Know Your Ingredients: Citric Acid

by beautifulwithbrains

Citric_acid

What it is
Citric Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). It exists in a variety of fruits and vegetables like lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines and blackberries but can also be made from fermented sugar solutions. At room temperature, it is a white, crystalline powder.

What it does
Citric Acid is used in cosmetics and personal care products to adjust their ph balance.
In addition, it can inhibits tyrosinase to even out the skin tone.
It is also used to impart a lemon-like fragrance to a product.

Side effects
Excessive exposure to Citric Acid can contact dermatitis in people with sensitive skin.
In addition, Citric Acid, may increase photosensitivity, so products containing this ingredient should be used in conjunction with a sunscreen.

(Sources: Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 2009 Vol. 32 No. 3, Contact Dermatitis. Jan 2009, and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, November 2002)

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17 comments

jojoba May 23, 2009 - 10:58 pm

i always think this ingredient as a food addictive. 🙂

i think i need to avoid it as it’s photosensitive. i can’t afford to have more spots!

Reply
beautifulwithbrains May 24, 2009 - 12:39 pm

jojoba, if you use a sunscreen with it, you should be fine. And yes, it is also used in as a flavouring and preservatives in food too.

Reply
lupcoc June 27, 2010 - 4:06 pm

What is the effect, if citric acid is added in wet tissue lotion?

Reply
beautifulwithbrains June 27, 2010 - 5:42 pm

Lupcoc, in that case it can be used for several reasons, like to make the product last longer or to add a certain scent to it. It may also be used for its toning properties.

Reply
lupcoc September 28, 2010 - 8:04 pm

Thanx a lot

Reply
beautifulwithbrains September 28, 2010 - 8:50 pm

Lupoc, you’re welcome.

Reply
hafez April 8, 2012 - 10:04 pm

can i use citric acid as a skin lightening agent? and what the percentage to use in a face cream formula

Reply
beautifulwithbrains April 9, 2012 - 1:40 pm

Hafez, I guess you could, but ingredients like hydroquinone work better. Also, you’d need to use a product with a high concentration of citric acid, which could be irritating, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Reply
zztins December 2, 2010 - 3:08 am

is it true that citric acid can be used to elliminate the smell of pure fish oil(oil for cosmetic serum)? in this case, what is the form of the citruc acid since water cant combine well with oil?
thx

Reply
beautifulwithbrains December 2, 2010 - 12:15 pm

zztins, yes, citric acid can be used as a fragrant ingredients to mask the smell of other ingredients used in the products. Usually cosmetics contain ingredients called emulsifier to help the water and oil parts of a product to mix. Hope this helps.

Reply
Roes February 10, 2014 - 3:26 am

In addition, Citric Acid, may increase photosensitivity, so products containing this ingredient should be used in conjunction with a sunscreen. – I’m confused with this statement, citric acid may increase photosensitivity, meaning if I use it in a sunscreen lotion, it may be more harmful to the user, then why it should be used in conjunction with sunscreen? Please enlighten me with this one.
Thank you.

Reply
Gio February 10, 2014 - 10:30 pm

Roes, as a rule, it is best not to use citric acid on the face because it can cause photosensitivity and irritations. Sunscreen can help reduce, or at least, manage the former, so if you’re gonna use citric acid it makes sense to apply it. Also, when used in a sunscreen, the sunscreen agents may help reduce the potential side effects of citric acid. But the less used, the better.

Reply
TN Sun Balm Pact SPF50 PA+++ May 9, 2014 - 9:42 am

[…] Citric Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). It exists in a variety of fruits and vegetables like lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines and blackberries but can also be made from fermented sugar solutions. At room temperature, it is a white, crystalline powder. Citric Acid is used in cosmetics and personal care products as a preservative and to adjust the ph balance. It is also used to impart a lemon-like fragrance to a product. In addition, Citric Acid, is also said to have antioxidant and toning properties. Excessive exposure to Citric Acid can cause mild skin and eye irritations. Allergies are rare, but can occur. In addition, Citric Acid, may increase photosensitivity, so products containing this ingredient should be used in conjunction with a sunscreen. (source ; x) […]

Reply
aleena September 30, 2017 - 1:26 pm

can i use citric acid in my moisturizer? i make it at home with vitamin A & E, n different oils n vitamin e cream n also add sunscreen in it. so is it safe to add citric acid in it?? and how much quantity ?

Reply
Gio October 6, 2017 - 9:31 pm

Aleena, it really depends on what you want to use it for. I recommend you check out a DIY skincare forum as they will be better able to help you.

Reply
Marina November 7, 2017 - 12:13 pm

Thanks for the info, I´ve been using a La Roche Posay Effaclar cleanser and It contains citric acid but I think daily using It caused photosensitivity, I might start using it only once a week.

Reply
Gio November 26, 2017 - 12:22 pm

Marina, sorry to hear you’re having problems with it.

Reply

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