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Can Apple Cider Vinegar Really Deliver? I Tested 8 Beauty Uses & Here's What I Found

Allie White
mbg Contributor By Allie White
mbg Contributor
Allie White is a freelance writer and editor who covers news, lifestyle, health, beauty, and entertainment.
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

If you're only using apple cider vinegar for salad dressing, it's time to expand your horizons. The raw, organic, unfiltered version of ACV can serve a myriad of purposes, many of which fall into the "self-care" category. People claim it healed their digestion, rid their skin of acne, saved their hair, whitened their smile.

But is it too good to be true?

At this point in my stint as mbg beauty editor, I've tested enough kitchen-products-turned-beauty-miracles to know when something is living up to the hype. Coconut oil? Worth it. Avocado oil? Sort of worth it. Apple cider vinegar? Read on to find out.

1. Hair rinse

A few years ago, I would spend a lot of money every few months buying fancy shampoo that promised to remove buildup and pollutants from my hair that regular shampoo missed. Even though I only used it once a week, the bottle always went so fast and didn't leave my hair feeling that different than my everyday stuff.

It wasn't until I decided to actually look at the label that I realized the shampoo was "infused" with apple cider vinegar as the active ingredient. Then I had a lightbulb moment and decided to cut out the proverbial middle man and just pour some straight-up ACV onto my hair. Not only was it far more cost-effective, it was all-natural AND it worked so, so much better than the commercial stuff.

To this day, I pour about a cup of ACV onto my hair once a week, gently massage it into my scalp and strands, and rinse. Despite the smell that lingers in the bathroom for a few hours, this is hands-down my favorite all-natural beauty treatment. My strands are softer, shinier, cleaner and more cooperative in the days after the rinse.

Final verdict: It works!


2. Toner

One of the most popular articles we've ever run here on mbg is this one about how ACV toner saved the writer's skin. Needless to say, I was most excited to test this for myself, especially in the wake of a particularly nasty hormonal acne flare up.

I was a little intimidated by the prospect of mixing the toner (one part ACV, one part filtered water), and then applying the smelly concoction so close to my nose. But after just one night of using the toner, there was a noticeable difference in my skin. It felt softer when I woke up, glowed a bit more throughout the day, and didn't become its usual oil slick by mid-afternoon.

Final verdict: It works!

3. Tooth whitener/stain remover

After my disastrous adventure with oil pulling, the last thing I wanted to do was swish ACV around my mouth. But for you, dear readers, I sucked it up and applied apple cider vinegar to my teeth with a cotton swab. Alas, I am a total wuss and could not handle the taste, let alone the smell wafting out of my mouth.

If you are stronger than me, please report back on whether or not this works as my attempt was an utter failure.

Final verdict: n/a

4. Sunburn soother/bath soak

Since I avoid the sun at all costs due to my incredibly pale, burn-prone skin (and it was October), I couldn't test whether ACV helped with burns. I did however dump some into bathwater one Sunday afternoon to see if it would function as a general soothing bath.

While it did calm a patch of weather-related hives on my arm, what it helped most with — surprisingly — was the sore muscles I was experiencing after a very intense HIIT workout earlier in the week. After a little research, I discovered the reason my aches and pains felt so much less achey and pain-y after the soak was because ACV contains potassium, a vital electrolyte for faster recovery.

Final verdict: It works!


5. Skin tonic (internal)

Never one with a strong mind for science, I opted to undergo all these ACV tests within the same two-week period, thereby omitting a control group. Since I was using an AVC toner topically, I can't say for sure that drinking a morning tonic of warm water, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar did anything for my skin.

However, that morning drink sure did jump start my day and digestive system, and if it could get my insides moving, I assume it wasn't hurting my skin from the inside out. Alas, I'll have to try this one again when I'm not also putting it on my face every night.

Final verdict: Unclear

6. Overnight spot treatment

I once read that ACV could be used as an all-natural, DIY treatment for warts, so I figured acne couldn't be that different and decided to give it a try. When I applied a dab to a cheek pimple that had already formed, nothing really seemed to change. However, when I felt the beginnings of what was sure to be a volcano on my chin, I quickly used ACV as a pre-emptive spot treatment and you know what? That volcano never did erupt. Score one for forethought!

Final verdict: It works!


7. Dandruff treatment

I've never really had to deal with dandruff, so my results here might be skewed, but I fully support using ACV as a scalp treatment. If you're pouring it on your head as a hair rinse anyway, it'll definitely come into contact with your scalp. And since apple cider vinegar is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, it's the perfect way to combat the causes of dandruff: dry or oily skin, eczema, dermatitis and malassezia, a yeast-like fungus.

Final verdict: It works!

8. Deodorant

I've been on the natural deodorant train for some time now, so I like to think that I've become accustomed to the more green scents that accompany sweat without antiperspirant or other chemicals. And while I appreciate that rubbing some ACV on my armpits allows my sweat glands to function the way they're supposed to, I wasn't a fan of this method.

Whether it was all in my head or not I'll never know — because I don't want to try this again — but I swear I got whiffs of apple cider vinegar throughout the day anytime I moved my arms. And if I'm being completely honest, I'm not sure whether I'd rather smell like body odor or ACV.

Final verdict: Pass.

Anything I'm missing? Let me know in the comments below!

*I used Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar for these experiments.

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