Apple Cider Vinegar: Can it Cure Acne?
What could be more natural than treating acne with apple cider vinegar? The fact is, for all but the most resistant skin, apple cider vinegar can cause more skin oil buildup than it treats, and people who have eczema or contact dermatitis may even break out when they use apple cider vinegar acne treatments.
- Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular natural foods.
- Apple cider vinegar applied to your skin, however, probably will increase oil in your skin, rather than reducing it.
- Apple cider vinegar as a food can be very helpful in controlling breakouts caused by allergies and eczema.
- Apple cider vinegar taken with meals can also help you control appetite, and, if you are type 2 diabetic, your blood sugar levels, which may be of indirect benefit in clearing up your skin.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider is fermented apple juice. Apple cider vinegar is fermented apple cider. In making vinegar, the alcohol in a cider or wine is further fermented into acetic acid.
Everyone who has tasted apple cider vinegar knows that is has an acidity beyond mere “tartness.” Although apple cider vinegar is not so acidic that it can burn the mouth, esophagus, or skin (burns reported form the use apple cider vinegar tablets seem to be due to other ingredients in the supplement), it is acidic enough to lower the pH of the outer layer of the skin, or, oddly enough, to raise the pH of the small intestine when it is drunk or consumed with food.
Apple cider vinegar is usually considered an exceptionally “natural” product because it is often sold unfiltered, and because it may contain the “mother of vinegar” sediment left after fermentation.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Acne
Next to water, the most prominent ingredient in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. Table vinegar may contain 4 to 8% acetic acid, while pickling vinegar contains up to 18% acetic acid. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar gives it a pH of 4.2 to 5.
There is considerable evidence that apple cider vinegar can kill the food borne bacterium E. coli, source of stomach upset, diarrhea, and, in some cases, kidney damage. There isn’t any scientific evidence that it can kill acne bacteria. It’s simply not acidic enough.
What apple cider vinegar can do when it is placed on the skin is to irritate the pores. The skin attempts to heal the irritation by releasing even more sebum—so the net effect of using apple cider vinegar as a skin treatment usually is temporarily improvement in the color of the skin followed by longer-term increases in the numbers of whiteheads and blackheads. When people see they are breaking out, however, they often use more vinegar, causing still more blemishes.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Eczema
Although apple cider vinegar is not useful as a skin treatment for acne, it does have some applications in stopping skin outbreaks when it is taken as a food. In particular, apple cider vinegar may be useful in reducing the severity of eczema.
Eczema is often triggered by consumption of certain foods. Milk, beef, tomatoes, citrus fruit, chocolate, cheeses, and eggs are the most frequent offenders. Allergy-provoking proteins in these foods are incompletely digested in the stomach, and pass through the lining of the intestine into the bloodstream. When these substances reach the skin, they cause a red, itchy, pimple-like breakout.
Apple cider vinegar may reduce the severity of eczema by ensuring the more complete digestion of the skin-irritating substances in these and other foods. When at least 1 oz/30 ml of vinegar is consumed either as a “shot” of vinegar or in salad dressings at the beginning of the meal, the stomach takes longer to digest food. It has to generate more stomach acid to neutralize the bicarbonate released from the digestion of the vinegar.
When food stays in the stomach longer, proteins are more completely broken down, and fewer skin-irritant chemicals enter the bloodstream. Vinegar on you may not help your acne, but vinegar in your may help your eczema.
Other Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is often advertised as a tool for aiding weight control. The effects of vinegar on weight control, however, are a little more subtle.
When your stomach is full, you don’t feel like eating. When you consume vinegar with your food, food stays in your stomach longer. By helping you avoid snacks, you eat less, and you are more likely to lose weight—or at least not to gain it as fat. It is possible that eating less sugar and eating less of the wrong kinds of fats can have an indirect effect on acne control.
Apple cider vinegar can also help newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics control blood sugar levels. Slowing down the passage of food also slows down the increase in blood sugars after a meal, and gives the pancreas a chance to secrete enough insulin to “keep up” with food. Type 2 diabetics sometimes report that this and other diabetes control measures help keep all kinds of skin infections in check, including acne. Older type 2 diabetics who have the condition of “sluggish digestion” called gastroparesis, however, should not use apple cider vinegar at all.
Should You Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne?
The simple fact is that it is a bit of a stretch to justify the use of apple cider vinegar in the treatment of acne. If you have very resistant skin, that is, nothing breaks you out but you have a problem with whiteheads and blackheads, then an apple cider vinegar soak might help with non-inflammatory blemishes. Soak a clean cloth in apple cider vinegar, rest it on your face for 10 to 15 minutes, and the, assuming you don’t want to walk around smelling like a pickled herring factory, rinse the vinegar off your skin with warm water. The treatment should not leave your skin feeling tingly. If it does, vinegar is too strong for your skin.
Drinking an ounce of vinegar before a meal or eating a vinaigrette on your salad can help slow down digestion so that you feel more satisfied with fewer calories. This won’t help your skin unless you have a problem with gulping down the wrong foods, but it probably will help you control your appetite.
What to Do Instead
There are lots of products that sound good but that really don’t help control acne. Even natural products that really work, like tea tree oil, are usually included in concentrations too low to do blemished skin any good.
The best way to find the right products for controlling acne is to buy a complete acne treatment system, such as Exposed Skin Care, offered with a money-back guarantee.