Belonging to the family of alpha-hydroxy acids, tartaric acid is an organic acid that is found in many fruits. This dicarboxylic acid is abundantly present in tamarind, citrus fruits, grapes, and bananas. It is used as an ingredient in brightening and exfoliating skincare products. Discover more about this lesser-known active ingredient.
Tartaric Acid, what you need to know about this fruit acid.
Tartaric Acid, definition and origin.
Also known as threaric acid and 2,3-dihydroxysuccinic acid, tartaric acid is widely found in nature. It can be found in the vine, grapes and vine leaves, but also in dandelions, sugar beets and many fruits.
In the 18th century, it was first isolated from grapes by Carl Wilhelm SCHEEL, a Swedish apothecary. Since the middle of the 2nd century, it can be produced from the residues of wine production, using sulphuric acid.
Tartaric acid is commonly used in the food industry to enhance the taste of sweets, ice creams, and juices, among others. It has also become a prevalent ingredient in skincare products due to its keratolytic and astringent properties. It hydrates the skin, stimulates metabolism, promotes healing, and also has an effect on skin ageing.
It presents itself in the form of a crystalline powder. Being an AHA acid, tartaric acid is soluble in water and acts on the skin's surface. Its primary function is to target signs of ageing, blemishes, acne, as well as damage caused to the skin by the sun.
Tartaric Acid, its benefits for the skin.
Given its high molecular weight (MW = 192.124 g/mol), it is less irritating than other exfoliating AHAs. It is suitable for almost all skin types. It offers various benefits for the skin.
Like other AHAs, tartaric acid aids in naturally exfoliating the skin by removing dead cells from the upper layer. This can help to enhance the texture and appearance of the skin, and allows for other products applied afterwards to penetrate more easily.
Tartaric acid possesses antioxidant properties that provide plumping benefits to the skin. It protects the skin from damage caused by free radicals, which are massively generated by various factors, such as sunlight/UV rays and environmental pollution.
Tartaric acid has the ability to act as a pH adjuster and a product stabiliser. It helps to maintain the pH of other skincare products so they can continue to function as intended. By stabilising the pH levels of products, tartaric acid combats irritation that can be caused by certain active ingredients.
Tartaric acid also has moisturising properties. It is broken down into tartaramides. These molecules mimic the ceramides found naturally in the skin that help to maintain skin hydration. Tartaramides are believed to help protect the skin's lipid matrix and bind moisture to your skin, which can reduce dryness and sensitivity.
The criteria for using tartaric acid.
Thetartaric acid is not suitable for all skin types. While it is suitable for dry skin, it is not recommended for frequent use on sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin with conditions such as psoriasis or acne, it is recommended to maximise the intervals between uses of tartaric acid treatments.
If you are starting to use treatments that contain tartaric acid, it is recommended to gradually incorporate them into your routine. You can apply them every three days, in the evening, before going to bed (as it is a photosensitising compound). You can increase the frequency of use of the treatment gradually if no side effects are observed.
In skincare, the concentration of tartaric acid varies between 1 and 10%. Furthermore, it is typically combined with other AHAs.
Tartaric Acid at Typology.
Our peeling mask (88% natural origin ingredients) is composed of an exfoliating complex: 4 AHA (glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, tartaric acid) + 1 PHA (gluconolactone). This concentrated gel mask eliminates dead skin cells to unclog pores and refine skin texture. It can be applied once or twice a week, in the evening only. This exfoliating treatment is recommended for tightening pores and evening out skin tone.
VAN SCOTT E. J. & al. Alpha-hydroxyacids and carboxylic acids. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (2004).
TAKÁCS-NOVÁK & al. Synthesis and characterization of long-chain tartaric acid diamides as novel ceramide-like compounds. Molecules (2010).
ABELS C. & al. Cosmetic and dermatologic use of alpha hydroxy acids. Journal of the German Society of Dermatology (2012).