Apple cider vinegar has become one of the darlings of natural skincare. With purported benefits like brighter, clearer skin, can you really blame anyone for risking smelling like a salad dressing if it means better skin? We've definitely done weirder things in the name of beauty. Even skincare experts agree that this fermented liquid can do great things for your skin.
"Apple Cider Vinegar is not only famous as your favorite salad dressing and as a fat-melting elixir it also has lots of skincare benefits," says Dr. Michele Green, a board certified dermatologist and contributor on RealSelf.com. Below, expert-approved ways to use apple cider vinegar for skin.
It Makes a Great Spot Treatment
"Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is remarkable at fighting acne-causing bacteria and helps to reduce the appearance of both pimples and scars," Valerie Grandury, founder of Odacité, says. Her recommendation is to use it as an overnight spot treatment by mixing a bit of it with a powder mask like Odacité Synergie Powder Mask (which contains a blend of probiotics, activated charcoal, and fruit exfoliants) until it forms a poultice, and then applying it to your blemish and leaving it on overnight.
It Helps Your Masking Routine Work Better
"ACV balances the oil and pH of the skin without stripping it or breaking down the natural barrier," Michelle Ranavat, founder of Ranavat Botanics, says. She likes to incorporate it as the first step of a weekly flash facial. Use the ACV as a toner. Then follow with a hydrating mask and an illuminating serum. She recommends her line's new Radiant Rani Illuminating Botanical Serum. "This treatment is a great way to keep your skin balanced, and the botanicals in this serum will work with the ACV to reduce hyperpigmentation and give your skin an even, glowing complexion," she explains.
It Helps Balance Your Skin
“It’s a beauty product–saturated world we live in," says Sophia Roe, a natural-beauty expert, holistic chef, and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council. "So many are using multiple cleansers, masks, etc. Over time, this can disrupt the skin's natural defenses." Once that happens, you open your skin up to things like breakouts and dry skin. "Using ACV as a quick toner is a great way to restore the skin's natural defenses, remove excess dirt, and helps fight against acne,” she says. Just be sure to dilute it with water first—generally about a one-to-three ratio—because it's very strong.
It's an Excellent Exfoliant
Another benefit of using ACV as a toner? It contains malic acid, a gentler chemical exfoliant that's great for sensitive skin. "Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, which is similar to alpha hydroxy acid," Green says. "Malic acid works well on acne-prone skin as it gently exfoliates to unclog the pores and eliminate bacteria. Apple cider vinegar, which has anti-bacterial assets, can also be mixed with baking soda and water to exfoliate and help diminish blackheads." Since this chemical exfoliant is more mild than most AHA's, Green notes that its suitable for all skin types, but make sure to patch test it on your skin beforehand.
It Helps Stimulate Circulation
Good skin isn't just about the topical products you apply; it also comes from how well your insides are functioning. "Raw apple cider vinegar has been used throughout the centuries for its cleansing properties," says Jessica Rosen, certified holistic health coach and co-founder of Raw Generation. "It has been shown to stimulate circulation, purify the blood, and aid in refreshing of the liver." These things are all great for your overall health—and they're also great for your skin. She recommends adding a shot of ACV to a glass of water in the morning.
It Makes a Great DIY Mask
ACV is great straight up (well, diluted with a bit of water, but you know what we mean), but it also plays well with other ingredients in DIY masks. Rebecca Lee, RN, founder of natural health resource Remedies for Me, recommends whipping up an exfoliating, hydrating mask consisting of one teaspoon ACV, two teaspoons raw honey, and one teaspoon of baking soda. Mix into a paste, apply to your face, and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse and say hello to brighter skin.
It Improves the pH of Your Skin
"[Apple cider vinegar] naturally has an acidic pH and can help balance the pH of the outer skin layer," Joshua Zeichner, MD, Mount Sinai Hospital director of cosmetic and clinical research says. Basically, this means it keeps your skin functioning optimally—that is, doing things like producing the right amount of oil and dealing with acne-causing bacteria.
It's Great For Hyperpigmentation
Green says the malic acid in ACV is helpful for clearing up any hyperpigmentation issues like dark spots. "Malic acid is known for its ability to decrease the production of melanin," she says. "Melanin is the what gives the skin its pigmentation therefore, malic acid is great at improving hyperpigmentation."
It Can Get Rid of Dandruff
The skin on your scalp doesn't get the same attention as, say, the skin on your face. Zeichner recommends rinsing your scalp with ACV to calm dandruff. "It has antimicrobial properties and can help lower levels of dandruff causing yeast on the scalp," he explains.