Can You Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne Prone Skin?

For thousands of years, apple cider vinegar has been considered a cure-all for a wide range of ailments.

The ancient greek physician Hippocrates, considered to be the father of modern medicine, recommended apple cider vinegar and honey to his patients to cure illness.

And its antiseptic powers have long been appreciated for the treatment of soldiers wounds, including use in the American civil war and world war one.

Modern day supporters of its healing powers recommend it for everything from assisting weight loss, to soothing sore throats.

But, can you use apple cider vinegar for acne?

Many people swear by it, but it’s not without its naysayers.

In this article, I’ll show you the evidence that could explain its ability to treat acne, as well as the potential drawbacks of using it.

We’ll also take a look at some of the ways that you can incorporate it into your skin care routine.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

apple cider vinegar for acne

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made by cutting apples into chunks, mixing them with water and sugar, and then leaving them to ferment.

The chunks are removed after a few weeks, and the leftover mixture is allowed to continue fermenting for several weeks more (1).

The healthy bacteria that are responsible for the fermentation process produce the acetic acid that is responsible for some of its health benefits, as well as a dark, cloudy substance known as the ‘mother’.

The mother contains enzymes and minerals that processed vinegar doesn’t have, and this is one of the main reasons that apple cider vinegar is considered to be healthy.

Because of this, it’s important when purchasing ACV to make sure you buy a variety which is unfiltered and raw, with the mother visible in the bottle.


How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Acne?

The effects of apple cider vinegar on acne haven’t been specifically studied.

So the reports of its usefulness are anecdotal, from people who’ve tried it as a home remedy and seen success.

There are a lot of claims about ACV on numerous websites that are lacking in scientific validity, and are best ignored.

Having said that, scientific studies have demonstrated certain properties of ACV that could help in treating acne.

Let’s take a look at these:


Because of the acetic acid it contains, apple cider vinegar can kill bacteria when applied to the skin (2).

No scientific studies have been done to specifically examine the effect of acetic acid on P. acnes, the bacteria that is responsible for acne.

But, it's reasonable to assume that it probably is effective in reducing and preventing acne infections.

This is because acetic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), and scientific studies using other AHAs have demonstrated an ability to kill P.acnes (3).

This is likely to be the main reason for the success that some people have when using it topically.

But, there are drawbacks to putting it on your skin.

Because it's an acid, it can cause irritation. If used undiluted, it can even cause burns.


The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has a keratolytic effect, helping to break the bonds between dead skin cells and aiding their exfoliation from the surface of your skin.

This helps to keep skin pores unblocked. Clogged skin pores provide the breeding ground for acne infections.

Blood Sugar And Insulin

Insulin levels in your blood have a link with hormonal acne (4).

Scientific studies have shown that drinking vinegar can reduce your blood sugar levels after you eat, which results in lower insulin levels (5).

Many people suggest that this could have a positive effect on reducing acne, but the science is a long way from being conclusive about this claim.

Gut Flora

Problems with harmful gut flora such as candida (yeast) are implicated in acne.

Studies suggest that an imbalance in gut microflora is more prevalent in acne sufferers (6).

Ingesting ACV that contains the 'mother' helps the good bacteria in your gut, as the mother is thought to be full of probiotics (7).

Ingesting oral probiotics is known to have a positive impact on systemic inflammation, glycemic control, oxidative stress, and even your mood, and it's thought that this could possibly have an influence on acne conditions.

Again, where apple cider vinegar is concerned, the science linking this to successfully treating acne is not currently conclusive. So this potential benefit should be considered speculative.


How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne

There’s a variety of ways that you can use apple cider vinegar for acne. Some people claim that drinking it works as a cure, while others use it topically on its own and by combining it with other natural home remedies.

If you are considering trying it on your skin, here are some recipes for consideration:


Apple Cider Vinegar On Its Own

Directions For Use:

1. Purchase a bottle of unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar.

2. Apply some of the vinegar to a cotton ball.

3. Use the cotton ball to spot treat your acne and pimples.

4. Leave the vinegar to dry on your face for approximately 10 minutes.

5. Use warm water to wash the vinegar off your face.

6. Use this method every day.


Apple Cider Vinegar And Honey For Acne

The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of honey make it popular for acne treatment.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a jar of raw organic, or medical grade, honey and a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar.

2. Put 1 tablespoon of the honey into a bowl.

3. Use your fingers to apply the honey to your skin.

4. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash off again with warm water.

5. Apply some vinegar to a cotton ball.

6. Wipe the vinegar over your acne spots and pimples.

7. Leave it on your skin for about 10 minutes and then wash off again.

8. Repeat each day.


Aloe Vera And Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne

aloe vera gel for acne

The benefits of Aloe vera for acne include antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar and a jar of the best Aloe vera gel.

2. Place 1 tablespoon of Aloe vera gel into a small bowl.

3. Measure 1 tablespoon of the vinegar into the bowl.

4. Mix together.

5. Add the vinegar and Aloe vera to your face using your fingers or a brush.

6. Leave it on your face for approximately 15-20 minutes.

7. Wash and dry your face again.

8. Use daily.


Apple Cider Vinegar And Turmeric Face Mask For Acne

Turmeric contains curcumin which can kill the acne bacteria.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a jar of powdered turmeric and a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar.

2. Put 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder into a bowl.

3. Add a tablespoon of water.

4. Add 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

5. Mix the ingredients together.

6. Apply to your skin using your fingers.

7. Leave the face mask to dry for 15-20 minutes and then wash off.

8. Repeat daily.


Avocado Honey And Apple Cider Vinegar Face Mask For Acne

Avocado face masks are often used for acne because it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that protect the skin.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a jar of raw organic honey, a ripe avocado, and a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar.

2. Cut the avocado in half and take out the pit.

3. Scrape the fruit out of the peel of one half of an avocado.

4. Put the fruit in a bowl.

5. Add 2 teaspoons of honey and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to the bowl.

6. Mash the avocado with the back of a spoon into a paste, at the same time mixing in the honey and vinegar.

7. Apply the face mask and leave it on for around 15-20 minutes.

8. Wash your face again and dry with a clean towel.

9. Use this face mask daily to see the best results.


Apple Cider Vinegar And Witch Hazel Toner For Acne

The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of witch hazel make it a good addition to apple cider vinegar in this acne toner.

Directions For Use:

1. Purchase a bottle of the best witch hazel and a bottle of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

2. Put 2 teaspoons of witch hazel and 2 teaspoons of vinegar into a bowl.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of water.

4. Mix them together.

5. Transfer the liquid to a small bottle or container.

6. Apply the mixture to a cotton ball and spread on your face.

7. Use each evening.

8. Keep the bottle or container sealed and in a cool place for future use.


Apple Cider Vinegar And Green Tea Toner For acne

The EGCG in green tea is useful for acne treatment because it reduces sebum production by the skin. Green tea is also antibacterial.

Directions For Use:

1. Purchase some green tea bags and a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar.

2. Boil a kettle of water.

3. Place 2 tea bags in a cup and add a full cup of hot water to it.

4. Let the tea bags steep for around 15 minutes.

5. Remove the green tea bags from the cup and allow the tea to cool.

6. Put 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar in a small bottle.

7. Add the cup of green tea to the bottle and shake to mix together.

8. Apply the green tea and apple cider vinegar toner to a cotton ball to spread on your skin.

9. Use each day in the evening.

10. Put a lid on the bottle and keep it in a cool, dark place for further use.


Bentonite Clay And Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne

Bentonite clay helps to absorb oil from the skin and removes dead skin and blackheads without friction.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a packet of bentonite or green clay powder, and a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar.

2. Place 1 tablespoon of the clay powder in a bowl.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and mix together with a fork.

4. Use your fingers to apply the face mask.

5. Leave for 15-20 minutes to dry.

6. Wash it off before the clay becomes flaky.

7. Use this face mask 2-3 times each week.


Side Effects And Precautions

  • As mentioned above, apple cider vinegar is very acidic so you have to be careful when applying it to your face. It can cause irritation and burns so it should be diluted before use.
  • You should be careful to avoid your eyes and open wounds when using it, as it will sting. If you have an accident you can wash it off with water.
  • Apple cider vinegar is drying on the skin, so consider using a moisturizer each day.
  • Because it's an exfoliant, it makes you more vulnerable to exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. This can cause damage to your skin. So you should make sure you wear a sunscreen when you go outside.
  • Before using it on your skin for the first time it is a good idea to do a patch test to see how your skin reacts. Apply a small amount to the back of your wrist for 30 minutes.
  • If you plan on ingesting ACV it is important to be aware that it can strip the enamel off your teeth with regular use. When diluted this is less of a problem, but you could try using a straw to bypass your teeth.


Final Thoughts

The anecdotal evidence of people who have used apple cider vinegar to successfully treat their acne suggests that it’s a treatment that can work for some people.

But, a lot of the claims that are made about the benefits of using it are not backed up by scientific research.

As an antibacterial and exfoliant for topical use, there are good reasons to believe that it can have a positive effect.

But, it has its drawbacks as well.

Because it’s highly acidic, people with dry or sensitive skin might find that it’s too harsh for their skin.

Care needs to be taken when using it, as it has the potential to cause burns if it’s insufficiently diluted and left on the skin for too long.

Have you tried apple cider vinegar for acne? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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