Once an ancient preservative and medicine, apple cider vinegar is still popular today for many uses, including skincare. Some people use apple cider vinegar as a toner.

Toner, or facial toner, is a skincare product applied to the face and neck after cleansing. Toners tend to be astringent and drying in order to remove impurities from the surface of the skin while also moisturizing and protecting the skin.

To achieve this, toners must contain ingredients that successfully balance astringent and moisturizing properties.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV), which contains astringent acids, may make an ideal natural toner. Many people report it has good effects.

Let’s look at what it’s all about, starting with a toner recipe and then how ACV toner might benefit skin.

Making your own apple cider vinegar toner is simple and easy to do at home.

A very basic recipe involves a dilution of apple cider vinegar with water:

  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar to about a glass of water (8 oz. or 150 ml)

Some people have come up with more creative recipes with additional ingredients that are great for skin. These may include essential oils, witch hazel, or rosewater. The following recipe has all of these ingredients:

Apple cider vinegar toner recipe

  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 glass water (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. rosewater
  • 2-3 drops essential oil (lavender or chamomile recommended)
  • 1 tsp. witch hazel (for oily skin)

Mix ingredients together in a glass container.

Dab a cotton ball into the toner mixture and apply to target skin areas, especially the face and neck. It’s best to do this after using a facial cleanser — either twice a day or after every use.

If there’s leftover toner, it can be stored at room temperature and used again later.

Important notes

  • For people with sensitive or dry skin, be cautious with using toner. Limit the addition of essential oils, rosewater, or witch hazel.
  • Apple cider vinegar can be drying. For those with dry skin, lowering amounts to 1 tbsp. or less per 8 oz. of water can prevent dryness.
  • Your choice of water may make a difference, too. For example, some tap water is hard water, or full of minerals, which can also dry out your skin.
Healthline
warning

Before using apple cider vinegar and other ingredients on your face or neck, you should do a patch test to check for signs of an allergic reaction.

While anecdotal observations promote apple cider vinegar’s benefits, there are still no studies yet comparing apple cider vinegar toners to common toners, or proving them as any better (or worse). But that’s not to say there aren’t possible perks.

ACV has widely accepted astringent properties due to its high tannin content. This could possibly have a cleansing effect on skin, which some users report.

ACV also contains acetic acids with antimicrobial actions. This can reduce bacteria on the skin, including acne-causing bacteria, which could make ACV good for acne.

Apple cider vinegar possible benefits

  • astringent
  • cleansing
  • removes impurities
  • tightens skin (astringent)
  • acetic acids kill skin bacteria
Healthline

There are many online claims that apple cider vinegar toners can lighten or reduce the appearance of scars. So far, no studies have put this to the test. Some sources have even issued warnings against using ACV for scar removal.

For minor scars, apple cider vinegar may show some benefit, though it’s not proven to be reliable.

One study shows organic acids from natural fermentation, such as found in ACV, can have a chemical peel effect. This can kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation, and decrease risk of scarring from acne all in one.

More research is needed, though it’s possible an apple cider vinegar toner could be a natural way to reduce scarring from acne.

Warning

Avoid applying undiluted apple cider vinegar to the skin. The acids it contains can cause irritation or discomfort in all skin types if not diluted correctly.

Other possible acne scar-reducing remedies to explore

Apple cider vinegar toners aren’t the only natural skincare options to try at home. There are plenty of others.

Some of the best ingredients for natural toners that also show some scientific benefits for skin include:

  • honey
  • tea tree oil
  • green tea
  • aloe vera

Some additional natural ingredients supported by preliminary research include:

  • pine bark
  • milk thistle
  • rosemary
  • grape seed

Their effectiveness in cosmetic products is based primarily on their antioxidant properties.

People are wild about apple cider vinegar for many reasons, including its perceived skincare benefits. Its use as a natural ingredient in toner is quite popular.

Many report good experiences with using it, and there are some evidence-based benefits for skin. More research is still needed. Acne scar removal claims are unsubstantiated, but are also suggested to be true by some studies.

If you still have questions, talk to a dermatologist or an esthetician, and consider your skin type before using or making ACV toners. It may be better for certain skin types than others.