Lactic acid products come in many forms. Lactic acid is a good treatment for a variety of skin conditions and problems. It can improve dry skin. It is used in anti aging and anti acne formulations. You can find mild products for general exfoliation, or much stronger products that peel away fine lines and discoloration.
Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that chemically exfoliates. Chemical exfoliation can be more effective than manual exfoliation, which removes skin by polishing it with an abrasive material. Lactic acid products dissolve away dead skin and in stronger concentrations, live damaged skin. Lactic acid is a naturally occurring chemical that is derived from food products.
Mild lactic acid products like lotions and creams are very useful to remove dead skin. Exfoliating is a very important part of a good skin care regimen. Dead cells over accumulate on the surface of the skin. They form a problematic layer that gives skin a dull texture and appearance. This accumulation also leads to dry skin, and prevents your skin care products from being absorbed properly, potentially making them ineffective.
The strong concentrations found in a lactic acid peel or serum go beyond removing dead skin. Peeling is a powerful skin resurfacing technique. It removes discolored, wrinkled, and scarred tissue to expose fresher, healthier looking skin below. When peeling is repeated, there can be a dramatic reduction in wrinkles, age spots, and acne scarring. You used to have to visit a skin care professional to get an effective peel, but now there are many more options available for home use. Peeling can be intense, and chemical peel side effects can be severe, so it is important to introduce peeling into your skin care routine gradually.
Chemically exfoliating with lactic acid products is especially beneficial to certain skin types. Lactic acid has specific properties that help dry skin, sensitive skin, and dark colored skin. It promotes cell hydration, making it an ideal alpha hydroxy acid for dry skin types. It is less likely to lighten skin dark skin than glycolic acid, which can have an excessive bleaching effect on brown and black skin. Lactic acid is also considered a gentler alternative to glycolic acid, and can be the ideal way to exfoliate sensitive skin. Chemical exfoliation is often milder than mechanical scrubbing for sensitive skin that is easily irritated by friction, or prone to developing broken capillaries.
Lactic acid can enhance the results you get from using body and facial scrubs. If you aren’t getting smooth enough skin from using a scrub or loofah, you may have too much dead skin build up to remove manually. This is actually quite common if you have just started exfoliating. Use a lactic acid body lotion for a few days and it should be loosened enough to be removed with a scrub.
Lactic acid products aren’t just for your face. A lactic acid lotion is a common remedy for keratosis pilaris, or chicken skin, the bumpy skin that is often found on the backs of the arms and legs. It’s also helpful on rough skin on the elbow and knees, or for calluses on the feet. Higher concentrations are even used for stretch marks and scar removal.
Lactic acid is often combined with salicylic acid in acne creams and other treatments. These two acids are great at preventing and clearing breakouts. Lactic acid helps break up dead skin that can clog pores and allows salicylic acid to better penetrate the pore to dissolve the clog.
Strong lactic acid products can be too intense for new users. A lactic acid cream or lotion will typically contain between 5% and 10% lactic acid. This is an ideal range for most people to start with. Stronger products that contain 10% or more will often list the percentage on the label. Don’t start out using strong products like peels. If you’d like to use a chemical peel at home, use a lotion or lactic acid serum for a few weeks. Gradually increase the strength of your alpha hydroxy acid products to avoid burning and skin damage.
Lactic acid products work well with other anti aging active ingredients. Lactic acid can remove damaged tissue and allow other skin care products to work on new skin. It is sometimes found in retinol skin care products to get the convenience of exfoliation and renewal in a single formulation. You must find balance between exfoliation and rejuvenation in a skin care routine based on skin resurfacing. Removing too much tissue too often won’t give your skin enough time to rebuild. Be careful using strong concentrations of retinoids and Vitamin C following a lactic acid peel.
Lactic acid products usually carry sun exposure warnings because they cause your skin to sun burn much easier. There is also a risk of discoloration from even non burning sun exposure, so it is extremely important to use sunblock daily. Don’t skip it even if it is cloudy or you only intend to be outside for a few minutes. This effect lasts one week or more following each application. Many people stop using the products in the summer months.
Lactic acid products are a convenient way to exfoliate and can even improve the signs of aging. Look for products based on your skin’s needs and remember to start with mild products and work your way up.