Apple Cider Vinegar: Secret Beauty Potion?

Apple Cider Vinegar: Secret Beauty Potion?

For as long as there have been folk remedies, apple cider vinegar has been touted as a cure-all for all kinds of skin and hair problems. True, the mild acid is natural, preservative-free, antibacterial, and about as cheap as beauty treatments come. But does it live up to its rep? We asked RealAge's skin- and hair-care expert, dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD, about the four most common claims for apple cider vinegar and whether dousing yourself in its powerful (sourful!) scent is worth it.

True or False? To speed healing of sunburned skin, apply compresses dipped in cold apple cider vinegar.
False. "Rather than offering relief, this might really sting," says Dr. Wechsler. Basically, you're putting an acid on a burn. Ouch. "Instead," she suggests, "just soak the compresses in cold water or dip them in a mixture of cold water and whole milk—the fat in milk is a good skin soother."

True or False? To restore shine to dull hair, rinse it in lukewarm water, douse with 1/4-cup apple cider vinegar mixed into a pint of water, then rinse again with lukewarm water.
True. "The acid in vinegar washes away styling products that can cling to hair despite shampooing. Just be sure to dilute the vinegar in water for gentler action." Colorist Lana Gordon of the Cristophe salon in Beverly Hills seconds the doctor's opinion, but adds one caveat: Because the acid closes the cuticle of each hair strand, tresses are shinier but flatter. In other words, you're trading a little less fullness for a little more gloss.

True or False? Dabbing on apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball is a good astringent for oily, acne-prone skin.
False. "Vinegar is much too drying to the skin's protective barrier. Plus, it stinks!" says Wechsler. "If you want to go the do-it-yourself route, try making your own kinder, gentler toner of 1 part witch hazel to 3 parts water."

True or False? Apple cider vinegar helps control dandruff by killing off the fungus that causes it.
Maybe. "Some reports say cider vinegar zaps the microscopic critters, some say it doesn't. Until we know for sure, why give fungus more growing time when there are so many dandruff shampoos that will quickly solve this itchy, flaky problem? But if you want to try it anyway, use a concentrated rinse of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts warm water."

The payoff for doing things that really help your skin and hair? Far bigger than you'd think. Feeling good about how you look is essential to your self-esteem.

Discover more about healthy skin.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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