Whether you’re using apple cider vinegar for clear skin or its well-known body detox, ACV was one of the most searched health topics in 2017. If you have ever scrolled through a list of natural remedies on the internet, you would know of this supposed elixir for perfect skin. So, are the apple cider vinegar benefits for skin as faithful as proponents claim them to be? Let’s find out.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin Care
The production of apple cider vinegar involves the fermentation of crushed apples. The process changes sugar from the apples to acetic acid, the acclaimed workhorse of the vinegar. Not only does it give the vinegar its intense taste, but it also contributes to its pharmacological properties.
Many people consume this supplement orally in pill or capsule form, as ACV shots with honey, or as delicious gummy vitamins. Vinegar is globally renowned for its antimicrobial, antifungal, and antidiabetic capacities. These attributes have valuable applications for treating acid reflux, losing weight, relieving gout pain, and most importantly, skincare. (1)
What Makes Healthy Skin?
In its simplest form, a healthy lifestyle makes healthy skin. What you eat, what you expose your skin to, and how you take care of it are the three deciding factors for any skincare regime. Here are a few tips to naturally maintain fresh skin:
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants, mainly fruits, and vegetables.
- Stick to a balanced diet that supplies each nutrient to your body.
- Protect yourself from UV radiation and excessive inflammation. Always wear sunscreen and cover your face in the sun.
- Do not expose the skin to alkaline substances like soaps and detergents.
- Moisturize your skin regularly.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Skin
Is apple cider vinegar good for the skin? Well, it depends upon what type of skin you have. If it works well on normal skin types, it could be a nightmare for the sensitive. We will elaborate on its reported disadvantages later as we discuss different skin issues.
Generally, the anecdotally observed benefits of ACV for skin include:
- Balances pH levels
- Removes skin tags
- Reduces visual aging
- Exfoliates your skin
- Heals acne
- Cures sunburn wounds
- Acne Scars
Acne scars form as a result of inflammation in the acne blemishes. The swelling may cause a breakdown in the follicle wall, allowing contents to leak to surrounding tissues. Shallow lesions are quick to heal, but deeper penetration may leave a permanent mark. These discolored blemishes on the skin are called acne scars.
Alpha-hydroxy and acetic acid in the apple cider vinegar grant it anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Thus, studies often list vinegar as an alternative home medicine for the treatment of acne. Moreover, the role of alpha-hydroxy acids in the treatment of dead skin cells has been studied and concluded with positive results. (2, 3)
The Middlesex University London has also presented reports of high anti-microbial activity in apple cider vinegar. While the study does not directly include bacteria responsible for acne, it shows positive implications for dermatological dysfunctions. (4)
Sunburn and Age Spots
Excessive exposure to UV radiation, be it the sun or artificial lighting, can cause the skin to redden and become sensitive. This inflammatory reaction, which appears to be the burning of the outer layer of skin, is called sunburn.
ACV may be touted for its numerous health benefits, but no direct reports claim its effectiveness against healing sunburn. However, studies have managed to prove its antimicrobial activity, specifically against burn wounds and tissue damage.
The University of Birmingham conducted one such study, and J R Army Med Corps another. Both credited acetic acid, a major component of ACV, as an effective agent against skin-infecting microbes. (5, 6)
Additionally, ACV’s proven antimicrobial capacity may help fight age spots from excessive sun exposure.
As the human body ages, the skin ceases to produce collagen, the protein responsible for strength and elasticity. Thus, with lessened collagen production, environmental toxins and dehydration result in thinning down the skin and causing wrinkles.
A recent study focused on polyphenols in apples concluded its positive effects on the anti-aging process. Polyphenols are organic compounds that alter reactive oxygen species to fuel aging. (7)
Eczema and Psoriasis
Dermatological dysfunctions like eczema and psoriasis appear as red, inflamed patches on the skin surface. They are both triggered by stress-inducing substances, namely, soaps and detergents.
An animal study from 2016 managed to produce a potential for topical acids, vinegar included as a treatment for atopic dermatitis (eczema). Skin barrier integrity strengthened, and there was a significant balance in the skin pH levels. (8)
However, a clinical trial performed on humans at the University of Virginia produced contradictory results. Twenty-two subjects with atopic dermatitis used ACV soaks for 14 days. It was concluded that vinegar had no significant impact on curing the skin. In fact, skin irritations were observed in most subjects. (9)
Apple cider vinegar has demonstrated antimicrobial capacity against dermatological dysfunctions. One could assume it as an effective home treatment for the said diseases. But, the lack of scientific evidence and the unimpressive results posed by human trials, compared to that of animals, emphasize the need for further research in the field.
Skin Tag Removal
A skin tag is a small overhanging of benign skin growth. They are noncancerous, but people often like them to be removed for aesthetic purposes.
Apple cider vinegar is a popular antidote in this case. In theory, the acid quotient from the vinegar is believed to help attack the tissue surrounding the tag, weakening it for removal. However, more than often, the acidity triggers irritation and is discouraged for use. (10)
Reported accidents due to the rumored benefits of ACV make it necessary to put both sides of the coin afront. A 14-year-old girl was found with two nose erosions after repeated attempts to remove moles through ACV. In another case, an 8-year old suffered severe chemical burns as a result of applying ACV soak on his knee. (11, 12)
Skin fungus is a rash, discoloration, or an itchy patch caused by fungi. Since they are mostly harmless, there is a tendency to use home remedies as a cure. In this regard, ACV’s antimicrobial and antifungal properties may help. (13, 14)
Rosacea appears in the form of visible blood vessels and pus-filled bumps on the skin, which may swell up over time. It is often confused with acne or psoriasis due to similar chronic-inflammatory effects.
However, rosacea causes serious skin vulnerabilities. Therefore, the acidity in apple cider vinegar is highly discouraged for the condition.
Studies only prove ACV’s antimicrobial capacity and effectiveness against atopic dermatitis. Patients with rosacea experience highly impaired skin barriers thus, none of the studies may justify the use here. Additionally, one must also keep the reported burn cases under consideration.
- More Reading: Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Hair
Safety Tips when Using ACV for Skin
- Whether you use it directly or in the form of a toner, make sure you dilute it with sufficient water. Otherwise, you may suffer burn wounds.
- Always use a raw, unfiltered ACV for the skin. If not, make sure you go through the ingredients to avoid any allergies or infections from the added preservatives.
- If you are using ACV to treat skin infections, let it be only the mild ones. Report severe dysfunctions to a certified dermatologist.
- Keep the application time low. ACV is highly acidic, so it will readily react with your skin. Do not leave it on for too long lest it shows side effects.
- If ingesting orally during a weight loss or detox routine, the maximum dosage of apple cider vinegar is 15-30 ml per day.
Final Thoughts on Apple Cider Vinegar for Clear Skin
Now you know the full picture. While there are apple cider vinegar benefits for the skin, there are equal side effects, too. It comes down to adequate concentration and careful usage—and of course, your skin type! Good luck achieving that shining, spotless skin!