Lately, it seems apple cider vinegar (ACV) is being used to fix just about anything.
Want to drop a few kilos? Reach for apple cider vinegar. Need to clean your apartment? Apple cider vinegar will do the trick. Just got dumped? Douse yourself in diluted apple cider vinegar.
Okay, so it won’t help with your breakup. But it is believed to clear acne, moisturise skin and add shine to hair… which ain’t half bad.
For a good chunk of time, I was a curious observer of the widely-lauded benefits of ACV. I listened along as dedicated fans of the tonic swore by its effectiveness, but I never tried it out for myself.
Then I was introduced to the idea of an ACV bath. My editor brought my attention to the new trend, and I quickly learnt that there was a lot to be gained if this simple beauty craze delivered.
A quick Internet search highlighted claims that adding the vinegar to your bath can not only help with dry skin and acne, but it can soothe certain skin conditions, brighten scars, ward off bacteria and treat dandruff.
Ever the sceptic, I decided to enquire further with a couple of industry experts and, as it turns out, they’re all for the ACV movement, too.
“Adding one or two cups of apple cider vinegar to your next bath can do some great things for the skin,” explained Dr Alain Michon, MD, Medical Director at Ottawa Skin Clinic.
“Apple cider vinegar is a mild acid with antimicrobial properties that can work to restore your pH levels and kill off harmful fungus or bacteria. It also has several vitamins, such as vitamin C and B, that work to nourish the skin and soothe irritation. Additionally, it can soothe dry skin or conditions such as dandruff and eczema.”
Naturopath Lisa Guy echoed Dr Michon’s sentiment:
“ACV is rich in alpha hydroxy acids,” she said.
“Which helps promote healthy skin by warding off bacterial infections and dissolving dead skin cells, which helps minimise pore size and prevents clogged pores.”
She also shared that the regular use of ACV “can improve the overall complexion by balancing and restoring the skins natural pH” as well as helping “to lighten sun and age spots.”
As someone who has always struggled with pigmentation, that last point really caught my attention. Additionally, at the time I started this experiment, I was dealing with some mild – but very annoying – eczema on my hands. So, I figured: why not give it a shot?
Both Guy and Dr Michon stressed that ACV should always be diluted before use. Guy suggested adding about two cups to a bath for the best results.
If you have particularly sensitive skin or are unsure how this will work for you, it’s best you test the effects of ACV on your skin first – perhaps even chat with a skincare professional.
“It [ACV] should never be used on open sores, infected skin, or burns,” warned Dr Michon.
Fully informed about what I was, er, diving into, I decided to trial the ACV bath for three weeks – taking one bath per week.
Here’s what I found:
It really bloody smells:
Being vinegar, I was expecting a strong scent from this cocktail I was planning to bathe in. But I had assumed that the water would somehow dilute the smell a little.
The whole process took forever:
First, I’d take a regular shower. Then, once clean, would prep my bath. I’d read that you should sit in your ACV bath for about thirty minutes, so I set a timer and kicked back.
Let me tell you: half an hour feels like a year when you’re doing absolutely nothing.
After my soak, I’d then have a quick rinse – to avoid smelling like salad dressing for the rest of the day.
If I’m honest, it felt like ~a lot~ of time and water for the prospect of some faded scars.
The changes I saw were minimal:
Maybe I was expecting too much too fast? But over the three weeks, I didn’t see any changes in my pigmentation (mainly scars on my legs).
I did, however, notice an improvement in my eczema after the third bath.
That was about it, folks.
When I spoke with Dr Michon, he suggested I try taking an ACV bath “twice a week”. During this experiment, I was taking half that amount. With this considered, it could be argued that I just hadn’t been using the treatment often enough to see drastic results.
While I can’t say I’m a complete apple cider vinegar convert, I must admit I was pleased to have my hands in better shape after my soak sessions. So, although I don’t think I’ll be pouring ACV into my bathtub again soon, I might just keep a little stash around for my next eczema flare-up.