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I Tested 8 Different Health And Beauty Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

Everyone talks about the many miracles of coconut oil, but you’ve probably also gotten an earful about the beauty and wellness benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV). This pungent mixture isn’t the stuff of old wives’ tales, either—it’s a legit multitasker.

ACV packs vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, calcium, and potassium, as well as antioxidants called polyphenols. Research has found that consuming it can support heart health and blood sugar function. And after a quick Google search, you’ll see that ACV is just as popular to use on the surface of your bod as it is to consume.

Related: 14 Practical (And Unexpected!) Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

I’m all for natural beauty ingredients, so I was more than eager to incorporate some of this liquid goodness into my routine. Of all the different uses for apple cider vinegar out there, the following seven are said to be the easiest—so I put them to the test.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Toner = Awesome

“Apple cider vinegar contains alpha hydroxy acid, which helps to exfoliate the skin,” explains board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D. “It also helps your skin maintain a good pH balance,” she adds.

Knowing the benefits of alpha hydroxyl acid for the skin, I was more than willing to use ACV as a toner.

I will say that my skin is a little sensitive, so I diluted two tablespoons of ACV in four tablespoons of water before I used it. (If your skin is sensitive, I’d recommend going with this dilution to avoid any potential irritation.) I used a cotton ball to apply the vinegar mixture onto my face so that my skin could soak up all those awesome acids. Once the ACV had dried, I went on with my regular skin-care routine and applied my moisturizer.

Overall, the diluted ACV proved to be a really awesome toner for my skin. Not only did my face feel clean and refreshed, it wasn’t overly dry afterward, which is a common issue I have had after using other toners.

2. ACV Makes For A Semi-Helpful Mouthwash

Some mouthwashes are filled with harsh and/or artificial ingredients, making ACV a pretty attractive alternative for anyone trying to clean up their daily routine. Same goes for your oral care. Again, diluting your vinegar is key here—I made the mistake of slugging back a good mouthful of undiluted vinegar and immediately had to spit it out. (I think my mouth went into shock from the intense flavor.) I did, however, manage to successfully gargle with three tablespoons of water and one tablespoon of vinegar.

As far as odor control goes, I can’t say that the vinegar made my (sometimes noticeably) bad breath go away entirely. It certainly didn’t make it worse, but I do feel like I gave off salad dressing vibes for a little while there…so I’m not sure I’d swish again.

3. ACV Is Worth Pouring ALL Over Your Hair

I’m all about DIY hair rinses—I’ve dumped everything from beer to soda over my head in a quest for the hair of my dreams. Unsurprisingly, those two sensational Internet-beloved rinses didn’t work out as well as I hoped, so I was curious to see how apple cider vinegar would rise to the occasion. Plus, Dr. Jaliman told me that ACV can support a healthy scalp because of its pH—so my intrigue was doubled!

Like my DIY apple cider vinegar toner, I wanted to dilute my ACV first so it wouldn’t be too harsh on my scalp. I found that adding ¾ cup of vinegar to a half a cup of water was a good ratio for me. (My hair is a little wavy, a bit oily, and bleached.)

I shampooed my hair as usual and then poured the ACV mixture over my hair. I’d seen online that this rinse could help get rid of product residue shampoos aren’t able to nix. I let it sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing my scalp and hair and conditioning as usual.

I use dry shampoo a lot, and tend to get a sticky residue in my hair after a few days. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the ACV did a good job clarifying my hair and scalp (I actually used it twice with good results!)  The mixture removed all that gunk on my dry-shampooed scalp with ease—and without irritating my skin.

I’ll continue to use my ACV hair rinse—and if you’re a big hair product-user like me, try it out! Just be sure to dilute your vinegar in water if you have a sensitive scalp.

4. I’d Use Vinegar As Deodorant If I’m Not Going To The Gym

Now, I’m not a big natural deodorant fan to begin with, because I want maximum odor control all day long. However, I did successfully use a lime as a natural DIY deodorant once (yes, really), so I figured I would have a similar experience with apple cider vinegar.

I wet a cotton ball with undiluted ACV and dabbed it across my armpits—and then I hit the gym. Let’s just say the experience didn’t go well. As soon as I started sweating, any effect the stuff may have had totally went out the window. I definitely smelled by the time I finished my workout. But since I didn’t notice any stink before I hit the gym, I think a few armpit dabs of ACV could be a decent deodorant swap if you’ll just be lounging around the house.

5. Have A Zit? Apple Cider Vinegar To The Rescue

I was a pretty big fan of using ACV as a toner, so I was intrigued to see how it would hold up as a spot treatment for zits. I’ve tried my share of pimple-shrinking skincare products, and unfortunately, a lot of them have made my skin super dry or red.

Unlike my diluted hair rinse and toner mixtures, I used straight-up vinegar for this one. My zits stung a little when I applied the ACV directly onto them—and for a minute I feared this experiment would end badly. But I figured this couldn’t be as bad as popping them, right?

I used my ACV spot treatment once a day for five days total. I can’t say it made my zits vanish completely, but they definitely dried out faster than they would have otherwise. In short, my store-bought acne-vanishing products worked quicker, but the ACV did naturally help.

Related: 4 Possible Reasons You’re Still Breaking Out As An Adult

6. Never Again: ACV For Razor Burn

With a few solid apple cider vinegar remedies already under my belt, I decided to try one of the more intense uses I’d seen online: ACV as a razor burn-reliever. I shave my legs pretty frequently, so I definitely know the woes of pesky razor burn. So, after a long workout and shower at the gym, I put it to the test.

I got a little bold (and maybe also a little lazy!) and used my ACV undiluted. This was huge mistake. The stinging sensation on my legs was really bugging me, and I ended up rinsing my legs off just to make the burning go away.

I think I should have waited a little longer after shaving before applying the vinegar, but either way, the stinging was so uncomfortable that I don’t think I’ll try this one again. Licensed esthetician Lora Cordon warned that the acid would be too harsh to apply to wounds or irritated skin, and boy did I learn my lesson. I’ll be sticking with my trusty post-shave coconut oil instead.

7. ACV + Baking Soda = Easiest DIY Scrub Ever

A lot of conventional face scrubs are too abrasive for my sensitive skin, so I was happy to learn that a mixture of baking soda and apple cider vinegar could make a gentle—but still effective—face scrub. Just mix the two ingredients until you get a good pasty consistency, and voila.

This concoction was honestly all kinds of awesome. Making the scrub wasn’t super complicated, and my skin felt velvety smooth (without any redness) afterward. I’ve been making this two or three times a week since my first test run—it really gives my skin a nice healthy glow.

That’s not all! The baking soda-ACV combo makes for some useful other remedies. “Baking soda and apple cider vinegar also make a great foot bath to soften the skin and calluses,” says Condon. I haven’t tried this one out yet, but it’s definitely on my radar if I’m ever in need of a good at-home pedicure.

FYI: Baking soda (a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate) is an inorganic salt that’s been used to do everything from gently exfoliate the skin to whiten teeth, to make natural deodorant—and is considered safe for use, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. Its abrasive quality is what makes it effective for exfoliation—think of the beads or coarse grains in your favorite scrubs, but finer and gentler.

8. ACV and Clay Make For A Powerful Face Mask

After all my experimentation, it seemed like the only thing I hadn’t used ACV for was a face mask. So I called in some backup from the hot beauty ingredient that is bentonite clay. I grabbed a jar of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay to combine with my ACV for a clarifying facial mask. (Bentonite clay helps to absorb excess oil and sebum from the skin, according to Jaliman.)

Apple cider vinegar had served me pretty well so far, so I had a feeling that ACV plus clay would be just the skin-perfecting team my problem skin needed.

To make my mask, I mixed two tablespoons of vinegar with two tablespoons of clay in a small bowl. The two ingredients made a cool fizzing sound as they came together!

I spread the thick paste across my face and set a timer for the 20 minutes recommended on Aztec Secret’s packaging. The clay dried as the minutes passed, and the mask tightened up so much that I could barely move my mouth. (It sounds freaky, I know, but it’s par for the course with most clay masks.)

When my 20 minutes were up, I spent a minute or two rinsing the mask off with lukewarm water. Consider yourself warned: The clay makes a mess in the sink. It really clumped together, so I threw some chunks out in the trash because I was afraid of clogging my sink.

I sighed with relief at being able to move my face again, and took a long look in the mirror. My face felt velvety smooth and completely free of the oil that usually lingers there. It was like all the gunk in my pores had been vacuumed out. I’m sold! For a good, deep clean, I’ll definitely continue using this power duo once or twice a week.

The Final Vinegar-y Verdict

Apple cider vinegar’s versatility continues to impress me—who’d think you could get quality salad dressing and a good clarifying hair rinse out of one pantry staple? If you haven’t already added this to your routine, it really doesn’t hurt to give it a try. The toner, hair rinse, face scrub, and clay mask were my personal favorite ACV uses, but the opportunities for natural beauty ACV uses are endless! Just consider skipping the whole post-shaving scenario and spare yourself the pain.

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