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Is Citric Acid problematic in hair care formulations?


Blog post posted by Natural Skincare Authority on January 27, 2010 at 10:29pm

Hi Everyone,

Today we are going to take a look at an unlikely suspect for causing problems in skincare products, Citric Acid. Britannica describes this substance as

"a colourless, crystalline organic compound belonging to the family of carboxylic acids, present in practically all plants and in many animal tissues and fluids. It is one of a series of compounds involved in the physiological oxidation of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and water."

Ref: ((2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 27, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online)

What this means is that citric acid is able to facilitate minerals binding to water. This can be useful in softening the water, however in high doses can also strip the hair of much needed minerals by opening the hair cuticles. Ref (wisegeek.com)

Citric acid also acts as a fragrance ingredient, ph adjuster, buffer and masking agent. It can be considered moderately hazardous with irritation to the skin, (eyes and lungs) being a lesser concern associated with this substance. Other concerns are quite serious considering that this substance originates from fruit! These include neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity making citric acid subject to restrictive use. However, some of the above concerns have been found to occur even in low doses.(Ref:cosmeticsdatabase.com)

Citric acid can be challenging to consider as hazardous, largely due to it's natural occurence in food. However, Mother Nature is life sustaining. The concentration levels in foods which are eaten and digested in the manner in which nature intended (in moderation), is safe. It is the artificially high levels and the way in which the citric acid is manipulated (in labs) that make it potentially hazardous.

Purely from a skin, eyes and lung irritation perspective, it appears that citric acid can affect people differently, with sensitive skin tending to experience more instances of irritation and problems. Therefore, there is not necessarily any safe level - it depends completely on your skin type.

Other more serious problems with citric acid suggest that it should be avoided. We will keep you posted as further study is done on this naturally occuring liquid.

Yours in Natural Skincare,
Kelly Makin.

Please leave a post with your thoughts at the NSA Forum at http://natural-skin-care.ning.com/profiles/blogs/is-citric-acid-problematic-in

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