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

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: June 17, 2023
Table of Contents

We’ve all been there – you pick up a skincare or cosmetic product with high hopes, only to flip it over and become immediately bewildered by the list of ingredients that feels less like English and more like an advanced chemistry course. Among those ingredients, you might notice one particularly sophisticated-sounding compound: Ursolic Acid. Sounds rather scientific, doesn’t it?

Ursolic Acid, officially classified as Hydroxyursenoic acid in the world of skincare and cosmetics, is an intriguing ingredient that has piqued the interest of beauty aficionados. In this article, we’re diving into the world of Ursolic Acid, exploring its properties, functions, and why it has earned a place in your beauty products. Join us on this journey of discovery as we reveal the secrets of this fascinating ingredient.

What is Ursolic Acid?

Ursolic Acid, also known as Urs-12-en-28-oic acid, 3-hydroxy, (3beta)-; 3b-Hydroxyurs-12-en-28-oic Acid, or Hydroxyursenoic acid, is a plant-derived compound found in a wide range of botanical sources, including apple skins, rosemary, and lavender. When it comes to cosmetics and skincare, Ursolic Acid is admired for its properties as a fragrance agent, perfuming ingredient, and skin conditioner. Its primary purpose within products is to promote healthier, rejuvenated skin by harnessing its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifungal properties.

Typically, Ursolic Acid is used in concentrations ranging from 0.1% to 1% within formulations for optimal efficacy. While it can occasionally be found as a stand-alone product, it’s more commonly seen as a component of a wider array of ingredients in various skincare and cosmetic items.

Who Can Use Ursolic Acid?

Ursolic Acid is considered to be suitable for most skin types, including sensitive, oily, dry, and combination skin. Its mild nature and soothing properties make it a versatile and widely-accepted ingredient, particularly for those seeking natural alternatives in their skincare routine.

As a plant-derived compound, Ursolic Acid aligns with both vegan and vegetarian preferences, making it an appealing choice for those adhering to cruelty-free living.

In terms of usage during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating any new products into your skincare routine. However, given its gentle nature and favorable properties, Ursolic Acid is generally considered safe for use during these stages of life.

Ursolic Acid Skin Benefits

Ursolic Acid’s presence in cosmetic products offers a number of skin benefits, which we’ve elaborated on in greater detail below:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Ursolic Acid has been valued for its ability to soothe inflammation and redness in the skin. By reducing inflammation, it promotes a more even complexion and can help alleviate discomfort associated with conditions like acne and rosacea.
  • Antioxidant effects: As a powerful antioxidant, Ursolic Acid works to neutralize free radicals in the skin, which can be responsible for premature aging, fine lines, and wrinkles. This protective quality helps to maintain a youthful appearance and improves overall skin health.
  • Skin conditioning: Ursolic Acid is known for its emollient and moisturizing properties, which aid in softening and hydrating the skin. This leads to improved skin texture and a smoother, healthier appearance.

It’s important to note that the beneficial effects of Ursolic Acid are not permanent. In order to maintain these positive results, continuous usage of products containing this ingredient is necessary.

Ursolic Acid’s Non-active Cosmetic Uses

Aside from its active roles in benefiting the skin, Ursolic Acid also contributes to cosmetic formulations in other non-active ways, as mentioned below:

  • Fragrance: Ursolic Acid has a naturally pleasant scent that lends itself well to perfuming cosmetic and skincare products. Its inclusion enhances the overall sensory experience and adds a touch of luxury to the product.

Ursolic Acid Potential Side Effects

It’s crucial to recognize that side effects and reactions to any ingredient, including Ursolic Acid, can vary from person to person. This variability can be attributed to differences in skin types, sensitivities, and individual tolerance levels. To better understand your skin and its specific needs, you can find your skin type through various methods.

Some potential side effects and interactions that may occur with Ursolic Acid include:

  • Irritation: While rare, some individuals may experience skin irritation, redness, or itchiness when using products containing Ursolic Acid, particularly if they have more sensitive skin types.
  • Allergic reactions: Although uncommon, allergic reactions to Ursolic Acid or related ingredients may occur in some individuals. Symptoms might include swelling, rash, or hives.

If you experience any of these side effects while using Ursolic Acid or a product containing it, discontinue the use of the product immediately and consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional for guidance.

Fortunately, adverse reactions to Ursolic Acid are relatively rare, and generally speaking, this ingredient is considered safe and effective for most individuals when used as recommended.

Lastly, it’s essential to emphasize the importance of patch testing when it comes to using any cosmetic product, especially if you’re introducing a new ingredient to your skincare routine. Conducting a patch test can help you identify any potential adverse reactions before applying the product to larger areas of your skin. Check out Glooshi’s helpful patch-testing guide to learn the proper technique.

Comedogenic Rating

Ursolic Acid has a comedogenic rating of 1, which signifies a very low likelihood of clogging pores. This low rating is attributed to its gentle nature and soothing properties, which do not contribute to excess oil production or pore blockages.

Given its low comedogenic rating, Ursolic Acid is generally considered suitable for individuals prone to acne or breakouts, as its inclusion in skincare or cosmetic products poses a minimal risk of exacerbating these concerns.


Achieving success in skincare often requires a certain degree of experimentation and trial-and-error to discover the most effective ingredients and formulations that cater to your unique needs. Ursolic Acid presents a compelling option for those seeking both immediate skin-enhancing benefits and non-active effects, such as fragrance and emulsification, in their cosmetic products.

One might consider opting for products containing Ursolic Acid over other alternatives as it boasts a range of valuable properties, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, and skin conditioning, which work in synergy to improve overall skin health and appearance.

While Ursolic Acid may not be the most widely-discussed ingredient in the skincare world, its efficacy and multitude of benefits should not be overlooked. As with any ingredient, consistent use is vital for achieving and maintaining noticeable results. In the case of Ursolic Acid, one can expect visible improvements in skin health and appearance after several weeks of regular use.

Summing up, Ursolic Acid is a versatile, plant-derived ingredient that holds significant potential for enhancing the skin’s overall health and appearance. With its low comedogenic rating, gentle nature, and a multitude of benefits, Ursolic Acid can be a valuable addition to your skincare routine.

Tell us how you found this article in just a couple of clicks!
Delivered right to your inbox each week. Zero spam, all goodness, opt-out at anytime.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
How did you find this article?
Tell us how you found this article in just a couple of clicks!
Get all our top headlines in beauty.
Delivered right to your inbox each week. Zero spam, all goodness, opt-out at anytime.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send good feedback:

All feedback is anonymous and will be used to improve the quality of our articles.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Send bad feedback:

All feedback is anonymous and will be used to improve the quality of our articles.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.