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Zahnpasta gegen Pickel? 7 Gründe, warum Du bei Hautunreinheiten nicht zu Deiner Zahncreme greifen solltest

Hautgesundheit 07.03.22 6 min. read

Part 2 of Debunking Beauty myths @ This Place 

Does toothpaste help with pimples? Should you rub lemon juice on your skin? Are you planning a DIY sugar peeling recipe with olive oil? The list of modern beauty myths is long. Just as long as the forums and magazine articles in which supposedly helpful tips and tricks “explain” how you can – preferably overnight – put your beauty worries to rest.

We want to take a closer look with you at all sorts of "I heard that helps with... myths" from the area of skincare and beauty rituals.

Article Contents: 

What is citric acid?

Although the name "citric acid" might initially suggest that this acid is only found in the juice or pulp of a lemon, it's a natural part of many foods - and even your skin cells! Citric acid is by no means only found in lemons. Citric acid is produced in your body as an intermediate product during metabolism. It could also be detected in apples, limes, raspberries, pears, grapefruit, and cherries.  This ingredient is often used in household cleaners such as descalers and as a preservative and flavor enhancer for numerous processed foods; finally, citric acid is also used in the cosmetics sector.

Among other things, it receives special attention for

  • the regulation and stabilization of the pH value of products
  • as a preservative
  • as an active ingredient in chemical peels [2] (keyword “AHA peeling” and “BHA peeling”) face creams and body lotions, as well
  • as an ingredient in bath bombs, where it works with baking soda and water to create fizz.

Citric acid plays a unique role in cosmetics that can be both alpha and beta hydroxy acids, i.e., AHA and BHA. As a result, it combines both “peeling types” properties to a certain extent. In the next section, you can find exactly what this means for your skin.

How does citric acid work on your skin?

Firstly, citric acid is a potent antioxidant that can protect your skin from damaging environmental stress. When applied with other antioxidant ingredients, the antioxidant effect can even take on a booster function. In this way, it can develop their impact even better.

This boost is possible on the one hand because citric acid captures inflammation-causing radicals [3] and, on the other hand, because citric acid can remove dead skin cells in its function as an AHA. In this way, your skin can absorb balanced formulations even better.

In addition, citric acid can support the regulation of the often alkaline skin pH value in acne. By lowering a pH value that is too high in the diseased skin area, the pH value can approach that of healthy skin, i.e., a value between 4.5 and 5.5. At the same time, the clarifying acid allows sebum to drain better from the pores so that skin impurities can be prevented

As an anti-aging ingredient [4] citric acid, citric acid not only smoothes the skin structure (an effect that also facilitates the even application of foundation and other make-up products). A study has shown that a particular concentration of citric acid improves both skin regeneration and skin firmness by stimulating collagen formation[5]. Citric acid is also said to improve skin moisturization[6].

With so many benefits, you might be wondering why we recommend against using lemon juice on your skin? After all, lemon or lemon juice is readily available as a home remedy, and the temptation is great. The answer to this question can be surprisingly painful.

Is Lemon Juice Harmful On Your Skin?

In countless forums, you will find DIY instructions that present lemon juice pure or as part of your mixture for the most common skin problems. As a peeling, facial tonic, or face mask – and even a skin lightening agent.

Lemon juice DIYs and their consequences

A critical point of many of these guides is that the information is often vague. How much is “a few squeezes of lemon juice” exactly? How rich is half a lemon? And how much juice can you get out of her? How often and how long should you apply the product for the desired complexion? Information as precise as possible plays an important role in effectiveness and tolerability, particularly in the manufacture and use of cosmetics.

In addition, you will often find instructions for relatively large amounts of water or liquid consistency. Here you should remember that a natural product without additional preservatives can quickly tip over. And then, instead of skincare, you achieve the opposite: quasi DIY skin problems.

Skin damage instead of skincare

The biggest problem for your skin could probably be phytophotodermatitis[7].

This skin reaction occurs when areas of skin are exposed to sunlight after exposure to citric acid or other phototoxic agents[7]. Especially the ultraviolet A rays lead to (severe) reddening of the skin in "lighter cases"[8]; in severe cases, blistering, crusting, or dermatological damage that can resemble a burn. First signs usually appear within 24 hours and peak (painfully) after 48 to 72 hours[8].

Incidentally, photodermatitis can also be triggered by, for example, perfume, cosmetics, or disinfectant gel on your skin.

And while applying sunscreen after using citrus-boosted DIYs is often recommended, it's not a reliable guarantee that you'll protect your skin from a lime burn.

Sting instead of rays.

When dealing with citric acid, the cosmetics working group of the Society of German Chemists also explicitly points out that every formulation with AHA-containing ingredients should be checked for individual compatibility. Because the mere restriction to pH value and concentration is not a reliable predictive indicator[6].

Previous studies have primarily examined the effect of citric acid with a concentration of up to 10 percent. But even in significantly lower concentrations, citric acid can trigger so-called severe reactions[6]. Your skin could burn, tingle, sting, itch, tighten, or send other unpleasant signals.

Naturally, lemon juice contains about an acid concentration of between 5 to 8 percent with an acidic pH of around 2[9]. But precisely because it is a natural product, it is difficult to estimate how high the real, individual values are precisely because it is a natural product, not to mention how your skin reacts to them.

As previously mentioned, citric acid is often brought into play as a natural lightening agent for skin discoloration. It should also be able to remove pimple marks and pigment spots. It is important to consider carefully whether the risk of phytophotodermatitis is justifiable and to what extent stinging reactions can be tolerated.

Pigment disorders instead of peeling freshness.

In addition, the peeling effect exposes younger skin cells. In combination with a possibly increased sensitivity to light, undesirable hyperpigmentation[10] (dark spots) or the counterpart, hypopigmentation with light spots, cannot be completely ruled out.

Since citric acid can irritate your skin and your eyes and mucous membranes, internet tips such as fighting dark circles with home remedies made from lemon juice are incredibly questionable.

natürliche Hautpflege mit Zitronensäure

What alternatives do you have?

You've seen that citric acid offers several desirable effects for your skin. But considering the dangerous use of lemon juice as a home remedy for skincare, This Place introduces you to the following alternatives:

You want to prevent skin blemishes or are looking for a care routine suitable for acne.

When it comes to pimples, containment, and prevention, clean fingers are the be-all and end-all. Because numerous microorganisms that promote inflammation and pimples can be found on dirty fingers, remove your makeup every day using a clean (new) washcloth and gentle cleansing products.

But even if you don't put on make-up, you should remove the dirt that accumulates on your skin during the day and in the evening.

Even washing your face with a washcloth has a slight peeling effect that gently removes dead skin cells. In addition, you facilitate the drainage of sebum.

You want to do something for your skin firmness.

While the pure citrus kick on your skin is debatable, a sip of lemon water is a great way to refresh yourself. In the spirit of "sour makes you beautiful", the water enriched with vitamin C can supply your body with liquid. And with the vitamin C absorbed in this way, you support your skin's collagen structure. Foods containing vitamin C, such as peppers, also help your skin maintain its firmness for as long as possible.

You want to take care of yourself and your skin naturally.

With products from This Place, you integrate balanced plant-based formulations into your skincare ritual containing citric acid.

The bestselling cream The Glow combined moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties to harmonize and hydrate your skin.

And if anti-aging is your focus, check out The Evening Glow facial oil with its retinol alternative, Bakuchiol.

Wrap up: Don’t Use Lemon Juice On Your Skin.

Citric acid can care for your complexion or severely irritate or damage it depending on the concentration. In addition to the favorable properties as an antioxidant, this active ingredient as a beauty booster can positively affect your complexion and the firmness of your skin. However, this fruit acid carries the risk of stinging reactions and even a severe skin reaction in the form of phytophotodermatitis (lime burn). So caution is advised here. Keep in mind that this variant of "cosmetics from the kitchen" can be risky for your skin, beauty, and well-being.

A sound effect and care alternative to pure lemon juice on the skin can be a glass of lemon water or foods containing vitamin C, gentle cleansing of your skin, and naturally formulated plant-based cosmetics.