Fruits contain various acids that have been used in alternative health and beauty products for centuries. Topical acidic treatments can brighten skin, shrink pores, treat mild acne, and correct dark spots and fine lines. Common fruit acids include malic acid from apples, tartaric acid from grapes and citric acids from citrus fruits. These acids can be applied to skin in the form of masks, scrubs, toners or peels. Citric acid, which is one of the most astringent of these acids, can be purchased in powder form to add to beauty treatments as desired.
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Benefits of Citric Acid
When applied to skin, citric acid can slough off dead skin cells and speed new cell turnover. The latter promotes new skin growth that can help alleviate the appearance of age spots, acne scars, small wrinkles and areas of uneven tone and texture. Homemade beauty products containing citric acid are more affordable than professional treatments but can be similarly effective -- if on a smaller scale. Side effects of citric acid use on the skin include slight burning, tingling, and temporary redness. It is important to test all homemade beauty products on a small patch of skin several hours before using the product on your face. The underside of your forearm is an appropriate spot.
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 tbsp. 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 -- then 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 tbsp. 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 tbsp. rolled oats and 1 tbsp. 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.
- "Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self"; Stephanie Tourles; 2007; pg. 227-229
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Chemical Peel
- Spa Magazine: The Appeal of Peels