Lactic Acid for Skin: The Best Kept Secrets
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lactic acid is a naturally occurring ingredient in the skin. It can be found in many foods, including sour pickles and yogurt. A lot of people use lactic acid as an exfoliant for their face, but how do you know if it’s right for your skin? In this article, I will discuss all you need to know about lactic acid before using it topically as an exfoliator or mask.
Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). AHAs exfoliate skin and increase cell turnover, which can help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They can also boost collagen production, which helps firm up skin.
It's important to note that lactic acid is gentle enough for most people's skin types—even sensitive ones. This makes it well-suited for those who have acne-prone or rosacea-prone skin types because it won't cause irritation or redness like other acids do when applied topically.
AHAs can exfoliate skin and increase cell turnover.
The word "exfoliating" comes from the Latin word ex, meaning "out," and folium, meaning "leaf." So it literally means to get rid of the outermost layer of your skin—the dead cells that build up in your pores during the day. By removing these layers of dead skin cells, you're actually improving the overall texture (and therefore reducing wrinkles). Lactic acid doesn't just help remove dead skin cells; it also helps stimulate new ones so they grow faster than before.
AHAs can boost collagen production, which helps firm up skin.
For the sake of our skin, we need to be aware of what collagen does. Collagen is the main protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity, but it also decreases with age. Luckily, lactic acid can stimulate collagen production—and if you combine it with another AHA product like Glycolic Acid (which is also an excellent choice for acne-prone skin), you're going to get higher levels of this important ingredient than ever before! Glycolic acid has been shown to increase the thickness of collagen fibers by up to 50%.
Lactic acid is gentle and well tolerated by most people's skin.
Lactic acid is a milder AHA than glycolic acid, and it's a natural component of milk. This makes lactic acid well tolerated by most people's skin, which means you can use it on all skin types—even sensitive ones! Market formulations contain lactic acid between 5-10%. If you are a beginner, you can dilute lactic acid with hyaluronic acid or niacinamide.
Certain formulations of lactic acid can be irritating to the skin.
Lactic acid is a naturally-occurring organic compound found in various foods, including dairy products and fruits. It can also be made industrially by bacteria living in a fermentation process. Although lactic acid has a minimal irritant potential, there are certain formulations of lactic acid that can be irritating to the skin and eyes.
If you have sensitive skin or are allergic to perfumes or fragrances (like me), then it's best to avoid using any product containing a combination of lactic acid with glycolic acid. Additionally, also try to avoid any lactic acid formulation that contains fragrance or the so-called 'herbal' products with questionable efficacy. Sensitive skin types should start with a lower concentration of lactic acid around 5%.
The Ordinary 10% Lactic Acid +2% hyaluronic acid serum has become my newest favorite skincare product.
If you want to use lactic acid for skin, keep in mind that it is one of the least irritating AHAs suitable even for sensitive skin. Although, if you have very sensitive skin, use a gentler formulation of lactic acid and check with your doctor before using. You may also want to test out the product on a small area of your body (like your hand) before making any significant changes in how often you use it or how much product you put on each area.