Apple cider vinegar: truth or scam?

Apple cider vinegar is something I first heard about after researching natural remedies for joint pains. I'd been told that you could drink two tablespoons of ACV and it would miraculously help with your joints - exactly what I needed. This was backed up by a lot of online websites and blogs too, and so I believed it. But the taste was just so awful that even while I was in agony, I could not get the stuff down. So there I was with a huge bottle of apple cider vinegar and no way I was going to be drinking the stuff again, so I started to research how I could use it in other ways, and to my surprise, (and how I ever missed all of the fuss, I'll never know), there was loads of information about this natural wonder 'cure-for-all', so I started to look a little further.

The research and articles on the internet based on apple cider vinegar seems quite vast, a lot of health websites and blog posts seem to claim -amazing- things about ACV, but either don't show their sources or they show sources that their information doesn't even appear on. So I spent a lot of time trying to track down genuine sources for this, rather than just going on claims that another blog has given us - this is where my university research skills are coming into play! 

So here's what I found... (All sources are listed below.)

- Claims vs. Facts -

I have to say, I was very wary of using this anywhere near my skin, let alone open wounds, acne or even my teeth - but people do believe the claims of online health blogs because, well why you wouldn't you? You see the healthy-looking people behind the blog or even read the claims of education in health they say they have, and think that they must just know more than you, and isn't it nice for them to share their wisdom?! But some of these claims can actually be quite dangerous if you do take their advice.  

Clearing Up Acne

I've seen lots of claims online that Apple Cider Vinegar is a miracle cure for acne, mainly because of it's 'anti-bacterial' qualities. But I actually can't find any scientific research for ACV itself even having anti-bacterial qualities with contact to your skin. In fact, I found two studies that proved it has no anti-bacterial qualities at all and found one that explains it did have anti-bacterial qualities for the prevention of bacterial food poisoning, but only when combined with the right amount of sodium chloride and the appropriate treatment temperature. So not entirely what some health blogs claim.

What articles seem to concentrate on, is the acetic acid that is found in the Apple Cider Vinegar which has anti-bacterial properties. The acetic acid, generally used in ear drops to cure ear infections, can be much too harsh to use on the fragile and delicate skin on your face. A study conducted in October 1997 even showed that 'repeated or prolonged contact' could cause Contact Dermatitis, a type of eczema. 

Another incident was reported in 2010 after a 28-year-old female patient was admitted to hospital with second-degree burns after using acetic acid and flour to make her own chemical peel, after reading about it online. 

The acetic acid is, of course, diluted in the ACV and according to 'experts', should be further diluted with water if you are going to use this to try and cure your acne, and can be dangerous for people with sensitive skin. I've found evidence of chemical burns on skin, and even just a splash of vinegar in the eyes can cause immediate pain and conjunctival hyperemia - sometimes leading to the injury of the corneal epithelium. 

When reading non-investigated opinions online, (less reliable), some did report on Apple Cider Vinegar working for their acne, whereas others reported no change whatsoever, permanent scarring, burns, and one commenter reported on it leaving one spot even to become permanent, and having to have it cut out as it may be cancerous. (I cannot vouch for the reliability of these commenters, but I thought they would be interesting to include).

Although there is no found research for ACV to be anti-bacterial, I have found research to back up both the antifungal and antimicrobial properties. The antifungal properties may have been the reason it has worked for acne in some cases, possibly in fungal acne, but I cannot be sure as there is no research to suggest this, as of yet. 

I also think it's important to say there is actually no research into Apple Cider Vinegar curing acne and is at your own risk if you do choose to follow this.

Teeth Whitening

One other 'magical' claim of Apple Cider Vinegar is that it whitens your teeth, and while there is research that this does work, there is also strong research to show that it ruins and destroys the enamel on your teeth in the process. This could even leave you with no enamel left whatsoever with repeated use. Online blogs suggest that the results can not even be seen straight away, but that you have to use regularly for over a month to start seeing a change in colouration, so be aware of the possible outcomes from doing this.

I found at least one study reported by a dentist, to show the seriously erosive tooth wear of a 15-year-old girl after consuming Apple Cider Vinegar daily to aid weight loss. So I wouldn't like to think of the damage it could cause from applying it straight onto the teeth like some websites suggest.

While ACV seems like a strong hit for natural beauty lovers, I'd recommend you speak to a dentist before attempting any of the suggestions you read online or even in published books.

On cuts & open wounds

Another claim I've read online is how ACV is the miracle cure for cuts, bruises and open wounds. Some people claim that it will help the injury heal faster and without scarring, but research actually shows the opposite. Due to the acidity, Apple Cider Vinegar can irritate the skin vastly and can even cause scarring, especially in sensitive skin.

I read one report of a 14-year-old girl who gave herself chemical burns from applying apple cider vinegar to her own face to remove two moles after the internet suggested that this would work.

Slimming down with ACV

Using Apple Cider Vinegar as an aid to losing weight is another big claim on the internet throughout health blogs, alternative living websites and even mainstream news outlets - but how safe is it really? It is true that Apple Cider Vinegar has been used for a long time to aid weight loss. Reports as early as the 1820's show that people have believed and used this as a slimming method, and now in the modern world, even fitness fanatics and bodybuilders are also claiming they use it.

Not only does your Apple Cider Vinegar taste completely foul but it can also be pretty dangerous. If chemical burns, second-degree burns and serious tooth enamel destruction weren't bad enough, there's more. First things first, if you have an allergy to the vinegar, you need to stop using it immediately; if you take medications, you'd need to check with your doctor beforehand as it can affect how certain medications work; and if you have gastroparesis, consider avoiding it altogether. 

I found one case where a woman had been diagnosed with an esophageal injury in her throat; again, after reading information online and self-prescribing herself the vinegar. It is also thought to be the cause of one 28-year-old woman being transmitted into the hospital with low-potassium levels and osteoporosis, after she consumed 250ml of ACV, daily, for 6 years.

One study, by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Knowledge Center in 2015, showed that it didn't actually have too many benefits in weight loss in itself. But it could help weight loss due to the strong flavour and low-calorie count, if used as a replacement to other high-calorie based ingredients, such as salad dressings. Using ACV as an appetite suppressant was also researched, but wasn't 'well-tolerated' due to severe nausea the patients were experiencing.

The BBC also did a study on whether Apple Cider Vinegar could be used to lose weight, and although they only used a small number of volunteers to base their studies on, they had the same results. Not one single volunteer lost any weight whilst consuming the vinegar. 


After reading this, would you still use Apple Cider Vinegar in your beauty routine? I know I wouldn't, after reading so much research into the side-effects and the little positives it actually gives, is really worth it? I think this article really shows how truly dangerous it can be to spread false information about natural ingredients, especially when journalists are either not giving their sources, (which just shows their sources weren't reliable in my opinion), or are giving sources but are claiming the opposite to the research in the source article! - Assuming no one would bother to check?

I'd really love to know what you think about the information shared in this piece, and whether you're going to continue to trust or disbelieve in articles shared by unqualified 'health professionals'. Let me know either via the comments section, through Twitter (@shanwdf) or via email at

Thank you very much for reading!



[2] - shows acv showed anti-fungal properties
[10] 'Improve Your Life Expectancy - Live Long Lean and Healthy', (2007) By Edward Chipeta



  1. Wow... thank you for writing this article! I was in two minds whether try using this to aid with weight loss, but I am most definitely going to stay clear after reading this. Thank you and well done for doing all this research, I completely agree I think it is so wrong for bloggers to sing the praises of this or any other natural remedy with out properly researching and referencing their sources as well as explaining the risks involved. I also love you’re writing style in this post it’s informative without preaching! ❤️

    1. Ah thank you so much for your feedback! Yeah I know I've trusted information online so so much and researching this made me weary of everyone - which is unfortunate for the many bloggers that do put their work in! Glad you enjoyed the read! <3

  2. Great article! I like ACV for making salad dressing, but that’s about it. I’ve heard all the big claims too, but never did the research. Thank you doing the myth-busting.
    I love your blog, and I’ve nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award! You can see your nomination here: Congratulations, and Happy New Year! 🥂

    1. Yeah, I'm looking forward to trying it as a salad dressing I have to say! You're very welcome, thank you very much for the feedback and the nomination, that's lovely of you!!


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