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Honey & Vinegar for Shiny Hair

  • Clary Pollack
  • Blog

Understand this: the beauty products industry is filled with lies. Take a peek at The Beauty Brains—a blog run by scientists—and you'll find some amazing links to studies and evidence debunking every line from "smooth cellulite" to "bring dead hair back to life" (which is especially untrue because hair was never alive in the first place. It's keratin).

That said, it's always fun to stumble across a trick that is backed by science. And I'm here to share my latest discovery, the honey and vinegar recipe for shinier hair.

DIY Honey and Vinegar Mask for Shinier Hair
My Results: DIY Honey and Vinegar Mask for Shinier Hair

First, it's important to understand what hair is and what it isn't. Human hair is usually comprised of three layers: the medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. Fine hair, on the other hand, often lacks the medulla. Coarse hair, such as the hair found in beards, can have a double medulla. And some medullae are continuous while others are striated.

My hair is fine and, thanks to my son's most awesome Christmas present (the AMScope-Kids Microscope Kit), I was able to confirm this by zooming in with 300x magnification. See the lovely medulla that runs down the center of my hair? Of course you don't. Because it isn't there. Because my hair is fine and lacks this layer altogether.

Fine Hair Under Microscope 300X Magnification No Medulla
A Strand of my Hair under a Microscope at 300X Magnification

Despite years of bleaching, heat styling, etc., you will notice how smooth and unscathed the cuticle appears. This is partially due to the honey vinegar trick: once hair is damaged, you really can't repair it. What you can do is make it appear healthier by smoothing the cuticle. Vinegar is acidic but gentle enough to remove buildup from even the finest, frizziest and most damaged cuticles. Honey is a humectant, making it ideal for forcing moisture back into the cuticle while smoothing it.

Ready to try it? Here's what you'll need:

  • 1/2 Cup of Honey (Make sure it's real honey and not honey-flavored syrup. And, while you're at it, choose honey from local sources made by beekeepers who are kind to their bees.)
  • 1/4 Cup Vinegar (You can use apple cider or white vinegar.)
  • Non-Metal Bowl
  • Non-Metal Stirring Utensil (I use a plastic fork.)


Wash your hair and rinse. Turn off the shower water (because you're a good conservationist). Being careful not to get the honey vinegar mixture into your eyes, pour it over your hair and massage it in gently so that it coats your hair from roots to ends. Let it sit for 10 minutes while you shave, sing, whatever. Now work a little conditioner through your hair and rinse. Dry and style as you normally would and boom! Super shiny hair.