Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin Whitening: How it Works + 6 Ways to Apply

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A popular culinary ingredient that could very likely already be in your kitchen, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made from fermented apple juice, meaning that it’s packed with powerful nutrients and natural acids.

However, in addition to adding a tart and tangy flavor to your meals, apple cider vinegar is also capable of transforming your skin when used topically.

Most people turn to ACV for skin lightening purposes, but many others also swear by its effects in treating acne, wrinkles, and dull skin. Does it really work? Let’s find out!

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Lighten Skin? How Does it Work?

Woman wearing stripes with whiten skin

Around 5-6% of apple cider vinegar consists of acetic acid – this is what gives ACV its acidic nature.

However, acetic acid also happens to be an ingredient that has been proven to lighten dark spots [1].

Other acids in ACV include malic acid, citric acid, and lactic acid. These alpha-hydroxy acids are known for how they exfoliate the skin.

They speed up cell turnover, allowing your skin to shed its discolored skin cells at a much faster rate. However, they also inhibit excess melanin production, which prevents new dark spots from forming.

Apple cider vinegar is also a fantastic source of polyphenols [2]. These are powerful antioxidants that help to reverse cell damage, much of which manifests as hyperpigmentation.

By repairing the skin, apple cider vinegar for skin whitening helps to even out skin tone while also treating a number of other skin disorders.

The Benefits of Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Face and Body Pigmentation

So, in addition to giving you a lighter and brighter skin tone, what else can apple cider vinegar do for your skin complexion? Here are just a few of the benefits of regularly using ACV on your skin:

  • Anti-aging effects thanks to ACV’s polyphenol content
  • Restores the skin’s natural pH balance, which counters skin dullness
  • Has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties [3] that prevents bacterial growth and therefore acne breakouts. ACV also destroys existing acne-causing bacteria to treat current breakouts
  • Reduces excess oil on the skin, which, again, helps to prevent breakouts
  • Contains alpha-hydroxy acids, chemical exfoliants that clear away deep layers of discolored and dead skin cells
Woman applying an anti aging cream at home

Before and After Reviews: Do Homemade ACV Skincare Remedies Really Produce Results?

There aren’t many studies on the skin lightening results provided by ACV, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to back this ingredient up. We checked over a huge amount of before & after photos and, in just about all of them, a lighter complexion was very apparent.

People have also found that ACV has helped them to fade fine lines, as well as acne scars while keeping their skin hydrated. The photos really do speak for themselves – this is an ingredient capable of so much!

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin Whitening: 6 Ways to Use ACV in DIY Recipes for Lightening Discoloration

By now, you’re probably eager to learn how to use ACV to achieve flawless skin. Here are 6 ways to get started:

A Natural Facial Cleanser Made From ACV & Water to Clear Dirt, Impurities, and Clogged Pores

Apple cider vinegar serves as a great natural cleanser. Due to its antibacterial and antioxidant properties, it’s ideal for dry and dull skin, as well as for those who frequently develop acne.

All you need to do is mix equal amounts of ACV with water, and then dab this onto your skin with a cotton ball. Once you’re done, rinse off.

RELATED: How to Lighten Skin Naturally

How to Apply a Toner Made From Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Juice for pH Balance and Age Spots

A couple wearing diy face masks at home

As you know, ACV has acidic properties, and so does the skin. However, many skincare products are alkaline, which can alter the skin’s pH.

Fortunately, the acidity of ACV can bring the skin back to a healthy pH level, which can also help with the skin’s natural oil balance.

This toner is great for doing exactly that. Mix 1/4 cup ACV with 1/2 cup purified water, and add a few drops of fresh lemon juice.

Pour it into a bottle, give it a good shake, and then apply it to a cotton ball before dabbing onto cleansed skin.

You can keep any remaining toner in your fridge for up to two weeks.

An Exfoliant Made With Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda Provides Natural Acids That’ll Give You an Even Skin Tone and Fewer Acne Breakouts

As mentioned, ACV contains several essential acids, which are great for removing dead cells from the skin. With this recipe, you can save some money and make your own chemical exfoliant by mixing ACV with baking soda.

Baking soda neutralizes the effect that harsh chemicals and chemical-based makeup can have, while also effectively exfoliating the skin.

Mix one part baking soda with one part apple cider vinegar, adding in a few drops of lemon juice for some extra skin brightening effects. Massage this into your skin for a few minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

A Face Mask Made From Olive Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar for a Fast Way to Improve Skin Fairness & Achieve a Glowing Complexion

Although olive oil doesn’t lighten the skin, it’s capable of blocking 20% of the sun’s UV rays [4], which helps to prevent dark spots from forming.

Plus, it’s also packed with antioxidants and anti-aging skin properties, making it a great oil to mix with ACV.

Make this face mask by mixing 1/4 cup ACV with the same amount of water. Then, mix this with 1/2 cup olive oil to form a lotion-type solution.

Apply this to your face, leave it to dry for 20 minutes, and then rinse off to reveal a radiant skin complexion. This mask offers hair benefits too, so feel free to use it as a hair mask as well.

An ACV & Organic Honey Face Pack to Target Dark Patches, Fine Lines, Deep Wrinkles, and Pimples

Honey makes for fantastic skin treatment. Not only do its enzymes lighten skin tone, but they also help with controlling excess oil production. Honey is also packed with antioxidant properties, giving it anti-aging skin benefits too.

Mix one tablespoon of ACV with two tablespoons of raw honey. Apply this to your face and then wait for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off.

a girl using apple cider vinegar for skin whitening

An Apple Cider Vinegar Bath to Halt Bacteria Growth and Bleach Dark Spots

If you’d like your body to benefit from the skin lightening benefits of apple cider vinegar, consider an ACV bath. It’s great for all skin types, including oily skin, and will enable you to treat those hard-to-reach areas, from your inner thighs to your underarms.

Simply add half a cup of ACV to your bath water, and then sit back and soak for 30 minutes.

Side Effects: Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe to Use on the Skin? Extra Tips When Using ACV & Other Natural Ingredients for a Lighter Skin Tone

If you use it correctly, then yes, apple cider vinegar for skin whitening is completely safe. The key is to make sure that you always dilute it properly – using it in pure form on your skin could lead to chemical burns.

When diluted, ACV is safe for use on every skin type [5]. That said, those with sensitive skin may need to dilute it more than recipes state.

If you happen to experience side effects after using ACV, or any other natural ingredient, on your skin, stop using it immediately. Give your skin some time to heal before trying again, this time diluting it more than you previously did.

If you would like to try out some of the skin bleaching creams, we recommend Piona Strong Bleaching Cream. Read our Piona Strong Bleaching Cream Review and find out what we think about this product and how you can get it.

RELATED: How to Use Turmeric for Skin Whitening


Q: How long does it take for apple cider vinegar to lighten dark skin pigmentation?

Woman in her 50s cleaning her face

It takes about 4-6 weeks for the skin lightening effects of apple cider vinegar to be visible.

Q: Can I use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar on my face?

Yes, white vinegar is also beneficial, although applying apple cider vinegar for skin whitening is better since it contains a greater variety of bleaching acids.

Another natural ingredient that is equally effective as apple cider vinegar is lemon. Read our article Can Lemon Juice Lighten Skin and learn everything about this method of skin lightening.

Q: Is it safe to use apple cider vinegar on my inner thighs and underarm area?

Yes, apple cider vinegar can be safely used all over the face and body to improve skin fairness and to keep the skin wrinkle-free.

Q: Is it worth drinking apple cider vinegar for glowing skin?

Yes – it may not taste nice on its own, but ACV as a drink offers a number of health benefits, including giving you better skin.

Q: Does apple cider vinegar contain alpha hydroxy acid? What is the alpha hydroxy acid in vinegar percent %?

ACV contains a few different alpha hydroxy acids. The percentage of each varies depending on the actual product since they each use different fermentation processes and times.

Q: I’ve heard that apple cider vinegar turns skin white – can I use it on my dark neck?

Yes, if you have dark spots on your neck, apple cider vinegar can help to lighten them.

Q: Can I mix rose water with apple cider vinegar?

Yes, mixing the two makes for a great cleanser and toner!

Q: Can apple cider vinegar make your skin worse and can apple cider vinegar damage your face?

If you don’t dilute apple cider vinegar properly, it can make your skin worse and lead to a damaged outer layer of skin.

Q: How many times a day should you use apple cider vinegar on face? Can I use apple cider vinegar on my face twice a day?

No, you shouldn’t use apple cider vinegar on your face every day. Instead, use it 2-3 times a week for best results.

Q: How long can you leave the vinegar on your skin?

Don’t leave the vinegar on your skin for longer than 30 minutes, even if you’re using organic vinegar.

ALSO READ: Best Skin Lighteners

Conclusion: Is it Worth Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin Whitening?

Not only is it suitable for all skin types, but apple cider vinegar also offers up a huge array of different benefits and uses. Whether you want to use it for skin lightening, anti-aging, anti-acne, or just general skin health, apple cider vinegar scores 10/10 in our eyes!



Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.