- Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a naturally acidic substance that encourages pH balance and may help to fight acne.
- ACV has been shown to kill the bacteria that causes acne.
- To use ACV for acne, you may apply it as a toner or spot treatment.
- Because of its acidic nature, ACV may cause burns or skin discomfort after use.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a popular natural remedy that has a wide range of uses. One potential use is ACV for acne.
Apple cider vinegar is made from unfiltered, fermented apple juice. It’s an astringent, acidic substance that balances the skin’s pH, and it also fights bacteria, viruses and inflammation.
The most effective form of ACV contains something called the “mother”. This is a cluster of live cultures and beneficial bacteria that rest at the bottom of the bottle and make the vinegar appear cloudy. Organic apple cider vinegar with the mother contains more beneficial properties than refined ACV.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Treat Acne?
Many believe ACV may have the ability to combat acne, since it has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. However, clinical evidence of ACV’s effectiveness against acne is lacking.
The primary type of bacteria that causes acne is called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). There is currently little research into ACV’s exact effectiveness against P. acnes. What we do know is the natural acids contained in ACV do kill P. acnes bacteria.
Apple cider vinegar contains natural acids such as lactic acid, citric acid, acetic acid and succinic acid. Each of these has been clinically proven to kill the bacteria that causes acne.
Although more research is needed, the clinical evidence that exists so far indicates that apple cider does help combat acne.
Apple cider vinegar for acne scars
Some people practice at-home chemical peeling with natural acids like those contained in ACV. These skin-rejuvenating acids encourage shedding of the skin’s outer layer and the regrowth of new skin cells in their place.
The naturally-occurring lactic acid in ACV helps rejuvenate the skin. Research shows that lactic acid helps to treat issues like mild acne scarring, hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. If you have mild acne scarring, this could minimize the appearance of scars.
In addition to addressing mild acne scars, ACV can also help prevent scarring before it occurs. That’s because ACV’s anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent or reduce breakouts, thereby reducing the risk of scarring.
Studies on ACV’s naturally-occurring acids indicate that the acids themselves can help address acne scars, but more research is needed on ACV itself.
Other benefits of apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a natural exfoliant and may be used on the face to encourage cell turnover. It contains natural alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that help the old, damaged skin cells to shed and encourages new skin cell growth. Some of the natural acids in ACV, such as malic acid, also contribute to its exfoliating properties.
ACV also has skin tightening properties and can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Some people choose to use ACV as a facial toner, cleanser and a spot treatment for specific problem areas. And when the skin is tightened, it’s also strengthened against future damage.
ACV’s astringent and skin tightening properties help it to clear and tighten pores. It may also help correct hyperpigmentation by lightening darkened areas of the skin.
How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne
Apple cider vinegar may be used for acne, but it should always be diluted and mixed with other ingredients. You can use ACV as one ingredient in a homemade face mask, or you can make toner with it.
If you’re treating your acne with ACV, keep in mind that you probably won’t see results at first. ACV for acne takes weeks to months to work. Once your symptoms are under control, you can continue using it for maintenance.
Because ACV is highly acidic, it should always be diluted. Never apply pure ACV to your skin, as it could irritate or even burn you.
Apple cider vinegar toner
You can make your own apple cider vinegar toner at home using several common, key ingredients. It’s easy to prepare and use a simple, soothing ACV and water toner. You may also add a small amount of essential oil like lavender or tea tree if you wish.
- 1 Tbsp. of raw, organic ACV with the mother
- ½ to 1 cup of water
- 1 drop lavender essential oil
- Combine all ingredients
- Transfer to a glass spray bottle or storage container
- Store in a cool dark area
- Discard if color changes or odor develops
After cleansing your face, pat skin dry and apply with a soft cotton pad and let dry before continuing your skin care routine. Alternatively, you may put your toner in a small spray bottle and mist over your face.
If the smell of your ACV toner is too strong, feel free to dilute with additional water. You may also choose to rinse with lukewarm water and allow to dry before continuing to the next steps in your skin care routine.
Apple cider vinegar spot treatment
An ACV spot treatment may be mixed and stored in the same way as toner. The difference is that you’ll want to use the mixture only on specific problem spots on your face, rather than spraying or dabbing the mixture all over.
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser or mild face wash
- Pat dry with a soft cloth
- Use a small cotton swab to dab ACV mixture onto problem spots
- Let dry before applying moisturizer
- Continue your normal skin care routine
Drinking apple cider vinegar for acne
Many people choose to drink diluted ACV in search of its potential health benefits. ACV contains beneficial bacteria that’s said to be good for the gut microbiome. However, there isn’t sufficient evidence to show that drinking ACV has any effect on acne.
Additionally, because ACV is fermented, consuming it or using it topically may not be right for people with certain skin conditions. For example, fermented foods and liquids are rosacea triggers for some people.
Is It Safe to Apply Apple Cider Vinegar to the Face?
Apple cider vinegar must be diluted before it can safely be applied to the face–at least one cup (8 oz.) of water to a Tbsp. of ACV. Otherwise, its acidic nature can cause burns on the skin.
If you have normal to combination skin, using an astringent ACV toner or spot treatment should be limited to one use per day. If you overuse ACV on your face, it may strip the natural oils and dry your skin excessively.
If you have oily skin, it may be possible to use an ACV toner twice per day, but use caution.
Always be sure to patch test ACV solution on a small area of skin before applying it to the entire face. This will help you determine whether you might experience an allergic reaction or sensitivity to ACV.
Never use ACV on open sores, wounds or sensitive skin. Because it’s so acidic, ACV is more likely to burn, sting or cause damage to broken or irritated skin.
If diluted ACV burns or stings when you apply it to your skin, add water to the solution to dilute it more. If burning persists. Discontinue use.
If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction like itching, redness or burning, rinse your skin with cool water immediately. Contact your doctor if symptoms persist.
Can apple cider vinegar make acne worse?
Beginning the use of any astringent like apple cider vinegar could result in a process called purging. Skin purging may make your acne appear worse before it gets better. That’s because the AHAs in ACV encourage skin cells to turnover more quickly.
The faster cell turnover forces impurities to the surface that have been blocked deep in your skin. This results in a temporary increase in acne breakouts.
Purging shouldn’t last longer than a few weeks. If breakouts continue, you may be reacting to the ACV. Discontinue use if you suspect a reaction.
Apple Cider Vinegar vs Other Acne Fighting Ingredients
Although apple cider vinegar may help reduce acne in some people, it’s not right for everyone. Other, clinically proven acne-fighting treatments include:
- Benzoyl peroxide, which unblocks pores, fights bacteria and dries out pimples and acne lesions
- Salicylic acid, which treats non-inflammatory acne blemishes like whiteheads, blackheads and pimples
- Topical retinoids, which address mild to moderate adult acne
Talk with your dermatologist to determine what acne treatment is best for you and your skin.
Apple cider vinegar’s ability to balance pH and fight acne-causing bacteria may make it an idea complementary treatment for some people. Because ACV has been clinically proven to kill the bacteria that causes acne, some people may prefer to use it rather than over-the-counter acne treatments.
To use apple cider vinegar for acne, you may apply it as an astringent toner or a spot treatment. However, make sure you dilute your ACV before applying it to your skin. Because ACV is acidic, it may cause burning or discomfort if it’s not diluted properly.
If you experience burning, stinging, itching, or other skin discomfort after applying ACV, rinse with cool water, discontinue use and contact your doctor. Other treatments like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or retinoids may be more appropriate for your skin type and condition.
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