A popular home remedy for everything from heartburn to liver detox and even achieving a glowing complexion, apple cider vinegar is one of the most well-known and used pantry staples.
And while some research supports the potential health benefits of this acidic condiment, that doesn’t mean there is a foolproof way of incorporating apple cider vinegar into your daily routine.
In fact, some very uncomfortable drawbacks could potentially accompany its use. And one of these has lately become skin irritation because of the increased popularity of using apple cider vinegar as a treatment for common skin ailments, such as bacterial and fungal acne.
Therefore, in this article, we’ll take a look at what exactly apple cider vinegar is, how it works, what benefits and risks come with using it for health and skincare purposes, as well as whether it can be used to help with acne, and how efficient is it against inflammatory skin conditions.
Table of Contents
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
A staple in everyone’s kitchen, apple cider vinegar is a salad dressing made by fermenting the sugars from apples.
The addition of yeast then converts the sugar into alcohol, and the addition of several strains of bacteria ferments the alcohol into acetic acid, a low pH agent that gives apple cider vinegar its distinct taste and smell, making it an excellent option for pickling and marinating.
Measured at a pH scale, which determines how acidic or basic a substance is, apple cider vinegar has an acidity level of 2-3, which means it’s highly acidic and can help relieve heartburn, indigestion, and other gastro problems while improving gut health and function in the process by removing parasites and harmful bacteria from the intestines.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
While apple cider vinegar has a few proven health benefits, including weight loss, a reduction in blood sugar levels, and improved gut health, it has been gaining popularity as a natural remedy for various skin and hair issues.
Some most popular of these are:
Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties due to its acidic nature, which can help eliminate bacteria and dirt on the skin’s surface.
This is because bacteria typically prefer a low oxygen and neutral or slightly acidic environment, but they can’t survive in a too acidic environment apple cider vinegar creates.
And while logically, the antibacterial action should help reduce the overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria, it’s worth mentioning that this hasn’t been proven, even though many swear by it.
Balancing The Skin’s pH
By lowering the skin’s pH, apple cider vinegar can help restore the balance of good bacteria in the skin and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
This can help reduce inflammation and irritation caused by both bacterial overgrowth and chemical imbalances in the skin.
Apple cider vinegar contains alpha hydroxy acids due to bacteria like Lactococcus and Oenococcus, which are added during the fermentation process and are high in lactic acid content, as well as the apples used in the vinegar, which are high in malic acid.
These acids act as natural exfoliants, helping dissolve the proteins holding dead skin cells clumped up together and helping them shed naturally, revealing a clearer, brighter, and more uniform complexion underneath all the buildup.
Additionally, this mild exfoliating action can also help clear out the pores from the clumped-up dirt and oils that have led to an overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria.
Apple cider vinegar is a scientifically proven antifungal, which is mainly attributed to its high acetic acid content that is capable of destroying the cell membrane of fungi, causing them to die in the process.
Laboratory research shows that it can inhibit the growth of candida cultivating in a petri dish, however, apple cider vinegar is also frequently used in treating fungal infections that affect the nails as well.
Finally, due to its antifungal action, apple cider vinegar could potentially be an efficient solution for a common skin concern known as Malassezia folliculitis, or fungal acne, which are small, raised, itchy bumps that look like acne but are caused by an overgrowth of the Malassezia yeast, and typically don’t respond well to standard acne treatments which are formulated for bacterial acne.
Risks of Using Apple Cider Vinegar
With a few health benefits come a few risks as well.
And many have raised concerns about the safety of apple cider vinegar and the potential adverse effects it can cause.
Here are some potential risks of using apple cider vinegar:
Tooth Enamel Risk
High acidic levels in foods and beverages have been shown to damage tooth enamel, give a yellowish tinge to your teeth, and increase dental sensitivity.
Therefore, chugging large amounts of apple cider vinegar can be detrimental to your teeth, and you should avoid doing so while also diluting it with water before drinking and rinsing your mouth out afterward.
Esophagus Irritation & Digestive Tract Issues
Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, and consuming large amounts of it can lead to irritation in the esophagus and cause pain at the substernal and epigastric areas as well as gut soreness, tenderness, vomiting, and hematemesis, or the vomiting of blood.
Although some people have achieved positive results and noticeable skin improvements by using apple cider vinegar, this solution can be considered a double-edged sword because it can also cause skin burns due to its high acidic content.
This is especially true when it’s used undiluted and in large amounts.
Remember, apple cider vinegar sits at around 2-3 on the pH scale, while healthy skin should measure between 4.2 and 5.5, so using it undiluted or too frequently, or even leaving it on the skin for too long can cause skin burns, irritation, and dryness.
Additionally, it’s also important to avoid direct sunlight after applying it, as this could lead to further skin inflammation, sunburns, and discoloration.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar be Applied Directly to The Skin?
Apple cider vinegar can be strong when applied directly to the skin due to its low pH value and acidic nature that will instantly bring the skin’s pH to be much lower, which could cause burning and irritation.
That is why it should always be diluted in water and sometimes mixed with other soothing and healing herbs like chamomile, green tea, or rosemary extract to help reduce the strength of the vinegar and prevent adverse side effects.
How To Make a DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Toner?
The best way to make a DIY apple cider vinegar toner is to mix one part apple cider vinegar and two parts distilled or filtered water to help reduce the acidity.
You can then simmer any of the soothing components mentioned above and add an extra part of the liquid to the mixture to infuse it with the healing properties of the herbs.
Once your mixture is ready, simply pour it into a bottle and apply it to the desired area with a cotton round.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar The Best Way to Treat Acne?
Apple cider vinegar is not the best way to treat acne, as it’s not a targeted solution that has been proven to work against inflammatory conditions like acne, and it can cause adverse effects like skin irritation and burns, which isn’t worth it when there are other targeted solutions available that don’t pose the same risks and are easily accessible and affordable to most people.
One great way to reduce the severity of acne is by having a tailored skincare routine that consists of cleansers, exfoliating products, and non-comedogenic moisturizers that aim to balance excess oil production, reduce the cellular debris accumulated inside the pores, and support a healthy skin barrier.
Another great way to tackle acne is by making healthy changes to your lifestyle habits, especially your diet. Foods like dairy and processed foods, as well as consuming too much sugar, have been linked to increased inflammation, so avoiding those can help reduce acne flare-ups.
Additionally, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods and supplements can help support healthy skin from the inside out.
But if you’re not sure where to start, you can check out GoodGlow’s ebook, which is an excellent resource packed with information on how to lower inflammation and reduce breakouts through diet.