How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Benefit Your Skin?
In recent years, ACV has been gaining popularity with skincare enthusiasts for its all-natural skin benefits and is often hailed as a wonder product. What’s all the hype about?
What is ACV?
ACV is a common abbreviation for apple cider vinegar, a common liquid household ingredient that’s been used in cooking and cleaning for centuries. It’s often incorporated into things like salad dressings, sparkling drinks, marinades, homemade disinfectants and cleaning solutions, but this everyday ingredient has several little-known alternative uses in the realm of natural skincare.
Apple cider vinegar is typically made with three incredibly rudimentary, all-natural ingredients: apples, yeast, and water. To make it, apples are chopped and combined with yeast and then covered with water to ferment. The fermentation process is where the magic happens—the yeast breaks down the natural sugars found in the apples to create ethanol, and then bacteria converts the ethanol into an acidic solution.
You will often notice the “mother”, a byproduct of fermentation, hanging out near the bottom of a container of apple cider vinegar. This is completely natural and doesn’t need to be discarded, as it’s part of the live culture of your vinegar. However, if it does bother you, you can strain it out with a fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter.
You can easily find ACV in its simplest form in your local grocery store, and it’s often kept near the salad dressings with other vinegars and oils. Many natural skincare brands also use it as an ingredient in cleansers, toners, masks, and other products.
Is ACV Good For Skin?
Natural skincare junkies, holistic estheticians and dermatologists alike will attest that yes, ACV is good for your skin — in the right amounts and used at the right frequency. Just like many other skincare ingredients, there are appropriate times to use ACV and it’s possible to overuse the ingredient in your routine. As long as you watch for reactions and monitor your skin for unwanted results, ACV is perfectly safe to use on almost all skin types, oily and acne-prone skin included!
Apple cider vinegar offers a range of skin benefits, is fairly inexpensive and easy to source, and can be incorporated into your skincare routine in a whole host of ways. Plus, the vinegar in its simplest form is 100% natural and contains no fillers or preservatives, so you don’t have to worry about questionable extras sneaking their way onto your skin.
Benefits of ACV
Apple cider vinegar offers a range of benefits and can be an asset to almost every skin type. When used correctly, ACV can fight acne-causing bacteria, balance the skin’s surface PH levels, prevent skin infections and other conditions, and exfoliate the skin to reveal a smooth, bright, even complexion free of blemishes.
Balancing your skin’s PH is crucial to maintaining proper skin functions like regulating oil production and promoting a healthy microbiome. Apple cider vinegar is acidic, and when diluted can help balance the surface PH of your skin.
A natural byproduct of the fermentation process is the acetic acid found in ACV, which gives the vinegar antibacterial properties and can help prevent infections and treat certain skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. Because it helps to clear bacteria from the skin, it can also help with acne.
Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, a naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acid (also known as an AHA) that gently dissolves dead skin and debris when applied topically. Using ACV as an exfoliant 2-3 times a week can help even skin pigmentation, unclog pores, and brighten your overall complexion.
The combination of the vinegar’s natural antibacterial properties, exfoliating properties, and PH balancing effects work together to unclog pores and eliminate acne-causing bacteria. The result? Dissolved blackheads, potentially reduced pore size, regulated oil production, and fewer breakouts.
How to Use ACV for Your Skin
Apple cider vinegar is unbelievably easy to incorporate into your skincare routine in a number of ways, but there are a few things to keep in mind no matter which route you take.
First, know your skin type and any special skin conditions you have that may be irritated by vinegar. If you have especially sensitive skin, very dry skin or skin that is easily irritated, consult your dermatologist before using ACV to ensure it doesn’t make your condition worse or cause a reaction.
Secondly, no matter what type of skin you have, you should always do a patch test to make sure you don’t react poorly before diving into regular use. Apply diluted ACV to an inconspicuous area and wait an hour to monitor your skin for signs of irritation.
Lastly, always, always, always dilute your ACV! Apple cider vinegar is very acidic when fully concentrated, so follow the specific instructions for whatever application you are using it for and dilute accordingly with water, cleanser, oil, etc. It’s safe to use 2-4 times per week, but you may have to adjust accordingly to your skin’s needs.
Here are 5 different ideas on how to use ACV in your skincare routine:
Swipe on diluted ACV with a cotton pad as a toner after cleansing.
- Add 1-2 cups to a bath and soak for softer skin.
- Use diluted ACV as a mixing medium for clay masks or other powdered treatments and apply to your whole face (avoiding your eyes and mouth as you usually would when masking) or stick to problem areas for a spot treatment.
- Clean your makeup brushes! Add 1-2 tablespoons of ACV to one cup of warm water and let brushes soak bristle-side down for a few minutes before gently scrubbing to remove build up and debris.
- Use diluted apple cider vinegar post-shave to soften skin and prevent ingrown hairs!
ACV is also beneficial for your health! When ingested, ACV has been shown in studies to be effective in helping manage blood sugar, assisting in weight loss, and can also help improve cardiovascular health. Consult your physician to discuss managing your health with apple cider vinegar.
Possible Side Effects
Just like with other skin care ingredients, no matter how natural they are, it’s possible your skin could disagree with using apple cider vinegar in your routine. Be vigilant for redness, irritation, dryness, flaking, or other signs that your skin is reacting poorly to the acidic properties of ACV. You may try diluting it further to lessen harsh effects or discontinue use altogether to give your skin some time to recuperate.