Lactic acid has been known about since the 1800s, when chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, and pharmacist, Boehringer Ingelheim both isolated the compound. One from soured milk, the other as a byproduct of fermented sugar and the bacteria found in the starch of milk. Compared to its potent cousins, lactic acid is known for its gentler approach to benefiting the skin, and it does this in various ways, such as.
- Combats signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles, whilst stimulating the production of collagen to leave the skin feeling firmer, plumped, and have a youthful bounce.
- Helps to lock in moisture, due to the humectant traits of lactic acid, it can draw moisture into the skin and locking it into place keeping the surface barrier healthy and strengthened.
- Exfoliates the surface of the skin ridding it of a build-up of dead skin cells, dirt, debris, and other impurities.
- Targets impurities that can increase the frequency of acne and breakouts whilst unclogging the pores of excess sebum and bacteria.
- Remains gentle on the skin due to the large molecular size preventing it from penetrating too far into the lower layers.
- Can be used by all skin types, including those prone to sensitivity and redness.
There’s more to find out about lactic acid over on The Beauty Insider blog post, so do check that out when you can, now let’s dive in.
What can you not mix lactic acid with?
Lactic acid can be used with several other potent powerhouses, but it avoids unwanted side effects, it’s best to understand the best of applying them together for optimal results.
To reap the rewards from all skincare ingredients, there are a couple of ways of applying them both effectively, such as.
Option 1- alternating the time of day you apply each ingredient. If you choose to use an ingredient, such as glycolic acid, and lactic acid try applying the latter in the morning and leaving the former until your evening routine. This leaves enough time in between applications allowing the skin’s pH levels to rebalance and settle.
Option 2- if you have built your skin’s tolerance, you can leave about 10 to 15 minutes in between applications. This will ensure the product formulas absorb fully into the skin and they are prepared for the next step of your routine.
These methods are known for the most effective and easiest way of using lactic acid with other ingredients, such as glycolic acid, vitamin C, and salicylic acid. Having said that, if any of these ingredients are new to you and your skin, I would suggest performing a patch test on the inside of your forearm. If there is no sign of irritation, it is a clear sign you can apply the product to the face.
Can I use lactic acid after AHA BHA peel?
No, it is not advisable to use lactic acid after an AHA or BHA peel. This is mainly because chemical peels are a professional treatment and will contain percentages that are considerably higher than those found in over the counter formulas. It is important to give your skin the down time needed after the treatment. Avoid using lactic acid, or any other exfoliants and potent ingredients, such as vitamin C or retinol, instead opt for using hyaluronic acid help calm the skin and lock hydration in.
Is it OK to use lactic acid every day?
Yes, it is OK to use lactic acid every day, but be prepared for the skin to become irritated if you overuse the acid. Although it is thought to be the one of the mildest chemical exfoliants, it is still an exfoliant and works on the surface of the skin and by increasing the speed of skin cell turnover. If you overuse an ingredient that will increase the skin cell turnover too much, the skin will be left irritated, flushed in redness, itching, and feeling uncomfortable.
To get the best out of lactic acid, I would suggest using it once a day using an exfoliating toner or face wash to begin with as they contain lower percentages of the active. Once the skin has built a tolerance you can then swap to a serum or other product that remains on the skin with a higher percentage.
Can lactic acid make you break out?
Yes, lactic acid can make you break out, especially if you are new to using it, or any other exfoliating ingredients. This is since exfoliating skin ingredients can cause purging which is when the “gunk” that clogs the pores, such as excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, debris, and other impurities, are all pushed to the surface and result in a flare-up in blemishes and breakouts.
Purging is not a long-term problem and will often clear up on its own accord in a couple of days or two. If you find yourself suffering from spots and blackheads for longer than anticipated, seek the help from your doctor or dermatologist as it may be a case of finding another skin ingredient better suited for your needs.
If you wanted to find out more about chemical exfoliants and the breakouts it may cause, you can check out our dedicated blog post about lactic acid and skin purging.
How do I add lactic acid to my skincare routine?
Lactic acid is found in an array of skincare formulations, from toners to serums. How you introduce lactic acid into your routine is down to the formula of the product you have. It is important to remember the best way of applying skincare products in the most effective way which is starting with thinnest consistency and working your way up to the thickest. This allows the active ingredients to absorb into the skin without having to compete with a physical barrier created from a layer of thick serum or moisturiser.
There you have a little more information about using lactic acid and AHA together, don’t hesitate to come and find one of our skin experts over on Procoal’s Instagram, they’ll be happy to help!