
COLOR: henna, amla & indigo
Curly In The Fog... I like the idea of soapwort... and what you said about soap/acv sounds sensible. That just leaves the concern about how some people warn that acv is too strong/acidic to use regularly. (Although of course I dilute with water.)

Lady Judah... reallly... are these bars different to other natural bars? anyhow... I will use liquid because I can dilute it. What do you mean that you 'could not' follow up wit acv immediately, i.e. what happened? Did you wash the oil off with soap? because when I used oil and then acv... it didn't turn out well. (Tried sesame and today coconut oil as it's lighter... but I clearly need to wash out oil before using acv.)

I saw a recipe and someone raving about shampoo cubes that they froze... made of coconut milk and aloe vera... I tried to find it just now so that I could show you all the link... but alas I could not. It seems odd because I don't see how that would clean ones hair and scalp... surely it would just make it greasy from the milk!
Originally Posted by RoseAngel

They're different in the sense that they're not formulated to be used as shampoo. With shampoo bars I can do acv right after. When I used acv right after the Dr. Bronners it made my hair feel rough. I prefer the bars to the liquid though because the liquid dries my hair out.

I had very little oil in my coconut milk olive oil mixture so I didn't need additional soap to rinse it. I mixed 16oz coconut milk, 2-3Tbsp of olive oil, and a few drops of rosemary essential oil. Then froze it in an ice tray. I used 3-4 cubes each wash.
I personally don't think an acidic rinse is harsh, as long as it's a weak dilution. I did citric acid rinses with every wash for over three years without damage. Try tasting your ACV dilution. If it's more than just slightly sour, try diluting more and see if it does the trick.
Originally Posted by CurlyInTheFog
Yes I was thinking this... that if it is too acidic then surely just dilute it more. Does using a weaker solution still have as detangling effect? I guess that if it is acidic 'enough'... then it will be detangling...perhaps this is how we can gauge the level of acidity that is suitable... i.e. diluting it as weak as possible with it still being detangling.
Hmm.. interesting though about the freezing, I kind of like that idea.

Oh, trust me, I like natural products as well. Totally know where you are coming from. I just don't want to see your hair suffer using something that could possibly be damaging. I used to use Dr. Bronner's with chamomile tea and something else, can't remember the recipe. I really liked it when I had soft water. Gosh I miss my good water.

I used to do ACV rinses, mainly do them in the summer. I don't measure, but I filled a regular sized water bottle just so it covers the bottom of the bottle with ACV and filled the rest with water. Seemed a good ratio.
Originally Posted by sixelamy
Fooouund it! pH Balanced Shampoo Recipe AmI missing something (like small print?) or would this not just turn one into a grease ball?

I really appreciate your concern for my hair It is so good to have experienced people to consult!

What is the benefit of mixing liquid soap with tea instead of plain water? I am thinking that if I massage something like coconut oil in before washing... then that makes the soap less harsh (in my experience) so maybe a good routine would be... oil, wash with homemade low-poo, then acv.

Is there a filter of some kind that could change your water to make it softer?

You and Curly In The Fog use a much weaker acv dilution than I have tried and that is recommended... I will experiment.
Hmm.. interesting though about the freezing, I kind of like that idea.

Oh, trust me, I like natural products as well. Totally know where you are coming from. I just don't want to see your hair suffer using something that could possibly be damaging. I used to use Dr. Bronner's with chamomile tea and something else, can't remember the recipe. I really liked it when I had soft water. Gosh I miss my good water.

I used to do ACV rinses, mainly do them in the summer. I don't measure, but I filled a regular sized water bottle just so it covers the bottom of the bottle with ACV and filled the rest with water. Seemed a good ratio.
Originally Posted by sixelamy
Fooouund it! pH Balanced Shampoo Recipe AmI missing something (like small print?) or would this not just turn one into a grease ball?

I really appreciate your concern for my hair It is so good to have experienced people to consult!

What is the benefit of mixing liquid soap with tea instead of plain water? I am thinking that if I massage something like coconut oil in before washing... then that makes the soap less harsh (in my experience) so maybe a good routine would be... oil, wash with homemade low-poo, then acv.

Is there a filter of some kind that could change your water to make it softer?

You and Curly In The Fog use a much weaker acv dilution than I have tried and that is recommended... I will experiment.
Originally Posted by RoseAngel
I really don't know the benefit lol All I know is it felt nice I also add green tea to my henna dyes, and it seems to make a significant difference in the feel of my hair afterward (makes it 5x softer than my henna mix alone). I actually think I used a recipe for a face wash, where the chamomile tea was supposed to be anti-inflammatory. There was a thread posted just the other day about tea rinses, someone found something about it on Pinterest.

Hmm.. I think I would add a cleanser of some sort to the frozen shampoo. Or maybe use it for more of a treatment, not a shampoo. But I really like that idea of it being frozen, I can imagine it may be a bit easier to apply.
2c-3a - coarse - normal-high porosity - high density - growing out to donate

NP/LP: KMF Whenever Conditioner/ YTCucs
RO/LI: Sevi Pumpkin Seed DC / CJ Argan & Olive Oil, KCKT, YTBbs
DT: Coconut Oil + scalp massage
OIL/STYLER: SM Elixir / KCCC
COLOR: henna, amla & indigo
Curly In The Fog... I like the idea of soapwort... and what you said about soap/acv sounds sensible. That just leaves the concern about how some people warn that acv is too strong/acidic to use regularly. (Although of course I dilute with water.)

Lady Judah... reallly... are these bars different to other natural bars? anyhow... I will use liquid because I can dilute it. What do you mean that you 'could not' follow up wit acv immediately, i.e. what happened? Did you wash the oil off with soap? because when I used oil and then acv... it didn't turn out well. (Tried sesame and today coconut oil as it's lighter... but I clearly need to wash out oil before using acv.)

I saw a recipe and someone raving about shampoo cubes that they froze... made of coconut milk and aloe vera... I tried to find it just now so that I could show you all the link... but alas I could not. It seems odd because I don't see how that would clean ones hair and scalp... surely it would just make it greasy from the milk!
Originally Posted by RoseAngel

They're different in the sense that they're not formulated to be used as shampoo. With shampoo bars I can do acv right after. When I used acv right after the Dr. Bronners it made my hair feel rough. I prefer the bars to the liquid though because the liquid dries my hair out.

I had very little oil in my coconut milk olive oil mixture so I didn't need additional soap to rinse it. I mixed 16oz coconut milk, 2-3Tbsp of olive oil, and a few drops of rosemary essential oil. Then froze it in an ice tray. I used 3-4 cubes each wash.
Originally Posted by Lady Judah
That is interesting because most people seem to get the opposite results with bars and liquid soaps... I guess that it depends on the ingredients of each particular one (and our hair). I used liquid soap that felt silky when applied... then more recently tried an apparently gentler and (evidently from the ingredients) more diluted one... that made it feel rough! Anyhow... it's good that you found one you like.

Perhaps I will try some coconut milk... I like the scent.

Olive oil is so heavy though... I feel like even a little of it on my hair would mess up the acv rinse. Perhaps my hair doesn't soak it in as much?!

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