Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne: The Ultimate Guide

If you haven’t heard about all the great things apple cider vinegar can do by now, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. From weight loss to hair care, apple cider vinegar is nature’s miracle worker. And the best part? A large bottle of it will only set you back a few dollars!

If you want to know exactly what apple cider vinegar is and how it can help you with your acne breakouts, then you’ve come to the right place. Get the know-how on all things apple cider vinegar and acne.

What is acne?

Acne (acne vulgaris) is a skin condition that is extremely common, almost everyone will experience it at some point in their lives. Typically, every 3 out of 4 people will fall victim to it. This usually happens around the time puberty hits, in both boys and girls, and is caused by the male hormone, testosterone, increasing production of oils in the skin called sebum. This sebum, when overproduced, can clog pores and hair follicles along with dirt and hair – this creates acne.

Many other things can make your acne worse, such as:

  • Stress/lack of sleep
  • Pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Being overweight/not exercising/bad diet
  • Wearing sweaty/dirty clothes
  • Some medications

Depending on the severity of your acne (mild, moderate or severe) you will have a mixture of the different acne spots or simply one or two different types. You can have:


  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Blind pimples
  • Normal pimples


Generally, mild to moderate acne can be treated by over the counter acne products or even natural remedies which will be more gentle on your skin. Severe or cystic acne, acne that is deep below the surface of the skin and filled with infection-spreading pus, will need to be treated by prescription medications. Antibiotics, topical treatments and other oral medications are used in conjunction to battle these more serious kinds of acne.


Here’s a list of the most common acne treatments:


  • Face wash
  • Topical treatments (creams, gels, etc.)
  • Spot targeting treatments
  • Natural remedies (apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, etc.)
  • Antibiotics
  • Contraceptive pill


No matter what severity of acne you have, it’s important not to pop or pick at your acne spots as this can cause permanent scarring or create uneven pigmentation in your skin – which is especially serious on the face.


If you’re unsure about the severity of your acne and how to go about treating it, the best thing to do first is go to a doctor or dermatologist and have them check out your skin. They will be able to discuss your options in detail with you and help you work out a treatment plan.


What is apple cider vinegar?

Doubtless you’ve already heard or read about apple cider vinegar somewhere recently, it’s had a recent visit to the health food sphere spotlight as one of the most popular superfoods out there. And it’s not likely to be leaving anytime soon, with good reason.

Basically, apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples that have been exposed to yeast. The ethanol formed when the sugar in these apples ferment turns into acetic acid, which is the active ingredient in vinegar. Vinegar is known to contain polyphenols which are antioxidants – handy substances that reduce cell damage.

The type of apple cider vinegar you want will be the one with “the mother” – strands of beneficial bacteria, enzymes and proteins. A bottle of this superfood liquid will only set you back around $10 and depending on how you use it, should last quite a while.

Apple cider vinegar isn’t a new phenomenon though, it’s actually been used for many, many years. Here are some of it’s main health benefits:

  • Weight loss (especially belly fat)
  • Supports cardiovascular health (as indicated in this medical publication)
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Treat dandruff
  • Kills bacteria (used for cleaning and disinfecting nail fungus, infected ears, warts, etc.)

It’s also been said to help with more minor health concerns like curing a sore throat or stuffy nose, getting rid of hiccups, boosting energy, whitening teeth…the list goes on and on!

To get the benefits of apple cider vinegar, you can either consume a shot of it each day, sprinkle it over your salads as a dressing or have it watered down in a glass of water. As it’s not the nicest tasting drink (it is a form of vinegar after all), many users decide to do the shot so the experience can be over quickly.

Before using this vinegar though, no matter what your goals are, you should consult a doctor. Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic so it can corrode your teeth, damage your throat or cause an upset stomach if you over-do it. The best and safest way to have it is by incorporating it into your meals but a doctor will be able to advise you on the proper use and if it is something that’s suitable for your body and health goals.

How can apple cider vinegar help with acne?

So now that you’ve read about all the wonderful things apple cider vinegar can do, let’s get to the reason you’re actually here. Acne. Can apple cider vinegar help with acne breakouts and controlling your skin condition? The answer is yes. And at the same time it will also nourish your skin so it has the best chances of healing any damage the acne has caused.

Here’s a few reasons why apple cider vinegar is so effective on acne:


It contains antioxidants

As mentioned above, apple cider vinegar is obviously a vinegar, and vinegar contains polyphenols which are plant compounds, some of which contain antioxidants. The polyphenols are called gallic acid, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, catechins and epicatechins which respectively reduce cell damage, wrinkles, damage from UV and inflammation among other things -all very important factors when treating acne.


It’s an astringent

An astringent is something that’s used to remove excess oil from the skin, tighten pores and reduce inflammation. Apple cider vinegar is mother nature’s astringent, an all natural alternative that will give you all the acne fighting properties of something you could buy commercially that would have a heap more chemicals in it!


It’s antibacterial

Apple cider vinegar has already been scientifically proven to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties that actually target the bacteria that causes acne. It’s also got great antiseptic powers that will effectively disinfect your skin to prevent further spreading of your acne. As acne is exacerbated by bacteria on the skin left there from everyday life, this could be the all-natural cleanser you’re looking for!


It will balance your skin’s pH

Your skin and apple cider vinegar actually have a very similar pH level, so, when the pH of your skin is disrupted, applying apple cider vinegar to it will help to restore the balance. Without your slightly acidic pH barrier that’s normally on your skin at all times, you are leaving yourself open to bacteria that can cause infections and irritation.


It’s got lots of beneficial acids

Apple cider vinegar has a heap of different acids in it that will support and nourish your skin. You’ve got acetic acid which we’ve already mentioned, it’s an antibacterial acid full of antioxidants. Then there’s ascorbic acid which is vitamin C and will help with hydration, collagen production and protection against UV (as an added bonus). There’s also other acids like citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid and more which all help to fight off bacteria and keep your skin supple and healthy.


It can help with scarring

As mentioned above, apple cider vinegar has a lot of beneficial acids. Some of these acids will actually have the effect of peeling off the first layers of skin to promote faster cell regeneration. This means that any light scarring you have will, over time, fade and be healed as you apply apple cider vinegar to them. Specifically, succinic and lactic acid will assist with this process.


Best ways to use apple cider vinegar for acne


Here’s a few methods, tips and tricks for using apple cider vinegar to give your skin the best chance at fighting your pesky pimples.


Method 1 – Face toner

  1. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3-4 parts warm water depending on how sensitive your skin is.
  2. After cleansing the face, soak a cotton ball with the mixture.
  3. Dab all over the skin, paying close attention to those areas you generally break out the worst.
  4. Leave for five minutes then thoroughly rinse off. Moisturize face/skin.
  5. Can be repeated up to two times a day where necessary.*


*Best to start with 2-3 times a week and slowly work your way up if needed.


Method 2 – Face mask

  1. Mix 3 tablespoons of honey* with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
  2. Use your fingers or a makeup brush to massage mixture all over face.
  3. Leave for 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse off thoroughly.
  5. Repeat 2-3 times a week.


*Honey has excellent antibacterial properties, heaps of antioxidants and is very moisturizing so will help to clear and nourish your skin.


Method 3 – Exfoliating face mask

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 3 tablespoons of baking soda*.
  2. Apply mixture to face
  3. Wash off after 2 minutes and moisturize skin thoroughly.
  4. Repeat 2-3 times a week.


*Baking soda is anti-inflammatory, so whilst it’s helping to exfoliate off the first few layers of dead skin and dirt, it will also soothe the skin and reduce redness. This is best used on someone with drier skin who’s wanting to slough off flaky skin.


Method 4 – Facial steam

  1. Boil about two cups of water in the kettle and pour into a bowl. Let sit for a couple minutes.
  2. Stir in 3-5 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a couple drops of an essential oil* of your choosing.
  3. Place a towel over the back of your head and position your face above the bowl so the steam is rising onto your face. Keep your eyes closed.
  4. Keep doing this until there is no more steam left.
  5. Do this a couple times a week.


*Tea tree oil, lavender oil and peppermint oil are all great choices as they will respectively soothe your skin, alleviate stress and freshen your pores. Do some research and pick one that most suits your skin concerns.


Tips and tricks:


  • As with trying any new product, you need to make sure that you’re not going to have an allergic or intolerant reaction to apple cider vinegar. Before you start using it, be sure to do a spot check. Take a small amount of apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and dab it underneath your neck and on the inside of your elbow. If you have any kind of negative reaction to this within 24 hours, discontinue use. If not, you’re good to go!


  • Best used on those who don’t have sensitive skin as this is an acid and it can be quite harsh.


  • Best used on mild to moderate acne, more severe acne will require prescription treatments.


  • When purchasing a bottle, be sure to get one with “the mother” in it – a beneficial strand of enzymes, proteins and bacteria. You’ll also need to make sure it’s an unfiltered, organic kind.


  • If irritation occurs, discontinue use or dilute with warm water to see if this helps.


  • You may also want to try ingesting apple cider vinegar to heal your body from the inside out. It’s been shown that this vinegar will aid in digestion, absorption of nutrients, cleanse your liver and reduce nasty bacteria living in your gut. All of these things will work together to help your body improve it’s immune response when fighting acne. Dilute a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a glass of warm water and drink once a day. Be sure to rinse your mouth with water afterwards to avoid damage to your teeth.

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