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Can you cure your acne with apple cider vinegar?

Benefits, risks, and whether you should you use it

Apple cider vinegar has a variety of uses, and many claimed health benefits. This article looks closer at whether it can also fight acne.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Can you cure your acne with apple cider vinegar?
Last updated on November 11, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on March 6, 2023.

Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for everything from heartburn to appetite control to mole removal.

Can you cure your acne with apple cider vinegar?

It is made by fermenting apple cider or the unfiltered juice from pressed apples. The result is a pungent, highly acidic vinegar.

It has a variety of uses and has become increasingly popular in the natural health community. It’s believed to have many health benefits, including:

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However, there’s little research to back up many of these claims.

Some people even say it may help with acne due to its unique chemical composition. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at apple cider vinegar’s potential benefits for acne and some of its risks.

In this article

Potential benefits of apple cider vinegar for acne

Vinegar can kill certain types of bacteria, according to test-tube studies. This happens because of its high acetic acid content, which gives it its acidity. Apple cider vinegar also contains several other organic acids, including:

A bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, or Cutibacterium acnes, contributes to acne development. Because apple cider vinegar has been noted to kill certain strains of bacteria, it may also have some bacteria-killing affects P. acnes.

However, there’s been no research investigating the effects of apple cider vinegar or any type of vinegar on P. acnes, and much fewer studies done in humans rather than in test tubes.

In addition, vinegar needs to be highly diluted before being applied to your skin, which would dilute the organic acid concentrations further.

Lactic acid, in particular, is also used to help reduce the appearance of acne scarring — but again, the small amount in diluted apple cider vinegar is unlikely to have a significant effect.

Finally, vinegar is also thin and, unlike creams and serums made specifically for the skin, may not make contact with your skin long enough for the beneficial compounds to be adequately absorbed before it evaporates.

Summary: Although apple cider vinegar contains organic acids bacteria-killing properties, it’s not clear whether it can kill P. acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne. Additionally, apple cider vinegar must be diluted before use, weakening the organic acid concentrations.

Risks of topical apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is strongly acidic by nature. Because of this, it may cause burns when applied directly to the skin for long periods.

6 health benefits of apple cider vinegar
Suggested read: 6 health benefits of apple cider vinegar

In fact, in one study of 22 adults, researchers found that apple cider vinegar soaks had no positive effects on skin integrity in people with dermatitis — and increased irritation in most participants.

In most cases, burns occur after apple cider vinegar has been in contact with the skin for long periods. Shorter contact periods with skin are less likely to cause burns but may cause stinging.

So, to prevent skin damage and irritation, apple cider vinegar should be used only in small amounts and when diluted with water.

You should also avoid using apple cider vinegar on sensitive skin and open wounds. It’s more likely to cause pain or skin damage in those cases.

Summary: Apple cider vinegar is very acidic. Applying it directly to your skin may cause burns or irritation, and one small study noted that it offered no benefits for skin health.

Should you use apple cider vinegar to treat acne?

There’s no evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar for acne.

It can cause further inflammation and irritation. It may even cause burns if it’s not diluted correctly before applying it to your face.

Because of these factors, topical apple cider vinegar may do more harm than good in individuals with acne.

To find an acne treatment that works for you, consult a dermatologist.

Summary: Regarding at-home acne treatments, apple cider vinegar may not be the safest choice. At best, it may have no effect or cause some irritation. At worst, it can cause chemical burns to your skin. Talk with a dermatologist to find a more effective and safer acne treatment.

Expert tip

Certain foods may help boost your skin’s health and appearance. Check out our list of the 12 best foods for healthy skin. Try to gradually incorporate more of these foods into your diet to give your skin what it needs to flourish.

The 12 best foods for healthy skin
Suggested read: The 12 best foods for healthy skin
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