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Profile: Tartaric Acid

Commonly known as: Tartaric acid, threaric acid, 2,3-dihydroxysuccinic acid, cream of tartar.
I.N.C.I. list name: Tartaric Acid.
Extraction process: Percolation from the pulp of the tamarind fruit.
Source: Plant-based.
Botanical name: Tamarindus indica.
Family: Leguminosae.
Part of the plant extracted: Fruit pulp.
Provenance, origin: /
Chemical characteristics: Molecular mass: 150.087 g/mol; Soluble in water, 50% ethanol, and glycerol; Insoluble in vegetable and mineral oils; pH: 5.5 - 6.0; Density: 1.115 - 1.250 g/cm3.
Characteristics: Emulsion, gel, true aqueous solution.
Dosage required in cosmetic products: Recommended dosage: between 5 and 10%.
Function: pH regulator, masking agent.
Properties: Softening, antioxidant, astringent, preservative, brightening, exfoliating, moisturising.
Benefits: All skin types, particularly those prone to blemishes and dull skin; All hair types.

Details

Properties

  • Antioxidant: Protecting the skin from cellular damage caused by free radicals;

  • Exfoliant: Enhancing the appearance, complexion, and texture of the skin by removing dead cells from the upper layer of the skin, which stimulates cellular renewal;

  • Moisturiser: Protecting the skin's lipid matrix and maintaining skin hydration by breaking down into tartamides, molecules that can mimic the ceramides naturally present in the skin.

Applications

  • Facial Care (night creams, exfoliating masks, facial scrubs, toning lotions, exfoliating cleansers);

  • Haircare (hair masks, conditioners, hair dyes, shampoos).

Method of Preservation

Store in a dry place at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, heat and humidity.

Contraindications, Usage Precautions

When used topically, tartaric acid is considered a relatively gentle exfoliant that is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin. However, although unlikely, it is possible to experience certain side effects, as with any active ingredient, including warming sensations, itching, flaking, redness, and skin dryness.

  • It is always advisable to perform a skin test on a small area of the skin (inside of the elbow, behind the ear or inner wrist) before applying it to a larger area to check for any potential adverse reactions. If you experience a possible allergic reaction, immediately stop using the product and seek advice from a healthcare professional.

  • Although it should be applied every day, it is recommended to apply a broad-spectrum sun protection (UVA/UVB) with at least an SPF 30 during the period of using a tartaric acid-based skincare product, as it can make the skin more sensitive to the sun.

  • For sensitive skin, it is recommended not to use other exfoliating agents (grain scrubs), other AHAs or retinoids at the same time in order to avoid increasing the risk of irritation, sensitivity or inflammatory reactions.

  • It is advised not to use tartaric acid on active acne outbreaks, skin infections, psoriasis, eczema, a herpes infection, or any other skin condition causing a break or sensitivity in your skin.

  • It is necessary to avoid using tartaric acid too close to the eyes, as this can cause irritation.

Find out more

Like other well-known AHAs (glycolic acid, mandelic acid, lactic acid, etc.), tartaric acid is a natural dicarboxylic acid, meaning it contains two functional carboxylic acids, and belongs to the family of α-hydroxy acids (AHAs). This means it is an organic compound found in various plants, particularly in antioxidant-rich fruits such as grapes, tamarinds, bananas, citrus fruits, etc. It is known to be responsible for the tart taste of grapes and certain wines. Tartaric acid was first discovered and isolated by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm SCHEEL in the 18th century by boiling tartar with chalk and decomposing the resulting product with sulphuric acid.