5 Research-Based Reasons to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for Acne
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Acne is an unsightly skin condition that can affect teenagers and adults alike. Whiteheads, pimples, papules, and pustules are all signs of acne and trying to get rid of them can be a challenge. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a great natural remedy for fighting the causes of acne. ACV is a natural antiseptic agent with anti-inflammatory properties that can help to kill off acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation in your pores.

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Acne is caused when dead skin cells and excess sebum (the oily substance the skin produces) clog up pores. Dirt and impurities can cause bacteria to infect these pores and the result is red infected lumps that are tender to touch and may fill with pus. Depending on the severity of acne, you may also develop large nodules which are painful lumps below the skin’s surface.

In order to get rid of acne quickly and effectively, acne treatments should help to unclog blocked pores, reduce inflammation, and destroy bacteria. In this respect, apple cider vinegar is an effective natural treatment for acne that you can safely use at home.

In this article, you will learn about researched-based reasons to use ACV in your fight against annoying pimples and spots. You will also find out how to use apple cider vinegar along with other natural ingredients to fight acne.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made from crushing and fermenting apples using sugar and bacteria. This creates a cloudy liquid which is full of proteins, enzymes, and healthy bacteria. When using apple cider vinegar for acne, you should only use ACV that is raw and unprocessed. This kind of apple cider vinegar should contain the “mother” – the cloudy bits and sediment that float around the liquid.

According to doctors on WebMD, apple cider vinegar contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, and vitamin C. ACV also contains high amounts of acetic acid and citric acid which act as natural antiseptics.1 It is the acetic acid content in apple cider vinegar that helps to clear your skin from the signs of acne.

In fact, apple cider vinegar makes a great skin tonic for great looking skin.

5 Research-Based Reasons to Use ACV for Fighting Acne

There are many reasons to use apple cider vinegar to help reduce the appearance of pimples, whiteheads, and pustules that are characteristic of acne.

1. Kills off acne-causing bacteria

Apple cider vinegar helps to treat acne naturally because it is a natural antimicrobial liquid. The antibacterial properties of acetic acid help to treat the causes of acne at its source and help remove the appearance of troublesome pimples.

The journal Burns stated that acetic acid can help to rid damaged skin from harmful bacteria, fungal infections, and viruses. They found that even a concentration of 3% acetic acid was enough to have an excellent antibacterial and antiseptic effect.2

A research paper on caring for wounds found that acetic acid was also an effective natural topical treatment when antibiotics don’t work. The researchers found that acetic acid can kill off antibiotic-resistant bacteria infections.3

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2. Helps reduce scarring

Apple cider vinegar is a natural remedy for acne scars and can prevent pustules leaving permanent damage on your skin. For example, deep acne pustules and cysts can leave scars and cause skin discoloration. ACV contains properties that act as a chemical peel and remove damaged outer layers of the skin.

For example, a study carried out in 2015 on the use of various organic acids in acne treatment found that it can help to reduce the appearance of acne scars. The researchers stated that acetic acid was useful to help exfoliate the skin to prevent discoloration after acne.4

3. Reduces inflammation

Mild to severe outbreaks of acne usually result in inflamed pores that cause painful red lumps. Apple cider vinegar is great for reducing red, inflamed bumps on your skin because it kills off the inflammation-causing germs from your skin.

The journal Advances in Wound Care reported that bacterial infections cause an inflammatory response in the skin. Acetic acid can help to reduce the number of bacteria and thus help reduce inflammation.3

Of course, because apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, there is always the chance that it can irritate some skin types. At the end of the article, you can read my tips and precautions when using apple cider vinegar to treat skin conditions.

4. Restores balance to pH levels of the skin

Another reason to use apple cider vinegar for whiteheads, pimples, and other signs of acne is that it helps to balance the pH levels on your skin. Usually, inflamed skin has a higher pH level which causes itching, discomfort, and redness. The acidic content of apple cider vinegar helps to reduce the skin’s alkalinity and soothe skin irritation.

Scientific studies have also found that too much sebum on the skin also raises the pH level. The Annals of Dermatology reported that excess sebum and the bacteria strain Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes is a strain of bacteria responsible for many acne outbreaks) elevate the skin’s pH levels. The study found that too much sebum, P. acnes bacteria, and a higher pH level all contribute to facial acne.5

5. Exfoliates dead skin cells

The chemical peeling effect of acne on the skin also helps to unclog blocked pores from dead skin cells. Exfoliation helps to gently remove the top layer of skin and dissolve the old skin that can be clogging pores. This can help to make your skin smoother and also prevent a recurrence of pimples and other signs of acne.

The Journal of Dermatology reported that acetic acid works as an effective peeling agent for the skin to help improve the skin’s appearance and rejuvenate the skin.6

ACV Dries out pimples

The overall effect of using ACV for treating acne naturally is that it helps to dry out pimples and speeds up the healing process. Because apple cider vinegar helps to destroy skin infections, it reduces inflammation and the accumulation of pus.

What are the health benefits of drinking cider vinegar for acne?

While there are no studies showing a direct link between drinking apple cider vinegar and reducing acne, ACV can boost your general health. This can have a positive impact on your skin and may help clear up acne outbreaks indirectly.

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Some of the other health benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar regularly are that it has a positive effect on insulin and blood sugar levels, it helps to reduce blood pressure, helps rid the body of toxins, and even helps the body lose weight.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for Acne

It’s clear that ACV has the potential to treat acne and its related symptoms. However, the power of apple cider vinegar to clear up acne from your skin can be boosted by adding other natural ingredients.

Here are some great recipes to use apple cider vinegar to clear away acne fast and help you get great, pimple-free skin. After using these apple cider vinegar acne treatments, you should apply a gentle moisturizer to your skin. You can find the recipe for this at the end.

Apple cider vinegar acne remedy

To use apple cider vinegar at home on your skin to get rid of acne, you should always dilute it first. Here is how to make a simple apple cider vinegar toner to help combat acne.

How to use:

  1. Dilute equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water.
  2. Dip a cotton pad into the ACV remedy.
  3. Wipe the affected skin area to help kill off the bacteria causing acne.
  4. If it doesn’t sting too much, leave on to dry.
  5. Repeat 2-3 times a day until you get rid of the acne pimples for good.

Don’t worry if it stings a little at first, this is the ACV going to work on your skin. However, if at first, you experience a lot of stinging, you should dilute it with a little more water. You should then rinse off the apple cider remedy from your skin after 5 minutes. However, in time, your skin should adjust and shouldn’t sting as much, and you can build up gradually the skin tolerance.

Apple cider vinegar and aloe vera for acne

You can add aloe vera to ACV to make a healing facial cleanser to get rid of inflamed skin pores and acne. Aloe vera is great for your skin because it is also antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and it helps to boost collagen.

According to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, aloe vera helps to heal damaged skin quicker and is a natural skin moisturizer that can prevent the visible signs of aging. It also helps to prevent acne scars.7 Other studies have shown that aloe vera is as good as 1% hydrocortisone cream in helping to reduce inflammation.8

How to use:

You can easily make an acne mask at home by combining ACV, pure aloe vera, and tea tree oil. Here is the recipe for the aloe vera acne treatment:

  1. Mix together equal amounts of raw apple cider vinegar and water and add some pure aloe vera gel.
  2. Add a few drops of tea tree oil for every tablespoon of the aloe vera/ACV mixture.
  3. Dip a cotton ball in the aloe vera remedy and apply to the skin areas affected by acne.
  4. Gently massage the acne remedy into your skin.
  5. Leave for 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.
  6. Repeat the process once a day to help reduce the number of pimples and improve your complexion.

ACV and tea tree oil

You can boost the healing potential of apple cider vinegar by adding some tea tree oil. Tea tree essential oil is well-known for its antibacterial properties and its ability to reduce inflammation.

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Scientific studies have also shown that tea tree oil is effective for treating acne-prone skin. The Medical Journal of Australia reported that tea tree oil was as effective as benzoyl peroxide for treating acne outbreaks. Benzoyl peroxide is often prescribed as a pharmaceutical acne treatment, however, it has side effects.9

How to use:

To make a natural acne toner and skin cleanser to rid your skin of bacteria and grime and reduce the signs of acne, this is what you should do:

  1. Mix equal amounts of ACV and water to make a basic toner.
  2. Add a few drops of tea tree oil. You should have up to 6 drops of essential oil for every tablespoon of liquid.
  3. Make sure that the apple cider vinegar and tea tree essential oil is thoroughly mixed.
  4. Use a cotton ball to apply the tea tree oil remedy to your face, back, or chest where you have acne.
  5. Leave for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.
  6. Use a moisturizer to help keep your skin hydrated.
  7. Repeat the application once a day to keep your skin germ-free.

Apple cider vinegar, green tea and honey mask for acne

Green tea is not just a delicious, healthy drink but it can be part of your acne-busting strategy. Mixing apple cider vinegar and green tea helps to remove acne-causing toxins from your skin and promote healing.

By adding green tea to the acne remedy, you can help to remove the source of acne – too much sebum. The journal Hippokratia reported that green tea contains powerful antioxidants and can also remove excess sebum from the skin.10

The antibacterial and moisturizing properties of raw honey also help to kill acne-causing bacteria and prevent your skin from drying out. A study published in 2011 found that honey can help wounds to heal quicker due to its medicinal properties and low pH level.11 Other studies have shown that the vitamins, proteins, and amino acids in honey keep the skin healthy.12

How to use:

It couldn’t be easier to make your own green tea and apple cider vinegar treatment for treating acne. Honey is added to the face mask to boost the antibacterial effect of this skin cleanser.

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  1. Add 1 teaspoon unprocessed apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of green tea, and 1 teaspoon of honey.
  2. Mix the ingredients in a bowl until you have a smooth mask.
  3. Put some of the mixture on your finger and gently massage into the affected skin areas to soothe and heal the skin.
  4. Leave for 10 minutes to help kill off any bacteria on the skin and fight acne.
  5. Rinse with warm water.
  6. Apply a natural moisturizer to help protect your skin.
  7. Use the mask 2-3 times a week as part of your natural skincare to prevent and treat acne.

Apple cider vinegar and Manuka honey

A combination of Manuka honey and apple cider vinegar can help soothe your skin and get rid of acne. Just using honey on its own and then applying an apple cider vinegar toner can help to greatly reduce the number of whiteheads, pimples and skin blemishes naturally.

Although all raw, unprocessed honey is effective for treating acne, Manuka honey is one of the best types of honey because of its unique medicinal properties. In fact, many doctors are recommending Manuka honey as an alternative treatment for acne.13  

How to use:

To use Manuka honey and apple cider vinegar to help clear acne from your skin and reduce the redness, inflammation, and irritation around pimples and larger acne pustules, this is what you should do:

  1. Apply some Manuka honey directly to the acne spots on your skin and gently massage it into the skin.
  2. Do that until the honey becomes sticky.
  3. Leave for 15 minutes to allow the antibacterial properties heal your skin.
  4. Rinse off with warm water and pat your skin dry.
  5. Make an apple cider vinegar toner by diluting it with equal amounts of water.
  6. Using a cotton pad, gently apply to your acne-prone skin and let it dry.
  7. Leave for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.
  8. Apply your favorite moisturizer to help keep your skin hydrated.

Apple cider vinegar and witch hazel acne toner

Witch hazel extracts contain astringent properties that can help to reduce the size of inflamed pores and help dry out pimples. Apple cider vinegar and witch hazel is a great way to control oily skin that is prone to developing acne.

For example, the book, Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects says that witch hazel contains a considerable amount of tannins making it a useful astringent and that it can be used safely to soothe inflammation of the skin and as such it can be beneficial for clearing acne.15

How to use:

You can easily make your own apple cider vinegar and witch hazel acne toner get free from whiteheads and pimples. Here is how to do it:

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons witch hazel, one tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and one tablespoon water.
  2. Pour the witch hazel remedy in a glass spray bottle.
  3. Add 2 drops tea tree oil and 2 drops lavender oil and shake well.
  4. Spray the ACV/witch hazel acne toner on your skin and leave for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  6. Apply a natural moisturizer.
  7. Use the toner 2 times a day as part of your acne treatment program and to prevent more acne outbreaks.

Natural moisturizer for acne when using apple cider vinegar

You can also make a natural moisturizer that is great for skin that has outbreaks of acne. You should mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with one teaspoon of jojoba oil or sweet almond oil. Apply after cleansing your skin with apple cider vinegar to keep your skin protected and well-hydrated.

Tips and Precautions When Using ACV for Acne

When using apple cider vinegar on your skin for acne, you should remember that it is very strong. That is why you should always dilute ACV with equal amounts of water. There have been cases where people have suffered chemical burns from applying undiluted apple cider vinegar topically.14

Here are some tips and precautions when using apple cider vinegar to cure acne:

  • Use raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar that contains the “mother” to fight acne.
  • Always dilute apple cider vinegar before applying to the skin to prevent irritation.
  • Before applying apple cider vinegar, do a small patch test.
  • If apple cider stings at first, dilute the solution with a little more water. You should wash it off after 5 minutes if you experience stinging.
  • Always wear sunscreen after applying ACV to your skin because it increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun’s rays.
  • Don’t use apple cider vinegar around the eyes as it can cause irritation.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. WebMD. Apple cider vinegar
  2. Burns. 2009 Aug;35(5):695-700.
  3. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2015 Jul 1; 4(7): 363–372.
  4. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2015 Mar 22;69:374-83.
  5. Ann Dermatol. 2016 Apr; 28(2): 216–221.
  6. J Dermatol. 2006 Jan;33(1):16-22.
  7. Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53(4): 163–166.
  8. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2008;21(2):106-10.
  9. Med J Aust. 1990 Oct 15;153(8):455-8.
  10. Hippokratia. 2013 Jan-Mar; 17(1): 64–67.
  11. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011 Apr; 1(2): 154–160.
  12. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Dec;12(4):306-13.
  13. WebMD. Alternative treatments for acne.
  14. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Oct;67(4):143-144.
  15. Herbal treatment for dermatologic disorders.
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