How to Effectively Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Sunburn

Apple cider vinegar is one of those items that I always stock in my pantry, the interesting thing being that I mostly use it in home remedies than as a cooking agent.

Of course, I use this pungent liquid in salads, pickles and other dishes. However, apple cider vinegar has proven to be very effective in treating various skin and hair health issues. So, it has earned its place in my home emergency kit.

And the latest addition to its numerous uses is treating sunburn!

For ages, I have preferred home remedies to store-brought medications for issues like sunburn and rashes, the simple reason being that the items needed are just lying around at home and more importantly, because they never fail.

For sunburn, my go-to remedy is aloe vera gel and witch hazel extract. To learn more about how I use these ingredients to treat sunburn, visit this previous post.

However, on one occasion I had no access to these ingredients. So, when a trusted friend suggested apple cider vinegar as a remedy for sunburn, I decided to try it out. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure that using an acidic solution on injured skin made sense. But desperate times call for desperate measures! And let’s just say that it worked like a charm!

So, why did it work?

Let us take a close look at what Apple cider vinegar is to understand this.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple Cider Vinegar is easily the most popular type of vinegar for health purposes. As the name suggests, it is vinegar made from apple cider.

To prepare it, crushed apples are first mixed with yeast. This process ferments the sugars in the fruit into alcohol.

Afterwards, bacteria are added into the solution to further ferment the alcohol and convert it into acetic acid. The resulting liquid is rich in enzymes, proteins, antioxidants and amino acids that make it an excellent solution for different skin and hair conditions.

What Makes Apple Cider Vinegar Effective on Sunburn?

Let me right away tell you that there is no proven scientific explanation for how or why apple cider vinegar helps sunburn. Nevertheless, the very fact that it is a tried and tested centuries-old remedy suggests its effectiveness.

To understand how it acts, let us first analyze how sunburn occurs.

What is Sunburn?

Skin contains a protective pigment called melanin that protects it against the harmful radiations of the sun. When exposed to direct sunlight, your skin adapts to the condition by producing more melanin. This is what causes sun-exposed skin to tan.

Nevertheless, there is a certain limit to which skin can offer effective protection against the harmful UV rays of the sun. Continued exposure to the sun’s rays will override this protective mechanism and cause damage to the skin, and this is called sunburn.

When sunburn occurs,  your skin will be painfully red and raw. It will usually be itchy and swelling may also be present.

Sunburnt skin is highly sensitive and deserves immediate and effective care to control and rectify the damage.

Now let us look at the different properties of apple cider vinegar that make it effective on such skin.

Apple cider vinegar is an excellent anti-septic – Sunburnt skin is highly prone to infection-causing pathogens. It is also affected by blisters that easily burst and form breeding grounds for bacteria, viruses and other infectious organisms.

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which is an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent. Due to this valuable property of apple cider vinegar, topical application to injury sites will help to keep infection-causing microorganisms at bay and cause it to heal and recover quickly.

Pectin in apple cider vinegar improves the skin barrierScientific studies suggest that pectin greatly improves the skin’s barrier function. Since apple cider vinegar is a rich source of pectin, it improves the skin’s resistance to external agents, restores its pH balance and helps it heal and recover from injury.

Citric acid increases skin turnover – Apple cider vinegar contains citric acid, which is an alpha-hydroxy acid that acts as an anti-oxidant and improves skin turnover. When AHA’s are topically applied to ageing or injured skin, it promotes skin turnover, thus erasing signs of damage.

How to Effectively Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Sunburn

When using apple cider vinegar to treat sunburn, or any other skin condition for that matter, we cannot overlook the fact that it is a very concentrated liquid. Hence, it is unwise to apply this acidic ingredient directly to your skin.

Direct application can trigger severe irritation, even on healthy skin. If the skin is damaged or wounded, the stinging will be intolerable. Continued use can also cause the skin to burn and become more aggravated. Hence, ensure that you always dilute apple cider vinegar prior to application.

A vinegar soak is one of the best ways to use apple cider vinegar on skin affected by conditions like sunburn. Follow this sequence of steps for maximum effectiveness.


  1. Prepare a dilute solution of 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per cup of distilled water.
  2. Dip a clean cotton cloth in this mixture and let it absorb the liquid. Wring out the excess liquid.
  3. Gently place this cloth over the sunburnt skin and pat it gently to transfer the solution to skin. Limit contact with skin to few minutes and then remove the cloth.
  4. Repeat the same process at frequent several times.

Note: Apart from using a vinegar soak, you can also directly spray dilute apple cider vinegar on sunburnt skin.

If sunburn isn’t confined to a single area, but you are struggling with an all-over burning sensation from spending too much time in the sun, apple cider vinegar can prove useful. Simply prepare a cool bath with 1 or 2 cups of diluted apple cider vinegar and soak in it.

To further hasten skin repair and help the damaged skin return to its original condition within no time, here is a useful recipe.

Recipe to Cure Sunburn Using Apple Cider Vinegar


  • Vitamin E tablets—2
  • Aloe vera gel—half a cup
  • Lavender essential oil—5 drops
  • Apple cider vinegar—1 tablespoon


  1. Mix all the ingredients so they blend thoroughly and form a homogenous paste.
  2. Apply this paste to the sunburnt area of your skin.
  3. Leave it on for several minutes, so it penetrates into the skin.
  4. Then, gently rinse it off with cool water.
  5. Pat the area dry and leave it uncovered.

This recipe includes a strong combination of ingredients with various skin-loving benefits. While aloe naturally cools and heals, lavender essential oil soothes skin. Apple cider vinegar provides antiseptic protection and restores the natural pH balance of sensitive skin. So, overall this is a mixture that is guaranteed to work. Consistent application of this mixture to sunburnt skin will produce excellent results.

Give it a try and don’t forget to drop us a comment with your experience.

Important Factors to Remember When Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Sunburn

As with any other natural remedy, there are some important factors to keep in mind when using apple cider vinegar for sunburn.

1. Apple cider vinegar does not cure sunburn overnight

Sunburnt skin has already undergone extensive damage. So, you cannot expect apple cider vinegar, or any other sunburn solution for that matter, to produce instant results. Apple cider vinegar can speed along the healing process, but it cannot eliminate symptoms immediately. Constant and consistent application of this ingredient is necessary to obtain results. Be prepared to wait for few days to a week at least, to see significant improvement in the condition.

2. Good quality apple cider vinegar will produce better results

It goes without saying that the purity and quality of the apple cider vinegar has great impact on the results. Best apple cider vinegar is pure and raw. Extensive distillation will cause apple cider vinegar to lose its potent qualities as the refining process strips it of its beneficial enzymes and good bacteria. When choosing apple cider vinegar for skin care, ensure that the sample is free from preservatives and other synthetic agents. Additives can produce unwanted side-effects, and this is not something you want to deal with.

3. Direct application of concentrated apple cider vinegar should be avoided at all costs

Vinegar is a powerful acidic agent that can cause burns of its own when applied in concentrated form. Hence, completely avoid directly application of any type of vinegar on skin. Always dilute apple cider vinegar prior to application. Start with 1 teaspoon of vinegar for every cup of water and see whether your skin tolerates it. If it is effective, you can consider increasing the concentration of vinegar. Nonetheless, always ensure that the concentration of vinegar doesn’t exceed that of water in the mixture.

Possible Side-effects of Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Sunburn

Apple cider vinegar, when used in the right concentration for topical application on skin, rarely produces any unwanted side-effects. When users experience issues, they are usually because of insufficient dilution of apple cider vinegar with enough water or due to presence of other additives in the sample used.

When apple cider vinegar is applied to skin in concentrated form, it can trigger itching and cause a burning sensation. Since sunburnt skin has already undergone extensive damage, this should be avoided at all costs.

Although oral consumption of apple cider vinegar doesn’t help with sunburn, you may choose to consume it for various other issues. If you practice this, remember that apple cider vinegar in small quantities is generally safe. However, long-term use is not advised. Consumption of apple cider vinegar should be strictly monitored in people suffering from diabetes, digestive problems and low potassium levels as it can produce various undesirable side-effects.

However, none of these side-effects are seen with topical application of this ingredient to sunburnt skin. Take care to adjust the concentration of vinegar and limit the time that apple cider vinegar is in contact with skin, and you will not have to worry about unwanted symptoms.

Apple cider vinegar rarely triggers allergies. Nonetheless, if you observe any redness, pain or severe itching at any stage, stop application and immediately seek medical help.

Other Important Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar

Treating sunburn is just one of the many uses of apple cider vinegar. Let us explore some of its other benefits in skin and health care as well.

Natural Astringent

Diluted apple cider vinegar is an excellent astringent that reduces pore size and tightens the skin. Topical application helps to reduce oiliness and makes tired skin appear taut and smooth. Being acidic, it creates a protective layer over the skin surface and improves its barrier function.

Prevents Skin Damage

Apple cider vinegar not only has healing properties by which it restores the skin to its original condition, it also prevents existing damage from becoming worse. Beta-carotene, among other phenols that are present in apple cider vinegar works towards preventing further damage to injured skin.

Useful to De-odorize Smells

Whether it is to eliminate underarm or foot odor, apple cider vinegar is a good candidate for the job. The acids in apple cider vinegar correct the pH of the skin and restores it to the right level. As a result, the skin regains health and is no longer a suitable medium for microorganisms to thrive in.

Removes Dandruff

When mixed in equal quantities with water and sprayed on hair after a shower, apple cider vinegar acts as an excellent anti-dandruff solution. The theory behind its effectiveness is that the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar prevents fungus causing dandruff from growing and proliferating.

Concluding Thoughts…

Apple cider vinegar is one of those natural products that give and give and give!

From treating acne to eliminating dandruff, this natural ingredient serves numerous purposes. And treating sunburn is one of its specialties.

Not only does it have powerful components that can cure the damage caused by harmful UV rays of the sun, it also kickstarts the skin repair process and quickly restores the skin to its original condition. So, if you don’t have it already, this is one solid reason why you should get a bottle of apple cider vinegar for your kitchen.

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