Myth Busting – Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne

Myth Busting – Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne

According to different internet sources, apple cider vinegar is being touted as an ancient remedy that has stood the test of time. Some say it’s a “golden nectar” that’s as close to a cure-all as you can get. It’s only reasonable that, as documented by glowing user reports, it can also treat acne.

But is apple cider vinegar (ACV) really the panacea it’s being promoted as?

In this post, we’ll examine what, if any, health benefits you can expect to receive from drinking ACV as well as applying it topically. Many people swear by ACV, saying that it really cleared their skin of acne. However, others say they got burned while trying it. Let take a deeper look at ACV and see what the science says about it.

Does apple cider vinegar help with acne?

Many of the purported benefits from apple cider vinegar come from either drinking it or applying it topically. However, as we delve into this supposed treatment option, there is not much research or concrete data to back up these claims.

There’s seemingly no end to the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. It’s claimed to be effective for anything, from curing cancer to resolving digestive problems. As such, there are many opinions on the topic.

From what I could find, there are several benefits regarding apple cider vinegar:

  • Reduces blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Acts as an antibacterial and antiviral agent
  • Provides a source of nutrition
  • Supports digestive health
  • Aids detoxification and bodily toxin removal
  • Alkalizes the body and removes excess acids

Let’s take a look at these claims and examine the evidence behind them.

Reduces blood sugar and insulin levels

Insulin is the cornerstone of hormonal acne. It can increase the levels of other hormones linked to acne and make your skin more sensitive to them. If you’ve been following this blog, I’ve written about the importance of reducing insulin levels many times.

This is one of the more plausible claims made for apple cider vinegar. A handful of small studies have shown that vinegar indeed reduces post-meal blood sugar and insulin levels. A published study on women with PCOS showed that daily ingestion of vinegar reduced insulin resistance and improved hormonal profile. In this study, the women had 1 tablespoon of apple vinegar every day for 90 days. The effect on insulin resistance was quite small and didn’t reach statistical significance. Another study on diabetic patients showed a 30% decrease in insulin resistance.

In case it’s not clear, a decrease in insulin resistance means the cells respond better to insulin which, in turn, reduces the overall insulin level.

One problem with all these studies is that they are very small with only 8 to 12 participants per study. As far as scientific evidence goes, it may be hard to make strong conclusions based on such small studies.

Furthermore, this blood sugar and insulin lowering effect is not completely exclusive to apple cider vinegar. It applies to every type of vinegar. Acetic acid (the acid found in vinegar) can slow stomach emptying and interfere with enzymes that digest carbohydrates. As a result, carbohydrates eaten with vinegar enter the bloodstream more slowly which reduces blood sugar and insulin spikes.

Bottom line: Vinegar may have mildly positive effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, but the effect is fairly small and applies to all forms of vinegar.

Acts as an antibacterial and antiviral agent

Yes, vinegar is an acid and can kill bacteria and virus. However, most of these antibacterial and antiviral actions were studied in a test tube. Therefore, drinking it might not be a practical way to prevent or cure all infections.

Topically applied, it may treat some infections. But there are still some nuanced points to consider:

Although investigations have demonstrated the effectiveness of diluted vinegar (2% acetic acid solution at pH 2) for the treatment of ear infections (otitis externa, otitis media, and granular myringitis),[17,18] the low pH of these solutions may irritate inflamed skin and damage cochlear outer hair cells.

In the popular media, vinegar is commonly recommended for treating nail fungus, head lice, and warts, yet scientific support for these treatment strategies is lacking. Takano-Lee and colleagues[24] demonstrated that, of 7 home remedies tested, vinegar was the least effective for eliminating lice or inhibiting the hatching of eggs. Scattered reports suggest that the successive topical application of highly concentrated acetic acid solutions (up to 99%) alleviated warts,[25,26] presumably due to the mechanical destruction of wart tissue.

Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect – Medscape General Medicine

Bottom line: Vinegar is an acid which may clear some topical infections, but it can also cause skin irritation, and even severe damage if not used properly (see the section on chemical burns below).

Provides a source of nutrition

Apple cider vinegar is claimed to be a rich source of various vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. Yet, nutritional analysis shows the contrary. It’s claimed to be a good source of potassium where 1 tablespoon of ACV gives you 11 milligrams of potassium. If we look more closely, however, that is only 0.2% of the recommended daily intake.

Nutritional analysis of apple cider vinegar

Bottom line: Perhaps apple cider vinegar has other enzymes or nutrients. Some products claim they contain apple cider vinegar that is fortified, or combined with vitamins and minerals. Still, there is not enough scientific data to support its use. The standard nutritional analysis does not show any evidence for exceptional nutrition.

Supports digestive health

Many sources claim ACV is an excellent digestive tonic. It’s not clear where this claim originated as there is no supporting scientific data. Vinegar is an acid, so it’s not completely implausible that drinking it prior to a meal could be helpful for people with low stomach acid. That said, compared to the acids in your stomach, vinegar is a fairly weak acid and may have negligible benefits.

Vinegar is a product of fermentation, much like yogurt. Some sources claim that unfiltered vinegars contain probiotic bacteria. The Vinegar Institute, for example, says that the “Mother of Vinegar” is cellulose produced by acetobacter, an acidic strain of bacteria. One thing to note though is that this strain of bacteria is different from what resides in your gut. In other words, it’s unlikely that they have any probiotic effect.

Some people claim that ACV is a prebiotic, i.e. it supports the growth of healthy bacteria. This may be true, but apples are prebiotic sources in and of themselves. Eating one apple may actually provide more prebiotics than ACV.

Bottom line: Without reliable data, it’s hard to say whether apple cider vinegar has any effect on digestion.

Aids detoxification and bodily toxin removal

To preface this section, anytime you see claims like ‘detoxifies your body’, it’s important to differentiate between fact and fiction.

Many alt-med proponents believe that we are continually polluting our bodies with unhealthy lifestyles. Their solution is to buy detox kits and follow certain detox protocols.

It’s true that many people eat poorly, especially with processed foods that contain substances which are harmful to health. However, aside from healthy diet and lifestyle, there’s no evidence to support additional detoxification therapies nor does your body need any detoxification support. Science-Based Life has an interesting article looking at how detoxification may be a hoax.

Bottom line: There is no conclusive evidence to show that ACV exhibits detoxification properties or that detoxification is beneficial for overall health.

Alkalizes the body and removes excess acids

Some people claim that unhealthy diet and lifestyle cause acidosis – a buildup of acids in the body. It is believed that acids reduce the pH of your blood which may be harmful as it encourages bacterial growth. Further claims suggest that ACV reduces acid build up in the body and makes it more alkaline. How it does this is never entirely explained.

Bottom line: This acid-alkaline theory of disease contains flaws with limited supporting evidence. The American Institute for Cancer Research goes so far as to say it’s “in stark contrast to everything we know about the chemistry of the human body”.

Does drinking apple cider vinegar help with acne?

There is no concrete evidence to show that drinking apple cider vinegar has any real health benefits. Vinegars, in general, may be somewhat helpful in maintaining blood sugar and insulin levels. However, there is also a lack of evidence behind these claims. Many of the claimed benefits are anecdotal or reported from small sample studies.

Apple cider vinegar toner for acne

Some people like to use apple cider vinegar as a toner instead of drinking it. It has been recommended by big Hollywood stars, such as Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Duff, who swear by it. Proponents claim that wiping your face with diluted ACV is almost guaranteed to get rid of acne.

In contrast to drinking, there may be some rationale for using ACV topically. As an acid, it does have keratolytic effects. It breaks the bonds between dead skin cells and keeps skin pores open. While it has never been tested in humans, it’s possible that topical ACV can control acne-causing bacteria on the skin.

That said, there is not enough evidence to consider it a treatment of choice. Although acetic acid, found in ACV, is classified as a weak acid, it is still too strong to be used on the skin.

How to dilute ACV for topical use

According to the University of Washington, Department of Chemistry, vinegar is ~5% acetic acid solution which is ~0.9 M. This means that its pH is approximately 2.4, almost the same as that of the stomach acid.

Most brands of apple cider vinegar in the market have a pH in the range of – 2 to 3. Therefore, it is critically important to dilute it before applying on the skin. Otherwise, it can cause severe irritation and burns at the site of application.

The following table gives a rough idea of how dilution will affect pH. Because the normal skin pH is below 5, even 1:4 dilution can cause problems in some individuals. If you have sensitive skin, consider diluting more.

Is it safe to use apple cider vinegar as an acne treatment?

As I have mentioned, ACV is a fairly strong acid and using it is not without risks.

Chemical burns from topical application of apple cider vinegar

Interestingly, if you search for medical literature on apple cider vinegar, one of the first things you’ll find are case reports of chemical burn injuries following topical application of ACV. Some of the case reports are as follows:

  • A 25-day-old infant developed burn injuries when his grandmother applied ACV on his chest in an effort to bring down fever.
  • An 8-year-old boy developed burn injuries on his leg after his mother applied cotton balls soaked in apple cider vinegar in an effort to treat a viral infection.
  • A 14-year-old girl presented with two erosions on her nose after applying ACV to a nevi, or mole, to remove it. It was applied daily and covered with a bandage for three consecutive days.
  • A 59-year-old woman twisted her ankle while hiking. She treated it with a homemade poultice of 50:50 flour and rice vinegar (contains the same acid that ACV) and then applied a bandage over the area. Her feet got serious burn injuries (see the picture below).

Here’s a picture of the burn injury to the leg of the 8-year old boy.


Chemical burn caused by apple cider vinegar

Here’s a picture of skin wounds after applying ACV to the nose per an internet-based protocol for nevi removal.

And here’s the grisly damage the 59-year old woman inflicted on herself.

Chemical burn caused by apple cider vinegar

Now, it must be said that, in all of these cases, the acid was in contact with the skin for quite a while, or between 2 and 8 hours. It’s highly unlikely that a short contact time of 5 to 20 seconds causes any harm. However, caution is advised.

Please don’t do what some articles and videos suggest – leave the vinegar on your skin overnight.

Esophageal injury from apple cider vinegar supplements

Another case study reported esophageal injury (the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach) following ingestion of apple cider vinegar capsules. Scientists tested various ACV capsules and found that the pH-values ranged from 2.9 to 5.7. In fact, most capsules had miniscule amounts of ACV and were mostly just citric acid.

This is one reason oral supplements may not be the best option. Because of lax regulations, you, as a consumer, have no way of truly knowing what’s inside the supplement.

Dental erosion from drinking apple cider vinegar

A 15-year old Moroccan girl suffered bad dental erosion after using apple cider vinegar. She reported hearing about potential benefits for weight loss. Her routine consisted of a glass of apple cider vinegar mixed with water every day.


There’s no substantial evidence to support some of the extensive health claims made for apple cider vinegar. After all, it is primarily known as a food ingredient, not a medicine. All vinegars may be somewhat helpful in maintaining blood sugar and insulin levels, but this effect is not specific to apple cider vinegar. ACV might improve digestion, but, again, there’s no strong evidence to support this claim.

Used topically, it may help to keep the skin pores open and control acne-causing bacteria. However, it should never be put directly on the skin. If used topically, it needs to be diluted first before being used as a spot treatment only.

Due to individual skin characteristics, everyone may react differently to ACV. Those with sensitive skin may need to take extra precautions when applying ACV. It is best to try it out on a smaller area, such as parts of the neck or on the earlobe. When applying ACV, it should never be left on for too long, especially overnight as some online sources suggest.

Overall, it’s always possible that apple cider vinegar works through some yet unknown mechanism. But based on current evidence, it’s difficult to completely recommend ACV as a sole treatment for different ailments and acne.

What is your experience with ACV? Have you tried it? If so, how did it go?

About Me

Gerardo (PharmD) is a registered pharmacist who has contributed to the creation of various research articles and scientific reviews. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and then went on to graduate cum laude from the University of Florida where he earned a Doctorate of Pharmacy. Currently, he splits his time between consulting work, medical writing, and research.


126 thoughts on “Myth Busting – Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne”

  1. It’s really nice to see you actually took my compliment, Myth Buster! ACV is one of the things I’ve put on my face, it burns and doesn’t do a thing other that giving you a nice salad smell 😛
    And contrary to what they say, it does not help with dark marks either.

    • Of course I shamelessly stole it! It’s such a fitting way to put things.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with ACV. I’m sure it helps some people, but I doubt that all the glowing testimonials give the complete story. That’s why I wanted to write this article and give the other side of the story.

    • I beg to differ….ive been drinking ACV and in five days, i can already see the acne blemishes on my chin fading away.

        • Then you could be happy for me too cause some unknown force cleared up my face from cystic acne, oh and to mention i started drinking ACV mixed up with water it’s been only a week now but im sure that ACV has nothing to do with. Btw i have been struggling with cystic acne more than a year, severe breakouts, every new one in few days, tried tons of medicines, antibiotics but yeah.. In no way we should try out natural things cause yeah, it’s only food and sure, in my case you can obviously see that medicines “helped” me quite a lot.

          • I’m not quite sure what’s your point. If you think that ACV helps your skin, then by all means keep using it. I have never said anything to the contrary and I have never told people they shouldn’t use ACV.

            What baffles me the most is the anger of some of the commentators here. The only thing I did in post was to apply some critical thinking to the claims AVC proponents make. I didn’t say that ACV doesn’t work or cannot work. I simply pointed out that there’s no evidence to show it works ‘as advertised by the proponents’. Many people seem to take this as a mortal sin.

          • And the thing that baffles me is this whole article and the sheer purpose of writing it.

            ”Let’s face it, the stuff just stinks. Badly. I wouldn’t want to apply on my face anything that stinks that much, especially since there are many, many, many other treatments that have the same effect.”

            Quite the scientific statement. I dunno if it stinks or not, it is certainly used as an addition to food, but hey if you say it stinks, it stinks. As for the other part, I am a living proof that cremes don’t always work (they didn’t even have any effect on my cystic acne) as well as consuming antibiotics on daily basis for an infinite amount of time is not the way to lead a healthy or a normal life.

            ”Used topically it may help to keep the skin pores open and control acne-causing bacteria. Yet, even here the smell and potential risk of chemical burns makes it a poor choice.”

            This is almost all over the article. Burn outs, people doing some sort of vinegar baths, horrific things to their skin by excessive topical use of it. For some kind of a research to be wholesome i would guess if you researched the topical effect you should research consummation of it and effect on acne, right? There is none of that in this article but i should point that out as well as a dozen of people below me that comment that consuming it with water cured their acne, yet you comment how that doesn’t prove anything. So let’s see some of the proves you are providing;

            ,,Dental erosion
            A 15-year old Moroccan girl suffered bad dental erosion because she had a glass of apple cider vinegar mixed with water every day. She had heard it’s good for weight loss.”

            Now I’m no expert but by this logic I think people who eat their salad with vinegar in it should probably have lost all their teeth by now since it is such a severe fluid that by even passing through mouth diluted with water makes them erode, I would only imagine what chewing a salad with vinegar would do right?

            My point in all this is that some people experience severe acne problems and they are entitled to try out alternative medicines if the ones supposed to help didn’t work, worked for a shorter period of time etc etc.
            At the end of the day IF it can help it’s much more beneficial to consume something natural than go for the drugs, the human system would benefit much more from the first than from the second.
            If you are planning on creating a program for acne treatment you can of course do that and I hope you help someone with that, but by no means that signifies thrashing some other natural product only reviewing and showing certain aspects of it and avoiding the other ones. It’s not even about having to give money, buying products or making money, but it’s about those people who suffered and are entitled to search for a cure in many places, and they should be let to find it.

          • It’s no secret that ACV smells. Anyone who has tried can tell you this. And it tastes quite horrible. That’s why so many forum discussions of ACV have posts about making it more palatable, for example by mixing it with juice.

            Why did I write this article? Because people keep asking me about ACV. It’s touted in the net as a miracle cure for just about everything. Most of these articles are not based on any credible evidence. People who regularly read my website expect better from me. That the information I present is based on the best currently available evidence.

            The reason I spend quite a bit of verbiage on warning people against chemicals burns is because it is a real danger. And there are articles online that tell people to leave ACV on the skin overnight. I bet most people intending to try ACV want to know also about potential dangers.

            I also pointed out that ACV isn’t going to harm your skin if you don’t leave it on the skin for a long time.

            For some kind of a research to be wholesome i would guess if you researched the topical effect you should research consummation of it and effect on acne, right?

            Please show me where is that research and I’ll gladly add it. The problem is that there’s no research on how vinegars affect acne. That’s why I had to look at other things, such as known risk factors for acne (insulin resistance) and the claims made by ACV proponents. Vinegar has some effect on insulin resistance, but it’s very small (cinnamon would probably have more effect) and that effect is not limited to ACV. Any vinegar, even processed white vinegar, has the same effect.

            As to people saying ACV cures their acne, while it’s interesting it’s ultimately useless as scientific evidence. We have no idea how many people use it and how many get good results. People for whom it doesn’t work are far less likely to report their experience. So there’s a positive bias to these reports. Furthermore, we have no idea whether the effect was due to ACV or for some other reason. For some it was probably due to ACV, but it’s equally likely that for many it’s due to natural variation in acne, something else they did or for some other reason that has nothing to do with ACV.

            When you have tens of thousands of people doing something, the law of large numbers dictates that you will get a lot of ‘positive’ effects. Just about every week someone wins a lottery and if there was a some lotto forum you could find a lot of positive reports from winners. But any individual playing lotto is highly unlikely to win.

            Since we have no direct and reliable data on how ACV affects acne, I try to see how plausible it is that ACV would cure acne. From everything I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem very likely. If you have some data to show that ACV is good for acne, by all means let me know and I’ll be happy to update the article.

            I really have nothing against ACV. It’s just that I can easily rattle of several natural cures that work better than ACV.

            My point in all this is that some people experience severe acne problems and they are entitled to try out alternative medicines if the ones supposed to help didn’t work, worked for a shorter period of time etc etc.

            Fully agree and it’s not like I’m forbidding people from trying ACV (not that I even could do that). Most of the solutions I talk about on this site require some experimentation. None are proven cures.

            thrashing some other natural product only reviewing and showing certain aspects of it and avoiding the other ones.

            As I said, if you think I missed something in this article, feel free to let me know and I’ll update it accordingly. People claiming that ACV helped their acne is not reliable evidence, for the reasons I outlined above, especially lacking plausible mechanism of action. Again, I’m not saying ACV could not work. Just that nobody has yet to provide plausible evidence that it does, or even explained how it could help acne.

          • Not on one site i read such a misleading an inhumane information, to leave raw vinegar on face overnight, or anything similar to that. I did read about making tonics, making drinks diluted with water and as well listed precautions below on sites to not put it raw on skin since it is acidic, much like you are alarming people not to do.

            Not to mention didn’t find anywhere those victims you mentioned above, especially the unfortunate girl with eroded teeth which I’m still astonished about because that sounded really bizarre to me, as i said before.
            if you are offering scientific data about something you should probably link the stories with those people just so those claims you are giving have some credibility in them.

            Also, speaking for myself, wouldn’t agree that maybe something else helped in a process of 2 weeks drinking diluted ACV in a glass of water when I was doing everything else as usual or they naturally subsided when they were raging over a year, and it seemed like nothing would stop them. And I do wanna point out that as you may already know cystic acne are not a typical little zit here and over there but rather a painful and little bit face disfiguring experience.

            I understand that you feel the need for evidence, what i would recommend won’t be a lab signed thing but something you may find constructive. Open google, type cider vinegar acne treatment” and open one site after another and just read experiences from people. They aren’t lab researchers that is, but people who found a cure with this little miracle and they are tons, me being one of them.

            But yet again, i still have one little wondering in all of this… Are you in a position to be requiring a clear, scientific evidence of the effectiveness of something when you yourself offer an experimental treatment with things that as you say are not to be proven cures, and on top of it, charge money for it?

          • Not on one site i read such a misleading an inhumane information, to leave raw vinegar on face overnight, or anything similar to that. I did read about making tonics, making drinks diluted with water and as well listed precautions below on sites to not put it raw on skin since it is acidic, much like you are alarming people not to do.

            Funny, cos it took me like 30 seconds to find these articles, all of which talk about leaving ACV on the skin, or at the very least don’t give adequate warnings that it can burn the skin.


            Even the mother of all ACV promoters, Earth Clinic, tells people to leave it on overnight:


            Yes, they say to mix it 1:1 with water, but even that solution can cause damage (as shown by some of the comments on that page) and the experience of this poor woman:


            There are so many sites promoting the use of ACV, each with their own instructions and dilutions that it’s no wonder people get confused and some end up damaging themselves with it. Furthermore, there are people (especially guys) who make a stronger dilution than the instructions call for. Because they want faster results, and they probably don’t realize how strong the acid can be.

            It’s not difficult to find comments from people who have had a bad experience with ACV. And this is not a surprise. ACV is an acid, and much stronger than any skin care product you could buy. So I really don’t understand why you take such an offense of me pointing out the obvious – that it can be dangerous. This is not slander. This is pointing out the obvious, which most sites fail to do.

            if you are offering scientific data about something you should probably link the stories with those people just so those claims you are giving have some credibility in them.

            Perhaps you are too busy hating me to actually read the post. All of those images come from case reports published in medical journals. The links are in the references section at the end of the post.

            Also, speaking for myself, wouldn’t agree that maybe something else helped in a process of 2 weeks drinking diluted ACV in a glass of water when I was doing everything else as usual or they naturally subsided when they were raging over a year

            Please respond to what I actually wrote and don’t make a straw man argument. I didn’t say anything about what cured your acne.

            Since you completely ignored this point in my earlier comment, let me say again why University of Google doesn’t give you reliable information about whether ACV is helpful for acne or not.

            For every 100 success reports we have no ideas:

            – How many were due to natural fluctuation in acne, only to find out that their supposedly cured acne came roaring back a few weeks later.
            – How many were due to something else the person did at the same time
            – How many people think they got results due to confirmation or other known biases in human thinking when nothing actually happened. This happens more often than people like to think, it fooled me claiming SLS in shampoo caused my scalp acne
            – How many people took ACV and got no effect or got worse, but just didn’t get excited enough to post their experience

            You cannot look at one side of the equation and declare it as success without knowing the other side.

            This is why science doesn’t work by anecdotes and user reports. These can be useful as a starting point for a more rigorous experiment. For example, a scientist could take a look at all the positive results and think “Hmmm.. many people seem to claim ACV helps their acne. Interesting, I wonder if there’s something here. Let’s design an experiment to find out.”

            Unfortunately nobody has done such an experiment. Not even the people who profit by selling ACV and happily promote it as a cure-all for just about anything.

            The next best thing we can do is to look at biological plausibility. We can look at whether ACV affects any of the known risk factors in acne; i.e. insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, gut problems, stress, etc. That’s what I tried to do in this post. Aside from a small positive effect on insulin resistance, I couldn’t find it has any effect on those. Perhaps it works on acne through some other, yet unknown, mechanism.

            I have to again say that the hate and anger of alternative medicine proponents amazes me. Why is it that you find critical discussion of these things so offensive? You seem the need to spend a considerable amount of verbiage arguing I’m biased and slandering ACV for my own commercial gain. I have said this to others and I’m happy say it to you too. If you find one factually incorrect statement in the post, let me know and I’ll be happy to correct it.

            What seems to escape you is that ACV doesn’t work for everyone. And some people are really tired of repeatedly trying and failing different natural remedies. They are tired of the getting hopes up and failing cycle. They want information that’s more more than just another user story.

            You seem to act as if I stole your last cup of vinegar, that I somehow prevent people from accessing this ‘life saving miracle remedy’. I pointed out that there’s no good evidence to show ACV has any specific health benefits. People are still free to try it. If they do decide to try it and go in with realistic expectations, find out that ACV didn’t work for them, then the the disappointment and failure is probably psychologically less damaging.

            I don’t know why you find this so offensive.

          • I do hear lots of claims touting the health benefits of ACV,and I appreciate your skepticism over the hype. But, you mention how there is little evidence and few studies to support the claims, which is true. However, the reason for that is most likely because you can’t patent a natural product like ACV, so there’s little to no money set aside for conducting research. Another reason for the scant research is because ACV cannot legally be endorsed as a cure, since it is not a drug.
            So actually, the fact that it is touted as a treatment at all, despite providing little incentive

          • Thanks for your comment, Justin. What you said makes sense on the surface, but it isn’t really true. Various governments fund a lot of research into diet and other non-patentable treatments. The US Government alone, through National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and National Cancer Institute’s Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, spends around $300 Million funding research on alternative medicine. Here’s a good article that details out various ways government has spend money on alternative medicine research:

            To say that there’s no money on alternative medicine research is clearly not true.

            It’s also not true that nobody studies non-patentable medicines. Just one example, PubMed search shows there currently are 556 papers with ‘cinnamon’ in the title. As far as I know, cinnamon can’t be patented, and yet there are tons of papers looking at cinnamon as potential treatment for various disorders. There are also tons of paper on vinegar, but the results on acne-relevant areas (hormones, antioxidants, etc.) have bean massively underwhelming. However, the point is that there’s a lot of research on substances that can’t be patented.

    • This is a great site. All the nonsense about apple cider vinegar really annoys me,especially the stuff about the vinegar having to be ‘organic and have the mother’ etc. These people have no brains.

      Having said that! I can say that I have used it for acne as I have oily skin. I used it diluted with water and applied it topically as a toner. This does work. It dries the skin slightly and prevents new spots. I’ve also used a stronger version to help a nasty zit to heal faster, and this worked too. The limitations are that after a while the vinegar causes irritation. So it’s not a good ‘long term’ treatment.

      • Thanks for sharing your experience, Ella. Yes, I’m sure topically applied AVC can work. It’s an acid and there’s some data to show various fruit acids (AHAs) can be somewhat helpful in acne. Though studies show they don’t work nearly as well as salicylic acid and other BHAs since AHAs are water-soluble and thus don’t inside the skin and open sebum-clogged pores.

        Also, at pH 2 it’s too strong to use frequently – as your experience shows.

  2. Great article 😉 You were fast, haha – yes it’s important to put it straight! I would never put this on my face either since it’s basically an acid and yes only internal effects were researched, inlcuding the slight positive effect on blood sugars, here I concur, more tests needed with more people and timeframe.

    • I’m sure this works topically for some people. I just don’t understand why you would use ACV over a simple salicylic acid cream as an example. The SA cream is easier to use, doesn’t smell and you are putting a known quantity of acid on your face so there’s no risk of chemical burns.

      • I suffer from perioral dermitits and using any of the options you mentioned cause my skin to erupt. I just gave the diluted apple cider vinegar a try and so far the results are very good. Yes it does smell HORENDOUS but if it helps my dermitits I’m more than happy to smell like old gym socks for a time. I can’t use many of the products out there because of my ultra sensitive skin so these odd concotions sometimes may be the only option. 🙂

        • Glad to hear it works for you.

          At the same time I have to point out that there are a lot of people who get a bad reaction when they apply ACV on the skin. And in some cases specifically formulated products will give better results than ACV. It all depends on what your skin tolerates.

      • SA does absolutely nothing for me but dry out my skin. ACV however, has cleared up my acne in a matter of days. You have to dilute the ACV of course until your skin builds tolerance. Just like tea tree oil. I can use either at full concentration now.

  3. Hi again, Seppo 🙂

    Sorry for being off topic but I long wanted to ask about the following topic: allergy. Yes, something that makes these months really hard for many of us inlcuding me. I always wondered about the allergy-acne thing because I noticed (on myself too) that people who had strong allergic responses like hayfever at late summer or other allergies tend to develope acne more likely than the healthy persons. Now the logical connection in my head would be that both allergy and acne indicate a generally inflamed system of our body or not strong immune system – have you ever looked into the scholarly notes regarding the possible cures for allergy? Would be sooooo interested in this opinion… got a steroide injection yesterday because it was so bad… used about 100 tissues today and my eyes are in tears for all day with a pain in the throat… miserable condition so to speak…

    • I can empathize with what you are going through. If there is an allergy-acne connection (I haven’t looked into this, so I can’t say for sure), it probably happens via inflammatory response. I doubt it’s because of ‘weakened’ immune system or anything like that. In both acne and allergy I’d say the immune system is too strong and ‘boosting’ it would make things worse.

      Sorry, but I haven’t looked into medical research on allergy. Combing through the literature on any given topic is a massive task and I simply can’t put so much time into an unrelated topic. Sorry.

  4. Thanks for the artcile. I like to keep on my research & what others have to say.

    I use ACV. It all depends on your skin type. If you don’t suffer from painful cystic acne (which I do), then you don’t know what “acne” truly is. The occasional blemish from stress or hormones is NOT acne and your first choice of medication probably won’t be ACV. (Some have questioned why use ACV over an OTC to begin with…. trust me: been there, done that… this is last resort)

    ACV has worked for me so far. I won’t say it’s the be-all-end-all cure (need to monitor my diet as well), but a lot of my pain has subsided and my skin is clearer. Put it like this, it’s worked just as well as anything else and I’ve tried it all from creams/body cleaners to hardcore drugs like Accutane.

    Who knows… maybe the ACV benefits will be temporary like everything else I’ve tried. But it’s cheap, so I’ll stick with it until it starts to fail me.

    I like to think I have enough oil on my skin to keep the ACV busy for a while 😉 I haven’t experienced any discomfort, burns, etc. I feel a little tingle when I apply it, but that doesn’t last too long. Then again, my skin’s been through so much over the years that nothing short of a rusty cheese-grater would affect me too much!

    Oh, I also drink it diluted in H2O. Acne also needs to be fought from the insdie out, not just topically.

  5. Theoretically ACV could hold some merit in that it blunts the insulin response, so taken with meals it could be of some value.

    • Theoretically ACV could hold some merit in that it blunts the insulin response, so taken with meals it could be of some value.
      Whoops, already in the article. I don’t know if you look at but they have great write ups on these things.
      On a side note Im not sure that milk causes acne in me personally. When I was in brazil for a year I didn’t drink milk yet still had fairly bad acne. I attribute it to grains and sugars personally. General insulin insensitivity.
      I would be interested in your ideas on that.
      I like your rational posts, very inspirational and honest.

  6. I actually bought a blood glucose meter to test. Pain in the ass to draw sufficient blood though.
    Carnitine seems to be beneficial in increasing insulin sensitivity, as does Green Tea Catechins.

    • Be careful with these measurements. Glucose monitors for home use have quite a large margin of error. So you would need to draw many samples, probably at least 30 to 50, to say for sure. Which makes it even bigger pain in the ass 🙂

  7. I’m just curious where you earned your science degree from & how you obtained your knowledge of analyzing raw, empiral data & how are you able to decipher the professional jargon in these formal research reports?

    You don’t seem to have enough experience with scientific data to claim anything.
    All research is skewed, even if you have 100,000 ppl involved bc of too many varying factors.
    Please present your information as your opnion, NOT as fact since you are no true researcher.
    Can you explain the scientific method off the top of your head? Do you even know how much effort & intelligence goes into even beginning & seeing research to the end; if it is done right?

    • I don’t think I ever claimed anything as a fact here. Scientific method and ‘facts’ don’t really mix. Science produces temporary conclusions based on the available evidence. Those conclusions may change as more evidence is produced.

      I don’t analyse raw empirical data. I read the papers that scientists who did the experiment and produced and analysed the data wrote. It’s not so difficult to understand those reports. One has to know the terminology and sufficient understanding of the scientific method to know what you can and cannot conclude from a piece of research. An example of this is the point about insulin resistance in this very post. I mentioned the insulin reducing effect has been shown in some studies, but those were small and thus not very conclusive.

      As I mentioned in the sidebar, I’m not a doctor or a scientist. I do my best to look and interpret the evidence. I’m sure I make mistakes as the evidence is sometimes, scratch that, often inconclusive and contradictory.

      That said, I standby with what I’ve written here. I’m sure you are more than happy to point the countless errors you imply I’m making. Once you do that, and assuming you raise valid points, I’ll be more than happy to amend the posts that are wrong.

      Thought, somehow I have a feeling that you complain because what I write here doesn’t agree what you already ‘know’ to be truth and thus you want to throw away the entire scientific method as invalid – as you seem to imply.

      Again, I welcome you to point any and all the errors your believe I have made. Though I do have to request you back up your criticism with valid evidence and reasoning.

  8. Hi Seppo!! I am so excited to be a gold member.. have not yet figured out what are the perks of that.. but its nice to be vip on your websight.. haha 🙂

    I’ve skimmed through your book… planning on reading it fully soon.. but I have gotten through supplementation and external skin care.. put an order on iherb for the skin care things you recommended.. ( even though what I’ve been doing til now hasnt been so bad because I have learned a lot from tracy and you up until now.. .. but i thought it be best to use your exact recommendations..

    I wanted to ask you though about ACV.. my acne is hormonal I am sure.. I take a probiotic, zinc ( 25 ml) vitex chastberry.. burdock root, estro block, cell stabilizer ( the same person of estro block made this) .. and some other herbs ( extracts that my herbalist told me to take .. they are mostly blood cleansing herbs) i’m also taking live-tox ( tracy recommends this) and recently i started taking cod liver fish oil ( the one tracy reccemonded as well) .. .. I know its a lot. but i really want to just do everything and see results.. soon hopefully.. .. my acne has gotten better still not clear .. im impatient and so over this .. its been a year since this happened to me.. i was 18 and took birth control for one month then stopped.. two months later disaster started.. on top of this I am taking 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar 2-3 times a day.. i wanted to know if you think that the ACV can take away the effects of the other things I am taking? I have read such good reviews on it for hormonal balance so i thought it wouldn’t hurt to try.. Sorry for this whole long paragraph just want to give you some background as well.. So my main worry is that Some things I am taking take away the effect of other things.. being that ACV is so acidic etc.. can it take effects of other supplements away?.. other then that any advice/feedback I would really appreciate.. i am giving all of this a last shot for the next couple of months. if i dont see results i am thinking to do accutane :/ really hope i will get clear from your book and all the other things from the harvest sale.

    • I don’t want to make all of my articles publicly available. Sometimes it takes me several days to research and write an article and it doesn’t make sense for me to just give away all the hard work, so I restrict some of those to members-only. I also have plans to add more members-only content, but that’s coming somewhat later.

      I don’t think ACV affects any other supplements you take. Especially if you take them separately. The only way I can think of ACV affecting other supplements is due to acidity if you take them at the same time. And even that’s unlikely since supplements should be designed to survive the acidic environment of the stomach.

      I hate to say this but most of the supplements you take probably just end up being waste of time and money. For example, I checked how the cell stabiliser supplement is promoted. I don’t know where they get the idea that acne is caused by estrogens, but there’s no scientific support for that claim. In fact, most studies show estrogens protect against acne. From acne point of view, preventing conversion of testosterone to estrogen sounds like a really, really bad idea – given how testosterone causes acne and estrogen protect against acne. That said, the supplement is unlikely to do what the manufacturers claim it does (they were rarely do), so it probably won’t do any harm either.

      I’ll be happy to guide your further, but you need to come up with a bit more specific questions. I think Clear for Life and the Quick Start Guide should get you started nicely, but if something is not clear, please let me know.

  9. Thank you very much Seppo. I know I sound very confused and I am but I will try to come up with more specific questions as I read through your book and implement different things.

    Thank you for responding and all your advice!

    • I know acne can be confusing, so don’t worry about it. I’ll be happy to guide you further. I should have a Q&A section on my website up and running pretty soon. So that makes asking and answering questions easier.

    • Also, you have to understand that what Tracy says and what I say will sometimes be different, especially when it comes to supplements and recommending natural doctors and healers. Because we have very different approaches to what we base our advice on.

  10. I always find it interesting the so-called experts always like to blow off folk remedies as “old wives tales” or some such comment. To dismiss out of hand years of careful observation by individuals with nothing to sell, with the only gain being to help patients or people in general, is shortsighted and arrogant. Without a detailed list of citations indicated which studies and articles you are referring to, your opinions are of little value. And furthermore, who is funding this research is of even more importance than the findings of the research. Are there pharmaceutical dollars behind them?, cosmetic purveyors perhaps?
    I always wonder where we might be in the field of medicine had the discoverer of penicillin been restricted to years of FDA approved study and statistical significance. I’m sure there are many advances in many fields that were made without the help of such guidelines. I question anyone who would publish an experiment with as few as 12 participants, as this would indicate an absolute void of any knowledge of statistical methods. So I would not even mention the article, regardless of the results.
    Anyone expecting any medicine or remedy to be effective just isn’t paying attention, and needs to explain to me why there are so many different drugs prescribed to attack the same illnesses, whether anti-biotics, pain medications, anti-depressants.
    I could go on, but here are two things that are right up there with, “if it sounds to good to be true…”
    1) If there is a link at the end of a blog or article claiming to prove or disprove something that takes you to something that is for sale, a product or a book, ignore it.
    2) if any research claiming to debunk any holistic product is funded by pharmaceutical or cosmetics industry money, regardless of which scientist or school does the study, ignore it as well.

    • The years of careful observation by people with nothing to sell also brought us leaching, cupping, the 4 humours theory, radiation pills, treatment with arsenic and other toxic substances, Chinese Yin-Yang theory, and many other crazy therapies, and I’m sure you’ll be missing these gems from the Middle Ages all brought to you by careful observation by people with nothing to sell. Here’s an especially relevant one, you can cure acne by washing your face with a wet diaper. Oh the evil pharma lords that have suppressed this cure from the people. Evil, I say! Evil!

      And of course nobody was selling snake oil in the ‘good old times’.

      I think it’s fairly clear that the powers of human observation leave a lot to be desired. That’s why the scientific method was developed, to enable a systematic and thorough observation.

      Dr. Steven Novella put it well in this quote:

      What do you think science is? There’s nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. Which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?

      Steven Novella

      All your argument really amounts to is that you know ACV works and if ‘your science’ doesn’t agree with it, then it must be wrong.

  11. Well, there must be something in it that clears my acne up, because since I’ve started drinking and applying the stuff on my skin I haven’t broken out.

    • If you’ve found that ACV works for you, then great and by all means keep using it. Just keep in mind that such personal observations in a cyclical and complex condition like acne are prone to errors, meaning don’t get too attached to the idea that it was ACV that helped you. It may, but sometimes naturals ups and downs in acne leads people astray. I’ve been fooled by my own observations many times over, most recently when I wrote that SLS in shampoo was responsible for my scalp acne.

  12. Despite the authors attempt to correct supposed fallacies related to the use of ACV, the article is riddled with them. The scientific study mentioned uses a solution of 2% acetic acid solution at pH2. While acetic acid is a component of ACV, it is not merely acetic acid (and the pH is similar to the skin, which prevents stripping of the acid mantle). When using ACV as a remedy, find an unfiltered, organic product and always dilute it. Braggs is one such brand, but there are others.
    Speaking from personal experience, ACV is an amazing cure for acne. I’ve tried various remedies and it is the only thing that has worked. Don’t let this article discourage you from trying out this natural (and cheap!) remedy. I experienced initial breakouts which can be attributed to purging, but after my skin cleared, it has stayed clear. I have struggled with acne my entire life and ACV has completely eliminated my acne. My new face wash is 1:1 ACV and water. If that is too strong and dries your skin, dilute it further. Also, when drinking a diluted soluted of ACV, use a straw and brush your teeth after. I like to drink it first thing in the morning, then wait 30 min before eating.
    On a side note, it’s really important to critically read articles. This one is written by someone who appears to be motivated by selling other products. Even if the author had credentials, this fact alone makes him less credible. Always do your own research. There are too many fallacies in this article to cover, but don’t take my word for it: DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!

    • If ACV works for you, then great and by all means keep using it. I have nothing against ACV and if there would be good evidence to show it helps acne, I would be the first person to write about it here. I’m planning to write a follow up post about the effect of vinegar on insulin levels and hormonal acne.

      If you would like to have a rational discussion about ACV, feel free to point out all the errors and fallacies in this article. I don’t think I misrepresented anything here and would be happy to correct any errors. Please support your claims with evidence. Anyone can claim anything but without evidence to back up the claims such claims are meaningless. I did present evidence to support all the points I made here. So if you are going to claim I’m wrong, I hope you do so by providing evidence as to why I’m wrong.

  13. #user lol, I can assure you he knows more than you ignorant #$?#! You come here blaming one of the best objective acne researcher… dont you have better to do in your free time? If you dont like the content dont read… and ps Seppo had acne back years ago as it is not a teen-only problem.

    • Thanks for the kind words Marton, but let’s try to keep the comments clean. It’s inevitable that a blog that writes critically about alt-med topics gets comments like this. It just shows I’m on the right track 🙂

      These people argue from belief and emotion rather than facts and evidence, and it’s plainly evident from their arguments. Nobody actually challenges the factual items in this article. They just come here and say I’m ignorant and don’t know what I’m talking about, but when pressed to be more specific they always fade like a thief in the night. It just shows they have probably never even bothered to look at the facts in question.

      Alt-med proponents usually live in a bubble. They believe they have some special information that others don’t understand, and that makes them feel good. But this is an illusion and to protect the illusion they build this firewall that blocks out everything that challenges the fragile worldview. When someone pokes at the firewall they get defensive and those emotional arguments are what happens.

  14. Well, I have tried ACV and I didn’t notice any benefits for my skin but I wasn’t consistent. However, vinegar really helps with removing mould around the house, so if you bought too much vinegar and have no idea what to do with it there you go, haha. But the cheapest vinegar will be just as good as organic ACV. It smells awful but bleach smells much worse. I think using vinegar to clean your house is much better than using it to clean your skin.

    • It’s possible, but it depends on the type and severity of those scars. Scarring is usually difficult to treat and I would talk to a doctor about them.

  15. I believe the best person to ask would be people who’ve already tried the stuff!

    (SPAM REMOVED) This has multiple reviews from people who have used ACV for a number of ailments. From user reviews I’ve read it is very effective in curing a lot of problems. I drink a teaspoon with a glass of water and a teaspoon of baking soda each day to help prevent bladder infections. I have felt better since I began this a week ago. As a bonus I have less acne and I feel more energetic. I am also less hungry.
    ( This site has tons of reviews from acne suffers who have shared their experiences, both good and bad! 🙂

    • While it’s a good idea to read what others have experienced, internet user reviews are anything but reliable. There’s an inherent bias in that people who get results from simple natural remedies like ACV are far more likely to report their experience than people who don’t get results.

      But even without such bias you couldn’t consider internet user reviews very reliable. Can you answer these questions from reading user reviews:

      – Out of 100 people, how many get results with ACV and how many don’t?
      – What are the common side effects I should look out for? How often they occur?

      You can’t make a truly informed decision without knowing the answers to those questions. This is why we need science to study these things, so that every result, even the negatives, are counted.

      You also have to keep in mind that people usually don’t implement changes neatly one after the other. Today a person may start using AVC, next week he reads about some food that causes acne and cuts it out of his diet, and the next week he tries to reduce stress and sleep more. By week 5 his acne is better. What causes the improvement? Nobody know. Perhaps something he did. Perhaps it’s just natural variation in acne. Perhaps seasons changed and his skin reflects that.

      The point is that there’s always more going on than people let on in testimonials. A person may credit ACV for improvement in skin, but it may equally well be something else. Something he’s not thinking about.

      I’m not saying you shouldn’t read user reviews, just that you need to take them for what they are. Very unreliable and biased sampling of what happened to some people.

      • What about your bias? Seems like 99% of the population could have good results and you’d still doubt it works. Personally the only thing that changed for me after having bad acne for a month was the ACV. So was it really “something else” – that’s really reaching.

        • Seems like 99% of the population could have good results and you’d still doubt it works.

          The point I’ve made over and over is that you don’t know that 99% of the people get good results. You don’t know how many people tried it, got no results and didn’t go online to write about it. You cannot only look at one side of the equation and declare the result. In reviews you are only seeing a very small sliver of the experiences people got when trying ACV. And people who got good results are more likely to tell the world about it than people who didn’t. Simply because they feel they have something special to share. For commercial products, people are more likely to report negative results. Again, because they feel they have something special or unusual to share.

          The point of this website is to look at these things from a scientific perspective. This means both looking at plausible mechanism of effect and relying on repeatable, reliable evidence. I went over the claims ACV proponents make for it and most of them don’t seem plausible. If you believe that ACV helps your acne then by all means keep taking it. But that in itself doesn’t constitute a proof that ACV would be helpful in acne. The only thing it means is that you took ACV and sometime later your acne got better. It’s possible ACV caused the improvement, but it’s equally possible there’s some other explanation.

  16. Thank you.
    I wish I had read this before leaving ACV on my skin overnight.
    The pain and the scars are not worth it.

  17. This article actually provides excellent information. The writer has taken all the points into consideration. All the hype about ACV is clarified. Thank you so much for this wonderful info!

  18. Hi Seppo,

    First of all, I truly thank you for this article because it made me realize what I was doing to my poor all makes sense now! I’ve been applying ACV on my skin for a while now and all it’s doing is irritating it and making it redder and angrier!!!!! I would love to know how to reverse the results of this action( irritation of skin due to ACV application) and what your thoughts are on maca root..a lot of people are claiming that maca root is a great adaptogen..I still have my doubts about it and I would love to hear your opinion about it before I start using it.

    Thank you.

    • Recently I’ve been reading a lot of papers on using various acids on the skin. It seems that acetic acid is one of the harshest ‘natural’ acids out there. It can cause too much damage to the skin barrier function and leave the skin irritated and vulnerable to further damage. Fortunately, it should resolve just by stopping ACV and perhaps applying a therapeutic moisturizer.

  19. I just would like to say ACV actually does cure acne for SOME people, depending on what their acne comes from. People with normal acne from puberty or hormones probably won’t get much relief from ACV, although I can’t say for sure.

    My acne, comes from having candida. And I actually do believe that people who have had acne problems for yearss while never finding a fix, are probably suffering from candida too. It is a fungal infection deriving from yeast. Usually it occurs from antibiotics or having a bad diet. Well I will say that nothing worked for me. Two rounds of accutane, birth control, duac, tazorac, aczone, proactive, a number of antibiotics, bp, sa..the list goes on..

    So I started eating coconut oil and drinking ACV to see if it could cure my candida naturally without having to get an anti fungal from a doctor. Well guess what? Cleared right up. ACV does clean you out. Acne comes from the bad bacteria that you have so it just makes sense. I’m not saying this will work for everyone BUT I know it is the treatment to my acne. No it won’t fully cure it due to the fact that I will probably have to completely change my diet forever but it will keep it at bay.

    And I haven’t ever tried putting it on topically..but I heard it works for some people for scarring? I don’t think the risk for burn is very high if you are dilating the ACV in water before you put it on your face. After that, you can use it as a toner.

    But yeah, I’m sure a lot of the “health benefits” from ACV are myths like a lot of other things, but it is definitely a natural treatment for candida, and if your acne is related to that, it WILL help.

    • Thanks for your comment, Megan.

      What you say could be true. But the problem is that it’s in the realm of pure speculation. I have written about Candida several times. After looking at the evidence, I just don’t find the claims of undiagnosed Candida epidemics convincing. I’m not aware of any evidence that systemic Candida infections would occur in people with normally functioning immune system (which includes just about everyone except HIV patient, people undergoing chemotherapy and other such groups). The best medical evidence shows that systemic Candida has a horrific mortality rate, around 50%. So it’s highly unlikely that there would be some undetected epidemic. Especially since the proponents have never presented any good evidence to support their claims.

      Local Candida infections in the gut and the skin can affect acne, but this isn’t what most Candida-proponents refer to when they talk about Candida. Would ACV help with Candida in the gut? Perhaps, though I’m not sure how. Will it still be antibacterial after it has passed through the stomach and alkalizing bile in the small intestine? I don’t know.

      I’m happy to hear that you’ve found something that works for you, and I encourage you to keep at it. However, I would be careful with sweeping statements like ‘ACV is a natural treatment for Candida and will definitely help in such cases’. There is almost no evidence to show that Candida affects acne or that ACV would be able to treat Candida. So the statement is pure speculation.

      Will topical ACV improve scarring? If you talk about scars where the skin has been physically deformed, then likely not. If you talk about post-acne red marks and hyperpigmentation, then it may help, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

  20. I totally disagree. I want to point out to you about why using ACV could be much better than using Salicylic or AHA creams/solution:

    One word. ACV is “natural”. By natural I mean it is NOT infused by chemical ingredients unlike salicylic or AHA products that you recommend using. Our skin absorbs the products that we use therefore by using salicylic or AHA products it works externally BUT not for long-term. They make your skin peel which makes it thinner and more expose to sunlight. If we keep using it continuously, the moisture of our skin will be stripped off. Think about it. Feeding our skin with chemicals that actually absorbs to our body? I am not against these creams stuff but I am talking about your so called ” facts ” of using these creams are better than using ACV. Well let me tell you why ACV is better ( better against chemical products, not other natural ingredients ). Firstly, as I said, it is natural. We feed our skin with it and it will do no harm to our body since it absorbs “food”. I am not saying that it is a miracle but it also depends on people’s skin BUT it does not mean it’s a crap if it’s not working for some people. For people who said “It burns my skin”, well maybe your skin is just too sensitive or you did not dillute it with water. If you want to make it work, know your skin, whether you can leave the ACV on your skin as a toner OR you have to wash it after applying it on your skin.

    As for this man who wrote this article, I don’t really blame you for doing this article but I want to ask you. Why did you say ACV is not good for skin BUT trying to promote salicylic or AHA creams? IF you are really telling facts here, there is no point for you to promote or say that the creams are wonders. If it is about ACV then DO NOT include chemical products. Maybe you are using the creams and it works for you and then seeing positive reviews of ACV made you feel like you want people to actually feel terrified to use it. I know you are not against ACV but you are not convincing me when you brought up about the chemical creams. It’s like you are promoting them while underestimating cheap products. Think about it. Thank you.

    • It must be so nice to just be able to sprout a bunch of claims without having to worry if they are true or not.

      They make your skin peel which makes it thinner and more expose to sunlight. If we keep using it continuously, the moisture of our skin will be stripped off.

      And what makes you think the chemicals in ACV don’t do that? ACV can cause severe chemical burns, something I would count as bad.

      It may be hard to realize but ACV is made of chemicals. Chemicals, per se, are not your enemy. Water is made of chemicals, as are the apples ACV is made of, not to mention every substance on earth. You are alive because of chemicals.

      I get it that some chemicals are dangerous. So do the scientists who formulate the products you so dislike. That’s why they do safety testing on chemicals. Of course the testing is far from perfect, but it has helped us to eliminate many dangerous and irritating chemicals.

      And let’s not forget that many of those irritating substances are ‘all natural’. Many essential oils are very toxic and can kill you in large doses. Funny enough, some of them are tested as pesticides. Similarly, many natural fragrances are very irritating. Green tea is healthy, but the chemical that makes it healthy, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), can cause liver damage and even kill in larger doses.

      You seem to claim that it’s safe to apply ACV on the skin since it’s natural and food. Please tell that to Ray who commented above you and suffered chemical burns and scarring because of this wonderful cure-all. Or I guess he just don’t know his skin and was too stupid to use ACV correctly?

      As for this man who wrote this article, I don’t really blame you for doing this article but I want to ask you. Why did you say ACV is not good for skin BUT trying to promote salicylic or AHA creams?

      I didn’t say ACV is NOT good for your skin. I said it can help, because the acid (i.e. chemical) in it helps to keep the skin pores open. It can also kill pathogens on the skin.

      I said it wouldn’t be my treatment of choice, which, btw, is not the same as promoting creams. One, because it smells bad. And two, because it’s a strong acid that can burn the skin. With creams you are putting a known quantity of acid on your face. You are putting enough acid to have a therapeutic effect but not so much that you could accidentally burn yourself.

      You are free to disagree with these reasons, but they are there to let other readers know of the potential problems with ACV.

  21. I’ve been using ACV for about a month (small amount applied as a toner with a cotton pad, not rinsed off), and my skin has been clearing up. I have oily skin, and I generally am not sensitive to harsher products. It stings a little on the places where I have zits, but so do most other drugstore toners/spot treatments. My biggest complaint would be that it STINKS. I completely agree with you there!

    Some drugstore and prescription products I’ve tried were much harsher on my skin… made my skin red, made it peel, made it itchy. These are safety-tested products with low concentrations of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid (and prescription stuff I can’t remember). ACV is more gentle in comparison. Even though other products are safety tested, people still have bad reactions to them all the time, because of differences in what your skin can tolerate.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with topical ACV for acne, especially if you only apply it as a spot treatment, dilute it, or rinse it off. The earlier comment “know your skin” may have come off as insensitive, but it’s true… some people can use a product while others can’t.

    The real question is, why isn’t anyone developing an odorless ACV product for sensitive skin? Would that be totally pointless, since ACV is already “pure” and holistic? There’s money to be made there… someone needs to pitch that on Shark Tank.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience with ACV. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with using ACV topically (or drinking it). I just want to make people aware that there are dangers associated with it, and they should be careful with it. I also wanted to counter some of the outright hype you’ll see on other sites, but this doesn’t mean I’m against ACV as such.

      The real question is, why isn’t anyone developing an odorless ACV product for sensitive skin? Would that be totally pointless, since ACV is already “pure” and holistic? There’s money to be made there… someone needs to pitch that on Shark Tank.

      I assume that if you want to make it into an odorless cream you have to add ‘chemicals’ into it and the natural health folk wouldn’t see it as pure and holistic anymore.

  22. I found this article while researching whether or not ACV could help me get rid of a cyst. I find the author interesting and informative, but I like the comments even better — which have entertained the heck out of me for half an hour.
    Thank you, people! Now I can add one more thing to the arsenal of idiotic stupidity that people find so offensive that it’s off bounds to discuss:
    1. I can’t argue that climate change might be a myth. 2. I can’t use the terms “bossy” or “red skin” (I wonder if this applies to potatoes?) 3. But … God forbid that I suggest that there is more than one way to view the health benefits of apple cider vinegar!
    I think we ALL ought to get our heads out of our IPhones and start listening to one another instead of making fights out of every innocent thing that we encounter — or we’ll erupt in more than a bad case of acne!

  23. PS I have been trying acv on two weird spots on my skin … Not overnight, just applying. The spots are better. It doesn’t stop me, though, from feeling that this author deserves better than some of the outright insults he has been receiving, just for stating his opinion!

    • Thank you for your sympathetic comment. I’ve kinda grown used to these ‘insults’. They come with the territory when one writes even slightly critical comments of various natural health all-star treatments. I mostly find them amusing as they almost never address anything I actually wrote. Mostly these people just feel the need to tell me I’m ignorant – or that I’m being paid by the big pharma.

      Glad to hear that ACV is working for you. I do agree it may work as spot treatment.

  24. Hi! Very Interesting article, I have never tried ACV as a toner but I have been drinking it for several months and it has helped me in a lot of ways. I have a very irregular period and as a consecuence I have chin acne (hormonal). I’ve been on accutane twice and my face is completely clear but my chin just doesn’t seem to want to clear up. I came across ACV on a local store and decided to give it a go because whatever I have nothing to lose. Surpisingly it made my period a lot more regular and those nasty pimples started to calm down. It also reduced my cravings (guess that’s because it made me feel full) and I felt a lot more light and overall better. From my experience it does work, at least for me and I’m sticking with it. but it’s nice to see all points of view. It does stink like hell and tastes icky but I got used to it and for the benefits it gives me it’s worth the try.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Andrea. It does sound like you had some blood sugar issues before and taking ACV helped to normalize them. That would also affect sex hormone levels and possibly explain normalization of periods.

      You might also want to try reducing overall carbohydrate intake and focus more on fat and protein.

    • Nope, but I would be skeptical. There is some semi-reliable medical data about using clays and muds to heal the skin. In a nutshell, they are not implausible as treatments, but we also don’t have any reliable data to show they work. Feel free to try though.

  25. I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to research this topic and share your experiences. I would like to ask for your input on my own recent experience. I had this growth under my skin on my thigh. It started small but grew for a few years. It was round and firm and made a bump on my skin. In the summer, I would often find that the raised area would get scratched easily and last month I noticed the skin over the top had roughened like a callous. I asked my doctor if he could remove it and he basically said if it’s not hurting anything, why bother? So I started searching the internet for home remedies. As I am sure you’ve guessed…. I stumbled across ACV.

    So here’s what I did. I scraped off the rough skin. I then applied a cotton ball soaked in real deal ACV (the kind with a mother and all) to what I will now refer to as the cyst. I taped it down with a band-aid and went to bed. It stung for a bit, but I went to sleep and left it on all night. I woke to find that the “cyst” was completely gone and in it’s place was a horrifyingly ugly, hard, black, sunken scab. Not dark, dried blood red. Black. The internet was for once, no help. No one else seemed to have had this happen.

    Luckily, the skin around the cyst was perfectly fine. I stopped “treatment” and left it alone for a few days, but nothing happened. I couldn’t stand the black thing on my leg, so I doused another cotton ball w/ ACV, and left it on for just a few hours to soften and remove the black scab. It worked. It left a raw hole in my leg, but it worked. Since then, I have been treating the wound like a normal, sane person (cleaning with peroxide,then covering with neosporin, and a clean bandage). It is still a sunken, ugly wound, but at least it looks like it is healing normally now.

    All that to say, if this thing heals and leaves only a smooth (or even slightly sunken) scar, I will consider this experiment a success. It is very clear to me that the ACV targeted just the cyst. It did not burn the healthy skin. I don’t mind scars and I am pleased the cyst is gone.

    What are your thoughts? Do you have any ideas why the acid targeted the growth and not the healthy skin? Would you be willing to speculate why this worked when OTC creams had done nothing? I am extremely curious at this point and also fascinated by how quickly the ACV dissolved (for lack of a better word) the cyst.

    Thanks for your time. I am very interested to hear your take.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Heather. Here are my 2 cents.

      It doesn’t seem plausible that the acid would somehow ‘target’ the cystic tissue and leave the healthy tissue alone. That’s just not compatible with how acids work. They have no intelligence to choose what they target, they simply react with other substances they come in contact with.

      It’s possible that the living tissue was able to buffer and neutralize the acid. Or it’s possible it somehow soaked into the cystic tissue more, from your description it seemed the skin on the cyst was dry, so it would soak in more water. This could explain why the acid affected the cystic tissue more than the healthy tissue.

      That said, you mentioned that in the end you had ‘a raw hole’ in your leg. So it seems it might have burned away also some healthy tissue.

      As to why ACV worked when OTC treatment didn’t. Probably because you could never buy anything as strong as ACV over the counter. Anything strong enough to burn through cysts and skin should only be used by doctors or other qualified practitioners who can take precautions against infections and other possible complications.

      • Here’s an update… the cystic tissue is completely gone and the area is healed. The scar is very noticeable at this point in time, but it took a looooong time to completely fill in so it may yet fade.

        My verdict is that I would definitely do this again. This remedy is not for the faint of heart. But it can be for someone who has an incredibly high deductible and can’t afford to have minor issues dealt with by a doctor. (And also is meticulous about cleanliness and sterilization throughout the “ordeal”).

        I did appreciate your feedback, however. It’s nice to bounce ideas off of people who have taken the time to look into issues. Even if, at the end of the day, I did not follow your advice, I felt like I was prepared for any negative consequences.

        I do have a tiny quibble with you picking at my use of the word “target”. I am sure most people understand that the vinegar is not intelligently targeting the cystic tissue. But I do think it’s possible that something about the tissue reacts differently with the acid in the vinegar and is more susceptible to being broken down (versus the healthy skin). I did nothing special to protect the surrounding skin and it was fine. Granted, I only had the ACV on for about 24 hours and I monitored the area closely. And someone else with more sensitive skin might react much differently. In the future, I will take more care to protect the surrounding skin. I am still a little shocked that the entire lump was completely burned away so quickly!

        I am not trying to make a believer out of you. I think this is one of those treatments that should come with a lot of caveats and caution and you are right to caution people! But after seeing all the warnings that follow prescription medicines, I am not averse to the possibility of side effects with natural remedies. If we insisted that all treatment be 100% safe, 100% of the time, we would have very little medicine in the world!

        Thanks again for your time!

        • Thanks for posting the update. I think we are more or less on the same page here. I do agree that ACV can be very potent and that one should use it with caution or it may cause serious harm. And I’m glad to hear the treatment worked for you. Given that healthcare is much cheaper where I live, I probably wouldn’t use AVC myself. But I can see the rationale for someone with high deductibles. I’m also glad to hear you approached this rationally and with mind open to the fact that ACV can do harm. Some people tend to think that AVC is natural and therefore automatically safe.

  26. One thing I can say is that ACV did actually work for me, but after prolonged use I did experience skin burns and when using it for acne I did actually have my eyes swell up and my face so I did half to stop using it. The basic point is I think that it works for some people but some people can have problems depending on their skin type and different reactions to it.

  27. I had two large genital warts, I tried everything , I burned them off with acid, and I cut them off, but they always came back. It was only when I applied bragg apple cider vinegar with mother, that they went away for good. Applied the raw vinegar on a cotton ball directly to the wart for a few hours at a time, each night, they went white, then black, at this point the skin around the warts was very raw, so I stopped using the vinegar, the whole area scabbed over, looked terrible. But then when it all healed up, the warts were gone.

    Do not use this on very sensitive areas, it can do major damage and scar, but it does destroy warts completely.

  28. Ok, in all this “truth” it is interesting to me that you would post pictures of “chemical burns” that are clearly NOT. In the first picture you can see a few stitches from a puncture wound. And brusing. None of that is a skin burn induced by a chemical. The second picture says “deep ulcer” again not a chemical burn OF ANY kind, and I have a VERY DEEP suspicion of ACV doing anything close to that to anyone. What’s up with the fear tactic???

    • Feel free to check the references at the end of the post. All the pictures are taken from published medical case reports. I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to believe that an acid, i.e. vinegar, could cause chemical burns.

      • I just wanted to say thank you for your comments! I made the mistake of reading another cite and made a stronger solution of the water and vinegar combo than I should have and my face turned bright red! Only had it on for a few minutes but washed my face after and broke off a leaf from my aloe plant doing several generous applications and was so thankful to see that the redness had subsided! Definitely don’t recommend putting anything like this on your face! I’m no doctor but I can tell you just from that scare I will definitely never do this again. The risk alone is frightening and anything like this over time is more likely to damage/weaken your skin. Thus making the tissue weak and more susceptible to sunburns, skin damage, etc.. Appreciate your information and to all the readers out there “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!!” 😉

  29. Hm, interesting. Do you have any idea about the effect it might have on skin pH via topical application?

    If we can damage our acid mantle with alkaline soaps, then is it possible to restore it with slightly acidic topicals?

    I’m wondering about it, because ACV helped my acne go away. I use it in conjunction with high linoleic sunflower seed oil (I use the oil as a moisturizer and the ACV as a sort of toner). I can honestly say it helped loads.

    It made my skin smoother around a week after though it took about a month for my acne to finally kick itself in the ass and pack up.

    Oh, and though I agree with you about the potential dangers of using ACV on skin (and being stupid about it) but I have to say that it is way cheaper than any cream with salicylic acid and lasts long.

    As for the smell… yes, it is horrible and it did bother me at first. I think it sort of grows on you, though. lol.

    My boyfriend says I smell like fish and chips. But then, that’s his favorite snack so I THINK he was complimenting me. I THINK.

    I love your articles!

    • It will reduce your skin pH and that way might improve the skin barrier function. Any acid will do that.

      I’m not surprised ACV reduces acne for some people. It has both keratolytic (skin peeling) and anti-bacterial properties. And it’s much stronger than any cream you can legally buy OTC.

      In your case it’s also possible that applying ACV breaks the top layer of the skin which then allows the oil you apply later penetrate better. Not sure if that matters though as oils generally penetrate the skin fairly easily.

  30. I find it hard to accept credibility from anyone. Most of the testimonials seem a bit biased/deluded, but then even here there’s evidence of talking without actually knowing about whats being discussed. For example, “vinegar is a product of bacterial fermentation”. Last time I checked, although bacterial fermentation is a thing, alcohol and vinegar is fermented with yeast, which is a fungus. It seems like everybody just tries to sound like they know what they’re talking about, but nobody really does

    • I’m not asking you to accept credibility from me. By all means check my sources and fact-check what I’ve said here. And if you find something that’s wrong, by all means let me know and I’ll correct it.

      I made the statement that vinegar is fermented by bacteria from the top of my head, the points made in this post stand regardless of whether vinegar is fermented by bacteria or yeast. Since you pointed it out, I checked and it seems that traditionally vinegar has been fermented by acetobacteria, but now it’s a product of fermentation by yeast and bacteria.

  31. Anyone reading this article MUST understand that the writer is selling/promoting acne related books and/or products. The obvious Modus Operandi for such writers is to be critical of any possible cost effective remedy, not to help/protect people but to frustrate and scare the desperate reader into buying the book or product he is pushing. There are better sites to visit people.

    • You know, your comment might make sense if I didn’t talk about diet, green tea, antioxidants, topical vitamin C and B3, gut healing and other such remedies. All of those, by the way, have reasonably good evidence to support them and they are based on biologically plausible mechanism of action. Anyone is free to read about those things on the website without buying anything.

      Furthermore, you are making the begging the question fallacy in your comment. Your comment assumes that ACV is effective against acne and then you deride me for trying to steer people away from this proven remedy for my own gain and profit. What I tried to do in this post is to examine whether ACV actually is effective on acne.

  32. Just an FYI. I have been using ACV on my face and scalp for about 6 months now. I started off slow with a 20% dilute with water, pushed to 50%, and now to 100%. I suffer from ingrown hairs from shaving and also scalp folliculitis that stems from a staph infection I got at a gym years ago. Gross, I know… Now, not here to argue, but I have to say, this stuff is magic for me personally. I am half hispanic/half caucasian. I have olive skin. I have not had a pimple or ingrown hair in months. My scalp is still purging occasionally, but its gotten better. I get ZERO skin irritation. I also know people who do the same thing as me and have the same results, perhaps even better.

    The bottom line is every “body” is different. DNA, skin tone, etc etc etc. This is coming from someone who was on Accutane and now has permanent damage in his stomach that cannot be corrected.

    The skin issues above are noted, but appear to be severe cases. Also, I leave the ACV on all night while Im sleeping. Once again, no irritation. I don’t suggest anyone to start off without diluting. But over time, like anything, the body adjusts and self corrects, and adapts. Perhaps it has something to do with the melon inherently in my skin. But when I put certain lotions on my face, my face gets irritated and red. Go figure.

    Hope everyone has a great day – Jerome

    • Glad to hear AVC is working for you, but keep in mind that other people who have done as you do have suffered serious chemical burns. I’m not saying ACV doesn’t, or couldn’t, work. Just that it’s a fairly serious acid to put on the skin and one should be careful with it.

  33. Let me start by saying that I do not use apple cider vinegar. I have a bottle in my cabinet for cooking purposes, but that’s as far as I go with it the stuff. Therefore, I do not have a biased opinion either way about apple cider vinegar.
    That said, your arrogance is astounding. You claim to write critically and from a scientific standpoint, however this is completely untrue. You have a serious bias against apple cider vinegar, maybe because you never found it, maybe because you hate anything you don’t already know about, or maybe just because you think it’s fun to be the angry antagonist. In any case, your article is anything but critical and scientific. You are downright rude to any reader who feels differently than you and that is why the readers who believe in apple cider vinegar are angry.
    You did not write this article from a scientific standpoint, to say you did is ludicrous.
    And the lack of evidence that you mention shows just how little you actually know about science. A study does not have to be done in a lab for there to be credible evidence. All of the people who say that apple cider vinegar has helped them are the evidence. Of course, what works for one person will certainly not work for everyone, but for that one person, that is all the evidence that they need.
    If you have never tried using apple cider vinegar for healing or helping anything, you are not and cannot be in a position to be critical of it, and I’m guessing you haven’t since you find it so repulsing.
    My point is that writing from an arrogant, biased, and rude standpoint makes you look unintelligent. You don’t seem to be any type of scientist and to put yourself in a category with Einstein, by name’s sake, is truly insulting to the brilliant man.

    • If you think that there are factual errors in the post, please be so kind as to point them out. Criticizing me for being biased against ACV without supporting the argument with anything isn’t really useful.

      The experience people have may be all the evidence they need, I’m not arguing that. But anecdotal experience is not science and doesn’t count as scientific evidence. It can be a starting point of a more rigorous investigation, but scientists have since long figured out that anecdotes and personal stories are very unreliable. Mainly because they are not controlled.

      We don’t know what else was going on. The person could have made other changes. Perhaps they had less stress. Perhaps the weather changed. All of these could affect the skin. And because of that we can’t conclude from anecdotes alone that ACV caused the improvement. It could have, but it’s equally possible it was something else.

      This is what I’ve been saying to everyone who tells me they got clear after ACV. If you think that’s rude and arrogant, then you are welcome to your opinion. But perhaps you’ll find that many disagree with you.

      Curious that you seem to think I hate ACV and have never used it. Because applying critical thinking to ACV clearly constitutes hate speech. I have used it, that’s why I know it stinks and tasted horrible. It had absolutely no effect on me, but my experience is irrelevant.

      Finally, and I say this to everyone who criticizes me. If you find a factual error in the post, please let me know and I’ll set it straight.

  34. Thanks for this article. I applied ACV to a blemish for only a minute and had a large red chemical burn- kind of like a sunburn. Luckily I did not leave it for longer or my skin could have began to really react. I also used to drink ACV because of all of the information that claimed it would help my acid reflux- but I found that it only burned my throat more- and gave me an upset stomach. While some people’s body might be more tolerant of it- mine does not seem to respond well to ACV. I believe in natural remedies and frequently take supplements, but I am aware that these things are not a substitute for actual medication. Anything that sounds too good to be true- probably is. I think ACV is one of those things.

    • Happy to hear you didn’t suffer any serious harm from ACV. I do disagree with you little bit on the notion that supplements and natural remedies are not always a substitute for actual medication. During my research I’ve come across more than a handful that work as well as prescription medications. After all, many drugs are purified and perhaps slightly modified versions of some naturally occurring substances.

      That of course means many natural remedies have the capacity to cause harm – just like drugs can. Green tea extract, for example, can cause liver damage and even death in doses that one can easily get from commercially available supplements.

  35. Hello Seppo,

    When talking about false claims it would help your story if you did cite your sources. For example that woman that inflicted a deep ulcer on herself or that Moroccan girl with dental erosion. Where can we read that and check the reliability of those claims?

    Kind regards,

    Judith Tankink.

  36. Hi Seppo,

    I must apologize. I was reading your article on my phone and missed the references link.

    Kind regards, Judith.

  37. You look for proof, but just like some over the counter medicines or even prescribed. Some people it works others it does not. Your proof is in the people that it does help. There are no 100% cures out there and nowadays everything is a risk. Can you say with 100% certainty that your alternative cures have helped everyone that has purchased it? I’m sure I can find data and information that says otherwise.if the FDA approves of drugs that take away 1 symptom but give you 13 as a side effect and 1 of them is sudden death.. Yes I don’t think there approval is what I’m looking for. From what I see the vast majority says it works, not just some websites touting it but people, real live people and that I do believe. So I’ll leave it as for some people it works and others it does not. If it does great.. If it doesn’t move on to the next but at least you know you gave it a try and found out for yourself. PEOPLE can recommend a bunch of stuff, it’s up to you to take it orleave it. Also as per research statistics, people are more likely to post Negative reviews rather than positive ones so think about that as well.

    • I’m not quite sure what are you trying to say. Yes, no drug works 100% of the time. I never said or implied anything like that.

      Real people have been sharing their experiences for hundreds and hundreds of year. Despite all the sharing medicine didn’t make much progress until the 20th century. It also happens to be the time when we started applying the scientific method to medicine. It took controlled experiments and rational thinking until medicine finally stated making real progress.

      PEOPLE are still free to try and experiment with ACV even after reading this post. Some people appreciate more rational discussion on this, you are apparently not one of them.

      Your comment about people being more prone to write negative reviews might apply to paid products, but I’m fairly certain it’s opposite for natural treatments like ACV.

      • “Your comment about people being more prone to write negative reviews might apply to paid products, but I’m fairly certain it’s opposite for natural treatments like ACV.”

        To be fair, some “natural” treatments like the Oil Cleansing Method get just as much flak as they do praise (rightfully so), so your claim isn’t completely true. However I think it stands that people are more prone to write reviews if their result was positive, which causes bias. And people reviewing natural products will often justify a lack of results with “but it was cheap, so it’s worth a shot”, so in that way what you said is on the right track.

        That aside, I’m very impressed by how well you are able to hold your own against the insulting and sometimes irrational comments you received. Some of them completely miss the point of your article and jump to emotionally-spurred conclusions, which I wouldn’t be able to respond to without getting riled up myself, but you handle them so professionally. Kudos to you!

        I appreciate you writing this unbiased analysis on ACV — I wouldn’t have known about some of the potential side effects and myths if I hadn’t read this article. Though it didn’t stop me from drinking my first heavily-diluted dose of ACV before dinner tonight, I felt more comfortable knowing what I was getting myself into, and indirectly I discovered I have a LOT to learn about my acne and its causes… I can’t just slather oil on my face because it’s a holy grail for someone else (thanks for nothing, OCM). My period which normally lasts for 7 days ended after only 4, and since it ended a few days ago my acne has gone berserk even without any significant environmental/regimen changes (I was in California for a week but it’s only a little more humid/hot than my home state). Not only that but I’ve been having some unpleasant digestive issues. I think this is a warning that I’m having some gut problems and I’m glad I found out about this connection through your website. If this doesn’t work out then I have no choice but to make some lifestyle changes lol. Thanks again for the article.

  38. You should dilute the vinegar with water before applying directly to your skin. NEVER apply 100% vinegar to your skin for any duration of time – it is an acid!

    That said, I used to have frequent flare ups of athletes foot from the sixth grade on up to my thirties. I dutifully applied prescription and over the counter creams for weeks at a time… only to see the stuff come back in a month.

    I applied ACV to a wet paper towel, then rubbed it on my feet & between toes. I did this every night for a few days. On day three, the itching stopped. On day five, the fungus was gone.

    All I can say is that for me, 20+ years of using anti-fungal creams did nothing but ease the itch for a few weeks and cost $15/tube.

    Less than $1 of ACV and paper towels seems to have killed the stuff for good. It’s been five years and I haven’t had athletes foot since.

  39. As far as fighting acne… I’d tend to agree that ACV is not a true acne fighter. There is no substitute for proper hygiene, washing your face, exercise, staying hydrated, and eating well.

    So if you use it, be sure to dilute it with water before applying directly to your skin.

    While vinegar can help to…
    – Kill bacteria
    – Kill fungus
    – Exfoliate skin
    – Tighten pours

    … there are definitely other ways to achieve the same or better results.

    The allure of vinegar is that it’s so inexpensive. A jug of the stuff can be purchased for $2-3 at any food or health store. That’ll last you several months. So if money is your motivation, it *can* sorta work… but there are more effective treatments.

    I have used ACV when I get flare ups of razor burn. Seems to help my skin and I see results in 1-2 days. I think Neosporin works better. I used it at night so I didn’t have to smell like feet all day. And I diluted it with water by applying to a wet paper towel. I just rub it on my face for about 20 seconds, then let my skin air dry.

    If you use it for more than a week or its too concentrated, you might notice your face looking a little burned. ACV makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, and it is an acid that can chemically burn your skin. If you use it, dilute it. And use briefly once daily for no more than a week.

  40. Love it. Hate it. Whatever. Everyone’s skin is different and may react differently, and if you use it wrong you’ll get burned just like anything else. There’s so many toner recipes, you just have to find what works just like other natural remedies. Some can handle full strength, some can only do 25% you should know if you have sensitive skin already so don’t risk it and be conservative. You can always add more if needed.

    I personally dig it, and I don’t mind the scent or flavor. I spent my childhood drinking pickle juice… I’ve never had a single cavity or issue with my teeth. Now, I don’t attribute that to consuming mass quantities of vinegar as a kid, I genetically just have healthy teeth and I brush/floss several times a day. However, I did read an article recently (see link) that recommends starting slowly with topical application and swishing with baking soda and water after each tangy dose of ACV to balance the ph in the mouth, to protect the teeth.

  41. I drink apple cider vinegar whenever I get a pimple and its gone within days. Just wanted to let you know it does work for some.

  42. Seppo, I must take your ACV comments and pics with a grain of salt. If you’re advocating or selling your own method it pretty much invalidates your results.

    • Perhaps you would kindly point out where these nefarious conflicts of interests caused me to distort the facts in the post? What exactly is wrong? Where did I lie or distort facts for my own benefit? Also, wonder why this conflict of interest didn’t prevent me from writing good things about coconut oil, green tea, diet and other topics where credible scientific evidence exists.

  43. I disagree with you greatly on this article. People react differently to ACV. Besides you simply took your so called “evidence” to scare people away from ACV. All I saw was facts this and facts that. Do you have any problems with yourself that you tested with ACV to see if it would help? Well for a matter of fact I personally did. Obviously. Well I didn’t change my diet or any hapits I had. I starting consuming 2 tablespoons of ACV in a large glass of water to help with my mild-severe acne. Within a few days I could already see a differance. On health websites it clearly states that it helps regulate your PH which also cured a yeast infection(sorry if tmi) and also varicose veins. but I recommend using topical. 1:3 ratio of ACV to water. Apply to a SMALL area to see if you have any bad reaction. Those people you said that got serious burns are obviously stupid to put ACV straight on their skin and not wash off imediatly afterwards. Their are dumb people in this world and you showed only that.

    • So you have a problem with this article.. well.. fantastic. Perhaps you care to point out which of the facts listed in the article are wrong.

      Also, where in the article I stated that ACV cannot and won’t work? I mentioned that the only plausible (known) mechanism of action is an increase in insulin sensitivity, which could be helpful for people struggling with acne. And the effect is in no way limited to ACV. Any vinegar, even the, gasp, highly processed white vinegar has the same effect.

      I find it interesting that so many people get up in arms when someone takes even a modestly critical look at this miracle liquid that’s hyped to cure just about every disease known to man.. curiously, those diseases still exists.

      Also, it’s good to see that empathy and understanding of our shared humanity are alive and well among the more.. enthusiastic.. members of the natural health community. Perhaps these people you label stupid followed the instructions of some articles on those health websites that advocate using undiluted ACV. Or maybe they wanted faster results and decided to use it undiluted without knowing it can be dangerous.

      Given that there’s a real potential for harm, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to state explicitly the risks. Because not all of us can be as smart and rational beacons of progress as you are.

  44. I have never replied to an article before but I simply had to because I couldn’t disagree with your article more.. I have suffered with adult acne for nearly 10 years and tried every skin product on the market with an array of acids. Nothing ever completely cleared my acne. I would wake up every day with at least one new spot despite spending hundreds a month on proactiv and other expensive skin products. Despite all your “research”, have you actual tried this as a topical product? It has completely changed my skin and actions speak louder than words or research. I decided 6 months ago to change my diet and lifestyle in an attempt to cure my acne. I switched to gluten free because I had a lot of symptoms to suggest and intolerance and this helped somewhat but I still didn’t have the clear skin I desired. I also did my research and found a lot of positive comments about coconut cleansing and other oils. I read that coconut oil could block the pores but hemp seed oil was non-comodegenic and this is also where I read about the ACV. I was also skeptical but decided to try it. So far I have had nothing but fantastic results. My spots have gone my face looks really clean and for the first time in 10 years I am happy to walk around without make up and my head held high. I am not talking about ingesting ACV, I have not tried that. I am simply applying as a toner mixed with water. Yes it does smell a little when you apply it but actually the smell disappears as soon as it dries out. It does not burn, you need to mix it and not apply directly to the skin. So.. In answer to your question “I don’t know why people can’t just use a salicylic acid”… The reasons are a) chemicals can never be better than a natural product for the body and remembering that everything you apply to your skin absorbs into the bloodstream, doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that chemicals in the blood can’t really be a good thing, b) it’s so much cheaper c) it works PERIOD. I would advise anyone to try this method. It has changed my life 😀 #benatural #befreeofacne

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Samantha. I, honestly, am happy to hear you found something that works for you.

      You said that you “couldn’t disagree more with your article”, and yet the only thing you’ve said is that it works for me ‘my research’ is wrong. I don’t think anywhere in the post I said that ACV does not work, cannot work, or said that nobody should use it. I did say that based on the evidence, I wouldn’t personally use it.

      I also stated that it’s plausible that using it topically could help acne. There’s no evidence to show it does (nobody has studied it), but given that acetic acid is, indeed, an acid and that vinegar has some antibacterial properties, it could work.

      I also pointed out the potential risks when it’s used improperly. Given that there are websites advising people to use undiluted ACV on the skin, I think it’s reasonable to make people aware of the risks. Fortunately, most people don’t use undiluted ACV, but some do.

      So I don’t know what exactly is it that you disagree with. If you expected to find unfettered hype, I’m sorry, but you won’t find it on this website. There are plenty of other websites people can go to read unverified anecdotes.

      The whole purpose is to look at things critically and what the scientific evidence says. In that context, your comment that I shouldn’t write about things I haven’t personally tried is silly. Not to mention that I have tried ACV, but my personal experience is not relevant.

      The reasons are a) chemicals can never be better than a natural product for the body and remembering that everything you apply to your skin absorbs into the bloodstream, doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that chemicals in the blood can’t really be a good thing

      No, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist. But it does take a scientist, or someone who understands science, to realize that everything is made of chemicals. It takes a scientist to realize that even ‘natural products’ have dangerous chemicals in them. As I explained in this post, an apple contains chemicals used in the tanning of leather, and manufacturing of nail polish, jet fuel, and toilet bowl cleaners. Nature produced all of these chemicals and put into apples.

      Furthermore, acetic acid, the main chemical in apple cider vinegar, has many industrial uses, including making photographic films and glue. It’s also used as a solvent for paints and varnishes.

      It takes a scientist to realize that dose makes the poison – not the chemical itself.

      Finally, many of the “chemicals” used in the skin care products you speak against are as natural as acetic acid. A few examples, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are not called fruit acids for no reason. These include glycolic, lactic, and citric acids – all isolated from natural products. In fact, acetic acid can also be considered as an AHA. Salicylic acid is isolated from a willow bark – also a natural product. Retinol is a natural form of vitamin A. These are the main ‘alternatives’ to ACV.

      I’m curious, why do you denounce these are ‘dangerous chemicals’, but are happy to promote acetic acid as natural, healthy and wholesome? What exact criteria lead you to this conclusion?

      If I come across as rude or offensive, please note that none was intended or given. My point is to challenge some of the unstated premises in your comment. Because they lead you to conclusions that aren’t supported by science or evidence.

  45. Hi! Just came across your article after applying ACV to my face on a small painful under the skin zit…… I now have a silver dollar size swollen painful lump on my chin where the once smal zit was….. any recommendations to reduce swelling….. Yes chemical burns to happen when ACV is applied over night……. That’s another story. Sigh.

  46. This reminds me once again how easy it is to be deceived through the internet. Even Dr. Oz swears by Apple Cider Vinager, may I remind everyone that even Dr. Oz himself went to court for promoting a false “miraculous” diet pill before. Anyhow, I do believe that apple ceder vinager has some great properties, but saying that it cures cancer, eliminates toxins, fungi, etc without a proper experiment taking place is just delusional.
    Believe what you will, but that is called pseudo science. Don’t go calling it facts because it worked for you or your cousin’s daughter’s best friend. That is not how theories came to be, nor how medicine works now a days.
    It is decieving, and makes me lose my temper because younger me believed a great part of it. Now, to those of you getting all defensive, I know you want to believe in this flowery perfect scenario. But facts are facts people, don’t go full fan girl on something based on your experience and not statistics.

  47. I do see what you are saying and I agree that the masses are quick to jump on the detox solution to solve all their problems and it will go away forever.

    However, there is a direct link to diet and lifestyle and living better. I am not one of those assholes who points out that the reason people suffer is because of what they do to themselves. Acne, amongst other pleasantries, has been passed down genetically in my family.
    That being said, drinking a lot of water can do a lot of good for your body. Apple cider vinegar helps get rid of gallstones, as advised by my doctor, at least, which also aids in digestion. But I definitely wouldn’t buy some boxed acv pills or detox bullshit. I would rather buy it and do it on my own. It has helped my acne, but that doesn’t mean it will help and cure everyone else because we all don’t have the same genetics.

    But, if you do eat a healthy diet, you notice positive changes.. they’ll be different for everybody. My blood pressure dropped dramatically, my arthritis went away, no more gallstones and my skin cleared up.

    I can’t say the same if I eat Totinos pizzas and french fries everyday. 😉

    PS, I think the baking soda revolution is hilarious. People pay 8 bucks for some Clearasil magic baking soda facewash for 8 bucks off a product that costs 6 cents on its own. Making it myself has never caused problems, but I can’t say that it works for everyone.

    • Agree that there’s a direct link between healthy diet and lifestyle and living better – even better skin. But this doesn’t mean that everything that gets bundled under the healthy lifestyle umbrella is effective, or even good for you. We have to examine the merits of every treatment. It’s possible that ACV works, but so far nobody has put up a convincing argument supporting it.

  48. Thanks for posting the article. My daughter has eczema, and I’ve been trying different natural remedies like ACV in bath. She didn’t complain, but did started scratching. I didn’t know what it was until recently I’ve tried doing the bath again, and i’ve shaked the bottle with ACV residues in it. My daughter started scratching straight away while still in the bath, and even cried and refused to sit in the water… I think ACV isn’t suitable for everyone…

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. ACV seems like an especially bad choice for someone with eczema. Eczema is, at least partially, due to disruption in the skin barrier that allows foreign substances to pass through and trigger an inflammatory reaction from the immune system. Putting acid on your face, like ACV, likely disrupts the skin barrier even more.

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