Apple Cider Vinegar Facial Toner Benefits + Recipe

Heather Dessinger

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apple cider vinegar toner

Have you ever wondered if skin toner is the pet rock of beauty products – basically an attempt to get you to spend money on something you don’t need? I definitely have.

As I’ve developed my natural skincare routine over the years – homemade hyaluronic acid serum, face masks, moisturizers and more – I’ve learned a lot about the whys and why nots behind different approaches. 

For consumers who slather synthetic (often hormone-disrupting) cleansers on their face, toner is probably unnecessary due to the pH of those products. However, if you use a natural cleanser, toner can really benefit your skin. 

That’s because in addition to promoting skin clarity, it also helps keep skin looking youthful by supporting the “invisible veil” that holds moisture in. I’ll explain how in this post, and share a simple recipe for apple cider vinegar toner that you can make in under five minutes.

Why your skin needs acid, even if it isn’t oily

Healthy skin has an acid mantle that’s “like an invisible veil that keeps the good stuff (lipids, moisture) in and the bad stuff (pollution, bacteria) out. As the name indicates, the acid mantle is at its strongest—and therefore most naturally balanced—when the skin is slightly acidic, with an optimum pH of about 5.5.” (1)

That’s important to know because when we cleanse with soap, two things happen . . .

1. We remove debris and transient bacteria. We also rinse away some of the good bacteria that are part of our natural microbiome, but those bacteria also live in the deeper layers of our skin that water doesn’t touch and therefore quickly repopulate.

2. Unfortunately, soap also changes the skin’s pH from acid to alkaline and washes off the “protective film” part of the mantle, which is sebum produced by our skin. Or as New York dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe put it, “The natural acidity in our skin can be disrupted when we use harsh cleansers and soaps. This in turn destroys the acid mantle protecting our skin from harmful bacteria, germs, and pollutants.”

So, how does apple cider vinegar benefit skin?

According to Dr. Bowe, apple cider vinegar “returns acidity to your skin and the malic acid in apple cider vinegar makes it antibacterial, wiping out bacteria.” In other words, using a toner made with apple cider vinegar restores our natural pH levels, which benefits skin in several ways:

Supports Skin Clarity

For skin that is prone to acne blemishes and blackheads, apple cider vinegar may help by balancing the skin microbiome and gently dissolving dead skin cells that can lead to breakouts. 

In this interview, New York dermatologist Sejal Shah, M.D., says that “While there haven’t been any scientific studies specifically evaluating apple cider vinegar for acne, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has both antibacterial and keratolytic properties.”

“In other words,” continues the article, “it has the potential to help zap your bumps from the source.”

May Help Prevent Premature Aging

According to this article, your skin’s “Alkalinity might also play a role in aging. A study published in British Journal of Dermatology by Greg Hillebrand, PhD, of P&G Beauty Science showed that women with an alkaline stratum corneum (the skin’s outermost layer) developed more fine lines and crow’s-feet than those with acidic skin over an eight-year period.” 

Apple cider vinegar is also thought to be similar to a very mild exfoliating chemical peel that encourages skin renewal and minimizes the appearance of pores. Some people say apple cider vinegar helped even out the tone of acne scars or dark spots, and this exfoliating effect may explain why.

Incorporating Apple Cider Vinegar Toner Into Your Skincare Routine

Adding this toner to your daily routine is as simple as 1-2-3. 

1. Cleanse – Using activated charcoal soap or your favorite cleansing bar, gently wash your face and neck area. If you’d prefer to skip soap altogether, try the oil cleansing method or a honey face wash instead.

2. Tone– Moisten a cotton ball with your ACV facial toner and wipe it over your face and neck, avoiding the delicate skin near your eyes. 

3. Moisturize – After application, all you need to do is smooth on moisturizer and you’re done! I recommend this this hydrating skin repair face serum recipe or homemade tallow balm, which is uniquely compatible with our skin’s biology due to its similarity to the sebum that makes up our protective layer.

how to make tallow balm recipe 1

If you don’t have easy access to tallow or are short on time, my friend Emilie sells pre-made tallow balm blends that smell amazing. If you want to try it out, click here and use MOMMYPOTAMUS at checkout for 10% off your first order.

Optional Additions: Witch Hazel or Herbal Hydrosols

We’ve all heard that oil and water don’t mix, and that’s true when it comes to essential oils and this skin toner. Because it’s a water-based formula, the essential oils will not disperse and instead will float on the top of the toner, making it very difficult to get an even application.

That’s why for this recipe I recommend using hydrosols, which are “flower waters” that have similar therapeutic properties as their essential oil counterparts, but work better in water-based formulas. 

Here are a few of my favorites for skincare:

Witch hazel extract – which contains antioxidant tannins that ease skin irritation  – is also a great addition if you have it on hand. You’ll find instructions for including it (and any of the hydrosols) in the recipe below.

apple cider vinegar toner recipe
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4.28 from 11 votes

Apple Cider Vinegar Toner Recipe

Most people think of apple cider vinegar as something that helps with acne, but it also can keep skin looking youthful by supporting an "invisible veil" that protects skin integrity. Here's how to use it as a skin toner.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Author Heather Dessinger



To Make Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

  • Using the ratio that is best for your skin type (see notes sections for details), combine the apple cider vinegar and distilled water (or hydrosol) together.
  • If adding witch hazel, add 1-2 teaspoons per 1/4 cup.
  • Pour in a clean, airtight jar.

To Use Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

  • Apply to clean skin using a cotton ball or clean cloth. Some people prefer to pour it into a small spray bottle and spritz it on – that works too!
  • Allow the apple cider vinegar toner to dry, then follow with a moisturizer like this face serum recipe.


Choosing The Right Concentration For Your Skin: 

Because your skin is unique, the ratio of apple cider vinegar to water (or hydrosol) that works best for you may be different than what works best for someone else. I recommend starting with concentration that best matches your skin type, then increasing or decreasing the amount of apple cider vinegar if needed.
This recipe is listed in “parts” instead of exact amounts so that you can make the batch size you prefer. So, for example, if it calls for 1 part apple cider vinegar to 4 parts distilled water or hydrosol, that can mean 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 4 tablespoons water/hydrosol, or 1 ounce vinegar to 4 ounces water/hydrosol.
1:4 Ratio – Recommended for dry skin/ sensitive skin: 1 part apple cider vinegar to 4 parts distilled water or hydrosol. 
1:2 Ratio – Recommended for normal skin: 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts distilled water or hydrosol.
1:1 Ratio – Recommended for oily skin: 1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part distilled water or hydrosol. 

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1. (2011) How To Get Balanced Skin

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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69 thoughts on “Apple Cider Vinegar Facial Toner Benefits + Recipe”

  1. I look forward to using this! I don’t see where you add the ACV and cold water – can you add that anywhere in the process? Thanks!

    • Hi Amber, I just checked with Aubrey and updated the instructions. Thanks for your comment – I totally missed that there was a missing step!

      • Heather, I am confused, I have searched through the instructions for this toner and cannot find honey. I see a honey face wash link, but no amount or proportion for honey. Did I miss Audrey’s link?

        • HI Rikylyn, I updated the recipe this year because the previous recipe had a very short shelf life. There is no honey needed in the new recipe. Hope that helps 🙂

  2. I’m sorry if I missed it (but I read and re-read the post a few times to be sure) but when do you add the ACV? This looks great and I have all the ingredients to try it out! Would love to know about the ACV and make some. 🙂

      • No problem! Thanks! 🙂 I’m so thrilled that I was introduced to your site by another fan. I love it!! I bought your DIY Beauty Care book recently and plan to make a bunch of recipes from it this week.

  3. This does sound pretty amazing! I would also like to know how long it should stay good for, and if it needs to be kept in the fridge.
    Thank you!

  4. PS- By the nature of this being a “toner” this is probably a silly question, but because of the honey, I wanted to ask… After your cleanser, this just goes strait on the face and you leave it on, right? No rinsing afterwards? And if one were to add a moisturizer to her routine…would that be ok to add after, or just a bad idea? Thank you so much!

  5. Not sure if I missed it but it doesn’t give instructions on how to use it. Do you put it on with a cotton ball and leave it on or do you rinse it off after a period of time? Also, do you refrigerate it or no? and how long with this be good for? thanks

    • Thanks for the questions ladies! There is no need to keep this refrigerated. I make this one batch at a time and use it daily, and haven’t had any issues with expiration due to the ACV and the EO’s which helps to keep it shelf stable. I can’t speak for how long it’ll stay good for, but it’s safe to say that it’ll keep for several months.

      Use it as you would any traditional toner, there is NO need to rinse. You can put it in a spritz bottle (my personal preference), apply with a cotton swab, or just use your bare hands. I apply mine immediately after I wash my face. You can still add a moisturizer afterwards, just give it a few minutes to dry in between.

  6. Before adding in the EO’s, it will be tempting to not spread this on a bagel! LOL!
    I have oily skin so I am willing to try out this natural recipe. Thanks a bunch!

    • LOL, it’s reassuring to know that we’re putting things on our skin that are safe to be in our bodies (since inevitably that’s where it’ll all end up anyway)

  7. Hello.. I just tried this mixture today and had a quick question about leaving it on as a toner. I spritzed it on and notice that due to the honey my skin is left feeling sticky which feel a bit uncomfortable. Will you retain the benefits of the ingredients by rinsing it off a bit?

  8. Hi Heather, you are a genius! I have always wanted to use natural homemade things and never trust the market brands. I’ve also read your book and I am enthralled by the number of ways we can go natural. Although most things are not widely available in my country, I’ll try my best to whip up things 😀

    • Thank you, Zim! Just to clarify, though, this recipe is a guest contribution from Aubrey of Homegrown and Healthy 🙂

  9. I tried this today and thought I’d offer my two cents. I was really excited to make this since I live/work on a farm and don’t have any A/C, I often refresh my face throughout the day using plain water or witch hazel between real face washes. I don’t like store toners because they always dry out my skin and my skin is already dry.

    So I made it tonight and here’s what I found: Super easy to make, whipped it up in 5 minutes. After applying it, I noticed what another poster mentioned, which is that it left my skin feeling slightly tacky, not a lot but enough to bug me. So I tweaked it, I added more water (sorry, didn’t measure…maybe 1/4-1/2 cup more?) and I also added a bit more ACV (didn’t measure that either but I’d guess a few Tablespoons more). This did the trick, now it’s perfect and leaves no sticky feeling. Oh: I also substituted the peppermint oil with a combination of tea tree and orange; tea tree for it’s astringent nature and orange because it’s good for dull skin, which I have. That combo leaves a refreshing scent too!

    One thing I did with this toner is pat dry with a towel (after applying it with a cotton pad),- not enough to remove it but enough to get rid of excess wetness, since there’s no alcohol in it to dry it quickly. Then I deliberately didn’t moisturize to be able to feel my skin accurately after it fully dried and was back to normal. It feels great! What amazes me is that it actually tightens my skin without drying it out. The very thing I hate about store toners is the drying nature, so this is fantastic. I don’t feel the need to go moisturize now either, which is crazy because again, my skin is very dry. I do think I’ll still need to moisturize in the winter or before makeup however, but that’s fine.

    I hope the extra water and extra ACV tip helps anyone else who finds it slightly tacky on the skin, that really solved the problem for me. Now I just need to label it so I’ll know how to make it again once this is gone. This will be great throughout the rest of the summer for quick refreshes when I’m outside getting sweaty. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    • Laura, thanks for all the practical tips. I finally have all the ingredients and clean kitchen ready, so I’m hoping to try it out this weekend myself!

  10. I just made this the other day and it’s perfect; not too harsh for sensitive skin but does a great job removing the grime left behind after washing. And it is so easily adjustable. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. This question may go unnoticed due to how late, in comparison to the publishing date of the actual recipe/article, I’m posting it, but I might as well ask:

    I’m fairly new to essential oil usage but the one thing I’ve noticed almost everyone, or every recipe stating, is that you need to pair it with a carrier oil to help with the absorption of the essential oil. On that note, is there a reason why you don’t add a little bit of a carrier oil into this toner? Have you experimented with adding some in and it just didn’t have the same effect as without it?

  12. I made this a couple months ago and put it into an open glass container on my bathroom counter. Guess what? It formed a little scoby! Awesome! I was worried it might go bad since it is only honey, ACV and water, but it’s still good. The honey and ACV must help keep it from going bad. I usually use witch hazel in my toners. I found that this one doesn’t clean as well as my other witch hazel one (on my oily face), but think it might be better to use in winter, when it’s dryer and harsher on skin. But I’ve been too lazy to make my other one and this works sufficiently in summer. I didn’t use peppermint, but used Frankincense instead.

  13. I LOVE this toner. After a week of using it I am seeing a significant difference in my skin. I struggle with acne and this toner helps greatly to even skin tone and keep oil under control. I have ditched the toxic stuff for good. Thank you : )

  14. I have been using this for about 3 weeks now. I find it’s a little drying. Could I add some lavender essential oil? Would I need to remake it without the peppermint?

    • Hello Heather, Can you make a 16 oz bottle of this with many batches, it just seems easier to make a bottle at a time for me. I was making only the bit
      at a time, but thought before I read the comments that it would be less time spent by making a 16 oz bottle well it about 12 oz I just continued the ratio over and over again until I reached the 12oz. I don’t use water to make it, I use organic Apple Cider vinegar and Plant Therapy peppermint hydrosol to make it. Concerned about it spoiling. I use it 2 a day. Did I make it less effective because I did the ratio over and over again? Did I dilute too much? Will it spoil and be unsafe to use with that amount made? What is your recommendation of the amount one should make at a time?

      Thank you,
      Claudia Robles

  15. I have Heather’s DIY Organic Beauty Recipe e-book (love it!). I have tried the ACV toner recipe in the book (same ratio of 2T of ACV per 1 cup water). The ACV is too strong for my sensitive skin (it becomes tight and dry). Can I reduce to 1 tbsp of ACV per 1 cup? I know the shelf life is 1 year with the 2 T of ACV and am wondering about the shelf life with reducing to 1 T?

    Also since I’m allergic to peppermint, I would be using lavender and frankincense instead. The lavender has antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal and bactericide properties (amongst other soothing, healing properties for skin). So that should help with shelf life, right?

    • Hi KK, it’s totally fine to dilute the ACV more, but it will decrease the shelf life somewhat. I’m not sure exactly what the new shelf life would be, so if it were me I’d make smaller batches more often. Hope that helps.

  16. Any DIY product made with water will develop bacteria within about 20 minutes. I really don’t know if the ACV helps 100% to keep the micro organisms away or not but I would be cautious with this. The bacteria is not visible! After studying skin care formulation recently I am concerned about no preservative in the product. Honey is a natural preservative…for honey, it won’t mold. But when you add honey to something with water, bacteria will grow.
    The recipe sounds wonderful and I will try it for a one time application by reducing the amount of each ingredients and leaving off the essential oil.

  17. I am semi new to essential oils. I live on an island and summer is approaching, therefore spending a lot of time on the beach.
    Is peppermint essential oil photosentive? Will it react with the sun?

  18. I found out the hard way (another facial cleanse recipe) that I’m allergic to honey topically. I know honey is the star of this toner, so it may not be possible to replace it, but any suggestions would be much appreciated!

  19. Heyyy ! I’ve tried this recipe right after receiving your email a week ago, and have been using for approximately 7 days now.
    And…my mum and (girl)friends have all told me my skin looks amazing, “so perfect, what did you do to it?”.
    And this toner being the only thing that has changed in my routine, I strongly recommend it ! :)))
    Thank youuuu!

  20. I’ve been using this toner just about every day and love the results. I made it with rosewater so it smells divine. I use it after an ACV exfoliating scrub I created and I’ve seen my dark marks lighten and my pores have gotten smaller.

  21. Hi Heather! I am going to try this remedy As soon as possible. But, I have one question, After putting the ACV toner in my face and leave it like for 20 or more minutes can I rinse it off with water then put my moisturizers after? Does it still works if I do that? I just really don’t like the smell of it and I really think it would smell more bad if I add it with my moisturizer.

  22. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, most people have success with this toner because it balances out skin. I actually used this as a toner for a few months and noticed that it did improve my acne.

  23. This really sounds great! However, I’ve used apple cider to cure my sore throat and any signs of cough haha I never knew that this can be a formula for a face toner.

  24. Tea tree oil works for acne not just the pimple. If you are using it for the occasional pimple, put a little bit of tea tree oil on a Q-tip and apply it to the pimple. Tea tree oil anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It is used to for a number of things, including bad breath, athlete’s foot, cold sores, body odor and acne. It is safe to use tea tree oil as a treatment for whiteheads and blackheads.
    Make a tea tree oil mask to help acne. tea tree oil can be applied to your skin two to three times daily for best results.

  25. If you don’t clean your face with soap but rather a Norwex body cloth and water (or occasionally the oil cleansing method) is toner still necessary?

  26. I have been using ACV as a toner for years. I am older, and now have dry/sensitive skin, which used to be super oily. I wish I had known about ACV when younger! What I do is first saturate a cotton pad with water, and then squirt some ACV onto the wet cotton pad. After rubbing the ACV onto my face, I rinse, dry and then moisturize. I get dermatitis, and the ACV has really helped with that. Sometimes I use it as a scalp rinse too. I used to even soak herbs in the ACV for a week or two before using, but now just use the stuff as-is. My skin loves it.

  27. When home-ecc cousin died a 1000 people were at her funeral in ice cold Cleveland . She advised me to never wash my face. That is killing a lot of stress in self care but also makes sense. This apple cider Vinegar recipe is amazing if you adopt ditching the daily face wash. Altho, 20 min. of summer sunshine causes sweating out winter toxins and then I scrub the face with a soft brisle brush. Not just any brush, but the exact perfect brisle. Got to be careful … Dr Jack Kruse ( NY Neurosergeon-mitochondrial hacker ) say 20 mins. of sunshine sets at different parts of the day are essential for cirrcadium reset. Especially 20 mins in the morning facing east. The sicker you are the more morning sun UVA’s you need. Even if you live in Canada in the winter , it is that essential. He states that it is not what you eat but how you deal with the sun. Moving south of Savannah Georgia is where you can really bang it out. Scandinavians thrive only because their fish like ” King Oscar ” Sardines are jam packed with EFA/DHA and they know how to prepare fish in general in those icy cold waters. Equater fish are junk in comparison. Equate people get nourished from the sun as tho they are plants. They dont need that much protein vittles … My main beverage is fresh squeezed lemonade with Stevia. Even with 5 feet off snow the Breville Citrus Juicer really is a colossal find. Hope tips help.

  28. I am considering doing a blend of witch hazel (I used one infused with rose attar) and ACV. Not sure what the ratio would be or if there is a benefit.

  29. I found a recipe for a ramped-up version of ACV toner: Queen of Hungary’s Water:
    There is much debate over the history of this ancient recipe. Some say that it was created for the aging Queen of Hungary by an alchemist in the 1300’s to restore her youthfulness.
    There are numerous variations of the recipe. I based my version on Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe.
    • 5 parts fresh or dried organic Lemon Balm

    • 5 parts fresh or dried organic Lavender

    • 4 parts fresh or dried organic Chamomile

    • 4 parts fresh or dried organic Roses

    • 4 parts fresh or dried organic Calendula

    • 3 parts fresh or dried organic Comfrey leaf

    • 1 part fresh or dried organic Lemon Peel

    • 1 part fresh or dried organic Rosemary

    • 1 part fresh or dried organic Sage

    • 1 part fresh or dried organic Peppermint
    • 1 part fresh or dried organic Elder flowers
    • 1 part fresh or dried organic Helichrysum flowers

    • Organic Apple Cider Vinegar/Witch Hazel/Vodka
    Combine all herbs in a glass mason jar and add vinegar until the liquid rises above the herbs by at least 1 or 2 inches. As the herbs swell, add additional vinegar if needed. Cap the jar tightly and shake once or more per day. After 2-6 weeks, strain out the herbs and reserve the liquid.
    Strain out the herbs. To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of essential oil, if desired. Rebottle. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely. ***
    It is from a Mountain Rose Herbs blog post by rosemary Gladstar:
    I have used it and love it! (I’m 66!)

  30. I haven’t used soap on my face in… decades?
    I usually just used water and a natural oil make-up remover with washable pads (great!) BUT for the last half year I‘ve been using a microfiber mitt (I know, microfibers going in the water when washing them… 🙈 ) and all I use for cleaning my face with it is water. The mitt is made produced locally where I live in Upper Austria, Europe (ReinZeit) and I also LOVE their glass cleaning mop that has huge glass surfaces cleaned with water in just minutes!!
    I‘ll be making this toner for my daughters and me tomorrow!!
    For /tweens/teens I assume 1:4 is best?
    AND can I make my own hydrosols?
    I have calendula and wild herbs galore all around me. 😀
    I once tried making rose water and it turned a brown. 🙁👎🏼 Any advice?

    Thanks for sharing your toner!! Love ACV!!

  31. 5 stars
    I make my own vinegar and I buy lavender hydrosol from our local lavender farm so I am set to make this toner! Please tell me how long it lasts? It seems like storing it room temperature would not be an issue, but just making sure. Small batch is usually the best. Thank you!

  32. Queen of Hungary’s Water is a great toner and hair rinse that has an ACV base. I need to make a new batch since I just ran out. You can do a search for a good recipe (mine is on another computer which won’t be up and running for a few more months. ) I found it in an ancient book of beauty recipes, so it is pretty old…..there are many versions of it, but I really like mine! I’ll post it here when I find it. MRH has one based on Rosemary Gladstars recipe….

  33. Heather, I need some advice from your natural approach perspective. I am slowly investing in carrier oils, EOs, hydrosols, etc., and intend to begin making your recipes here to replace my chemical-laden expensive top recommended brand products. But coming from a strict regimen of ‘normal’ skincare routine I am having trouble recreating because the information I am reading seems to indicate many crossovers. Please help me be as efficient and intelligent as possible. From the previous routine here is the order of regimen. Day/Morning: Dry Brush, cleanse, tone, serum, eye cream, spot treatment, moisturizer, face oil, sunscreen, then apply makeup. Night/Bedtime: makeup remover, scrub 1x /week, mask 1x/ week, cleanse, tone, serums, eye cream, spot treatment, moisturizer, retinol, face oil, if desired, silicone wrinkle remove patch 1 hour before bed. Could you take your recipes and fit them in this framework in the proper order for maximization and efficiency of benefit? Or do I need to entirely scrap my prior routine?

  34. 5 stars
    Best, most affordable toner!
    I wouldn’t use a toner normally but I just made this one again for the third time. My teen daughters use it, too!

    Great that you can customize it to skin needs!

    I use ACV and rose water.

    Just added witch hazel „water“ this time which I had at home. Is it okay, though, that it has an alcohol basis?

  35. Hello,
    I am a post menopausel 65 year old female. I am having ALOT of small white head break outs around, and under my mouth. It seems every pore is full of puss. It is truely driving me crazy.
    Can you PLEASE HELP?

  36. I’m also done with putting too much chemicals on my skin so this apple cider vinegar toner recipe is just perfect for my routine. Trying it out definitely! Big thanks!

  37. The recipe looks good and I am ready to make it. But I do have one concern. Since the ACV has the mother, won’t it keep fermenting, and thus make the toner more acidic over time? Especially since you do not specify to store it in the fridge…