Those of you on the lookout for products that help improve the health and look of your skin probably know about apple cider vinegar (ACV). This tart and aromatic vinegar has become extremely popular as a versatile product for healthy and younger looking skin.
The question has been posed, however, whether its popularity is due more to the celebrity endorsements than to scientific proof. It is, after all, mostly the testimonies of personalities like Miranda Kerr and Katy Perry that have made ACV a star in its own right. Even the Hollywood A-lister, Jennifer Aniston, admits that her use of this vinegar in her skincare routine may be largely a result of hearsay than actual scientific proof.
In an interview for Harper’s Bazaar, Aniston talks about health trends and says that they change all the time, and someone may say, ‘Oh my God! Don’t you take activated charcoal?’ She admits that you then google it to see what the benefits are, or of dandelion, or turmeric, or whatever. And she is now doing apple cider vinegar in the morning.
So just how beneficial is it really, and how might it be used to improve our own skincare routines?
Apple cider vinegar for skincare
Our skin is the barrier, both physical and chemical, between our body’s inner workings and the environment. This means that it can be damaged by various factors, such as overexposure to sunlight (UV rays), cuts and wounds, dryness, malnutrition, smoking and the natural aging process. All these can leave scars, flakiness, wrinkles, sunburn, and even oxidants or free radicals that harm our skin.
The good news is that we can lessen skin damage and improve the health of skin by avoiding refined sugars, eating fruits and vegetables, and other skin-healthy foods rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E.
Apple cider vinegar provides benefits for your skin both when you drink it and when it is applied to your skin. We present some of the benefits which have been researched:
ACV acts as a probiotic product that helps support digestion by encouraging the growth of the good bacteria in your gut. The presence of good bacteria also helps to reduce inflammation and free radical damage (oxidative stress), thus also clearing up skin problems.
Helps regulate blood sugar levels
The vinegar can help to improve the absorption of sugar in people with insulin resistance and helps to lower blood sugar levels. People who have lower levels of blood sugar tend to look younger.
Slows down accumulation of body fat
Body fat can turn into unattractive skin folds, and vice-versa. Acetic acid is one of the main components in vinegar and has been found to regulate the relevant proteins and genes and thus suppress the accumulation of both body fat and liver fat.
Reduces appearance of ‘spider’ veins on skin
Patients with swollen varicose veins who applied apple cider vinegar to the affected areas of skin whilst undergoing medical treatment noticed that the veins were less visible after the treatment.
Reduces sun damage
Vinegar has certain plant-based compounds, polyphenols, which protect the skin against free radical, or oxidative, damage and lessens the risk of cancer development.
Side effects of Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is an acidic and fermented product and, as such, should be used cautiously.
Those people who have gut sensitivity to wine or sauerkraut or other vinegary, fermented foods should avoid ingesting ACV because it can cause nausea, sweating, dizziness, vomiting or anxiety. You can also check skin sensitivity by applying a diluted amount of ACV to a small patch of skin and waiting to see the reaction.
You should never drink or use the vinegar in an undiluted form. ACD is acidic and can burn the mouth, esophagus, skin and can erode teeth.
Those taking medication should consult their doctor before incorporating ACV into their diets.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Skincare
Enjoy ACV in foods and drinks
You can take advantage of the health benefits of ACV by incorporating it in your cooking or using it in salads, coleslaw or other sour vegetable dishes. To make a savory dressing for dark green vegetables or potatoes, simply mix one tablespoon of ACV with one of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of minced garlic, some chopped basil leaves, and a little black pepper. Drizzle this over the vegetables for a tart and tasty side dish.
If you want to try drinking it on its own, it should be diluted – 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar in one cup of water, and drank before meals twice a day.
ACV can be used to make natural skincare products for home use. Use your creativity and try them out:
Multi-purpose skin toner
Mix ACV with water in a 1:4 ratio. This can be sprayed on a clean face 2-3 times to lighten dark areas or to even out skin tone. Let it dry naturally, and repeat several times a day, as you like.
Mix ACV with water in a 1:1 ratio. This can be applied to any areas of your body affected by fungal infection, except eyes and other sensitive areas. Leave the mixture on for 30 minutes and then rinse off. Repeat as necessary until there is improvement.
Healthy vinegar bath
Add 1-2 cups of ACV to your bathtub filled with warm water. Soak for around 20 minutes then rinse with cool water. This treatment helps nourish your skin and also reduces body odor.
Treatment for eczema
Mix ACV with water in a 4:6 ratio. Dab this with a cotton ball onto the area affected with eczema twice a day to relieve the symptoms and continue until there is improvement.
More Skin Care Tips
It’s best to supplement the incorporation of ACV with the following tips to get and keep skin healthy and youthful looking:
- Do what you can to reduce stress. Psychological stress has been shown to keep skin from functioning properly.
- Get around seven hours of sleep every night. People that are sleep-deprived usually appear more tired, less healthy and less attractive than those who get enough ‘beauty sleep’, according to a 2010 study.
- Eat a healthy diet. This means eating plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as healthy fat. These provide the skin-healthy vitamins and minerals and the healthy fats, like olive oil, help reduce oxidative stress from environmental and sun exposure.
- Limit intake of sugar-sweetened sodas and other beverages. They have been linked to faster aging.
- Remember to apply sunscreen regularly
- Try drinking a glass of red wine with dinner every day. The polyphenols in red wine have antioxidant properties and help fight oxidative cell damage.
So if you want to see what all the hype is about (and do not have gut sensitivity), then go ahead and try it out! It is absolutely packed with probiotics and antioxidants and could well be just what your skin needs!