Citric acid is commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products for several purposes.
One of its primary uses is as a pH adjuster. Citric acid helps to lower the pH of a product, making it more acidic. This can be important in cosmetics because certain active ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), work best at a specific pH. Additionally, maintaining the right pH in a product can help to preserve it and prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms.
Citric acid is also used as a chelating agent, which means it can help to prevent or remove the buildup of mineral deposits such as calcium and magnesium.
Another potential use of citric acid in cosmetics is as an exfoliant. When applied to the skin, citric acid can help to gently remove dead skin cells, leaving the skin looking smoother and brighter.
Lastly, it can also be used as a antioxidant and preservative in cosmetics, therefore extending shelf life of the product.
Citric acid is considered to be safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, an independent group that assesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics, has determined that citric acid is safe as a cosmetic ingredient in the present practices of use and concentration. Additionally, citric acid is an A-rated ingredient by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which means it is safe to use.