- Apple cider vinegar is believed to offer a myriad of skin care benefits.
- It isn’t recommended for people with sensitive skin, as it can cause burns.
- Avoid applying it directly onto the skin, especially in an undiluted form.
Who knew one of the most popular skincare ingredients could be found in your grandmother’s cupboard? Embraced by the natural skincare movement, apple cider vinegar is experiencing a resurgence in popularity as an organic way to boost wellness and enhance your skin health.
The fermented apple solution has a serious reputation as an ancient cure-all. Researchers believe that vinegar has been used for health purposes since as early as 500 B.C. In fact, it was even recommended for managing wounds by Hippocrates, who is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Medicine,” and Cleopatra is rumored to have used it to make love potions.
While many people claim that apple cider vinegar works wonders, this comes with a few words of caution. Here’s the right way to use it.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar, also known as apple cider vinegar or cider vinegar, is a type of brine made from the juice of apples. It’s actually fermented twice — first by adding yeast to begin alcoholic fermentation, and second to convert the alcohol into vinegar. During the second process, the liquid turns sour due to the formation of acetic acid and malic acid.
It’s known for its pale amber color and is said to offer the most benefits in its unpasteurized or organic form. Pure versions of the vinegar contain what is known as the “mother of vinegar,” a clump of congealed, fermented bacteria that settles on the bottom of the bottle and looks like cobwebs. This substance includes strands of enzymes, proteins, and probiotics.
Cider vinegar naturally contains the same nutrients as apples, including vitamins B1, B2, B6, and vitamin C. The product is also full of biotin, pectin, and folic acid. Apple cider vinegar has stood the test of time as a household and wellness remedy because of its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Natural cleaning proponents even claim that it can de-mildew your bathtub, freshen your clothes during your regular wash, and polish stainless steel.
Skincare Benefits: The Fruit of Youth?
If you’re bothered by harsh dyes, chemicals, or fragrances in store-bought skincare products, you may want to try apple cider vinegar instead. The sanitizing and restorative ingredients in organic apple cider vinegar make it a cost-effective treatment for age spots, sun spots, acne scars, and blemishes.
Here are some of the most popular ways apple cider vinegar is used in skincare. It’s important to note that many experts are skeptical of its miracle “cure-all” reputation, but agree that apple cider vinegar offers several measurable benefits that can help manage and mitigate certain skin concerns.
As well as vitamins, apple cider vinegar contains alpha hydroxy acids, which help remove toxins and fight free radical damage while balancing the skin’s pH levels. Applying a small amount of apple cider vinegar on age spots with a cotton ball can help slough away dead skin cells and reduce their appearance.
Apple cider vinegar has a drying effect, which can help pimple fade faster. It also contains acetic acid, which acts as a natural antibacterial and targets pore-clogging free radicals. This makes apple cider vinegar washes or face masks a good choice for treating acne-prone skin.
Infections and Irritation
Our skin’s pH levels are to blame for a range of skin problems, even skin infections, as a low pH level can weaken the protective barrier that defends it against bacteria. The alpha hydroxy acid, malic acid (derived from the fermentation process) and acetic acid in apple cider vinegar help maintain the skin’s mantle’s natural acidity at a pH level of 5.5, which is ideal for fighting off bacteria.
Interestingly, apple cider vinegar can also be used for treating stings and irritation. In fact, the practice of immediately applying vinegar on the site of jellyfish stings is used worldwide, since it has the ability to deactivate the nematocysts venom projected from the jellyfish’s tentacles.
The acids in diluted apple cider vinegar can help remove excess oil buildup. If you look at many of the recipes for apple cider vinegar face wash or toner, you’ll see that they often require olive oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, essential oil, and even some comedogenic (pore-clogging) oils like coconut oil.
Contrary to popular belief, these natural oils won’t make your skin oilier, although they should be used with caution by people with acne-prone skin, since some may clog skin pores and lead to blemishes. Other natural remedies use vitamin-rich lemon juice, avocado, and honey. You’ll even find some apple cider vinegar masks that use baking soda for an extra boost of exfoliation and oil control.
While you might think the acid in the vinegar would aggravate sunburned skin, its pH balancing properties actually promote quick healing. These same properties make apple cider vinegar effective at decreasing the size of warts and treating mosquito bites.
It’s important that you properly dilute the solution before directly applying it to your sunburn, since the vinegar itself can cause burns.
» Talk to your doctor if you are unsure about using it on your face, arms, or hands, especially if you have sensitive skin or chronic health conditions. You can also use our directory to consult a cosmetic doctor and find out the best possible option for your skin.
What About the Risks?
The acid in apple cider vinegar makes it useful for cleaning and sanitizing. However, its astringent nature can also cause burns when applied directly to the skin. Whether you use it for pimples or sun spots, always try it in small amounts and dilute it with water.
Start by applying a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar to a cotton pad and letting it soak into the skin inside your arm. Wait for a few minutes to see if it causes irritation.
In most cases, injuries occur after undiluted apple cider vinegar has been in contact with the skin for long periods of time. Shorter periods of contact and a watered-down mixture are less likely to cause burns. If you ever feel a burning sensation, temper the mixture with more water.
If you continue experiencing pain or burning, stop using it entirely. Also avoid using it on open cuts or sores.
Some dermatologists recommend that patients with particularly dry or sensitive skin avoid apple cider vinegar altogether, since its acid-rich chemical composition can be too harsh. Always consult a doctor before making any serious changes to your skincare routine, especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.
- CNN. Apple cider vinegar: what the experts say. (31 August 2017). cnn.com/2017/04/18/health/apple-cider-vinegar-uses/index.html
- Johnston, C. S., & Gaas, C. A. (2006). Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect. Medscape General Medicine, 8(2), 61. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201