THANKS to the internet, everyone is an expert. Searching for an acne cure? Hello, apple cider vinegar. When it comes to our health, should we really be entrusting it to strangers on the web?
While there’s plenty of helpful advice available at the end of our fingertips, there’s also a lot of misinformation and getting it wrong can create more problems than it solves.
Even so, there is some truth to this at-home acne remedy. A link between apple cider vinegar and its ability to kill some bad bacteria has been established.
“Vinegar has been popular for centuries as a way of fighting illness,” says dermatologist Dr Ismat Nasiruddin.
“Apple cider vinegar is mainly apple juice which has yeast added to ferment it into alcohol and bacteria. The ‘mother’, which is the yeast and bacteria component, is what confers any benefits.”
When ingested, it can be useful, but there’s little proof to support applying it topically. It’s not wise to take it neat, it’s better diluted in water to reduce the damaging effects of the acid on teeth enamel and the irritating effect on the upper gut.
So, what should we turn to, if we find ourselves with a spot brewing or a particularly bad flare-up of acne? A lot of excellent skin treatments are quite natural, salicylic acid is from the plant that we make aspirin with, and retinoids are a vitamin A derivative. The mistake with home remedies is thinking they are ‘safe’. Whilst a tiny dot of toothpaste on a large spot overnight is not a bad emergency measure and a dab of tea tree oil can be OK occasionally, both can be very drying and irritating and cause unpleasant skin reactions.
If you really must raid your kitchen, ingredients such as pure honey (which has antiseptic and astringent properties), yoghurt (which is moisturising), lemon (which is acidic and astringent), turmeric (which is antiseptic and coarse, so provides a physical exfoliant) and oats (which is exfoliating and moisturising) can all be used on the skin.