Shikimic Acid: What Is It, Skin Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Fact-Checker: Samantha Ward
This article was last updated on: June 12, 2023
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Picture this: You’re standing in the beauty aisle of your favorite store, squinting at the tiny text of an ingredient list on a skincare product, trying to decipher the cryptic words and phrases. It feels like you need a degree in chemistry to decode the components and make an informed decision about the product.

One such ingredient that tends to pop up on these lists is Shikimic Acid. The name itself might sound more like a character from a sci-fi movie than something you’d put on your skin. It’s understandable how daunting it may be to come across such a term on your cosmetic label.

Fret not, we’re here to unravel the mystery surrounding this intriguing ingredient. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits, cosmetic applications, and potential side effects of Shikimic Acid.

What is Shikimic Acid?

Shikimic Acid, also known as (3R,4S,5R)-3,4,5-trihydroxycyclohex-1-enecarboxylic acid, is a naturally occurring compound derived primarily from star anise and other plant-based sources. In the cosmetic world, Shikimic Acid serves various purposes, with its main roles being anti-seborrheic, deodorant, and skin conditioning.

How does it work? Shikimic Acid helps regulate skin oil production, contributing to a balanced and healthy complexion while also combating undesired odors. This compound is often found in cosmetic formulations, playing well with other ingredients to create comprehensive skincare products tailored to various needs.

While it is more commonly found as part of a product’s formulation, pure Shikimic Acid can also be purchased as a stand-alone ingredient. However, it’s worth noting that the concentration of Shikimic Acid varies depending on the specific product and its intended use.

Who Can Use Shikimic Acid?

Shikimic Acid is a versatile ingredient that can be suitable for various skin types, including oily, combination, and even sensitive skin. It is known for its ability to help balance skin’s sebum levels, making it a valuable component in products for managing oil production.

As Shikimic Acid is plant-based, it is an ideal option for those seeking vegan or vegetarian skincare ingredients. However, it is important to check the rest of the formulation to ensure it aligns with your values, as not every product containing Shikimic Acid will necessarily be 100% vegan or vegetarian.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, it’s always advised to consult a healthcare professional before introducing a new ingredient into their skincare routine. Although Shikimic Acid is usually considered safe for general use, it’s essential to follow the advice and recommendations of your healthcare provider to ensure the safety of both you and your baby.

Shikimic Acid Skin Benefits

Shikimic Acid offers numerous benefits for the skin, which can be attributed to its official functions as an anti-seborrheic, deodorant, and skin conditioning agent. Some of its significant skin benefits include:

  • Regulates sebum production: As an anti-seborrheic agent, Shikimic Acid helps balance the skin’s oil levels by reducing excess sebum production. By doing so, it promotes a healthier complexion and prevents clogged pores, which can lead to acne breakouts and other skin issues.
  • Improves skin texture and appearance: By functioning as a skin conditioning agent, Shikimic Acid boosts the overall health of the skin, improving texture and promoting a more even tone. It achieves this by helping to hydrate the skin and encourage natural cell turnover, resulting in a smoother, more radiant complexion.

It’s essential to note that the benefits of Shikimic Acid are not permanent. To ensure a continued positive effect on your skin, regular and consistent use of products containing this ingredient should be maintained.

Shikimic Acid’s Non-active Cosmetic Uses

Shikimic Acid contributes to various non-active functions in cosmetic products, based on its official roles within the world of skincare and beauty:

  • Deodorizing properties: Shikimic Acid acts as a deodorant agent by neutralizing undesirable odors. Its natural antibacterial properties help combat odor-causing bacteria, contributing to a fresh and clean feeling when used in skincare and personal hygiene products.

Shikimic Acid Potential Side Effects

As with any cosmetic ingredient, side effects and reactions to Shikimic Acid can vary from person to person. Our skin is individually unique, and each individual’s skin type, sensitivities, and personal chemistry can influence how a particular ingredient affects them. To understand your skin type better, check out this comprehensive article on how to find out your skin type.

Potential side effects and interactions may include:

  • Skin irritation: There is a possibility of mild to moderate skin irritation, characterized by redness, itching, or discomfort. This reaction could be influenced by an individual’s specific sensitivities, the concentration of the ingredient, or how it interacts with other components in the product.
  • Allergic reactions: In rare cases, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction to Shikimic Acid. Symptoms may include rash, swelling, or more severe reactions, necessitating medical attention.

If you experience any side effects while using Shikimic Acid, or a product containing it, it’s essential to discontinue use immediately and consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional for further guidance.

Fortunately, adverse reactions to Shikimic Acid are relatively rare. Generally speaking, this ingredient is considered safe and effective when used appropriately in skincare and cosmetic products.

Before incorporating Shikimic Acid into your skincare routine, it’s crucial to conduct a patch test to ensure you do not experience any adverse reactions. For a step-by-step patch testing guide, follow the link to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience with your new cosmetic product.

Comedogenic Rating

Shikimic Acid has a comedogenic rating of 1, which is considered low. This means that it is unlikely to cause pore-clogging or contribute to acne breakouts. The low comedogenic rating is due to the ingredient’s ability to regulate sebum production and help maintain balanced skin oil levels. As a result, Shikimic Acid may be a suitable option for those prone to acne or breakouts, providing potential benefits without contributing to additional skin congestion.


Finding the right skincare and haircare products often involves trial and error, as individual needs and preferences come into play. Shikimic Acid is a valuable ingredient given its active and non-active effects, contributing to both immediate skin improvement and the overall performance of a cosmetic product.

Opting for products containing Shikimic Acid may be a wise choice for those seeking a natural ingredient that balances skin oil levels, deodorizes, and conditions the skin without causing harm to the environment or one’s individual skin.

While Shikimic Acid may not be the most commonly-discussed or well-known ingredient in skincare, its effectiveness should not be overlooked. Its multiple benefits have the potential to provide noticeable improvements in skin health and appearance.

As with many skincare ingredients, patience is key. Consistent use of Shikimic Acid-containing products may yield visible results over time, typically after a few weeks of regular application.

Summing up, Shikimic Acid is a versatile and beneficial cosmetic ingredient. It may offer substantial improvements to skin health, particularly for those seeking solutions for oily or combination skin types. The ingredient’s gentle nature and low comedogenic rating make it an excellent contender for those in search of a natural and effective addition to their skincare routine.

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