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Why is Citric Acid Used in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products?

Citric Acid in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Did you know that citric acid can make your skin softer? But how? Citric acid is a member of the alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) family and is widely used in the formulation of cosmetic products.

We can find AHAs naturally in several foods; citric acid derives from cosmetic fruits such as orange and lemon.

Why is Citric Acid Good for your Skin?

Citric acid offers several benefits for the skin. This acid can chemically exfoliate facial skin and stimulate the growth of new skin cells. This compound is usually considered safe for all skin types, except those with known allergies or sensitive skin. Here are some of these benefits:

  • Skin lightening:

You can use citric acid for skin lightening and removing dead skin cells. Studies have shown that alpha-hydroxy acids protect the skin against DNA breakdown caused by foreign invaders. At low concentrations, alpha-hydroxy acids, such as citric acid, are beneficial to the skin and fight the adverse effects of reactive oxygen species.

Citrus fruits are generally very popular ingredients for skin care. For example, lemon peel is commonly used as a scrub to lighten dark areas of the body (such as underarms and dark wounds).

  • Improve Acne:

Oily and acne-prone skin can especially benefit from the mild exfoliating properties of this acid. Hard chemical peels use substances that may inflame pimples. They can remove essential oils from acne-prone skin and reduce skin moisture levels. But this acid acts slowly. Diluting it with some water and milk is a great treatment for acne-prone skin.

Use of citric acid to treat acne

  • Open Skin Pores:

Skin pores are usually blocked by pollution, dead skin cells, and bacteria. These blocked pores will lead to pimples. Most skincare products use harsh exfoliators that may further scratch the skin to open the pores. In contrast, citric acid gently opens skin pores by disintegrating the adhesive that attaches dead cells to the skin. However, more research is needed to better understand this mechanism.

  • PH Adjustment:

The skin’s natural pH is somewhat neutral. Using a highly acidic skincare product can cause a burning sensation in the skin, and using an overly alkaline product can deprive your skin of natural oils. Citric acid may help you balance these skincare formulas, as it prevents the products from becoming too alkaline.

  • Reduce Skin Wrinkles:

Studies have shown that the use of alpha-hydroxy acids greatly increases the production of collagen in the skin. Collagen is present under the skin and is responsible for keeping the skin firm and smooth. While ageing reduces collagen production over time, citric acid may stimulate collagen production and help fade wrinkles and fine lines.

The Citric Acid in Hair Products:

Citric acid also has a wonderful effect on the health of your hair. The ability of this acid to increase collagen production is also a miracle for the strength of your hair. Collagen basically gives your hair strength and structure, thus preventing it from becoming brittle. As an excellent deep cleanser, it also cleanses your scalp from the accumulation of excess fats, yeasts, bacteria, and fungi, thus clearing your scalp of dandruff and other issues.


Use citric acid to treat dandruff

The Citric Acid in Shampoo:

The citric acid in shampoos also increases blood circulation to the scalp, which is very useful for strengthening and repairing hair follicles. This acid, while controlling the production of excess sebum, does not inhibit the function of the sebaceous glands and thus maintains the natural fat of the hair and scalp. Therefore, using products containing it will make your hair stronger, thicker, shinier, and generally healthier.

“When used in proper concentrations in manufactured haircare products, it lowers their pH to an ideal level,” says Chambers-Harris. Healthy hair falls within the pH range of 4.5–5.5, but many of the haircare products that we use daily (we’re looking at you, shampoos) have a much higher, more alkaline pH. In this case, the citric acid helps lower that, she explains.”

However, sometimes the high concentration of citric acid in shampoos can damage the hair as it opens the cuticles. At the same time, it can remove valuable minerals from the hair and whiten it.


Citric acid is a well-known substance in the cosmetics industry. This acid acts more as an excellent exfoliator in these products. It also increases skin radiance and plays a key role in reducing fine lines, dark spots, and wrinkles.

Unlike other acids, this organic acid has beneficial antioxidant properties that protect your skin from harmful environmental factors. While you can use this combination on a daily basis in your skincare products, be careful about its possible side effects.

Frequently asked questions

Is citric acid safe in cosmetics?

Yes, it is safe to use citric acid in cosmetic and skin care products because it is able to control the pH level of the product and reduce wrinkles of the skin.

Does citric acid lower pH in cosmetic?

Yes, citric acid decreases the pH level of the whole product, and that is the reason why it can control the pH level.

Is citric acid an AHA or BHA?

Citric acid is a member of the alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) family and is widely used in the formulation of cosmetic products.

What is the limit of citric acid in cosmetics?

30 000 mg citric acid per each kg is considered safe to be used.

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8 thoughts on “Why is Citric Acid Used in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products?

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi, Can we also use citric acid as a facial cleanser?

    1. china chemicals says:

      A citric acid is a safe option for most consumers. However, the concentration of citric acid used should be appropriate for your skin type. People with oily skin can tolerate higher concentrations than people with dry and sensitive skin.

  2. mina says:

    What concentration of citric acid is suitable for the skin?

    1. china chemicals says:

      There are currently a variety of products on the market that vary in the concentration of citric acid used. People with dry or sensitive skin should use products that have a relatively lower concentration of citric acid.

  3. 李娜 says:

    Is citric acid good for lips?

    1. china chemicals says:

      As a personal care products ingredient, citric acid can help to brighten skin, correct dark spots, and minimize fine lines. Products containing citric acid can be formulated for use near the eyes, lips, mouth, and nasal passages, as well as for safe application to babies’ skin.

  4. Emma says:

    what is the pH level of citric acid?

    1. china chemicals says:

      citric acid pH is about 2 and 3.

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