Lactic acid is a water soluble Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) known as an anti-wrinkle and pigmentation fighting ingredient found in over the counter skincare products and skin peels.
Originally derived from milk (remember the story of Cleopatra bathing in milk?), lactic acid is a chemical exfoliant generally used in anti-aging skincare (we prefer the term ageing gracefully).
Lactic acid benefits
- To help with the appearance of discolouration, lactic acid may help to control excessive melanin production. Melanin is the pigment in your skin, when our skin becomes darker in the sun this is from melanin production, when our skin produces excess melanin this causes discolouration and dark spots. Lactic acid helps to exfoliate the top layers of the skin which can help to fade these dark patches from the surface of the skin.
- Exfoliating the skin with AHA’s can help to promote collagen and elastin production. Lactic acid works by removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, which may promote the natural collagen and elastin production that keeps skin looking firm and taut.
- Lactic acid exfoliates, brightens and evens out the skin tone which leaves our skin looking smoother and more youthful. As we age our skin becomes rougher, but the exfoliating properties of lactic acid can help to ensure that the thick, rough layer is removed to reveal smoother, flawless skin underneath.
- AHA’s encourage better product absorption. When we find a fantastic serum and moisturiser to use on our skin, we want to ensure we get the best from the product. Unfortunately, when added to the dead skin cells and excess oil already coating the surface of our skin, these products are not going to work at their full potential. Lactic acid exfoliates, removing this dead skin, meaning your products no longer have this barrier that they need to penetrate through, this greatly improves the efficacy (effectiveness) of the products.
How can a lactic acid peel benefit your skin?
A chemical peel works to help exfoliate the skin without the need for any scrubs or manual exfoliators. Home use chemical peels help to speed up the natural exfoliation process, removing the top, dead layer of skin.
Despite this, you won’t see your skin peeling off. What is noticeable though, are the amazing results when you stimulate cell turn over (another world for exfoliation) you’ll instantly see smoother and brighter skin.
Lactic acid is specifically used to reduce signs of ageing such as hyperpigmentation, age spots, and a dull and uneven complexion. Other benefits of AHAs like lactic acid include improved skin tone and tighter looking pores.
Unlike more popular AHAs such as glycolic acid, lactic acid is a bit milder. This makes a lactic acid peel the perfect choice for sensitive skin. If you’ve tried another AHA in the past and found it too strong or that it didn’t give the desired results, lactic acid may be a better choice for you.
Lactic acid is less irritating than glycolic acid
Lactic acid gives much better results on sensitive or dry skin
Both are AHA’s but lactic acid has a slightly larger molecular size, what this means is that it doesn’t penetrate the skin quite so deeply and so it causes less irritation. Don’t less this fool you in to thinking you won’t get the same great results as glycolic acid though! While it may take slightly longer to see results on issues such as discolouration when using lactic acid instead of glycolic acid, if you have dry or sensitive skin the benefits are smoother, clearer, plumper looking skin with a reduced chance of irritation, you will not get as great results if you use glycolic acid and it’s too strong for your skin. When choosing chemical peels always choose the product that’s suggested for your skin, remember, stronger doesn’t mean better in skincare.
Can you use both Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid?
Yes! Although both are AHA’s they both give slightly different results. Lactic acid is a little more hydrating so it tends to help the skin hold in a little more water, this leaves the skin looking a little more plumped up and because it gently exfoliates, it leaves the skin with a lovely soft glow. Glycolic acid then works by deeply exfoliating, helping to smooth out those fine lines and wrinkles, so alternating between the two can give even better results than using either alone.
When will I see results?
As amazing as AHA’s are, do not expect to see miracles overnight. Just like most skincare, a lactic acid peel takes time to work. The time for results to show, varies from individual to individual and depends on your skin issue, skin type, lifestyle and if you wear SPF. Certain issues like improving hyperpigmentation, spots and reducing fine lines take multiple peels, but with regular use alongside a good, daily routine which includes SPF, you should definitely notice some noticeable change within around 8 weeks and the results will just keep getting better.
Are side effects possible?
Although lactic acid is a gentler AHA, it’s still considered a powerful exfoliator. It’s essential to always perform a patch test before use, even if you’ve used lactic acid in the past, always patch test a new product.
AHA’s can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun and so it’s important to limit skin exposure and to always wear an SPF daily. Do not use sunbeds if you are using an AHA.
Over time, unprotected sun exposure can lead to more age spots and wrinkles, it may even increase your risk for skin cancer. There’s no point in using anti-ageing products if you don’t protect your skin from the sun.
In sensitive skin lactic acid peels may cause itchiness and redness. If however you experience irritation discontinue use.
How to use a lactic acid peel
High strength lactic acid peels are performed by professionals but at Bravura London we have designed a gentler peel suitable for home use and it’s very easy to use.
Always perform a patch test before using any new products.
Start your treatment with well cleansed & well rinsed skin, pat dry. DO NOT use an exfoliating cleanser, acid cleanser, cleansing wipes or a face flannel/cloth when cleansing before using this treatment, this is important as it could cause over exfoliation. From our range we recommend the First Cleanse Oil, we have a fantastic lactic acid set which gives a cleanser, brush and lactic product for a discounted price.
Leave on for 5 to 15 minutes and rinse off. While some acids can be left on the skin, we recommend rinsing for best results, you want to wash away all of the dead skin that the lactic acid has dislodged, removing that barrier so that your skincare products can penetrate the healthy, living skin underneath.
Use no more than every other day, less often if you have very sensitive skin.
We recommend using your chemical peel in the evening. Like other AHAs, lactic acid increases sun sensitivity so it’s best to use in the evening. Always wear an SPF during the day when using AHA’s. Do not use sunbeds if you have AHA’s in your skincare routine