Citric Acid



No known benefits

Citric Acid at a glance

  • Used in small amounts to adjust the pH of products
  • Derived from citrus fruits
  • Keeps formulas from being too alkaline
  • In certain concentrations, can exfoliate skin

Citric Acid description

Citric acid is an extract derived from citrus fruits and is used primarily in small amounts to adjust the pH of products to prevent them from being too alkaline or basic. Citric acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and as such, in the right formula and concentration, it can exfoliate skin. However, research on this ability so far has looked at much higher concentrations (20%, for example) than are typically used in skincare products - not to mention there’s proportionately more research on AHAs glycolic and lactic acids. Moreover, the AHAs lactic and glycolic acid have been shown to be more effective and less likely to promote a stinging reaction on skin.

Citric Acid references

  • Nigerian Journal of Surgery, July-December 2020, Volume 26, Issue 2, pages 122-126
  • Molecules, April 2018, Volume 23, Issue 4, page 863
  • The Journal of Dermatology, January 2006, pages 16-22
  • Dermatologic Surgery, August 1997, pages 689-694
  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 1996, pages 75-83

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


We couldn't find this in our ingredient dictionary. We log all missing ingredients and make continuous updates.

Not rated