New Perspectives on the Efficacy of Gallic Acid in Cosmetics & Nanocosmeceuticals

Curr Pharm Des. 2018;24(43):5181-5187. doi: 10.2174/1381612825666190118150614.


Background: Gallic acid (GA-3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid), a phenolic phytochemical, is a ubiquitous secondary metabolite found in most plants, with appreciable concentrations in grapes seed, rose flowers, sumac, oak and witch hazel. GA often results from the hydrolysis of terpenes and the polyphenol tannic acid.

Applications: It exhibits powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-cancer activities. Most intriguing benefit has been reported to be on the skin. Due to these beneficial properties, GA and its derivatives (e.g. lipid-soluble phenols such as synthetic gallic esters aka gallates) have been extensively used as an adjuvant in a number of therapeutic formulations, as a substitute of hydrocortisone in children with atopic dermatitis (AD) and other skin conditions (hyperpigmentation, wound healing), and as a cosmetic ingredient. GA has a USFDA GRAS status (generally recognized as safe), exhibiting fairly low systemic toxicity and associated mortality at acute doses in many experimental models. Despite anti-skin aging benefits obtained with relatively safe GA formulations, few cases of gallate-induced skin allergic have been reported in humans. Therefore, approaches to improve the bioavailability and biodegradability of this poor-water soluble and non-biodegradable phenolic compound are warranted.

Purpose: This review has focused on the recently reported biological activities pertaining to the skin as well as the pharmacological properties of GA and its derivatives with special emphasis on its use in (nano-) cosmetic formulations. Since this is an evolving area of research, an adequate emphasis has been placed upon advantages and disadvantages of various nanoformulations.

Keywords: Gallic acid and derivatives; anti-aging; cosmetics; flavonoids; nanotechnology; pharmaco-toxicology..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cosmeceuticals / chemistry
  • Cosmeceuticals / pharmacology*
  • Cosmetics / chemistry
  • Cosmetics / pharmacology*
  • Gallic Acid / chemistry
  • Gallic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Skin / drug effects*


  • Cosmeceuticals
  • Cosmetics
  • Gallic Acid