Does Vinegar Set Hair Dye? Here’s What You Need To Know.

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So, there’s this little rumor floating around that vinegar can be used to set hair dye. Really?

You’re probably wondering (as we were), “Wait a minute, can vinegar actually set hair dye?

If so, what kind of vinegar are we talking about? How do I even go about using it? And what do hair experts have to say about this?” 

Well, you’re in luck! We’re here to answer these questions and more.

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to become your very own hair dye and vinegar connoisseur. Buckle up and let’s dive in!

Does vinegar set hair dye?

Yes, vinegar can indeed help to set hair dye. The acidity in vinegar closes up the hair cuticles, helping to lock in the color.

A straightforward rinse post-dyeing does the trick. Mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water, apply to your hair after shampooing, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse!

Vinegar: The Unexpected Hair Hero? 

Now, you might be thinking, “Vinegar? That stuff I use to make pickles and clean my kitchen counters?” Yes, that vinegar!

But before you reach for the bottle in your pantry, let’s clarify.

The vinegar often used in hair care is apple cider vinegar (ACV).

It’s claimed to be a natural hair care wonder, offering benefits like improved shine and reduced frizz. But does it help set hair dye? Let’s find out. 

Why vinegar?

First, let’s understand why vinegar might be good for your hair. Vinegar is acidic – ACV has a pH somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5.

Now, remember back in chemistry class, where pH 7 is neutral, anything less is acidic, and anything more is alkaline? Well, guess what? Your hair is naturally slightly acidic, with a pH around 4.5 to 5.5. 

So, rinsing your hair with ACV can help restore its natural pH balance, which can lock in color and make your hair shine like a diamond. 

The Benefits of Vinegar for Hair and Scalp 

  • Balances Hair & Sebum pH
  • Reduces Frizz
  • Adds Shine
  • Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
  • Cleansing and Clarifying
  • Adds Natural Body & Define Curls
  • Detangles
  • Reduces Porosity of the Hair
  • Stimulates Hair Growth & Prevents Hair Loss
  • Prevents Split Ends & Breakage


How does vinegar help to set hair dye?

Vinegar is a natural acidic substance that can help to set hair dye. When hair dye is applied, the hair cuticle opens up to allow the dye to penetrate the hair shaft.

However, if the cuticle doesn’t close properly, the dye can easily wash out. This is where vinegar comes in.

The acidic nature of vinegar helps to seal the hair cuticle, which locks in the dye and prevents it from fading or washing out quickly.

“Vinegar is a clarifier—it helps with removing buildup on the cuticle layer of the hair. A vinegar rinse BEFORE applying semi-permanent color will help the color to adhere and therefore last longer. A vinegar rinse AFTER applying semi-permanent color will strip some of the color off.”

Laurie Jackson, Former Hair Dresser for 20 Years

does vinegar set hair dye? what does vinegar do to hair infographic

How to Use Vinegar to Set Hair Dye.

Using vinegar to set hair dye is as simple as pie. Here’s your super simple step-by-step guide: 

  1. Rinse out your hair dye as you normally would. Make sure it’s thoroughly rinsed to avoid a funky color mix-up. We’re dyeing your hair, not creating a tie-dye t-shirt after all.
  2. Next, mix one part of apple cider vinegar and two parts water in a container. Cups will do.
  3. Pour the vinegar solution onto your hair and let it sit for a few minutes. The longer it’s left on, the better the dye will set. But don’t overdo it – we don’t want you smelling like a salad dressing all day!
  4. Rinse it off with cool water and voila!

Watch and Learn: How to use Apple Cider Vinegar to lock in hair dye.

Here’s a great video tutorial that guides you through how to do a vinegar rinse on your hair – and even stop the color transferring from hair dyes like Manic Panic.

How often should I do a vinegar rinse?

Vinegar rinses can be done once a week or every other week, depending on your hair type and the condition of your hair.

If your hair is dry or damaged, it’s best to limit vinegar rinses to once a month or less. Overuse of vinegar can strip your hair of its natural oils and cause further damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of vinegar should I use? 

When it comes to setting hair dye, the best option is apple cider vinegar.

Why? It’s less acidic than other types and it’s gentler on your hair.

Plus, it might even leave your hair with a subtle apple-y scent! 

How do I use vinegar to set hair dye? 

It’s pretty simple, actually.

After you’ve rinsed out your hair dye, mix one part ACV with two parts water.

Pour it over your hair, let it sit for a couple of minutes (just enough time to belt out your favorite shower ballad), and then rinse it out with cool water.

And voila! You’re now part of the vinegar hair rinse club. 

What does vinegar do to my hair? 

Vinegar does a couple of things for your hair.

It lowers your hair’s pH balance, which can help your hair retain moisture and shine.

It also helps to close the hair cuticles, which can make your hair smoother and reduce frizz.

But the big selling point that we love it for is that it can help to lock in hair dye, making your color pop for longer! 

Does vinegar rinse affect hair color?

Vinegar rinse can affect hair color, but it depends on the type of vinegar used and the hair color.

Apple cider vinegar is the most commonly used vinegar for hair rinses, and it can help to remove buildup and clarify the hair.

However, it is not likely to have a significant impact on hair color, especially if the hair has been dyed with a permanent hair dye.

Can vinegar seal semi-permanent hair color?

Vinegar can help seal semi-permanent hair color to some extent.

The acidic nature of vinegar helps to close the hair cuticles, which can prevent the color from fading too quickly.

However, it is important to note that vinegar cannot completely seal the color, and it may not work for everyone.

How do you lock hair dye with vinegar?

After washing and rinsing your hair with shampoo and conditioner, spray the vinegar mixture onto your hair.

Make sure to saturate your hair completely with the mixture.

Leave the mixture on your hair for about 10-15 minutes before rinsing it out with cool water.

Can I add vinegar to hair dye?

Adding vinegar to hair dye is not recommended. Vinegar is an acidic substance that can alter the pH level of the hair dye, which can affect the color outcome.

It can also cause the hair cuticle to open up, which can lead to uneven color absorption and fading. It’s best to follow the instructions on the hair dye box and avoid adding any additional ingredients.

Is a vinegar rinse bad for your hair?

Using a vinegar rinse on your hair can be beneficial, but it can also have negative effects if not used properly.

Vinegar is acidic, and using too much or leaving it on your hair for too long can cause dryness, breakage, and damage to your hair.

It is important to dilute the vinegar with water and use it in moderation to avoid any negative effects.

How to make your hair dye last longer?

  1. Wait before washing: Wait at least 72 hours before washing your hair after dyeing it. This will give the color enough time to set in and last longer.
  2. Use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner: Sulfates can strip the color from your hair, so it’s best to use sulfate-free products to help your hair dye last longer.
  3. Wash your hair less frequently: The more you wash your hair, the faster the color will fade. Try to wash your hair every other day or every few days to help your hair dye last longer.
  4. Use cool water: Hot water can open up the hair cuticle and cause the color to fade faster. Use cool water when washing your hair to help your hair dye last longer.
  5. Avoid heat styling: Heat styling tools like flat irons and curling irons can also cause the color to fade faster. Try to avoid using them or use them sparingly to help your hair dye last longer.
  6. Protect your hair from the sun: The sun can also cause hair color to fade faster. Wear a hat or use a UV-protectant spray to help your hair dye last longer.
  7. Use a color-depositing product: Color-depositing products like color-depositing shampoos and conditioners can help refresh your hair color and make it last longer.
  8. Get regular touch-ups: As your hair grows, the color will fade at the roots. Getting regular touch-ups can help your hair dye last longer and keep your color looking fresh.

Parting words

There you have it, folks! Everything you need to know about using vinegar to set hair dye. Remember, everyone’s hair is different, so results may vary. But hey, it’s worth giving it a shot, right? You might just find your new haircare secret weapon.

This article was written by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!