Citric Acid for Skin Care

by Sanjeev on March 25, 2012 · 27 comments

lemon citric acidNot been taking bath in sour milk lately have you? Well, Cleopatra did it and so should you. The lactic acid present in sour milk would have done wonders for your skin texture and hydration. Lactic acid is a member of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family. Alpha hydroxy acids are weak organic acids found in food; Malic acid comes from apples, citric acid is derived from citrus fruits, lactic acid is found in sour milk, and tartaric acid is a constituent of wine. These acids are not corrosive like inorganic acid such as nitric acid or sulphuric acid but used in higher concentration they can slough off dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the skin, and hence they are used in chemical peels. Well, you never knew that the skin you touch were the cells that were completely dead, just like your hair, did you? You really need to read my article on the structure of skin. And you can use alpha hydroxy acids to rejuvenate your skin. Clinical studies have shown that skin treated with alpha hydroxy acids is more youthful and healthy – they increase the epidermal thickness and the synthesis of compounds that are beneficial for the skin. We are going to see one such alpha hydroxy acid- Citric acid.

Citric acid is an alpha hydroxy acid and is a very powerful antioxidant that not only stimulates collagen production but contains the skin damaging activities of free radicals. It is used in anti-aging products to promote skin peeling and re-growth in the case of anti-aging products.

Some Biology Gyaan: Collagen forms the structural network of our skin and is the most abundant protein in the body. It is primarily composed of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. It is one of the strongest proteins in nature and gives skin its strength and durability. As we age, it is believed that collagen begins to deteriorate and causes the skin to become thinner and eventually sag. Elastin is similar to collagen but is a more stretchable protein that maintains the skin’s elasticity. It provides the matrix that holds individual skin cells in place. Glycosoaminoglycans (GAG’s or mucopolysaccharides) and proteoglycans hold water in the skin (these are very similar to mucus proteins) and are the true skin moisturizers.

The outer layer of our skin is sloughed off every 3- 4 weeks. Cells are constantly moving upwards from the basal layer to the topmost layer, dying as they move up. Citric acid reduces the cohesion between the cells of stratum corneum (outer layer of skin) causing them to slough off and making the stratum corneum thinner, fresher and more flexible. It stimulates the production of new cells in the basal layer of the skin. The result, after several months of regular use of this acid, is a reduction in fine lines in the skin and an overall improvement in skin tone and texture: the skin looks smoother and more youthful.

By removing old and dead skin cells and promoting proliferation of fresh skin cells Citric acid, also an antioxidant, can effectively treat annoying age spots. No wonder citric acid is also used for its skin lightening properties.

Since its an antioxidant it can neutralize the destruction caused by free radicals.

Not only that, citric acid promote growth of collagen and GAG

In one study, American researchers investigated the effects of a 20% citric acid lotion on skin thickness and GAG content in sun-damaged skin. They recruited six female volunteers (aged 70-83) who had clinical evidence of sun damage, including fine wrinkling and alterations in pigmentation, on their forearms. Using a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind protocol, the women’s forearms were treated with lotion that either did or did not contain the citric acid. The lotion was applied twice daily for three months, after which biopsy specimens were taken from the center of the treated area and analyzed.

In the citric acid-treated skin, there was a dramatic increase (41%) in viable epidermal thickness, i.e., the thickness of the basal cell layer of living cells. At the same time, there was a significant increase (16%) in overall skin thickness. In the dermis, there were also major increases in the levels of two specific types of GAG: hyaluronic acid (up 57%) and chondroitin sulfate (up 66%). GAGs constitute only about 0.1-0.3% of the dry weight of normal dermis, but they have the remarkable property of being able to bind up to 1000 times their own weight in water. Thus, even a relatively small change in the amount of GAGs in the dermis can result in a large increase in its hydration (water content), and this may account for the observed increase in the thickness of the dermis.

Cool eh?

So if you are looking for:

  • an anti-aging treatment
  • treatment for dark spots
  • increasing collagen production
  • significant antioxidant and healing properties
  • reduction of fine lines and wrinkles
  • minimizing the appearance of scars

turn to citric acid. The most common ingredient to look for would be L-ascorbic acid in skin care products. :)

Here are some home made treatments of Citric acid from Livestrong:

Citric Acid and Milk Mask for Acne-Prone Skin

To brighten oily skin and get a similar effect to that of a light chemical peel, try a milk mask that combines citric and lactic acids to slough away dead cells and even out skin tone. To make this mask, combine 1/4 cup low-fat milk, 2 tablespoons citric acid powder, and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Stir until the ingredients are blended and the powder has dissolved and then apply the mixture to dry skin. Let the mask dry for 15 minutes – it will begin to tighten and crack, so sit still – and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Citric Acid Peel for Clogged Pores

A rubbery peeling mask penetrates deep into pores and sucks out dirt and oil as it dries, leaving skin softer, cleaner and brighter in appearance. Stir together 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons citric acid powder, and a packet of unflavored gelatin in a saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly until the gelatin and citric acid powder fully dissolve. Transfer the mixture into a heat-safe bowl and refrigerate for 25 minutes. Apply a thin layer of the mask to dry skin and let it dry for 30 minutes. Peel off gently, starting at the outside edges of the mask.

Citric Acid Scrub for Uneven Skin Tone

To attack areas of uneven skin tone or roughness, a citric acid scrub leaves skin feeling rejuvenated and soft. Combine 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons rolled oats, and 1 tablespoon citric acid powder in a small bowl. Stir until the ingredients are mixed and then apply the scrub to damp, just-cleansed skin. Scrub gently in a circular motion with your fingers for up to two minutes or until you experience a slight tingle. Rinse with cool water.

Have a great-looking skin!

More Readings:
Lemon Beauty Benefits Skin Care Tips And Ideas
Skin Care for Dummies: Structure of Skin
Rejuvenate Your Skin With Alpha-Hydroxy Acids
Citric Acid:Anti-Aging Skin Care Ingredient

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