Vinegar Tinctures : Which Vinegar is Best for Cosmetics Use

Last year, I started a mini-series about using vinegar in cosmetics and today, we're going to look at which type of vinegar is best for infusions and making tinctures.

If you're gasping in disbelief about using vinegar as a cosmetics ingredient, it's ok. I realize it sounds awfully weird, but you can catch up by checking out the links below to previous posts.

Which Vinegar is Best

You can pretty much use any vinegar you like as long as the acetic acid content is between 4 - 5 %. After that, it's all down to preference. I have a preference and I'm going to demonstrate why it is my first choice for most uses.

There are some stockists (and this could well be your local supermarket) that sell vinegar with an acetic acid content of up to 10%. This is sometimes labelled 'household vinegar' and is too strong for use in cosmetics.

Despite the wide range of available vinegar types, some are more suitable than others. This little comparison test will show how a couple of different vinegars 'behaved' as the medium with fresh (organic) lemon.

The Infusion Begins

Pictured top left: the plainest, most neutral type of vinegar available: distilled white vinegar. It is colorless and has a typical 'pure vinegar' smell.

Pictured top middle: a fancy and relatively pricey French Apple Cider vinegar. The golden color and crisp (apple-y-vinegar-y) smell is a bit more pleasing to the nose (and perhaps eye)-

Pictured top right: a standard local (in my case, Danish) Apple Cider Vinegar with a deeper golden color and similar smell to the French one.

I made a side by side test of equal amounts of medium to material with identical infusion time and conditions. They were also strained using the same method (allowed to stand undisturbed and drip through a paper filter)

Here's how these three turned out after straining.

The color hasn't changed much on the apple cider vinegars, but there is a noticeable difference in the distilled white.

Vinegar Lemon Tincture Results

Ingredient Straining time Yield
Distilled white 5 minutes 90 gr
French Apple Cider 60 minutes 50 gr
Danish Apple Cider 45 minutes 75 gr

I'm pretty sure you can tell from these results which vinegar is my preferred. Not only does distilled white produce a bigger yield, but straining is a breeze and the resulting liquid is crystal clear. 

That still doesn't make it the most correct vinegar – just the one I generally prefer to use.

As for the scent: the lemon is allowed to shine through and stand alone in the distilled white vinegar while it is somewhat 'softer' and 'bent in the direction of apple' in the other 2.

For some cosmetics products, clearness is not a do or die necessity for a successful and appealing outcome. For example, cleansing putties don't require a clear tincture. But if you are a bit like me (and prefer a quick and easy-breezy straining time), you'll probably be reaching for distilled white more often than not.

Do Tell

Do you make vinegar infusions for your cosmetics? What are your favorite materials to infuse?

More About Vinegar in Cosmetics on the Blog

What Vinegar has to do with Cosmetics
Quality Checking Vinegar Tincture: The Meaning of Cloudiness
How to Make a Pomegranate Vinegar Tincture


Unknown said…
Hi Lise. Thanks so much for sharing your expertice with us. Anyway, I've succesfully made lemon white wine vinegar tincture (from whole lemon with peels, 18th march) and I just started testing it in organic facial toners and body mists. First just water + lemon vinegar + preservatives; now I enjoy 20 % neroli hydrosol + lemon vinegar + water face mist! It's absolutely fab, hydrating (I can feel slip on skin during application) and astringent without any other ingredients. Amazing! I use it at night, just in case I don't get sunburn. I happen to love scent of vinegar and lemon. But surprisingly, my toners don't smell vinegary on skin. I've used Marie Rayma's anti acne bentonite mask earlier (from Make it up) with white wine vinegar water mix - it works great.

Scent and color of my first batch is faint, not as yellow than yours, but it brings interesting above mentioned skin benefits to table. Infusion time wasn't long. I've got 2 new batches infusing in my kitchen - from organic lemon peel in vinegar and other one in vodka. Sorry for long post! I've had so much fun! Many thanks, Johanna
LisaLise said…
Hi Johanna — I love your idea of combining with neroli hydrosol — the scent must be divine! Thanks so much for sharing! :D
Johanna said…
Scent combination is amazing, I must admid. I've used tiny concentrations of above mentioned lemon and lemon peel tinctures to see if they bring anything new to the table. They do. Vodka based one works great to sooth and cleanse eyes + skin in my fiances aftershave. I actually used to underestimate botanical extracts before I run into your blog.
LisaLise said…
Hi Johanna — Thanks so much for your kind comment. I am a little addicted to making my own extracts and have different types of brews going on at any given time.
Anonymous said…
hello im from the philippines and my mom makes a lot of coconut sap vinegar and they smell amazing! i wonder if i can use them for infusion? should i test the acetic acidity first before trying?
LisaLise said…
HI Anon-- that sounds lovely! If you can check the acetic acid % then you should be good to go :)
DaphneTierney said…
I’m glad I came across this. I made a lemongrass tincture with white vinegar for my skin and I’m loving it. I’m actually thinking of adding a little glycerin to it for some thickness.
DaphneTierney said…
I’m glad I came across this. I made a tincture with lemongrass and white vinegar for my skin and I’m loving it. I’m actually considering adding glycerin to it for some thickness.
LisaLise said…
Hi Daphne — that sounds like a lovely tincture and a great idea adding a bit of glycerine. It will probably not thicken very much but it’s a great humectant ☺️