Apple cider vinegar has been around forever, and it’s not just good for making a tasty salad dressing. This nutritional powerhouse has antibacterial properties and is an excellent way to balance the pH level of your skin.
Don’t take our word for it. We’ve rounded up the science behind apple cider vinegar, and the benefits of using it to treat acne. You'll learn everything you need to know about the remedy. We'll also give you tips on how to use it to get excellent results on your skin.
Where Does Acne Come From?
An estimated 80 percent of people who are between 11 and 30 years old have an acne outbreak at some point in their life. Approximately 60 million Americans have the condition, and almost 20 million of them are adults over the age of 30.
Not only is acne widespread, but it also has several different causes that may lead to an outbreak.
Acne develops when the hair follicles on your skin get plugged up with oil and dead skin cells and can lead to pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, or a combination of all three. You most commonly see breakouts on the face, chest, back, and shoulders, but you can get acne anywhere.
Four main contributors can lead to acne. They are:
- Excess oil production in the skin, which leads to clogged pores.
- Inadequate exfoliation leading to clogged hair follicles.
- Exposure to bacteria that inflames the follicles and causes a breakout.
- Excess production of hormones or hormonal fluctuations that lead to excess oil production. These oils can also clog your pores.
There are several different ways to treat acne breakouts. Your first option is to visit a dermatologist. You can also use either topical or oral treatments, but those can be both expensive and have dangerous side effects.
You can also consider an alternative, natural treatment. Apple cider vinegar acne treatments are inexpensive and safe to use for most people.
Benefits of Using Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits due to its composition. Unlike white, balsamic, or rice varieties, raw apple cider vinegar is made through a double fermentation process that takes the ripe, organic fruit and extracts the enzymes and nutrients that have significant health benefits.
Apple cider vinegar’s therapeutic properties aren’t just limited to treating acne. Studies show it can also be used to:
- Deliver beneficial potassium to your body which aids in building strong teeth, growing healthy hair, and keeping your sinuses clear.
- Provide pectin to your cells. This helps keep your blood pressure stable and cuts bad cholesterol from your arteries and bloodstream.
- Distribute Malic acid to your immune system giving you an antibacterial boost that can fight off bacteria, viruses, and some types of fungus.
- Administer a healthy dose of calcium to build strong bones and teeth, as well as a portion of your daily vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, E, and C.
- Help with appetite suppression because it contains acetic acid. Studies show this compound slows down the speed at which sugar gets into your bloodstream after a meal to prevent the spikes and crashes associated with hunger.
- Help your body and skin maintain a healthy alkaline state thanks to its ability to normalize pH levels.
How Does It Work on Acne?
Although apple cider vinegar isn’t a scientifically-proven treatment for acne, there are many reasons why it should and does work. The acetic acid in the compound is antibacterial and can remove bacteria from the skin to prevent contamination of your follicles that could lead to a breakout. If you’ve had a bad breakout that resulted in scarring or pigment changes to your skin, this same compound can help fade those marks over time.
Apple cider vinegar also has keratolytic properties, which means it naturally helps your skin to soften and shed the dead layer that otherwise could get trapped in your pores and cause acne.
Thanks to its alkaline nature, the solution is also helpful in restoring balance to your pH levels both inside your body and on your skin. If your breakouts are due to excess hormone production, this is especially helpful, as it can throw your pH levels off and turn your skin into a prime location for bacteria to breed.
Finally, the alpha hydroxy acids found in apple cider vinegar work with your skin to exfoliate it naturally and absorb oil throughout the day.
Potential Reactions and Drawbacks
Although there are many compelling, research-backed reasons to use apple cider vinegar as an acne treatment, there are a few possible drawbacks to note.
First, it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before trying out a new treatment, even if it’s an all-natural option. If you are also using a topical solution prescribed by your dermatologist, apple cider vinegar might cause an adverse reaction.
Also, pure apple cider vinegar can cause skin irritation reactions ranging from redness and itching all the way to chemical burns if misused. Be sure to dilute the solution appropriately to avoid these complications. And always try out the treatment on a test spot on your skin to ensure you don’t have any issues with the compound. We’ve given you tips and a recipe for safe and effective acne solutions below to help you avoid this potential problem.
How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar Acne Toner
Making your own, at-home ACV treatment for acne is easy. Here are instructions that tell you what you need, how to mix it, and a few extra tips to get it right.
- 1/2 cup of organic apple cider vinegar
- Between 1/2 cup and 2 cups of water depending on how concentrated you want your solution
- A glass container to store the toner
Steps to Make Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
- Select the bottle you will use to store the toner. Clean and sterilize it and ensure that it’s cool and dry before you begin.
- Determine how concentrated you want to make your solution, then measure out 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and enough water to mix it up. We recommend starting with a 4:1 ratio which means you’ll need two cups of water and 1/2 cup of ACV.
- Use a funnel to pour the solution into your glass container.
- Close the lid and shake to mix completely.
- Store in a cool, dry, dark location in your home. Do not refrigerate.
How to Use
Apply the toner to a cotton ball and then swipe the solution over your clean, dry skin.
Some people like to leave the toner on overnight. Others apply it for three to 15 minutes. They would then rinse their skin to get the pH balancing benefits without the smell and potential for irritation. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Expert Tips Apple Cider Vinegar Acne Treatment
- Organic apple cider vinegar should have a layer of sediment at the bottom of the container. This is sometimes referred to as “mother,” and it contains most of the nutrients in the mixture. Before you measure out your solution, give the bottle a good shake to mix in these beneficial particles. You’ll also want to shake your toner before you use it every time to ensure its well-mixed.
- Start with a diluted solution and see how your skin tolerates the treatment. You can always mix up a stronger batch if you don’t experience any irritation and get results that make you happy.
- If you notice any irritation, rinse your skin and stop using the apple cider vinegar until it clears up. Wait until any issues go away completely before trying again with a more diluted solution.
- Ensure that the container you store your toner inside of is glass and sterilized before use. To do this, empty the bottle and boil it for 3-5 minutes. Remove it from the water and let it cool and dry thoroughly before you use it.
- Experiment further with your toner blend by adding other all-natural ingredients like green tea, aloe vera, or witch hazel. These ingredients may also be beneficial for your skin.
The Bottom Line
Should you use an apple cider vinegar acne treatment? The answer depends on the cause of your condition and if your skin will tolerate the treatment.
Dermatologists will often recommend products that require a prescription to use, but apple cider vinegar can be as safe and effective if used correctly. It’s an all-natural alternative treatment that is both inexpensive and easy to obtain.
If you start with a diluted solution and test it on a small area of your skin, you’ll quickly find out if it will cause irritation or be a viable potential option for you.
Always talk with your doctor first. But know that there is science that backs both the safety and potential efficacy of apple cider vinegar for clear skin.
Alice grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in California, though she likes to visit home frequently. She graduated from a marketing specialist degree and worked at the core of outreach teams for more than 5 years.