Formic acid: For your skin – sensible or not at all?

Formic acid, you may not have heard of it before, but it’s popping up more and more in the world of skin care and health. In this blog we will discuss this new trend in more detail. What exactly is formic acid? Why do people put it on their skin? And perhaps most importantly, what are the possible effects on your skin?

Formic acid (Methanoic acid): An analysis

Formic acid, or methanoic acid, is an intriguing substance that occurs naturally in certain plants and animals. It is known for the sharp, burning sensation it can cause when it comes into contact with the skin. This is a characteristic that you will certainly recognize if you have ever accidentally stood on an anthill. But what exactly is formic acid, and why is it found in some plants and animals?

The chemistry of formic acid

It belongs to the family of carboxylic acids and has the simple chemical formula HCOOH. It is classified as an organic acid and is the simplest carboxylic acid, consisting of a carboxyl group (-COOH) linked to hydrogen atoms.

It is commonly found in nature and is a byproduct of various biochemical processes. For example, many plants can produce and store formic acid in their tissues, which can act as a defense mechanism against herbivores.

The battle of ants and their formic acid weapon

Many ant species use this acid as their secret weapon when they are in danger. When an ant feels threatened, it shoots formic acid from its abdomen to send its enemies fleeing. The result? An unpleasant surprise for intruders who get this “formic acid” all over them.

But how exactly does this work? Well, the operation is quite straightforward. When formic acid comes into contact with the skin or mucous membranes, it causes a stinging sensation – and that is what we experience as a burning sensation. At high concentrations, formic acid can even lead to blisters and other skin problems.

Formic Acid

It is not only found in ants. It is also found in various plants. Plants use formic acid as a defense mechanism against voracious herbivores, and sometimes it even acts as a kind of natural pesticide. In animals, as mentioned earlier, it is used as a deterrent against predators.

In short, despite the potentially nasty surprises that formic acid can cause, it is an intriguing substance with versatile applications in nature.

But why is it used in beauty products now?

Formic acid and skin products

It is a colorless liquid. In cosmetics and personal care products, formic acid is used in the formulation of facial, neck and other skin care products, foot powders and sprays, and hair care products.

It is used as a preservative and to regulate the pH of cosmetics and personal care products. This means that it helps to extend the shelf life of the products and control their acidity (pH). The application of formic acid in these products has multiple functions, including maintaining product quality and stability. It also ensures that the products can be used safely on the skin or in the hair without negative effects on the pH balance.

In skin care products

Formic acid used as a preservative and to adjust the acidity of a product

Did you know that all Iconic Elements skin products have an optimal pH value of 5? This pH value is ideal for your skin, because it ensures better skin resistance and hydration. Additionally, research on Asian skin types has shown that using products with a pH of 5 can help reduce wrinkles. Iconic Elements does not use formic acid to correct the acidity of products. Would you like to know more about acidity and your skin?

Formic Acid Acidity And Iconic Elements Products

Against warts

It has also surfaced in skin care products for its exfoliating and etching properties, possibly suitable for treating warts.

A study of 34 patients received a solution of 85% formic acid in distilled water on their warts on one side of the body and distilled water as a placebo on the other side of the body. This was administered every other day using a needle puncture technique. All patients were followed up every two weeks for three months.

After the follow-up period, 91% of patients who received formic acid showed complete disappearance of the warts, compared to 10% in the placebo group (distilled water). The results show that using a solution of 85% formic acid in distilled water is a safe and effective treatment for common warts. The procedure must be performed by a doctor.

Be careful!

Some cases of burns after using formic acid for wart treatment have been reported in case reports. These reports describe severe burns that occurred as a result of using formic acid to treat warts.

In other words

While it is an emerging trend in skin care and even nutrition, it is important to understand both the potential benefits and risks. This blog will provide you with insights into what this trend means so you can make informed decisions for your skin and your health.

It may provide antibacterial and antifungal benefits, making it useful in products that aim to keep the skin clean and free of bacteria. It is also used as a pH adjuster in skin care products, which can help keep the skin balanced.

Yes, while it is effective as a preservative, it can cause irritation or allergic reactions in some people, especially at higher concentrations. It’s important to use products containing formic acid with caution and test it on a small area of ​​skin first, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Use products containing formic acid as directed and avoid excessive use. If you have sensitive skin, start by applying a small amount to a limited area of ​​skin to test your skin reaction. Discontinue use and consult a dermatologist if you experience signs of irritation or allergic reactions.

It can help treat certain skin problems that benefit from its antibacterial properties. For example, it can be useful in products targeted at acne-prone skin, by helping to reduce bacteria that can cause breakouts. However, it should be used with care and is not suitable for all skin types or conditions.

While you are here

Warts are a common dermatological problem that affects both adults and children. Find out what they are, what causes them, how they spread and what treatments are available to control them. We weigh the pros and cons of different treatment options for you. Click through to the blog for an in-depth look at this common dermatological problem that can affect both adults and children.

Warts Duct Tape Formic Acid

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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