Lactic acid is one chemical exfoliant that has had one long, and slightly regal history. It is known that Queen Cleopatra would bath in soured yak’s milk and honey as an attempt to keep her skin young, soft, and glowing.
Lactic acid’s popularity hasn’t wavered for centuries, with many product formulas often containing the AHA due to how it can effectively deliver impressive skin results, whilst remaining gentle on the skin. Much like all acids however, the percentage plays an important role in how it works on the skin. So, with that in mind we can move on to finding out more about whether 5% lactic acid can be used on the body? Stick around if you wanted us to clear this up for you, but before we get started, here’s a quick refresher about what lactic acid is and how it can benefit the skin.
What is Lactic Acid?
Derived from the fermented carbohydrate found in milk, lactic acid is one of the gentlest acids in the extensive alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family. As a water-soluble skin ingredient, you’ll find that lactic acid is rapidly absorbed and delivers balance and hydration to dry skin. It is this unique trait that gives the acid an individual benefit compared to its fellow counterparts, such as the popular glycolic acid, and salicylic acid.
You will often find a difference in concentrates of lactic acid in over-the-counter formulas, varying from 5% to 10%. For professional use you can expect to see percentages over 30 which are usually found in chemical peels or facials. The more potent the concentrate doesn’t result in quicker, more effective results. Finding the best formula will really boil down to how your skin takes to the product and whether you see results, remember everyone’s skin is different, so if you find a product that works for you, stick with it and reap the rewards.
There are plenty of benefits for the skin that lactic acid can deliver, here are some of the main one many loves, such as.
- Increases skin cell turnover sloughing away the layer of dead skin cells that can accumulate over time making the complexion look dull and lack lustre.
- Can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production. This results in the skin looking plumper and feeling firmer.
- Can unclog pores of any build-up in bacteria, dirt, debris, and excess sebum.
- Acts like a humectant ingredient meaning it can draw water surrounding the skin and locking it into place.
- Favoured by many with a dry skin type prone to sensitivity due to the large molecular size preventing the acid from penetrating too far into the skin.
- Improves the skin’s natural moisture factor helping to lock water into the skin barrier helping it remain healthy and functioning correctly.
- Combat the appearance of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, sun damage, and age spots.
- Known for being a highly effective ingredient to help combat kartatosis pilaris. This is a skin condition that appears as small bumps of the surface of the skin that resembles “chicken skin”
- Used as an effective topical treatment to combat psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema.
As gentle as lactic acid can be on the skin, it is important to remember it is still an exfoliant meaning there is an increased risk of sun sensitivity. With new skin cells consistently present on the surface, the skin is more suspectable to burning after even mild exposure to UV light. Applying a daily SPF of 30 and above will protect from sunburn and sun damage.
You will also find that there are some mild skin irritations caused from lactic acid, such as redness, burning, peeling, dryness, and itchy skin. These are uncommon and should remain mild, however, if they become increasingly more irritating or painful, you must seek the help from a doctor or medical professional.
Can I use lactic acid on my body?
Yes, absolutely you can use lactic acid on the body. Because it is so mild you will find you are able to apply it to the body with the peace of mind it will be effective whilst avoiding any unwanted irritation.
Ideally you should avoid applying lactic acid to any cuts, or open wounds as this will sting and cause further irritation. You will often find that the skin on the body is often forgotten about, yet it still requires mild exfoliation, just like the face. By applying a body lotion enriched in lactic acid you will rid the skin surface of any build-up of dead skin cells, dirt, debris, and other impurities. This is considered most effective formula for combating flare-up in body acne that occur on the chest, back, and shoulders.
What does 5% lactic acid do for skin?
You will find that over-the-counter skincare products rarely feature more than 5% lactic acid. This is because these formulas are developed with the idea of being applied to the skin twice a day. This will result in plumper, firmer, and thicker skin without the concern of overusing the acid resulting in irritation and negative side effects.
If you are wanting to use a higher percentage of lactic acid, opting for a chemical peel will be the best result for you. Ensuring you find a suitable beauty professional to perform the peel as this will help you achieve your skin goals without any irritation, redness, and rashes.
Is 5% lactic acid strong?
Yes, 5% lactic acid is strong, and highly effective for those with dry skin who are unable to use other more potent acids, such as glycolic acid. Having said that, lactic acid is suitable for all skin types to use especially with the additional benefit of hydrating the skin simultaneously. One of the most common skin mistakes for those with oily skin, is using higher concentrates of exfoliating acids.
This will often lead to the skin being stripped of sebum resulting in an overproduction of oil that can develop into flare-up in acne, clogged pores, and blackheads. If you have an oily skin type and find your skin doesn’t benefit from potent acids, opting for lactic acid will give you the exfoliation without the side effects.
There you have it, a little more information about lactic acid and answering whether you can use 5% on the body. Don’t forget to come and find us on Instagram if you any more questions.