How To Remove Sebum With Apple Cider Vinegar (Easy Guide)

Did you know that you can remove sebum with apple cider vinegar? Vinegar has excellent cleansing properties and will help get rid of the oily, waxy feeling that sebum leaves behind. In this article, I’ll show you just how easy it is to do.

apple cider vinegar sebum

Where Does Sebum Come From?

Sebum is a product that your body naturally produces. It’s an oily substance your sebaceous glands produce to protect your skin. 

The sebaceous glands are located at the base of your hair follicles. The purpose of sebum is to help your skin and hair hold moisture. 

That keeps your skin and hair protected from the elements.

Why Should You Remove Sebum?

Sebum is essential for maintaining the health of your hair and scalp. 

But, over time, the sebum builds up at the root of your hair. This build-up is usually what makes your hair look dirty and can sometimes cause it to smell.

What Causes Sebum Build-up?

What Causes Sebum Build-up

There are a few things that cause sebum build-up:


The first is just time. Over time the sebum builds upon your scalp and roots. It will also soak up dirt and sweat from your environment.

Haircare products

Using lots of hair care products, like dry shampoo and hairspray, can also cause sebum build-up. The hair product acts as another place for the sebum to stick. 

The hair will try to produce more sebum to remove the product from your pores. It can quickly become a vicious cycle.

overactive sebaceous glands

Finally, sebum build-up can also be caused by overactive sebaceous glands. This build-up is why some people have oily hair. 

This is also why some people must wash oily hair more frequently than normal or dry hair.

How You Normally Remove Sebum

Because sebum is similar to oil, it needs soap and warm water to be removed properly. 

This is why it’s important to shower regularly. Using soap and water to clean your hair will also help remove the excess product that exacerbates sebum overproduction.

What Are The Symptoms of Sebum Build-up?

What Are The Symptoms of Sebum Build-up

Sebum build-up can be characterized in several ways:

1. Odor  

One of the most obvious ways is through odor. As your sebum comes in contact with the environment, it will collect dirt. Sebum will also combine with the sweat on your scalp. Over time this will start to smell.

2. Irritated scalp

Sebum building may also cause your scalp to be irritated. Signs of irritation can include itching or flaking. 

But, if your scalp feels tight, these symptoms can also be a sign of underproduction of sebum. Try talking to your hairstylist or dermatologist if you’re unsure which you have.

3. Oily and greasy hair

The last symptom is pretty obvious: you have really oily hair. If you feel like you have to wash your hair more frequently or are using lots of products to combat smell and oil, this is a good indication of build-up. 

How To Remove Sebum With Apple Cider Vinegar

How To Remove Sebum With Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great way to get rid of excess sebum. It is antifungal and antibacterial to kill the microbes that make our hair smell. It can also make the sebum easier to wash out with soap and water.

Why apple cider vinegar works

Apple cider vinegar works in many ways to counteract sebum build-up. 

The first is by acting as an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. The apple cider vinegar will kill the microbes responsible for dandruff and smell.

The acidity of apple cider vinegar also helps break down stubborn oil. If you have lots of sebum on your scalp, it may be too difficult for your shampoo to break down.

Using apple cider vinegar before you shower makes it easier to clean your hair.

Due to this fact, apple cider vinegar can also fade hair color as the acidity removes the color deposits.

Apple cider vinegar can also soothe the itchy scalp associated with sebum build-up. 

It has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the inflammation while also removing its source.

Here are two ways you can use apple cider vinegar to remove sebum:

Using Apple Cider Vinegar In The Shower

The first way to use apple cider vinegar is part of your regular hair-washing routine. 


  1. Start by running your hair under warm water. This will help loosen the sebum and help the apple cider vinegar break down the oils.
  2. Mix approximately 1 part apple cider vinegar to 5 parts water. Then pour a little of this mixture onto your scalp.
  3. Gently massage your scalp to ensure the mixture gets through the build-up.
  4. Rinse out the mixture and shampoo your hair.
  5. Be sure to use conditioner at the end. Apple cider vinegar can dry out your hair, so you want to ensure you keep your hair well hydrated.

This is probably the easiest way to use apple cider vinegar. You’re already in the shower, so it only adds one or two steps to your normal hair routine.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar As A Spray

The other way you can apply your mixture is in a spray bottle. 

This is a good option if you have really stubborn build-up because you can let it sit in your hair to get a deeper clean.


  1. Take your spray bottle of the mixture and shake it to ensure it’s thoroughly mixed.
  2. Fully saturate the roots of your hair and scalp. This will ensure the product is getting all the way through the sebum.
  3. Be sure to avoid the ends of your hair. Apple cider vinegar is a drying agent and can cause you to get split ends.
  4. Let this mixture sit in your hair for 5-10 minutes. 
  5. Hop in the shower and wash your hair like normal.

Be careful when using this method. You must use a diluted mixture and not straight apple cider vinegar. Too much can cause your hair to be dry, brittle, and break off. If you start feeling any discomfort, you should wash it out immediately.


Sebum build-up can be a dirty, smelly, and frustrating problem. But don’t be discouraged. Using apple cider vinegar is a great way to care for the situation at home.

The best way to prevent sebum build-up is by properly washing your hair. If you aren’t able to do this, or you use a lot of hair care products, then intermittently using apple cider vinegar is an excellent option for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are there downsides to using apple cider vinegar?

Overusing apple cider vinegar can cause your scalp and hair to become dry and brittle. This dryness may also increase your sebum production, causing you to use more vinegar until it becomes a vicious cycle. So use this sparingly.

What if I don’t like the smell of vinegar?

Some people may not like the smell of apple cider vinegar, and that’s okay. If you don’t like how it smells, there are some commercially available scalp shampoos. Just be sure you follow their directions for the best results.

Can I use apple cider vinegar as a replacement for showering?

No, you should not use apple cider vinegar in place of showering. While showering frequently isn’t for everyone, it’s still important to use soap and water to remove dirt and oils. Apple cider vinegar just makes removing dirt and oils easier. 

Can I use baking soda instead of apple cider vinegar?

While you can use baking soda instead of apple cider vinegar, you should use it sparingly. Baking soda is great for giving your scalp some gentle exfoliation. However, since it is considered a base, it can throw off the acidic pH balance of your scalp. 

What if the apple cider vinegar doesn’t work?

If the apple cider vinegar mixture didn’t work, or you find that you are using it frequently, you may have an underlying condition that is exacerbating your sebum production. Talk to your doctor about possible causes and treatments. 


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