What Is Lactic Acid in Skincare? The Ultimate Guide
What is lactic acid in skincare, exactly?
You likely have heard of this ingredient before, but you might not know what it is or what it’s supposed to do to your skin. In short, it is an acid found in milk. People have been using milk as a skincare product for thousands of years, and Cleopatra was known to bathe in milk for its skincare benefits. As it turns out, the ancients were correct in assuming that milk (or at least the acid in milk) could do a lot of good for one’s skin health.
Keep reading to learn more about the most common lactic acid benefits.
What Is Lactic Acid?
Lactic acid for skin is part of a group of acids known as alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs). These are organic compounds that are water-soluble, and there are many scientific studies that support the benefits they have for the skin. While there are many other AHAs out there, lactic acid is one of the gentlest. This makes it ideal for those who have sensitive skin and don’t want to use anything too harsh.
The main benefit of this acid is that it can chemically exfoliate the skin. This means it can remove excess dead skin cells from the surface of your complexion. Chemical exfoliation is preferable to physical exfoliation (such as using a rag or a scrub) since it is gentler on the skin and doesn’t require you to rub it as much, which could stretch the skin out. Scientific studies have shown that using concentrations of 10% lactic acid or higher can provide a variety of benefits to the skin besides exfoliation.
Meanwhile, concentrations of only 5% were shown to not make any significant difference in the skin, so make sure you use the right concentration. Due to its exfoliating powers, it can reduce the depth and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In the same vein, it can also smooth out the texture of your skin so that your complexion looks more even. This is not to mention that high concentration is able to penetrate to the middle layer of skin, where it can really start to remodel your skin cells and rejuvenate them.
Lactic acid can even help treat hyperpigmentation. This is due to the way this acid accelerates the turnover rate of skin cells, meaning that it helps skin cells shed and get replaced faster. That way, your old, hyperpigmented skin will be stripped away and replaced with fresh skin. This makes it ideal for those who have age spots, sun spots, or post-inflammatory pigmentation from acne. Lactic acid can even be great for treating acne itself since it is antibacterial.
This is not to mention that it is a powerful anti-aging component. This is because it can stimulate the skin’s ability to produce collagen. Collagen is essential for keeping your skin firm and youthful. Just be sure that you don’t combine lactic acid with other harsh ingredients. For example, if you’re already using a retinoid or retinol, you shouldn’t use lactic acid since the two products do the same thing. Mixing them may irritate your skin.
There are also some side effects of using lactic acid, especially if you have sensitive skin, but they are not common. They include redness and sensitivity, as well as peeling skin. Other than that, the benefits of this acid far outweigh the cons. Using lactic acid on a regular basis, such as every other day, should noticeably improve the appearance of your skin. You can also use this acid on the rest of your body if you want to make sure that all your skin is completely smooth and nourished.
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