For all the good stuff it’s supposed to do for you when ingested, ACV is equally excellent as a super-simple skin/hair/almost everything else treatment…
Once upon a time, I kept hearing about apple cider vinegar and how amazing it was for your health. As someone who will try any health-related thing at least once, I opened up my pantry, pulled out a dusty bottle of ACV, poured myself a shot of the stuff and knocked it back. My eyes immediately began to stream, my throat felt like it was on a fire and my stomach…well, I’ve never felt something hit my digestive tract that fast, let’s leave it at that.
It turns out, you’re not supposed to just straight-up guzzle a bunch of ACV. That’s a really quick way to do damage to your insides. BUT. After doing some research (the kind of research I should have done before that ill-advised shot), I learned two things. The first is that if you’re going to drink it, you should dilute it. The second thing? If you’re a bit turned off by the idea of drinking it — and I can’t say I’d blame you — you can use it apple cider vinegar externally to up your DIY beauty game.
If you’ve got a bottle of apple cider vinegar languishing away in a dark cabinet somewhere, it’s time to embrace the stuff. Here are a few stupid-easy ways to incorporate ACV into your self-care regimen, minimal effort required.
Why: Like a good French pastry, your skin consists of many, many layers. At the very top is something called an “acid mantle” and it’s the protective, slightly acidic film that sits on the skin’s surface, protecting it from the elements. Since ACV has a pH level that’s very similar to that of your protective acid mantle, giving your skin a dose of apple cider vinegar will help restore an acid mantle that may be out of whack due to any number of things. ACV has also been known to help reduce swelling, so if you’re dealing with a sunburn or a bunch of bug bites, this can be seriously soothing.
How: Fill your tub with warm water and add one cup of ACV. Swirl it around, then climb on in to soak for 10-15 minutes. It may seem backward, but this will have the biggest impact on your skin if you shower and wash everything before the soak.
Why: Similar to the back soak explanation, using ACV as a toner will help keep your skin’s acid mantle balanced and healthy. Additionally, apple cider vinegar is high in alpha-hydroxy acids and acetic acid, both of which stimulate circulation (blood flow = happy skin!) and minimize pores.
How: Mix equal parts ACV and distilled/filtered water in a reusable, clean glass container. Shake well before each use, then apply the solution to your clean skin with a cotton pad. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then wash off with warm water. If you have normal skin, try a 1:2 ratio by doubling the amount of water. If you have sensitive skin, go 1:4 and always always always do a small test patch first. As always, apply a great moisturizer after rinsing to keep moisture, hydration and pH in check.
Why: If your skin is in need of a serious detox, this mask is no joke. Combining the exfoliating, ph-balancing wonders of ACV with the impurity-extracting properties of clay equal refreshed, detoxed and glowing skin.
How: Instead of mixing your favorite clay mask with water, replace the liquid with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. (You can also go ½ tsp ACV, ½ tsp honey if you’re very sensitive or are worried about dehydrated skin.) My favorite way to embrace this ACV DIY is with Root Science’s Detox Facial Mask. The trio of French green clay, bentonite clay and kaolin clay, combined with apple cider vinegar, leave skin feeling soft, refreshed and totally free of anything gross. Just a heads-up: This combo makes for a fairly active mask, so don’t freak if your skin is red for a bit afterwards — it’s just all the blood circulation happening.
Why: Sure, you could look for a green clarifying shampoo that will remove buildup from your scalp and hair so that your locks are shiny and lustrous once more. But you could also DIY one with ACV. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar will immediately get to work ridding your strands of grime and product build-up your regular shampoo might miss, while also stimulating your scalp to help encourage hair growth.
How: After shampooing hair, dilute two tbsp of ACV with one cup of water and pour it all over your scalp and hair. Massage it into your scalp and hair for a few minutes, then let it sit on your strands for a bit. After 10 minutes, rinse it out in the shower and follow with a light conditioner, like the Nourish Conditioner from Josh Rosebrook.
Why: With its natural antifungal and pH-balancing properties, ACV can work wonders on a dandruff-ravaged scalp by settling any acid issues and helping to clean out clogged pores and hair follicles.
How: For a down and dirty option, simply pour ACV onto your wet scalp in the shower and massage it in. (Just make sure to keep your eyes and mouth tightly closed.) For something a bit more nuanced, mix equal parts ACV and water in a spray bottle, generously spritz your scalp pre-shampoo, and massage the stuff into your scalp.
Why: Even though you should know how to shave sans razor burn after reading this, a few angry red bumps are often inevitable. So if you do find yourself with some angry post-shave skin, let ACV help. The stuff is anti-inflammatory so it soothes irritated skin and hair follicles, and the acetic acid softens skin to ingrown hairs can work their way out more easily.
How: This one is simple: just moisten a cotton ball with straight apple cider vinegar and apply to the razor burn-afflicted area. No rinsing required.
Why: The least glamorous reason for DIY on this list, but necessary nonetheless! Luckily, you’ve got ACV in your corner with its antiseptic and antifungal properties the deodorize, disinfect and help prevent any fungus that might be lurking on your tootsies.
How: Mix one cup of ACV with four cups of water in a large bowl or tub. Soak your feet for 15 minutes, then rinse and dry. And if you want to take this tres luxurious foot treatment a step further, finish the whole thing by slathering your freshly deodorized feet in Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil, throwing on a pair of thick, old socks and letting your feet soak up all the moisturizing goodness.
+Check out more ACV tips and tricks here!