Is It Safe To Use Apple Cider Vinegar To Treat Acne?

Medically reviewed by Vd. Naveen Sharma, Ayurveda Physician

Apple cider vinegar is excellent for your digestive system and may also help in reducing body weight (1). Many people also use it as a treatment option for acne. However, research is very limited in this regard. Those who have used it claim that ACV helps to soothe the skin and reduce acne inflammation. In this article, we have evaluated the possible benefits of ACV and how it may help in reducing acne, along with a few recipes you can try out.

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Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Acne? Are There Any Benefits?

There hasn’t been enough research to prove that ACV helps in treating acne. But the good news is, we have gathered some evidence that shows it might be useful in combating the bacteria that causes acne.

Vinegar is extremely effective in killing many strains of bacteria. Although there aren’t many studies to show that apple cider vinegar can kill the strain of bacteria that causes acne, the organic compounds found in the vinegar are found to possess certain properties. Let’s take a look: 

1. It May Kill The Acne-Causing Bacteria

Two separate studies published in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology and the International Journal of Cosmetic Science claim that acetic acid, lactic acid, citric, and succinic acids can kill Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes, the bacteria that cause acne (2), (3). Apple cider vinegar contains all these acids (4). 

2. It May Help Reduce Acne

The lactic acid present in ACV may help reduce acne. A study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology found that people who applied a lotion containing lactic acid on their faces experienced a reduction in acne (5).

3. It May Reduce The Possibility of Scars

Apple cider vinegar may help in reducing the scars left behind once the acne is healed. Many organic compounds help in this process. Applying acid directly on your face involves a process called chemical peeling. When done with succinic acid, chemical peeling suppresses inflammation caused by acne (6).

Lactic acid improves the skin condition of people who have acne (7), (8). Since apple cider vinegar contains all these acids, it may help in reducing the risk of developing a scar once the acne is healed.

However, before using apple cider vinegar on your skin, you need to take care of a few things.

Things To Consider Before Using Apple Cider Vinegar

Since apple cider vinegar is acidic, applying it directly to your skin may cause a burning sensation. Also, if you have sensitive skin and/or open wounds, avoid using it on your skin. Keep these following things in mind when using ACV:

  1. Make sure not to leave the vinegar on for too long on the first trial. This is to rule out any allergic reaction to ACV.
  2. Always dilute the vinegar. Never apply raw vinegar on the face as it may damage your skin.
  3. Dilute the vinegar with water. However, there is no stringent rule about the water to vinegar ratio. It is better to experiment and figure out the best way to get the results you need.
  4. Some people may see their acne getting worse before the condition begins to improve. To get the right results, introduce your skin to apple cider vinegar slowly (use it in moderation).

Now, let’s take a detailed look at the ways you can use apple cider vinegar on your face for treating acne.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne

You can use ACV in two ways:

(i) Apply it topically (mix it in your face pack or dilute it with water and apply it to your skin directly).

(ii) Add a teaspoon of it to your morning drink.

Mentioned below are all the possible ways you can include apple cider vinegar in your day-to-day- beauty and healthy routine for reducing acne. 

How To Apply Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne

While using ACV, always remember to dilute it. You can mix three parts of distilled water with one part of the ACV and then use it. If you have sensitive skin, you may increase the quantity of water. For all the recipes mentioned below, use diluted ACV. 

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Toner For Acne

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Mix all the ingredients.
  2. Store the mixture in a spray bottle. 

How To Apply

Spray the toner all over your face and neck generously.

How It Works

Aloe vera can help prevent acne. It also promotes collagen and elastin formation and improves skin quality and health (9).

Precaution

When spraying, close your eyes so that the toner doesn’t get into them. Also, do not apply it to dry and broken skin. 

2. Apple Cider Vinegar And Baking Soda

Ingredients

Preparation

Mix the baking soda with apple cider vinegar in a small bowl.

How To Apply

  1. Apply the mask to the affected area.
  2. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash it off.
  3. Follow it up with a moisturizer.

How It Works

Baking soda may help in drying the acne and reduce inflammation.

Precaution

Baking soda doesn’t suit all skin types. If you have sensitive skin, do a patch test. Stop using it in case you experience itching and skin inflammation. 

3. Apple Cider Vinegar Scrub

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Boil the green tea and strain the water. Let it cool down.
  2. Add water and apple cider vinegar to the water.
  3. Add honey and sugar. Mix well.

How To Apply

  1. Use cotton pads or your fingers to apply the pack to your face (or just the affected area).
  2. Massage gently and leave it on to dry.
  3. Wash it off with water.

How It Works

The vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes give honey anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help to keep your skin healthy and prevent acne (10). 

4. Apple Cider Vinegar Overnight Pimple Treatment

Ingredients

Preparation

Mix the vinegar in water and store it in a jar or spray bottle.

How To Apply

  1. Soak a cotton pad in the mixture.
  2. Apply it directly to the pimple (not on the entire face).
  3. You can spray it on the affected area (in case the pimples cover a large area of your face).
  4. Leave it on overnight and wash your face in the morning.

How It Works

The acids in apple cider vinegar dry the pimple out and kill the bacteria causing it. It also helps in restoring the pH balance of your skin.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar Facial Steam

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Add the apple cider vinegar to the water and heat it (until it starts emanating steam).
  2. Transfer the liquid to another bowl and add tea tree oil.

How To Apply

Bend over the bowl and cover your head with a towel.

How It Works

The steam helps open up the pores and clears them of excess oil and dirt. 

Precaution

Keep your eyes closed while steaming your face. Do not bring your face too close to the bowl/water.

How To Drink Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne

There is no evidence to prove that drinking ACV can speed up acne healing, but it has other health benefits. It may help reduce body weight and assist in reducing obesity-related diabetes, hypertension, and other issues (1).

Usually, 1-2 tablespoons of ACV mixed in water or any other drinks should be fine. However, it is always better to consult a doctor for the daily dosage. Some people may experience side effects (acid reflux and nausea) after drinking ACV. Visit the doctor immediately if you experience any side effects.

Here are a few recipes:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar And Lemon Drink

Ingredients

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients, and your detox drink is ready!
  2. You can add more honey if you want.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar And Fuji Apple Smoothie

Ingredients

Method

Blend all the ingredients. Serve chilled.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar And Green Tea Detox Drink

Ingredients

Method

  1. Prepare the green tea and allow it to cool.
  2. Add the green tea, apple cider vinegar, and honey to a glass and mix well.
  3. Add ice if needed.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar And Cinnamon Drink

Ingredients

Method

  1. Add the cinnamon sticks and cloves to a bowl of water and boil it.
  2. Let it cool and then add apple cider vinegar and honey.
  3. Garnish with the lemon slice. 

5. Apple Cider Vinegar And Mixed Berries Drink

Ingredients

Method

  1. Blend all the ingredients, and your drink is ready!
  2. You can add another cup or half cup of almond milk in case the consistency is too thick for you (or add the milk gradually to adjust the consistency).

These are the tips and tricks to use apple cider vinegar for treating acne. But how do you know if the ACV you have is the right one? Scroll down to find out.

How To Choose The Best Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne

  1. The ordinary vinegar meant for cooking purposes should not be used for topical use.
  2. Check for the “organic” label. Always buy organic apple cider vinegar as it is unfiltered and unpasteurized. The organic kind has a muddy, grainy brown sediment (the mother) and contains enzymes and essential bacteria that are beneficial for the skin.
  3. It is always better to go for raw apple cider vinegar. It has no artificial flavors and chemicals to make it taste better and contains healthy bacteria. The regular apple cider vinegar is processed and filtered, which robs it of its natural goodness.
  4. Never buy apple cider vinegar that comes in a plastic bottle. Plastics contain harmful chemicals that can react with the vinegar. Go for a glass bottle instead.

There is no harm in trying DIY remedies. Make sure that the ingredients suit your skin. Also, remember that not all home remedies work for all skin types. Apple cider vinegar may not work for some, while it may work for others. In case you do not see any results in two months, discontinue and consult a doctor. Also, if you develop any skin irritation, talk to a doctor immediately. 

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What exactly is the “mother”?

The mother is the sediment that you see floating or settled in the bottom of the bottle of the apple cider vinegar. It contains healthy bacteria that detoxify your system and make your skin glow.

Does ACV have an expiry date?

Yes, it has. You can see it mentioned in the bottle. After that date, the quality of the vinegar deteriorates, and it may not be as powerful as it was earlier.

Can ACV burn the skin?

ACV is highly acidic, and it can burn your skin and cause irritation if you apply it directly. Always dilute ACV before using it. Also, never consume raw apple cider vinegar.

How long does it take for apple cider vinegar to work on acne?

It may take 6 weeks to show results. If you do not see any result after 6 weeks, consult your doctor and change your treatment method.

How to store apple cider vinegar?

Away from sunlight, in a cool and dry place.

10 sources

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