Have you ever wondered what all those long, complicated-sounding ingredients listed on the back of your skincare products mean? There’s a lot of science behind skincare, and one of the most important ingredients to understand is lactic acid. But what is lactic acid and how can it help you achieve healthy, glowing skin? Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is naturally produced by the body. It plays a vital role in the health of skin cells, as it helps to remove dead skin cells and stimulate cell turnover. As a result, lactic acid has become a popular ingredient in many skincare products. By understanding lactic acid levels in skincare, you can better assess which products are best for your unique skin type and needs.
What is lactic acid?
Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is naturally produced by the body. It plays a vital role in the health of skin cells, as it helps to remove dead skin cells and stimulate cell turnover. Because of its skin-renewing properties, lactic acid naturally appears in many fermented foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. When applied topically, lactic acid has become a popular ingredient in many skincare products, including serums, cleansers, and moisturizers. In skincare, lactic acid is generally used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including discoloration, dehydration, and fine lines and wrinkles. Lactic acid is also known to exfoliate the skin, improving the appearance of skin texture and tone. It is most often used in products targeted towards ageing, acne-prone, oily, or dry skin.
Benefits of lactic acid for skin
As mentioned above, one of the most important benefits of lactic acid is that it helps to remove dead skin cells. This process is known as exfoliation, and it helps to improve the texture and tone of the skin by promoting cell turnover. In other words, it speeds up the natural process in which cells are replaced with new and healthy ones. This is particularly helpful for ageing skin, as it can help to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by excess collagen breakdown. Additionally, lactic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe redness and irritation caused by breakouts and other common skin conditions.
Lactic acid levels in skincare
Lactic acid levels in skincare vary widely, and the level used in a product will depend on the desired effect. While all lactic acid products will contain some amount of the ingredient, products that are high in lactic acid are best for those with dry or sensitive skin. As with any skincare product, it is always important to read and understand the ingredients list. This will allow you to better understand the amount of lactic acid and other beneficial ingredients in the product, as well as any potential side effects. When you are purchasing skincare products, it is important to check the lactic acid level. This can be found on the product label, listed as either lactic acid or alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). The numbers listed next to the ingredients are the percentages of each. For example, if a product has a label stating 8% alpha hydroxy acid, then there is 8% lactic acid in the product.
How to determine the lactic acid level in skincare products
As mentioned above, you can find the lactic acid level of any skincare product by checking the ingredients list. In many cases, you will see the abbreviations “lactic acid” or “AHA” listed. For example, a product that contains 8% lactic acid is written as “8% lactic acid” on the ingredients list. Other common ingredients that indicate a high lactic acid level include: Glycolic acid – AHA that is derived from sugar cane. It is less sensitive than lactic acid and works best for oily skin. Mandelic acid – AHA that is derived from almonds. It works well for all skin types, but is more expensive than other AHAs. Citric acid – Found in citrus fruits, citric acid works well for people who are allergic to or cannot use AHAs because it is gentler and less likely to cause irritation.
Pros and cons of high lactic acid levels in skincare
While all forms of lactic acid have proven skincare benefits, high levels of the ingredient can cause irritation and inflammation in some people. It is important to know your skin type and select the lactic acid level that is right for you. For example, if you have dry skin, you should avoid products that are high in lactic acid, as they may cause excess dryness. Similarly, if your skin is already oily, you should avoid high levels of lactic acid as they may worsen your acne. It is also important to note that lactic acid is not a cure for acne. It can be helpful for those with mild breakouts, but you should also consider your diet and skincare routine. For example, certain foods are known to cause acne breakouts, so it is important to avoid these. Additionally, consistent skincare can help to prevent and treat acne.
What to look for in lactic acid skincare products
Whenever you are selecting a skincare product, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients list. Although lactic acid is generally considered safe, it is best to avoid products that are high in the ingredient. Instead, look for products that contain around 2-10% lactic acid. This will provide enough exfoliating properties without being too harsh on your skin. When selecting a lactic acid product, it is also important to consider the other ingredients listed in the ingredients list. For example, it is best to avoid products that contain alcohol, as this may be drying and irritating to the skin. In general, it is best to select an all-natural product that uses ingredients that are gentle and won’t cause irritation or breakouts.
Alternatives to lactic acid-based skincare products
While lactic acid is a proven ingredient in skincare products, it is not the only beneficial AHA available. Other natural acids that are gentler and less likely to cause irritation include citric acid and malic acid. If you are interested in adding exfoliation and hydration to your skincare routine, but are worried about product irritation, it is best to select products low in lactic acid.
Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid that is naturally produced by the body and plays a vital role in the health of skin cells. In skincare, it is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including discoloration, dehydration, and fine lines and wrinkles. Lactic acid is also known to exfoliate the skin, improving the appearance of skin texture and tone. When applied topically, it has become a popular ingredient in many skincare products, including serums, cleansers, and moisturizers. Lactic acid levels in skincare vary widely and depend on the desired effect. It is important to select a product that contains the right lactic acid level for your skin type.