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What are the benefits of tartaric acid on the skin?

What are the benefits of tartaric acid on the skin?

Tartaric acid is a natural dicarboxylic acid (containing two functional carboxylic acids) found in certain plants. It belongs to the family of alpha-hydroxy acids, which also includes other acids used in skincare, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and malic acid. What are the skin benefits of tartaric acid?

A few reminders about tartaric acid.

Thetartaric acid goes by several names, including dihydroxybutanedioic acid (its chemical name), L-tartaric acid, and names that describe its derivatives/salts. It is sometimes simply referred to as cream of tartar, Rochelle salt (potassium and sodium tartrate, which is a mild laxative) and emetic tartar (potassium tartrate). Its discovery is credited to the Swedish apothecary Carl Wilhelm SCHEEL and dates back to the 18th century.

Tartaric acid is naturally found in a variety of plants, particularly fruits that are rich in antioxidants. Among the richest sources are tamarinds, grapes, apricots, bananas, citrus fruits, dandelions, sugar beets, and apples. Today, it is generally derived from grapes or a by-product of winemaking. In fact, it is this molecule that gives wine its characteristic tart taste. In the production of wine, it helps to prevent deterioration due to bacterial growth and thus acts as a preservative. It is naturally present in wine after fermentation.

Furthermore, it is added to foods and even some medications and supplements due to its antioxidant and preservative effects, as well as its sour and tangy flavour. You will find it in foods/drinks such as fizzy drinks, fruit pastes, gelatine, ice cream and baking powder. It can be used to enhance the taste of oral medications, and some of its derivatives, like antimony potassium tartrate, can be found in cough syrups and expectorants.

What benefits does tartaric acid offer for the skin?

  1. It's a gentle exfoliant

    Tartaric acid belongs to the family of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), which also includes theglycolic acid and thelactic acid. AHAs are keratolytic agents: they boost the skin's radiance by removing the often dull layer of dead cells that can cover it.

    Tartaric acid is larger in size compared to glycolic acid, and therefore penetrates the skin less deeply. As a result, it is less irritating than glycolic acid and serves as a good alternative for individuals who wish to "renew" their skin but cannot tolerate glycolic acid. There is always a risk of allergic reaction or skin irritation, but tartaric acid is generally well tolerated.

  2. It protects the skin from free radicals.

    Free radicals are reactive oxygen species naturally produced by the body. However, when cells are faced with a stress, they produce them excessively . The sources of stress are numerous, the main ones being exposure to UVA, pollution, smoking, a diet too rich in fats and/or sugars. Free radicals are particularly unstable molecules due to their single electron. They tend to react with other molecules to form a pair of electrons, and thus cause damage to cells, DNA and the body's proteins. Ageing is thus accelerated and wrinkles appear on the skin's surface.

    Derived from fruits rich in antioxidants, tartaric acid is an excellent source of antioxidants for your skin. This is the same reason why the antioxidant properties of the grapes found in wine are praised. Antioxidants help to protect your skin from damage caused by free radicals and environmental aggressors such as UV rays, pollution, etc. They help to prevent and reduce signs of ageing caused by free radicals.

  3. It enhances the absorption of other active ingredients.

    If you suffer from skin conditions such as keratosis pilaris, or if your skin simply needs soothing, tartaric acid can help. It has keratolytic properties, which means it helps to dissolve scales or tougher layers of skin. This enhances the effectiveness of other treatments by allowing them to be better absorbed by the skin's surface.

  4. Tartaric acid also has moisturising properties.

    Tartaric acid is broken down into tartaramides when it penetrates the epidermis. 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.

Discover our exfoliating mask enriched with tartaric acid.

Our peeling mask (88% natural origin ingredients) is composed of an exfoliating complex (4 AHA + 1 PHA). This concentrated gel mask eliminates dead cells to unclog pores and refine skin texture. It is applied twice a week, in the evening only. This exfoliating treatment is recommended for tightening pores and evening out the complexion. It contains tartaric acid derived from tamarind, glycolic acid, mandelic acid and gluconolactone (10%). The high concentration of AHA + PHA in this mask promotes the renewal of the skin surface. The skin is softer, smoother and brighter. In the long term, the presence of blackheads is reduced and the diameter of the pores is decreased.


  • 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).


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