Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for Acne?

If you believed everything you’ve read online about apple cider vinegar (ACV), you’d think there’s no problem this inexpensive pantry staple can’t fix. However, if you’re wondering if ACV is good for the treatment of acne, scientific research has yet to prove anything conclusive about this form of acne treatment. Although, you’ll find reviews from people who swear by ACV, but, in truth, using ACV for acne is liable to do more harm than good!

ACV's Main Selling Point: Acetic Acid

The whole idea of using vinegar from apple cider as a cleanser or toner for acne-prone skin has to do with the fact that it’s natural — everyone has heard of apple cider — and is an acid.

All vinegars have some amount of an acid known as acetic acid. White vinegar, the kind many people use for house cleaning, is standardised to 5% acetic acid, but ACV’s acetic acid content isn’t standardised. That means that the acid content of ACV varies from brand to brand, or even from batch to batch within the same brand.

What Does Acid Content Matter?

Why is the amount of acetic acid important? It’s because even low amounts of it can irritate and be drying to skin. In fact, acetic acid can burn skin! That’s why you’ll often see the recommendation to dilute ACV with water before applying it to your skin.

But, even if you take the necessary precautions to dilute your ACV with water before using it, using vinegar for acne is not really a good idea. In fact, there are many other more effective, safer, faster-acting, as well as better-smelling products and ingredients for you to consider.

How Did This Myth Come About?

How did the use of ACV for the treatment of acne become a thing? Although there’s no research proving ACV’s efficacy in the treatment of acne, research has shown that acetic acid has antibacterial properties. But, even then, acetic acid was only shown to work against some types of bacteria, not the specific type that plays a role in acne. It seems like a classic case of assumptions, with the researchers simply figuring that if it works for some types of bacteria, then it must work for all bacteria — but that’s not the case.

Use Research Proven Ingredients

Although it’s true that vinegar’s natural acidity does allow it to dissolve dead skin cells that contribute to acne breakouts and clogged pores, we’ll strongly recommend that those with acne or any other skin concerns stick to the research-proven ingredients. Though it might be tempting to try applying ACV on your face to treat your acne, it is still a risky thing to do. Research-proven ingredients on the other hand, when carefully formulated, will deliver effective results without irritating your skin. The top over-the-counter contenders are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These two ingredients, which are present in our CLEAR anti-acne products, are the gold standard ingredients for getting and keeping blemish-free skin, so save the ACV for your salad dressings!

Learn more about what causes acne breakouts.

Shop Paula’s Choice Clear range for effective acne treatments.

References for this information:

The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, June 2015, page 60
mBio, March-April 2014, ePublication
MedGenMed, volume 8, issue 2, May 2006, ePublication

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