Does Raw Apple Cider Vinegar Bleach Skin?

There’s a lot of drama out there on which skin care is better, “natural” or ...well...everything else. As far as I know, all matter is made of chemicals, so, really no fuss. I have no problem using a “natural” or “everything else” skin care product as long as I get my money’s worth.

That’s me though, some people want natural skin care no matter who, what, where or why. I respect that, so I recently asked y’all to submit any questions about natural skin care. And boy, did over 300 of you ask. Thanks!

I know that for each question, over 10 people want to know the same thing, so here we are! The very first question received was, “Does raw ACV bleach skin?”

I like to give thorough skin care answers. And that question has layers, eh? Layers like:

  • How is skin bleached?

  • What is raw apple cider vinegar?

  • Do the components of raw apple cider vinegar bleach skin?

See? Layers. So my dear glowdess, this one is for you.


How is skin bleached?

Before we get into how skin bleaching, let’s get this straight.

There is a difference bleaching and brightening. Bleaching is about changing the natural shade of your skin to a lighter tone. Brightening is about getting rid of dark spots and uneven tone to get your skin back to its natural shade.

In short: bleaching bad, brightening good.

Skin bleaching is a huge problem in Africa. West and South Africa have the highest rates, according to this BBC article.

This is sad. We need to embrace ourselves y'all.

This is how bleaching works. Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin, eyes, and hair, color.The ingredients in the bleaching products inhibit the production of melanin. This in turn, makes your skin tone lighter.

In DIY skin care, you would have heard about ACV toner.

There are many raw ACV toner recipes on the interwebs. Most of them need 1 part ACV to 2 parts distilled water. Mix the two and you have homemade ACV toner! If you can stand the smell. I can’t.

So do the ingredients in raw apple cider vinegar inhibit the production of melanin? Well, to get to that, we need to know what raw apple cider vinegar is.


What is raw apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar or ACV is fermented apple juice. There’s filtered and unfiltered/raw apple cider.

According to this article on the kitchn, “filtered apple cider vinegar is made with apple juice and water. The filtering process removes the vinegar "mother" and any sediment, leaving a clear, amber-colored vinegar. Additionally, it is likely that this vinegar has been pasteurized, which further refines and clarifies it.

Unfiltered apple cider vinegar is also made from apple juice and water, but the mother hasn't been filtered out and it likely isn't pasteurized. Its appearance is cloudy and may contain small amounts of sediment.

So the only difference between the two is the "mother," which is simply a somewhat murky (but harmless) collection of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria. It's this mother that transforms alcohol into vinegar (along with the presence of oxygen).”

Now that we know what raw ACV is, we know it’s main component. Acetic acid.


Does acetic acid bleach skin?

Here’s what I found...


I have not found any scientific proof that acetic acid inhibits melanin production.

In cosmetics, acetic acid is used to adjust pH. pH adjusters stabilize formulations, so the products can work. (You can read more on the importance of pH in a cosmetic formulation here.)


In Conclusion

I don’t believe raw ACV toner bleaches skin. I don’t think it gets rid of dark spots and uneven skin tone either.

There is some anecdotal evidence that it clears acne. I assume this is because the bacteria on skin can’t thrive in acidic conditions caused by swiping with acetic acid.

I hope I’ve answered your question. Thank you for taking the time to send it.

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