Should You Add Citric Acid to Your Skincare Routine?

If you’re looking to improve the appearance of your skin, you might want to consider incorporating citric acid into your skincare routine. Despite being a highly versatile acid, it’s often overlooked and underrated. In fact, citric acid is already present in many skincare products and has been known to work wonders for exfoliating the skin and promoting a brighter, more even complexion.

We’ll be exploring everything you need to know about citric acid, from its origins to its benefits, as well as how to use it and what potential side effects it may have for your skin. By the end of it, you’ll have a better understanding of how this powerful ingredient can help you achieve your skincare goals.

What Is Citric Acid?

Citric acid is a natural substance found in citric fruits like lemons, grapefruits, limes, and oranges. It is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that has antioxidant properties and is used in skincare products to adjust acidity levels, promote skin renewal, and provide antioxidant benefits.

Citric Acid Benefits for Skin

Citric acid is commonly found in skincare products as a pH adjuster or stabilizer. However, it can also be used as an exfoliant when present in higher concentrations. As an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), it helps to remove dead skin cells, revealing healthier-looking and more radiant skin. This process supports the skin’s natural cellular turnover, which slows down as we age, contributing to the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, rough texture, and hyperpigmentation.

Citric acid is a natural acid, making it gentle on the skin while still effectively exfoliating. It can also support hydration and give the skin a brighter, youthful appearance. If you are interested in evening out your skin tone or refreshing dull skin, using skincare products containing citric acid can be beneficial.

Here are some of the benefits of citric acid for the skin:

  • Exfoliates dead skin cells
  • Supports the skin’s natural cellular turnover
  • Helps to even out skin tone
  • Refreshes dull skin
  • Hydrates the skin
  • Gives the skin a brighter, youthful appearance

Overall, incorporating skincare products containing citric acid into your routine can be a great way to improve the appearance and health of your skin. However, it’s important to note that using too much citric acid or products with high concentrations can be irritating to the skin, so it’s best to start with a lower concentration and gradually work your way up.

How to Use Citric Acid for Skin

Citric acid is a popular ingredient in skincare products due to its exfoliating properties. However, it’s important to use it correctly to avoid any adverse reactions. Here are some tips for using citric acid for skin:

  1. Use it in a chemical peel formula: Citric acid is best used as an AHA in a chemical peel formula. It’s recommended to use it at night because AHAs can make your skin sensitive to sun exposure.
  2. Look for citric acid blended with other products: Citric acid has been found to be more sensitizing to the skin than other AHAs. Look for it blended with other products to reduce your risk of irritation.
  3. Ensure a balanced routine: It’s important to ensure you’re using a balanced routine with plenty of hydrating and moisturizing ingredients, too. When using AHAs such as citric acid, you must keep the skin’s protective barrier healthy to avoid any adverse reactions stemming from dryness and dehydration.
  4. Perform a patch test: As with all new-to-you ingredients, it’s best to perform a patch test to ensure your skin doesn’t react poorly to the citric acid.
  5. Apply sunscreen: Citric acid can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Therefore, it’s recommended to apply sunscreen when using citric acid.

In addition, look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, bisabolol, and allantoin to help soothe and hydrate the skin. By following these tips, you can safely incorporate citric acid into your skincare routine and enjoy its benefits.

Citric Acid Side Effects

Citric acid is generally considered safe, but it is still an acid that can cause or worsen skin irritation. The severity of the irritation depends on the concentration of citric acid used and the pH of the product. It is important to avoid applying citric acid to broken or irritated skin. If you have a skin condition such as rosacea, dermatitis, or sensitive skin, it is best to consult with a dermatologist before using citric acid-based products.

What to Use Citric Acid With

Citric acid is a versatile ingredient that can be combined with other active acids to enhance its effectiveness. According to skincare experts, citric acid works well when paired with acids like salicylic, glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids. You’ll commonly see serums and toners that are formulated with a combination of these acids to help brighten the skin, reduce hyperpigmentation, and improve texture.

If you’re concerned about the drying effects of citric acid, you can look for products that also contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. These ingredients can help to combat the drying effects of citric acid and keep your skin hydrated and healthy.

However, it’s important to avoid using citric acid with retinol, as this can be very irritating and harsh on the skin. Retinol is a powerful ingredient that can cause sensitivity and redness, so it’s best to use it on its own or with other gentle ingredients.

When using any chemical exfoliant, it’s important to support your skin by adding in hydration and nourishment. Look for humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to boost hydration levels, then seal that hydration in with emollients like ceramides and squalane. This will help to keep your skin healthy and glowing, even after using active ingredients like citric acid.

How Often to Use Citric Acid

When it comes to using citric acid as a chemical exfoliant, it is important to be cautious and not overdo it. Dermatologists recommend using a chemical exfoliant no more than twice a week to avoid sensitizing your skin. However, if your skin can tolerate more frequent use, you can gradually increase it to multiple times a week. It is always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist to determine if citric acid is suitable for your skin’s needs.

Best Skin Care Products With Citric Acid

If you’re looking for a way to improve your skin’s texture, tone, and clarity, citric acid might be the answer. Citric acid is a natural alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that can help exfoliate dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. Here are some of the best skin care products with citric acid that you might want to add to your routine:

  1. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel Pads: These chemical peel pads contain citric acid, along with other AHAs and beta-hydroxy acid salicylic acid, to help resurface the skin and clarify pores. They also feature soothing ingredients like chamomile, green tea, and soy to counteract any potential irritation.
  2. Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster: This product contains citric acid and can help regulate the moisture barrier of your skin. It also works to brighten and reduce fine lines, giving your skin a hydrated, youthful appearance.
  3. IMAGE Skincare VITAL C Hydrating Enzyme Masque: This face mask contains citric acid and antioxidants that can help break down dead skin cells and even out dark spots. It leaves your skin looking bouncy and healthy.
  4. Face Reality Skincare Antioxidant Scrub: This daily, sulfate-free gel cleanser contains citric acid and other beneficial ingredients like witch hazel, green tea, and panthenol. It’s formulated to be gentle on acne-prone skin.
  5. SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense: This formula contains glycolic acid, citric acid, and salicylic acid to treat acne and target signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
  6. Skinbetter Science Even Tone Correcting Serum: This powerful serum contains citric acid and other acids that can help with skin discoloration, brown spots, hyperpigmentation, and sun damage. It’s important to apply sunscreen after use.
  7. Murad Essential-C Toner: This toner contains citric acid, along with other exfoliating ingredients like rice amino acids and coneflower extract. It also has hydrating ingredients like castor oil, sodium PCA, and witch hazel to minimize irritation.

Incorporating citric acid into your skin care routine can help improve your skin’s overall health and appearance. These products are all great options to consider.