Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid and is used in many skin care products for a variety of skin issues. It is a chemical exfoliator that smoothes the skin by removing dead skin cells and sometimes creating a peeling effect. A lactic acid peel can reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and scars, and can treat acne. It can also be useful to even out skin tone by reducing hyperpigmentation. It is beneficial for both oily and dry skin types. Lactic acid is milder than glycolic acid, but it works the same way. Some people with dark complexions can experience excessive lightening with glycolic, making lactic acid a better choice. Using it is also a good way to prepare your skin for stronger peels.
Using lactic acid at home actually has advantages over going to the office or salon. It can also make these professional peels more effective and less likely to produce severe irritation. Home use allows you to gradually introduce your skin to peeling. Going slow and starting out with a lower concentration than you’ll eventually need for your skin care goals is essential to reduce the risk of further damage and maximize results. If you’d like to do a 50% peel, start out using a lotion that contains around 10% or less. After a week or so of daily use, try a milder peel of 20% or 30%. Do this every other week or monthly for a little while, before moving up to the 50% or higher lactic acid peel. This process is also a good way to work your way up to a professional peel, but you must not do a home peel the week before the professional peel. Ask your esthetician, but a general rule of thumb is discontinuing strong peels for 4-6 weeks beforehand. Be honest with what you are doing at home, and find a skin care professional that understands this.
This process can seem long and arduous, but you’ll get the vest results from using mild and mid strength peels consistently, as opposed to only using strong peels every so often. Aging happens little by little, day by day. Anti aging skin care works best this way as well. You can get awesome results after a few peels, and especially after a year of peeling. You can also get worse skin than you started off with by going to fast and starting with a strong product.
Skin peels come with their risks and side effects. In the past, lactic acid peels were only done by dermatologists and other skin care professionals. Even under their care, it was not uncommon for skin to be burned and scarred. Today, professional strength products are readily available for home use. It is easy to severely burn your skin by using product with a high percentage. These products, like anything that contains an alpha hydroxy acid, make your skin photosensitive for two weeks or more after use. You must be willing to use a sunscreen or sunblock with any sun exposure or you will get sun damage that negates the positive effects of the peel. Since you’ll see the best results by peeling often, you will basically need to use sun protection at all times.
How you care for your skin after the peel is just as important as the preparation. Exfoliation with lactic acid peels uses controlled chemical burning to remove damaged skin and expose the new, fresh skin beneath that as a smoother and more youthful texture. You must nurture this new texture by using creams, lotions, and facials that have rejuvenating and healing properties. A great choice for post peel skin care is copper peptides, specifically the GHK-Cu copper peptide. This particular peptide has the best scientific evidence behind it. Some products are designed to be applied directly after the peel, and some must be used no sooner than 24-48 hours post procedure. Other products that contain botanicals and Vitamin E are very useful as well.
Vitamin C and retinol products can also help your skin heal better, but these can produce irritation in many individuals. Your skin must acclimate to these ingredients as well by start out with lower concentrations and working your way up. The 2-3 weeks after a strong peel is not the time for this process, but it fits in well with the lotion and mild peel phase leading up the strong lactic acid peel.
Sometimes peels contain a variety of ingredient and different kinds of acids. Lactic acid is often found in AHA peels along with glycolic acid, as well as exfoliating enzymes and beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid. These products are great for the convenience of getting the beneficial effects of multiple ingredients in a single product and session.
A lactic acid peel can be done at home safely by preparing your skin properly beforehand. It is also critical to rejuvenate your skin with other moisturizers and facials, as well as use sunblock daily. Although this process can be time consuming, you get better results this way. You will also be less likely to experience negative side effects like scarring and uneven pigmentation. There will be some noticeable improvement right away, but accomplishing major skin care goals like removing or reducing wrinkles or scars can take over a year of consistent use.