Citric Acid: Benefits For The Skin

Citric acid is another type of AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) gaining popularity amongst skincare enthusiasts for it’s exfoliating properties. Although it is still less popular than other acids such as Glycolic Acid, it’s benefits shouldn’t be overlooked. We’ve summed up what citric acid is, and it’s key benefits for your skin.

What is Citric Acid?

Citric acid is an AHA, or Alpha Hydroxy Acid, typically found in citrus fruits. It is either derived from citrus fruits or synthetically produced for use in skincare products. Citric acid is commonly used as an acidulant in skincare formulations, this means it is used to regulate the pH of a product which can help increase potency or improve the efficiency of the active ingredients[1].

Citric acid has a lower pH (2.2) than most of the other AHAs, for this reason it can be a little more irritating to the skin. Nonetheless citric acid is still an excellent exfoliator which can help slough off dead skin cells.

What are the Skincare Benefits of Citric Acid?

Citric acid is less widely researched in skincare when compared with other AHAs such as Glycolic acid, for this reason the complete list benefits aren’t yet known. That being said, below are some of the key benefits from both anecdotal and medical evidence:

  1. Exfoliates the skin: Citric Acid is an AHA with a low pH which offers strong exfoliating benefits. Citric acid can help slough off the outermost layer of dead skin cells revealing a brighter complexion underneath.
  2. Brightens the skin: By promoting cell turnover and removing the dull outer layer of skin, a brighter more vibrant complexion is revealed underneath.
  3. Increases epidermal thickness: A small scale study conducted by E F Bernstein[2] displayed the effectiveness of citric acid in increasing thickness of the epidermis, as well as improving skin cell turnover.
  4. Reduces fine lines and wrinkles, anti-aging: Through stimulating collagen production, boosting epidermal thickness and improving skin cell turnover, citric acid can help to reduce signs of aging. Fine lines and wrinkles can be minimised with continued use.
  5. Minimise breakouts and acne: By promoting skin cell turnover, citric acid can help minimise the potential of clogged pores and therefore breakouts and acne.




5 responses to “Citric Acid: Benefits For The Skin”

  1. I recently wrote an article about AHAs and yours focused on citric acid alone. I am a bit hesitant to try products with citric acid but I might start looking into some of it now 💯

  2. Citric acid is also a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) which I gather has its own cosmetic properties. In fact the hydroxyl group is in the beta position to two carboxyl groups and in the alpha position to only one carboxyl group so citric acid is really more of a BHA than an AHA.

    • Citric acid in skincare and cosmetic preparations is primarily classified as an AHA. Citric acid does, as you’ve correctly stated, fall under the BHA category also along with Malic acid; although it is rarely categorised as a BHA.

      – OBVS. Team

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