Choosing a Lactic Acid Lotion

A lactic acid lotion is a popular skin care product.  It’s a good choice for all skin types as a form of mild exfoliation.  Products containing lactic acid are used in anti aging skin care as well as acne control.  These lotions are very mild and unlikely to irritate your skin because they have a low concentration of lactic acid and contain moisturizing ingredients.  A lactic acid lotion will make your skin smoother and reduce hyperpigmentation.  It’s a good way to get your skin used to alpha hydroxy acids and prepare it for a chemical peel.

Lactic acid removes dead skin cells and other debris that adhere to live skin.  In higher concentrations, it is used to remove the first layer or more of live skin, which removes damage like wrinkles and scars.  Most lactic acid lotions have concentrations in the 5% – 12% range.  This is a low concentration that is very unlikely to make your skin peel, although some mild flaking can occur from dead skin sloughing off.  Exfoliating away dead skin is an important part of skin care.  It gives the skin a rough appearance and interferes with the absorption of other products.  It can also lead to clogged pores and acne.

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid, like glycolic acid.  These acids are popular in skin care and used in a variety of products, including chemical peels.  Lactic acid is milder than glycolic acid and is a better choice for people with darker complexions.  It is a good way to get rid of wrinkles, acne scars, age spots, and pimples.   Lactic acid is used in facial and body care.  It makes a good treatment for keratosis pilaris, or chicken skin, the bumpy skin common on the backs of the arms and legs.  It is also used in scar removal, to get rid of calluses on the feet, and for the rough skin on the knees and elbows.

A lactic acid lotion is a great way to reduce skin discoloration like hyperpigmentation, age spots, sun damage, and other dark spots on face and body skin.  It will take at least a few weeks of daily applications to see results, but it is a mild treatment and the effects are permanent.  It is unlikely to over lighten the skin around the spots and is the best choice for people of African descent.  Be very careful when treating dark under eye circles, as the skin there is thin and most likely to be irritated.

Most people can start out using a lactic acid lotion daily because the concentration is usually 10% or less.  Stronger formulations are typically listed on the label.  Be careful starting out with daily use of a product that contains more than 10% lactic acid.  Sensitive skin types should look for a concentration of around 5% to start with, or begin using a stronger lotion every 2 or 3 days and gradually increasing frequency.  Don’t avoid hydroxy acids just because you have sensitive skin.  They can be a great way to exfoliate if your skin can’t tolerate friction from scrubs, or if you are prone to developing broken capillaries.  You should only use these lotions at night.  They cause your skin to become photosensitive which means it burns and discolors easier when it is exposed to sunlight.  You’ll need to use a sun block daily for at least a week after each application of a lactic lotion.

If you are planning to use a lactic acid peel, you should use a lotion with lactic acid for a few weeks ahead of time.  Alpha hydroxy acids can be irritating and damaging in stronger concentrations.  You can minimize chemical peel side effects by giving your skin time to adjust to the acidity.  After using a mild product like a lotion or cream, start with a mild peel in the 15%- 20% range.  Gradually work your way up to stronger peels over time until you are getting the results you want.  Remember that removing damage like wrinkles and scarring will take at least a few months.

A lactic acid body lotion can help your skin become smoother.  It can break up tough thick skin on your feet, elbows and knees.  It can also help eliminate bumpy skin caused by keratosis pilaris.  Most body lotions with lactic acid will have around a 10% concentration.  If you have sensitive skin, this may be too much for daily use, so start slowly.  If you have problems with ingrown hairs and skin bumps from shaving, using a lactic acid lotion after you shave might help.  Wait until you have been using it for a couple of weeks to let your skin get used to it.  After that, try applying it approximately 20 minutes after you shave.  It may sting a bit and could irritate your skin, so it’s best to try out a small test patch in the beginning.  Using a lactic acid lotion before a shower can help you exfoliate skin more effectively.  The acid can break up dead skin and make it come off much easier with a loofah or body scrub.  If you haven’t had that great of results with manual exfoliation on it’s own, try adding a lactic acid body lotion to your routine.  Body skin will also become sensitive to sunlight for a week or so after being treated with alpha hydroxy acids, so be sure you use sun block.

Be careful when using other skin care products that exfoliate.  Using a lactic lotion too close to exfoliating treatment could result in over exfoliation.  Wait to use your lotion for a few days following microdermabrasion.  Sometimes anti aging products like a retinol cream can make your skin peel slightly, and will often contain an alpha hydroxy acid.  Vitamin C skin care products can also have an exfoliating effect.  Check the ingredient list of your skin care products for alpha hydroxy acids and exfoliating active ingredients like Vitamin C and retinol.  Add products and techniques to your routine slowly so that you can evaluate your skin’s reaction and minimize the risk of complications.

If you are using a lactic acid lotion as part of a scar reduction or anti aging routine, remember that exfoliation is only half of the process.  Combining exfoliation with skin care products that rejuvenate will make your routine much more effective.  Stick with proven active ingredients like Vitamin C, retinoids, and anti oxidants.  Results will take time; use your products consistently and don’t expect miracles over night.

A lactic acid lotion is a great way to work exfoliation into your routine.  It can help you reduce wrinkles, age spots, and scars.  Remember to use sunblock daily for at least a week or two after each application.