Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple cider, or the
unfiltered juice from pressed apples.
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 lower blood sugar levels,
weight loss and a reduced risk of cancer.
Some even claim it may have benefits for acne, but there is
very little research available. This article takes a closer
It May Kill Acne-Causing Bacteria
A type of bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes,
or P. acnes, contributes to the development of acne.
While there isn’t much research on the ability of apple cider
vinegar to fight P. acnes, there are a few studies on
the organic acids it contains.
In one study, 22 people applied lactic acid lotion to their
faces twice a day for one year. Most of them experienced a
significant reduction in acne, while only two people
experienced less than a 50% improvement (8).
Based on the results of these studies, it’s possible that
applying apple cider vinegar to your skin can control
acne-causing bacteria, but more research is needed.
Bottom Line: The organic acids found in
apple cider vinegar may help kill acne-causing bacteria.
However, more research is needed on apple cider vinegar
It May Reduce the Appearance of Scarring
Even after acne heals, it can cause skin discoloration and
When applied directly to the skin, some of the organic acids
found in apple cider vinegar have been shown to help with this.
The process of applying organic acids to the skin is often
referred to as “chemical peeling.”
The acids remove the damaged, outer layers of the skin and
Specifically, chemical peeling with succinic acid has been
shown to suppress inflammation caused by P. acnes,
which may help prevent scarring (9).
While studies on organic acids show promising results, more
studies are needed to explore the effects of apple cider
vinegar on scarring.
Bottom Line: Acne can cause skin
discoloration and scarring. When applied directly to the
skin, the organic acids in apple cider vinegar may reduce the
appearance of scars.
Applying It to Your Skin Can Cause Burns
In most cases, burns occur after apple cider vinegar has been
in contact with the skin for long periods of time. Shorter
periods of skin contact are less likely to cause burns.
In order to prevent skin damage, apple cider vinegar should be
used in small amounts and diluted with
You should also avoid using apple cider vinegar on sensitive
skin and open wounds, as it’s more likely to cause pain or skin
damage in those cases.
If you apply apple cider vinegar to your skin and feel a
burning sensation, try diluting it with more water. If it still
burns, you may want to stop using it.
Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar is very
acidic. Applying it directly to your skin may be irritating
or cause burns.
Should You Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Treat Acne?
Apple cider vinegar contains organic acids that may help kill
the bacteria that cause acne.
It may also help reduce the appearance of scars.
However, studies on this are inconclusive, and some cases of
severe acne require a more rigorous treatment plan.
Furthermore, applying apple cider vinegar directly to the skin
can cause skin damage and burns, especially for those with
sensitive skin or open wounds.
Because of this, it may cause more harm than good in
individuals with acne.
Bottom Line: When applied topically, apple
cider vinegar may help control acne-causing bacteria and
reduce the appearance of scars. However, it may not work for
those with severe cases of acne.
How to Treat Acne With Apple Cider Vinegar
Due to its high acidity, apple cider vinegar should be diluted
before it’s applied to the skin. Here are some simple steps you
- Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 3 three parts water (if
you have sensitive skin, you may want to use more water).
- Cleanse your face with mild face wash and pat dry.
- Using a cotton ball, gently apply the mixture to the
- Let sit for 5–20 seconds, rinse with water and pat dry.
- Repeat this process 1–2 times per day.
Additionally, use organic apple cider vinegar that contains
“the mother.” This is the cloudy substance that typically sinks
to the bottom of the bottle.
It contains proteins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria that are
responsible for most of apple cider vinegar’s health benefits.
For this reason, apple cider vinegar with “the mother” may
provide more benefits than the filtered and refined varieties.
Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar should be
diluted with water before being applied to the skin. Using it
1–2 times per day may help with acne.
Take Home Message
The organic acids in apple cider vinegar may help kill the
bacteria that cause acne.
They may also help reduce the appearance of scars.
However, the few studies that exist on this topic are
inconclusive, and apple cider vinegar might not work for