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Adding apple cider vinegar (ACV) to our products is all the rage right now, but what does it offer to our hair and skin? It contains many water-soluble components like alpha hydroxy acids, minerals and polyphenols.
Acetic acid must be found at a minimum of 4% to qualify something as a vinegar, and it is, in fact, what makes vinegars vinegar-y. (The name comes from the Latin word for vinegar.) It contains a number of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium in small quantities. It contains chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol that may act as an anti-fungal with anti-bacterial properties, and gallic acid, another polyphenol that acts as a great burn and wound healer, both of which work as good anti- oxidants and anti-inflammatories.
It has a strong, earthy smell, so it’s hard to use in large quantities, but we can easily mask 3% to 5% with fragrance or essential oils. It’s less acidic than other vinegars as the pH ranges from 3 to 5, which works well with hair and skin care products that should have pH ranges from 3.5 to 6. Substitute it at 2% to 5% for the same amount of water in your formulas.
ACV may be beneficial in facial care products thanks to the malic acid, which behaves like other alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) by encouraging desquamation, the process of disrupting bonds between skin cells so they will slough off to expose newer and lovelier cells underneath. This helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, make skin appear smoother, and may make pores appear smaller. It works as an antioxidant for our skin and the product, so it may slow down rancidity in oil soluble ingredients.
Please note that although we can use apple cider vinegar to pickle vegetables to preserve them, it won’t preserve our products in any way. It may act as an antioxidant, which can extend the shelf life, but it doesn’t prevent contamination from bacteria, yeast, fungus or mold.
It’s a great ingredient for those with acne prone skin as it acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It could be added to a foaming cleanser, oil-free moisturizer, toner, gelled toner or spot treatment at 2% to 5% for all skin types. It’s nice at 0.5% in micellar water formulas or up to 3% in lotion based facial cleansers.
In foot care products, I use it at higher percentages where the smell isn’t a concern as I like the anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and exfoliating properties. Use it at up to 5% in place of 5% water in a cooling gel, lotion, cream, or butter.

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