If you’re over the age of 25 and still dealing with problem skin (me, too!), chances are you’ve heard of using apple cider vinegar for acne. ACV is a unicorn in the natural beauty world, and the benefits of apple cider vinegar for the face are plentiful.
Whether you suffer from acne or simply get a few pesky pimples around that time of the month, here’s how to use apple cider vinegar for better-looking skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne
Apple cider vinegar is really just apple juice fermented with yeast and other helpful bacteria. The fermentation process results in a variety of compounds, nutrients, and probiotics that make ACV a must-have in most natural medicine cabinets.
But it’s only the raw, unpasteurized vinegar that has magical properties. It is believed that the “mother,” the strands of protein, enzymes, and probiotic bacteria that give raw ACV a murky appearance, is the source of apple cider vinegar’s health benefits. It’s also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids [source].
When it comes to the skin, ACV’s high concentration of acetic acid is king. Our skin is naturally acidic [source]. But with repeated use of harsh creams and cleansers, we can disrupt the delicate acid mantle that protects skin from germs, bacteria, and pollution. Raw, unpasteurized ACV is an acid, so it works to restore the skin’s pH balance by helping to repair the acid mantle. It also works as an antimicrobial that kills bacteria [source], removes excess dirt, oil, and makeup, and dissolves dead skin cells.
In addition, it’s said to:
- Help reduce age spots
- Fight acne and shrink blemishes
- Balance skin pH
- Smooth wrinkles
- Remove toxins
- Improve skin texture
While it’s true that a lot of ACV’s skin benefits aren’t backed by science (yet), there’s a large amount of anecdotal evidence—and that means it’s at least worth giving a try.
Here are 6 ways to use ACV to clear up problem skin or even just shrink pores and even out skin tone.
6 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne
1. Face wash
Washing your face with ACV helps remove oil, dirt, and gunk from pores. And because it’s used along with soap and quickly rinsed off, you won’t be overpowered by the smell.
ACV Face Wash Recipe
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Combine the ingredients and wash your face gently to remove oil, dirt, and dead skin cells.
Another option is to choose a store-bought face wash that already contains ACV.
Applying ACV after cleansing can help remove stubborn dirt and grease and tighten pores. It’s usually recommended that you don’t apply undiluted ACV to skin because it might burn you or make problem skin worse.
But I apply it straight all the time (shhh, don’t tell…), and I haven’t had any problems. I find that straight apple cider vinegar leaves my skin feeling smoother and softer than when I dilute it.
You know your skin better than anyone, so always do what’s best for you. But first, try a test patch on an area of skin near the neck to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.
- 1 part apple cider vinegar
- 1 part water (or use less water if your skin can tolerate it)
After washing your face, apply to your skin using a cotton ball. You can also pour it into a spray bottle and add water for a balancing face mist you can spritz directly on skin. Don’t rinse off.
Substitute green tea for the water to make a 2-ingredient toner that balances your skin’s pH and helps reduce redness and acne.
3. Spot treatment
Spot treatments can help stop pesky pimples in their tracks before they’ve had a chance to grow. Pour a little vinegar onto a Q-tip, and dab directly on blemishes one at a time.
Reapply daily until the blemish goes away. You can spot-treat age spots with ACV while you’re at it. Always wear sunscreen during the day, especially when treating acne or sun damage.
4. ACV acne face mask
Combine a tablespoon each of activated charcoal and bentonite clay. Use apple cider vinegar to make a paste. With clean fingers, spread over your face and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with water and a washcloth and apply moisturizer.
5. Skin-boosting peel
Apples are a naturally potent source of malic acid, which is an alpha-hydroxy acid that boosts immunity, functions as a potent antioxidant that repairs sun damage, speeds up skin renewal, and contributes to overall healthy skin [source]. Using these acids in a skin-boosting facial peel is particularly helpful for evening out complexions, especially if you have age spots or sun damage.
ACV Apple Peel
- 1 teaspoon ACV
- 1 tablespoon applesauce
Combine the ingredients and apply to your skin. Let it sit for 10–15 minutes, and remove with a soft cloth and cool water.
6. Scar treatment
Acne scars are unsightly and annoying, but ACV is an excellent natural remedy. Mix one part apple cider vinegar, one part water, and a touch of honey, and apply over the acne scars once a day (let it soak in for around 20–30 minutes before rinsing).
Have you incorporated apple cider vinegar into your skincare routine? ACV has become a cult favorite for many.
If you suspect that you are dealing with hormonal acne, this post can provide additional help and guidance.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.528