Choosing a Lactic Acid Serum

A lactic acid serum is a great facial serum for a variety of skin types.  It benefits dry skin and people with acne prone skin.  It’s exfoliating effects can also fade age spots, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, and can also reduce acne scars. There is a risk of irritation from stronger formulations, so it is important to use these products properly

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that is used in skin care as a chemical exfoliant.  It dissolves away dead skin that can build up on the surface of live skin.  This layer of dead cells can lead to dry and dull skin and can keep skin care products from being properly absorbed.  It can also clog pores and lead to breakouts.  Exfoliating away this layer with a lactic acid serum will improve your skin in many ways.  In higher concentrations, alpha hydroxy acid products will remove damaged, live skin.  This is known as peeling, and is a very useful technique for aging skin.  Peeling with mild products like a serum gradually exposes younger looking skin.  It reduces age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, and acne scars.  You can even use an alpha hydroxy acid serum on body scars and stretch marks.

The strength of a lactic acid serum is determined by its pH and concentration.  Most lactic acid serums contain between 5% and 10%, with a pH of 3.5 to 4.  This information is often not listed on the product label.  Stronger products containing 10% or more with a pH of 3.5 or less are more likely to produce a peeling effect and will have more skin resurfacing properties.  Strong formulations will often list the concentration, but not the pH.  Because lactic serums are so acidic, you need to give your skin time to adjust to using these products.  Don’t start off with the strongest lactic acid products you can find.

Most people can tolerate using a mild lactic acid serum daily, but it is usually best to start applying it every other day in the beginning.  Using mild concentrations of lactic acid is a great way to prepare your skin for a lactic acid peel.  Using chemical peels without giving skin time to acclimate to the acidity is very likely to burn and damage your skin.  Lactic acid serums are typically the strongest products other than a lactic acid peel.  Serums lack moisturizing ingredients and can be harsh for new users.  A mild lactic acid cream or lotion is the best place to start for sensitive skin types.  Use a mild product for a few weeks before moving up to something stronger.  10% is a great concentration, as it is mild enough to be used every day, but strong enough to be effective at skin resurfacing.

You’ll get even better results from a lactic acid serum by using other active ingredients in your skin care routine.  Combining exfoliation with rejuvenation is the most effective way to get rid of skin damage like scars, discoloration, and wrinkles.  Exfoliating removes damaged tissue, and other anti aging actives help the new skin look its best.  Try using anti aging products containing Vitamin C, retinoids, antioxidants, or peptides in the same routine.  If you are using a lactic acid serum to fight acne, look for a product that contains both lactic and salicylic acid.  Lactic acid is a great way to remove dead skin and will allow salicylic acid to better penetrate pores to break up clogs.  If you’ve experienced a strong peeling effect from using a lactic acid serum, you’ll want to be careful using other forms of exfoliation like a microdermabrasion treatment, or strong anti aging products for a few days.

Lactic acid is a good way to exfoliate dry and sensitive skin.  Sensitive skin often has difficulty with the friction associated with manual exfoliation like a scrub.  Loosening this skin with a lactic acid serum can remove the dead skin on it’s own, or make it’s removal require significantly less pressure.  Lactic acid is the best alpha hydroxy acid to use for dry skin because it has a hydrating effect and can stimulate skin to retain more moisture.  A lactic acid serum is also preferred over glycolic acid for people with black or brown skin because it is less likely to produce an excessive lightening effect.

Alpha hydroxy acids like lactic acid will make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure.  It will burn much easier for a week or more after each time you use it.  These products should only be used in the evening, and many people stop using them in the summer time.  It’s extremely important to use sun protection on skin that has been treated with a lactic acid serum.

Using a lactic acid serum is a great way to exfoliate.  These products can be very strong and effective, so start out with mild products in the beginning to avoid irritation.