What is Apple Cider Vinegar
Long known as a folk remedy, the magic of apple cider vinegar has been rediscovered in the 21st Century, as a supplement to treat many illnesses and a natural wrinkle-fighting skin alternative.
Also used for cleaning and cooking purposes, apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice, using yeast and bacteria to convert its natural sugars to alcohol. Referring to it simply as a folk remedy may be misleading as its use dates back thousands of years, with Hippocrates, (460 – c. 370 BC), using it to treat and disinfect wounds. And the father of modern medicine lived to be 90, a great testimonial right there.
Surprisingly, despite centuries of use, no in-depth studies have been conducted into the effectiveness of ACV. So, in 2020, many sources claim apple cider vinegar has no nutritional or medicinal value, while others swear by its many health benefits, claiming that it may:
- Lower cholesterol and improve heart health
- Reduce blood sugar levels and fight diabetes, and
- Help with weight loss, specifically reduction of the proverbial "stubborn belly fat."
Bright & Glowy Skin
Its weight loss, diabetes, and cancer-fighting properties may be in doubt, but ACV's effectiveness as a natural skincare product is easier to document, if only with the naked eye. Often used to deep-clean hair, when diluted with several parts water to one part vinegar and used as a toner, apple cider vinegar also may have powerful skincare and anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its combination of acetic and alpha hydroxy acids.
"This means apple cider vinegar can exfoliate the skin, absorb excess oils and unplug blocked pores. It also has the power to restore the proper pH levels to your skin. The right pH balance keeps the outer layer of your skin, the acid mantle, nice and healthy, which is what gives your skin that bright, glowy look," reads a piece by Erica Young on the Taste of Home blog. She also offers a simple recipe for making your toner at home.
The most important thing to remember - ACV is potent stuff. So always dilute it heavily before applying to your face, hands, or other areas of your body.
Proceed With Caution
A piece in Real Simple offers thoughts from dermatologist Dr. Raechele Cochran Gathers, who says, "Many claim ACV can help alleviate eczema and acne, fade fine lines, and make skin appear brighter and more youthful. People use it as a toner for the skin and to help treat acne-prone areas." However, she also emphasizes that there are no scientific studies confirming its effectiveness, adding, "Before jumping to ACV, I'd recommend getting evaluated by your dermatologist first."
Men's health quotes a cautiously optimistic Dr. Michael Kassardjian, who says, "In general, apple cider vinegar may have antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties…However, ACV must be used with caution on the skin, as it may cause major irritation when applied topically without being diluted, leading to burns or blisters."
Other Possible Benefits
Beyond toning and wrinkle reduction, when used properly, apple cider vinegar may help improve other key skin issues, including sunburn and age spots.
For sunburn, some experts claim it accelerates the healing process while easing pain. One treatment option is to combine half a cup of ACV with four cups of cool water, dip a washcloth in the solution and apply to the affected areas several times a day until the symptoms improve.
Finally, because it has natural exfoliating acids, apple cider vinegar may not only help firm up those proverbial fine lines and wrinkles but reduce age spots.
For this treatment, you'll want to carefully apply a dab of undiluted (or slightly diluted) vinegar to the spot and then wash it off in about half an hour. Following this routine once or twice daily for several weeks may make a significant difference. When using full-strength vinegar, be especially careful when applying and remember to rinse thoroughly.
While many authorities swear by ACV as an effective treatment for wrinkles, sunburn, sagging skin, age spots, and more, remember, up to now there's been minimal actual scientific research into the effectiveness of this household remedy. So, all these recommendations must be taken lightly until you try them for yourself.
However, if you're looking for a skincare alternative to expensive prescriptions or chemical-heavy OTC treatments, try apple cider vinegar and see if it works for you.