There’s a good chance you’ve tried about everything to zip your pimples, yet they keep taking a toll on your skin. And since you heard apple cider vinegar can help you in the battle against blemishes, you’re willing to give it a try. But is apple cider vinegar (ACV) the juicy fix for your pimples, and/or even a good idea to apply it on your skin in the first place or is it just a less-than-stellar idea? Long story short, yes, apple cider vinegar is chocked full of compounds that can help with blemishes and ahead we explain why you should keep this guy nearby in your battle against acne.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is derived from crushed apples and is made by a fermentation process. The liquid that results is chocked full of acids, including acetic acid and malic acid. These alpha-hydroxy acids give apple cider vinegar acne-fighting properties: while acetic acid has antibacterial and keratolytic (exfoliant) properties, malic acid is a potent antibacterial agent, known to fight acne-causing bacteria.
Benefits of apple cider vinegar for acne
In addition to its acidic pH that can help balance the skin and protect it against bacteria and irritants, apple cider vinegar possesses a few properties that are believed to help diminish acne.
Here is how apple cider vinegar can help minimize pimples:
Reduces excess sebum
The acidic pH of apple cider vinegar supports a balanced complexion, which aids in improving skin function. In turn, this helps regulate the production of sebum, the culprit that leads to breakouts.
Hinders acne bacteria
Apple cider vinegar’s main compound, acetic acid, has antibacterial and antifungal properties that kill acne-causing bacteria. In turn, this helps heal present pimples and prevent new ones from occurring.
Due to its content of malic acid — which is an alpha-hydroxy acid with exfoliating powers — apple cider vinegar gently exfoliates the skin and eliminates the buildup of dead cells that often block the follicles. In turn, this heals pimples, unclogs pores, and kills bacteria on the skin’s surface.
The anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar can soothe skin and relieve inflammatory acne to some extent.
The malic acid contained in apple cider vinegar can interfere with melanin (dark pigment) production. Consequently, apple cider vinegar can slightly diminish hyperpigmentation and post-acne marks.
Is it safe?
While apple cider vinegar is generally considered safe for skin, it can still bother the skin’s barrier and trigger irritation when used in high concentrations due to its active compounds.
How to use apple cider vinegar
Before applying apple cider vinegar to your skin, it’s imperative to dilute it with water. Not doing so can cause burns, irritation, dark spots, sensitivities, or other forms of skin damage.
You can use apple cider vinegar as a spot treatment for acne and pimples. Prepare a ratio of one part apple cider vinegar to four parts water and apply it with a cotton ball over the blemishes.
Or, use apple cider vinegar as a toner. For that, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one glass of water and you’ve got yourself a product to remove debris and pollution and give your skin a mild exfoliation. Optionally, you can add one tablespoon of rosewater and two drops of essential oil (such as grapeseed oil or hempseed). Apply the mixture to cleansed face with a cotton pad avoiding the eye area.
You can take advantage of the exfoliating benefits of apple cider vinegar by filling your tub with warm water and adding two cups of ACV, stirring, and soaking in for 15 minutes. This can help prevent ingrown hairs, fight bacteria and get you soft skin.
- Never apply undiluted apple vinegar to the face because it can damage the skin.
- Use raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.
- If you are allergic to apples, avoid apple vinegar.
- It’s best to start using apple vinegar in the lowest concentration, aka one ACV per four parts of water. If your skin doesn’t react, you can try stronger mixtures by reducing the amount of water.
- Tingling sensations are typical when using apple vinegar, but if you begin to experience burning, rinse immediately with cold water.
Women’s Concepts uses reliable sources, including dermatologists’ insights, clinical trials, and scientific journals, to find accurate information and support all the facts shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our sources of information, our process of researching and fact-checking the content, and how our team strives to keep all articles updated, completed, and trustworthy.
- Nilgun H. Budak, Atif C. Seydim, Annel K. Greene, and Zeynep B. Guzel-Seydim, Functional Properties of Vinegar
- National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, Acetic Acid Compound Summary
- Taylor MB, Yanaki JS, Draper DO, Shurtz JC, Coglianese M. Successful short-term and long-term treatment of melasma and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation using vitamin C with a full-face iontophoresis mask and a mandelic/malic acid skin care regimen. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Jan.