Phytic Acid



Phytic Acid at a glance

  • Found in the seeds and fibers of many types of plants
  • When ingested, is considered an “antinutrient” in people
  • Has antioxidant and calming capabilities when used topically
  • Has mild exfoliant properties
  • Deemed safe as used in cosmetics

Phytic Acid description

Phytic acid is a substance found in the seeds and fibers of many types of plants, including legumes, cereals, and grains. Phytic acid is interesting in that when it is ingested, it is considered to be an “antinutrient” to humans; that is, people lack the enzyme phytase needed to break phytic acid down when ingested. As phytic acid passes through the gut, it binds to minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron, making them less readily absorbed. That said, phytic acid also has strong free radical scavenging abilities, making it an excellent antioxidant, and therefore valuable for use in skin care. Studies show it also helps calm skin sensitivity, and emerging research shows it acts as an exfoliant as well. Concentrations between 2–4% are used for exfoliation where it’s often paired with more research-backed exfoliants such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid. It’s sometimes used with these and other exfoliating acids in professional-strength peels to visibly improve skin discolourations. Phytic acid has been deemed safe as used in cosmetics by the Cosmetics Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Concentrations of up to 2% may be used in leave-on products. Rinse-off products, such as eye makeup removers that may get into the eye itself, limit the concentration of phytic acid to 0.05%.

Phytic Acid references

  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2021, Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 776-780
  • International Journal of Dermatology, February 2021, Volume 60, Issue 2, pages 166-173
  • Journal of Food Science and Technology, February 2015, pages 676-684
  • The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, October 2011, Volume 4, Issue 10, pages 40-48

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.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.