citric acid skin care

When discussing Alpha Hydroxy Acids, the basic ones that often come up include glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid but do you know about citric acid? Citric acid is a plant derived AHA found in citrus fruits like lemons, oranges and grapefruits. Being a part of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid family means that it demonstrates the well-known chemical exfoliating ability, which recently popularized hydroxy acids in the skin care world. However, citric acid is more than just a chemical exfoliant, the following are several skin benefits that make citric acid unique.

1. Protects your skin from free radical damage. Free radicals like UV rays and air pollution can cause damage to your skin’s barrier and result in dry, dull, flakey skin. These free radicals can also result in premature skin aging, skin discoloration and acne. Citric acid is packed full of good antioxidants that work as a shield against the damage caused by environmental aggressors. The antioxidants work to bind with the free radicals to make them stable atoms and prevent them from excessively damaging your skin. It also helps prevent the breaking down of collagen fibers to keep your skin from premature aging like fine lines and wrinkles. 

2. Lightens and brightens your skin tone. As previously mentioned, everyday free radicals like UV ray exposure, can cause skin discoloration and dark spots. The AHAs in citric acid work to breakdown the dark spots and discoloration on your skin through deeply penetrating the epidermis and encouraging new healthy skin to emerge. When the sun-damaged skin is effectively shed, the radiant skin under the surface can make its way to the uppermost layer and reveal a more glowing, even complexion. 

3. Combats breakouts through clarifying pores. When your pores are clogged with dead skin, dirt, oil and bacteria buildup, breakouts can often appear. The key to a clear complexion is effective exfoliation and clarification of your pores. Citric acid has chemical exfoliating abilities that gently and effectively help shed dead skin and expel any impurities that may be lodged in your pores. 

4. Helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles. AHAs are often known for their anti-aging abilities due to their deep exfoliating effects. When dead skin gets built up on the surface of the epidermis, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles may increase. Through shedding the skin’s uppermost layer with citric acid, you are able to reveal young, healthy skin cells that are more hydrated and radiant. Various studies conducted have also shown that AHAs can be used to increase collagen production and fibroblasts in the skin. Fibroblasts work to produce collagen which is needed to keep your skin firm and smooth. Citric acid can essentially increase collagen production leading to wrinkle-free, plump skin.

How to introduce citric acid to your skin care.

Although citric acid is fairly gentle, you should work to gradually introduce it in your skin care routine. Start with using a topical product that contains citric acid once a week to see how your skin reacts and gets used to the ingredient. You can then start applying it 2-3 times a week to help keep your skin fresh and exfoliated. FYAB Health’s Blemish Control Serums, Anti-Aging Serums and Renewal Serums are formulated with citric acid so you can incorporate it within your skincare routine while catering to your specific skin needs. 


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E.F. Bernstein, C. B. Underhill, J. Lakkakorpi et al., “Citric acid increases viable epidermal thickness and glycosaminoglycan content of sun-damaged skin,” Dermatologic Surgery, vol. 23, no. 8, pp. 689–694, 1997.

Kornhauser A, Coelho SG, Hearing VJ. Effects of cosmetic formulations containing hydroxyacids on sun-exposed skin: current applications and future developments. Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:710893.

SMITH, W. (1996), Comparative effectiveness of α‐ hydroxy acids on skin properties. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 18: 75-83.

Lee, Hae-Jin, Na Young Yoon, Noo Ri Lee, Minyoung Jung, Dong Hye Kim, and Eung Ho Choi. “Topical Acidic Cream Prevents the Development of Atopic Dermatitis- and Asthma- like Lesions in Murine Model.”Experimental Dermatology Exp Dermatol 23.10 (2014): 736-41.


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