Acne & Pimples

Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne: How to Use it

Using apple cider vinegar for acne is one of the most popular natural treatments around.

The problem is that is seems to work so well for some, and for others it can make your skin worse!

So what do you do??

You Will Experience One of Three Outcomes:

A strange phenomenon with using apple cider vinegar on the skin is that you will likely fall into one of three groups:

  1. Apple cider vinegar works AMAZINGLY to clear up acne, this may be all you need!
  2. Meh. It doesn’t hurt, maybe helps reduce oil and pimples a bit. Take it or leave it.
  3. Causes cystic acne! This seems to happen especially around the chin area – after starting to use apple cider vinegar, some people develop deep, painful cysts or breakout more.

Unfortunately, the only way to know is to try it out. But that is okay because this page will show you how.

And by the way – no this isn’t necessarily your skin “purging”…

A purge might be some smaller whiteheads or a few breakouts that were already forming coming to the surface.

But if you start developing deeper pimples or cysts that is your skin reacting. Stop using it (you will want to anyway!)

You can also try doing a “patch test” first by applying it to small area of your face only for a few days and see how it goes.

Okay, let’s get on with how to use it.

First: Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe To Use On Your Skin?

Yes it is.

However it can be over-drying and may even burn sensitive skins due to the acidity.

This can cause dried up red patches that can be painful.

So do use caution (like with anything). And consider the “patch test” above if you are unsure.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Acne

1. How To Use It As A Spot Treatment

Apple cider vinegar applied directly to a pimple or cyst can help to “shrink” it.

It works similar to applying rubbing alcohol to a spot (which is also a great, easy home treatment by the way, and no less drying than ACV!).

Here’s how:

  • As a spot treatment you can try using ACV neat (undiluted). Simply apply some with a cotton pad directly to a pimple or cyst – being careful of the surrounding skin
  • It might sting for a few seconds! But this won’t last – if it does, rinse off with water
  • Applying once in the evening should be enough as it can be drying and irritating if used too often
  • If your skin is already dry or sensitive, or becomes so after trying this – use a diluted solution of one third water to two thirds ACV
  • Add more water if needed – but keep in mind, as a spot treatment it needs to be fairly strong. If your skin doesn’t like it, it might be best to try something else to get rid of acne

Use An Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

It’s just as easy as it sounds – you can use apple cider vinegar as a natural, homemade toner.

Some swear by this as a way to rebalance skin, and because you will using it diluted it is less likely to cause irritation:

  • After cleansing and drying your skin, apply a mixture of half water/half ACV over your face with a cotton pad
  • Follow with your usual moisturizer

What Type Of Apple Cider Vinegar To Use?

Go for raw, undiluted apple cider vinegar (like this).

This is brown, dirty looking stuff that has “the mother” in it, which is basically the stuff that has all the beneficial acids.

Organic is okay if that’s your thing (“organic” isn’t always important).

How Long Should I Use It For | When Will I See Results?

As long as your skin doesn’t react by drying up, getting irritated, or breaking out more… you can keep using apple cider vinegar as an acne treatment for as long as you wish.

Try it for at least a week. This is the minimum for determining whether it might be making a difference.

After a week you should be able to tell if your breakouts are becoming less severe (shrinking….), oil production is balancing out, or your skin is just starting to clear up.

*Note – when trying anything new – whether a natural treatment or skin care product – it is a good idea to add one thing at a time.

Keep the rest of your skin care routine the same.

This way you will have a better idea if it is the new addition that is actually helping. This is the best way to build up a routine that works really well for you!




  1. I have been using acv for about a month now .. devastated. I suffered from bad acne around November 2018 and was prescribed Lymecycline tablets and adapalene cream for a course of 7 months it worked . My scars cleared over the summer and all was well. By September I had the odd two spots on my face and a few fresh scars left I wanted to get rid of them and tried using acv and NOW MY SKIN IS BACK TO HOW IT WAS LAST NOVEMBER with more scars too🤦🏽‍♀️I’m absolutely frustrated it took so long to do this. This is the 3rd day not using it and I’m sure I will soon see a difference. My advice test atleast only one side of you’re face first because if you have struggled from bad acne and this happens to you it is truly depressing.

  2. Hi,
    I have been using acv diluted with water for 4 weeks now…..the pimples stopped the first week but by the second week I started having painful pimples. Everyday I would get a new pimple causing black spots all over my face. Do I discontinue or just be patient please.

  3. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, most people have success with this toner because it balances out skin. I actually used this as a toner for a few months and noticed that it did improve my acne.

  4. Hi! Ive been using ACV organic with the mother and so far I’ve just gotten tiny little bumps all throughout my face mostly in the forehead they sorta look like oil bumps or clogged pores ? (I have no idea but their ver tiny bumps) And that’s weird bec I started using it to decrease the size of my pores I don’t have any acne but I do have scars? Should I stop using it bec I don’t have acne ? Or does it even help to decrease pores ?

    1. It can’t really do much to decrease pores (unfortunately). You can see this article for lots of details on reducing the appearance of pores:
      As for continuing to use ACV, it sounds like your skin may be reacting to it a bit. This does tend to be an all or nothing product – it is great for some people and can cause these sort of reactions in others. You might like to give it a few more days to see if it adjusts, however if you think it is getting worse or no better, then perhaps it isn’t right for your skin : (
      Hope that helps!

  5. I used apple cider vinegar , diluted obviously . On my face 3 days In a row, my acne was gone by day 2 of using it but day 3 my face broke out in a terrible rash . I’ve had this rash for 5 days now and it won’t go away , I’ve tried aloe Vera gel, petroleum jelly and Ice and none of these things helped at all


  6. Hi. This is Mea, I’ve been using the ACV toner for 3 weeks now going 4 weeks this coming Jun 2. I have experienced purging as they say when small bumps appear to where you commonly got acne. Now the bumps subsided but I noticed that my breakouts on my chin and forehead have increased compare to usual, some are even painful and cystic. Do you think I should continue? Hope you can help mo on this please. Thanks 🙂

  7. Hi there. I have been using ACV as a toner 2x a day. I started this past Sunday with a dilution of 1:3 ACV/water (started with 1:2 but this was too strong on the first go). I spray it onto a cotton round and apply it to my face. After it dries, I put on my moisturizer. With each application so far, I have developed an increase in breakouts with small, fine bumps (sometimes red, ? rash) around my cheek areas and sides of my face/temples. They eventually go away before the next application. I also noticed that if I sprayed less toner on the cotton, then the breakout seemed to be less. So I diluted it further to 1:4 and used that this morning with much less breakout. This is the 5th day. I can’t tell if this is a purge or my skin reacting. Should I continue with this regimen for another 2 weeks? Or dilute it further if it doesn’t seem to be improving after another 5 days or so? Would adding essential oils be helpful to calm my skin? I really appreciate your insight and suggestions. Thank you!

  8. hi I’m Jen, I’ve been using the ACV for 2 weeks now and it looks like my face has more pimple showed but my older pimple its dries up. and i think this is a good sign? Isn’t it ? or should i keep using it?

    1. Hi Jen! Hmmm, I would try it for another 2 weeks and see if there is any improvement in “new” pimples forming. If there continues to be more after that long, then it might be best to discontinue using it. And of course, when you DO discontinue using it make sure to pay attention to if your skin starts improving – that is the best way to tell. If you start getting less pimples when you stop, it was likely the ACV. If you continue to get the same amount or things don’t improve, it may be due to something else 🙂
      You could also try just using it as a spot treatment instead of all over – you’ve had success with it drying out pimples, so perhaps it works really well for you that way. Hope this helps!

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