You'd be forgiven to associate all acids with Samantha's peeling in the film Sex and the City; after all, that red post-peel looked a bit painful. The good news is, not all skincare acids are made the same. Barely having the name acid can give a product a bad rap, but some acids are pretty gentle. Case in point? A super effective, low-intensity ingredient called lactic acid.
Read on to see what lactic acid is, where it comes from, and why you should add it to your skincare game today.
What Is Lactic Acid, Exactly?
Lactic acid forms part of the group alpha-hydroxy acid family (AHAs) and is seen a lot in skin care treatments and products.
It is essentially a frictionless type of exfoliator that works by dissolving the glue between dead skin cells, allowing a fresh layer of skin to be exposed.
Lactic acid also occurs naturally in certain foods, like yogurt and milk, and can also be formed through biological processes (like when you do stretches). It is quite similar to glycolic acid in molecular terms, but more gentle to your skin because it penetrates less deeply.
How Can Lactic Acid Benefit Your Skin?
1. Has Moisturizing Properties
As awkward as it may sound, lactic acid aids in skin hydration. While many hydroxy acids tend to wither out your skin, lactic acid is a cut above the rest. It boasts hydrating properties that make your skin feel plumper and smoother. Depending on the treatment you choose, lactic acid can also help minimize the appearance of signs of sagging and aging.
2. Works as an Exfoliant
By penetrating through the skin's surface, lactic acid dissolves and absorbs dead skin cells. The best part: it does all this to reveal a fresh, healthy-looking layer of skin. Who wouldn't want their skin to look younger and brighter?
It also hastens cell turnover ratio, meaning it replaces dead or unhealthy skin cells with newer cells.
3. Diminishes the Appearance of Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Lactic acid is a well-known ingredient in anti-aging beauty treatments- and for obvious reasons. In addition to reducing the appearance of premature signs of aging, its hydrating properties can make your skin look wrinkle-free and plumper.
This hydroxy acid is also famous for its collagen-boosting properties. Collagen is a fibrous protein present in the dermis and epidermis. This protein helps to prevent sagging and keeps your skin tight. But with the effects of aging and UV exposure, the production of collagen in your body will lower. This is precisely why you need an ingredient in your skincare that can stimulate collagen.
4. Removes Breakouts
Although not as popular as witch hazel or salicylic acid, lactic acid has some pretty incredible impact on the severity of breakouts. It works magic on problematic skin, removing dead cells and other debris from large pores' entrance. Applying lactic acid peels on your skin means that you'll no longer have to deal with those nagging pimples. Better still, when applied regularly to skin prone to blemishes, this AHL can also help your acne to clear up faster.
5. Combats Keratosis Pilaris
If you have small, flesh-colored plugs on your skin, you might have keratosis pilaris. This skin condition might be harmless, but its appearance as tiny bumps and rough patches can seriously dent your overall look and confidence. Fortunately, lactic acid is here to save the day.
When applied topically, lactic acid has been proven to help eliminate and dislodge keratin bumps from within affected skin areas. This helps to correct dry and roughly textured skin on the cheeks, buttocks, legs, and upper arms. Lactic acid's extra moisturizing benefits further stabilizes the condition, keeping it under control and less likely to become sore.
Pro Tip: Like most skincare acids, you should always follow the guidelines outlined by a certain product in terms of recommended usage. While lactic acid is found to be gentler than other AHAs (salicylic and glycolic), over-using it might lead to some irritation and inflammation. Be sure to check for the concentration of lactic acid on any skincare product before buying- a maximum of 10% is all your skin needs for the ultimate radiance!
How Do You Find and Apply Lactic Acid in Your Routine?
Lactic acid can be applied to your skin in the form of sheet masks, clinical peels, serums, as well as cleansers. But for a cruelty-free daily brightening effect, using facial sheet masks and serums is best. As this AHA tends to accelerate cell turnover, it makes perfect sense to apply at night to shield your skin from potential sun damage.
For extra exfoliation, try using a sheet mask or organic peel not more than two times a week. Begin with a low strength product, and if your skin responds well, move up to higher strengths with caution. Make sure you don't over-exfoliate, and that includes other hydroxy acids and BHAs you might be using, else you'll over-strip your skin.
Who Can Use Lactic Acid?
Since lactic acid is the mildest of the hydroxy acids group, it works well on all skin types- including sensitive skin. Those who find glycolic too cruel can also benefit from this AHA. Pay close attention if you have super-dry or reactive skin, as lactic acid offers the same exfoliating goodies as other AHAs, minus the irritation.
BioRepublic and Lactic Acid
Ready to discover the secret to your skin's inner glow? We have a whole range of skincare treatments that incorporate lactic acid, but we've shared our favorite product (which comes as a box!) with you below to make it easier for you.