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  5. Why You Need To Add Malic Acid To Your Skin Care Right Away

You must have heard about glycolic acid, salicylic acid and lactic acid. But do you know what malic acid is? Allow us to introduce it to you. Malic acid is an exfoliant with skin benefits like hydration, anti-aging and smoother skin tone. It is a sigh of relief for people with sensitive skin due to its gentle exfoliating property. Hard to believe? Read on.

What Is Malic Acid?

Can you recall the sour taste of apples? Malic acid is responsible for this sour or tart taste. The word malic acid comes from the latin word malum, meaning apple. It was first isolated from apple juice in the 80s.

A Tiny Dose Of Chemistry

Malic acid is 2-hydroxy dicarboxylic acid [1] with the chemical formula C4H6O5 . It is produced naturally in the body when converting carbohydrates into energy. Malic acid belongs to the class of fruit acids called alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).

Alpha hydroxy acids break down the bonds between skin cells and help in shedding the dead skin cells. This paves way for a new layer of skin to appear on the surface. 

Dr. Harish Kautam, chief dermatologist at SkinKraft, explains that malic acid is larger than its counterparts like glycolic and lactic acid. Though its penetrative ability is weaker, it is a gentler form of alpha hydroxy acids making it suitable for sensitive skin too.

Top Benefits Of Malic Acid

1. Exfoliation, Even Complexion And Improved Acne 

Malic acid breaks down the glue that holds the dead skin cells (keratinocytes) together [2]. Once the dead skin cells are washed away from the top layer of the skin, a fresh layer is pushed to the surface. Your skin is now smoother, evened out and radiant than before. Exfoliation helps clearing up clogged pores and improves acne.

2. Skin Hydration 

Malic acid is a humectant [3] meaning it can attract moisture from the air and trap it in the skin.  This is the reason why you often see this ingredient in moisturizers.

3. Restores pH Balance

First, let us break down skin pH for you. The sebum (natural oil) and sweat in the skin mix to form a thin film called the acid mantle [4]. This layer acts as a protective barrier against foreign organisms. It also prevents water loss from your skin. Most alpha hydroxy acids disrupt this pH balance. Malic acid on the other hand restores the pH in your skin.

4. Reduced Wrinkles & Anti-Aging

Malic acid helps in skin cell turnover, thus promoting collagen production. This is why you will find this ingredient in anti-aging skin care [5]. Collagen is a fibrous protein responsible for holding the skin cells together. It decreases with age. 

Malic Acid Food Sources

  • Berries like blueberries and blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Citrus fruits
  • Broccoli
  • Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Wine
  • Alcoholic ciders

There is no set dose for malic acid. It depends on your age, gender, medical history and type of supplement or topical product. Consult your doctor before you begin incorporating malic acid in your skin care routine. There are no studies to back up the safety of malic acid when used by pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.

Side Effects Of Malic Acid

Even though malic acid is gentler than other alpha hydroxy acids, it can still cause irritation in certain people. Consult your dermatologist before you incorporate it in your skin care. Besides, malic acid is used as an extra ingredient alongside other AHAs in some products for increased efficacy. This combination may cause redness, peeling, dryness, inflammation or irritation. A patch test is recommended before usage.

How To Use Malic Acid?

If you are looking for faster results, combine it with other AHAs. Many products in the market contain malic acid as an added ingredient to AHAs. If your skin is extremely sensitive, stick to malic acid alone. 

Avoid using malic acid or any exfoliants around your eyes because the skin here is very thin and delicate. Any exfoliant makes your skin prone to sun damage because of the chemical peeling of the outer layer of the skin[6]. If you are going to use malic acid in the morning, make sure to follow it up with a sunscreen.

Drug Interactions

If you consume malic acid while taking medications for high blood pressure, it can lower your blood pressure beyond safe limits. Captopril, valsartan, furosemide, amlodipine are some of the medications for high blood pressure (antihypertensive drugs).

What Happens If You Eat Malic Acid?

Too much of anything is bad for your body. Eating large amounts of malic acid can lead to dental erosion and canker sores. Your oral health (tongue and mouth) is at risk if you consume malic acid in higher doses. 

Is Malic Acid Vegan?

All the vegans out there, rejoice! Malic acid is absolutely vegan, since it is obtained from fruits and not from any animal or animal sources. It is commonly found in sour fruits. 

Is Malic Acid Soluble In Water?

Any "carboxylic acid with shorter carbon chain" is soluble in water and so does malic acid.

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Contain Malic Acid?

Yes, malic acid is present in apple cider vinegar in trace amounts [7]. Apple cider vinegar is fermented in two steps. While acetic acid is the main component, there are other acids like malic acid in minor quantities.

Bottom Line

Introduce malic acid into your skin care routine to reap its incredible benefits. Talk to your doctor and get the best products containing malic acid for your skin.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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