First, what is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made via a two-step process.
The crushed apples are exposed to yeast, which ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol. Next, bacteria is added to further ferment the alcohol, turning it into acetic acid, the main active compound in vinegar.
Acetic acid gives vinegar its strong sour smell and flavor. Researchers believe this acid is responsible for apple cider vinegar’s health benefits.
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains a substance called the mother, which consists of strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.
Some people believe that the mother is responsible for most of its health benefits, (although further studies are needed to confirm this) and I recommend making sure your ACV contains this.
Whether you’re looking to address perimenopausal wrinkles, acne, or clogged pores, there are ways you can use apple cider vinegar for your skin.
Below are a few recipes that will get your started on your way. (If you have sensitive skin, you might not be able to use all the recipes below and I recommend that you use heavily diluted ACV to being with).
Apple Cider Vinegar for your skin
ACV face wash
Avoiding harsh soaps is crucial to keep your skin’s natural oils balanced to prevent dry patches. Cleaning with an organic cleanser daily will gently remove oil, dirt, and other debris.
You can also use apple cider vinegar as a facial cleanser. It’s an effective way to cleanse the skin of bacteria and debris and is great for young or oily skin.
To create an organic apple cider vinegar face wash in your kitchen, mix:
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
Using a cotton pad or flannel, gently wipe your face with the warm liquid to feel thoroughly cleansed. (NB. Not recommended on eye make up).
Organic skin toners cleanse and tighten the skin to help protect it from bacteria, pollution and other impurities. Apple cider vinegar is an astringent, which can function as a toner when applied to the skin.
This recipe for ACV toner is similar to the cleanser:
- 1 part apple cider vinegar
- 2 parts filtered water
This recipe can be applied to the face using a spray bottle to spritz the mixture evenly onto the skin. If your skin is sensitive you might like to dilute this mixture further before use.
ACV spot treatment
If you’re prone to hormonal spots you know that catching the pimple in the first few days is key. Simply dab a small amount of diluted ACV to the spot as soon as it appears using a soaked cotton bud or ball. Focus the ACV directly on to the spot, avoiding the surrounding skin.
A spot treatment with anti-bacterial ACV is a quick way to stop blemishes from getting worse.
Bacteria on the skin can be one of the primary causes of acne.
Along with dirt and oil, bacteria can build up and clog your pores. It makes sense therefore that keeping the skin clean will help to manage acne. After all, legend says that Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago!
Due to anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties found in the acetic acid, ACV has been shown to be effective in inhibiting bacterial growth and destroying bacteria.
Acne can also form when keratin, the main protein in your skin, builds up in a pore and forms a plug (a blackhead or a whitehead). ACV also contains citric acid, which can dissolve the keratin so the pore can open up and drain, and it helps make pores appear smaller and improve the appearance of acne.
Using ACV as a daily cleanser, toner or spot treatment may help to reduce acne breakouts but it’s probably a good idea to only use one chemical acne treatment at a time to avoid drying out your skin.
As we get past the 40 year old mark and head into menopause, our skin loses its natural elasticity and wrinkles start to appear in the skin. It’s an unavoidable sign of aging and one we should celebrate although sometimes it’s hard to love those wrinkles!
One way to help minimize premature wrinkles or the severity of wrinkles is to take good care of your skin.
Some people report that using an apple cider vinegar toner helps to tighten and strengthen the skin, protecting it from harmful environmental factors and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Exfoliating removes your old dead skin cells and gives you a wonderful healthy glow. The fruit acids in ACV, including malic acid can act as an exfoliating ingredient.
Try this simple exfoliating recipe for glowing skin:
- 1 tablespoon of your favourite liquid soap, diluted.
- 1 teaspoon of ground coffee/oatmeal/cacao/exfoliant of your choice
- A few drops of ACV.
You can adapt this recipe to suit your skin type, or make a larger batch that last a few weeks.
Dry skin, eczema and psoriasis
Be careful using ACV if you have dry broken skin or eczema. There are many articles on the internet claiming that ACV has cured eczema and other skin conditions. Some people have reported that their skin conditions have improved, most likely a result of reducing a bacterial infection. However, if your skin barrier is very fragile, using a ACV can cause further damage and should be used with care and always heavily diluted.
Should you use ACV?
Apple cider vinegar is a wonderful health food ingredient that’s also beneficial in organic skin care products because of its antimicrobial astringent properties. I have been using ACV in salad dressing for years, and quite often use it instead of balsamic vinegar in other recipes. When I treat myself to chips, I use apple cider vinegar instead of malt vinegar. I love it.
Apple cider vinegar is great to add to organic hair conditioners. This is to remove excess oil and grease, and to impart shininess to your hair.
Apple cider vinegar can give great improvements to skin health but must always be used sensibly.
I recommend making your own ACV dilutions at home and experimenting with what works for you and your skin. Ready-made ACV skincare products may not have the right dilution for you, and may not be very cost effective.
Read more about natural skincare in the I Am Natural Vegan Beauty Journal.