Does honey vinegar acid help skin?

Apple Cider Vinegar isolated on a white background. Yellow honeycomb wax cell slice
When mixed together, honey and apple cider vinegar may make an effective skin toner.
Š Smythe/Leonid Nyshko

Honey -- that sweet, healthy nectar of bees -- shows up in many products, from cereal and bread to soaps and lotions. People use honey to sweeten food and beverages, consume honey to boost their energy or immune systems, and even apply it to burns, stings, rashes and other trouble spots on their skin. When combined with vinegar, honey may become an even more effective natural skin care product. However, it's important to understand what effect honey and vinegar acid will have before you put them on your skin.

Honey acts as a humectant, meaning that it traps moisture, a desirable attribute of many skin care products. By sealing moisture into the skin, honey helps soothe dry, scaly tissue. It also has an antibiotic effect. This is why people use honey to treat wounds -- it contains an enzyme that generates a form of hydrogen peroxide when applied to the injured area. For this reason, honey not only softens and restores moisture to damaged skin but also remedies irritation and reduces inflammation. Applied to trouble acne spots, honey may even help clear up pimples [source: Gibson, National Honey Board].


Like honey, vinegar has a number of uses -- everything from cleaning kitchen floors to dressing salads. In recent years, apple cider vinegar has been touted for its skin care effects, especially when combined with honey. Vinegar is highly acidic, and this acid can make vinegar an effective skin toner. It may help dry up oily acne, and mixed with water and honey, it can soothe and smooth irritated skin [source: WebMD, Cox].

But there's another side to vinegar, too. Many of the claims reported by vinegar proponents have not been adequately studied and supported. More importantly, it can have some negative effects. High acidity makes vinegar potentially harmful, especially to those with sensitive skin. The acetic acid found within it can be abrasive and may result in skin burns. You should always dilute vinegar before applying or consuming it. If used too often, vinegar might also react badly with certain medications or lower your bone density. If you have heart disease, diabetes or osteoporosis, you should consult your physician before using vinegar to treat your skin or any other conditions [source: WebMD].

The combination of honey and apple cider vinegar may have a positive effect on your skin. However, honey offers many of these effects on its own, without the acidic risks of the vinegar. So you might consider skipping the vinegar and sticking with plain honey. When in doubt, consult your doctor.

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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Cox, Janice. "Natural Beauty at Home." 2002. (Accessed 9/11/09)
  • Gibson, Lawrence E. "Honey: Can It Heal Wounds?" February 29, 2008. Mayo Clinic. (Accessed 9/28/09)
  • National Honey Board. "Beauty and Honey." (Accessed 9/11/09)
  • WebMD. "Apple Cider Vinegar." 2007. (Accessed 9/11/09)
  • Wilbert, Caroline. "Honey May Help Heal Wounds." October 3, 2008. WebMD. (Accessed 9/28/09)