L is for Lactic Acid!

What is Lactic Acid?

It is a natural acid which is derived from milk, fruit, vegetables and other plants. It is part of the Alpha Hydroxy group, along with Glycolic Acid and citric acid. You should look for the ‘L-lactic acid’ as this is the purer form, making it safer for your skin, in lower amounts lactic acid acts as a moisturiser in higher amounts it can break down the glue between the cells creating an exfoliating effect.

How does it work?

  • It breaks down the ‘glue’ between skin cells, sloughing them away to reveal the newer, shinier, healthier skin underneath.
  • It’s got a reputation for being gentler and less irritating than Glycolic Acid. In comparison to Glycolic Acid, which can cause irritation for some, Lactic Acid works on the surface of the skin and is therefore gentler.
  • It also hydrates, increases natural barrier lipids on the outer layer of the skin, brightening the look of the skin. In lower amounts, it can act as a moisturiser.
  • It is known for its skin softening properties… which why Cleopatra was such as fan of her famous milk bathes!
  • AHA products are also good at reducing scarring and pigmentation and can be useful for women of colour with hyperpigmentation issues

Some ways to use Lactic Acid:

In a Cleanser

The Image Skincare’s ILUMA intense brightening exfoliating powder is water activated, buffing away dead skin cells. Combined with other effective ingredients including pumpkin enzymes to balance the skin tone and remove dead skin cells. Lactic Acid works within a minute of application, still making it highly effective in this format.

In a Serum

Sunday Riley’s fabulous serum Good Genes is a wonderful serum which contains 5% lactic acid, promoting the exfoliation of the surface layers of the skin to reveal a fresher, smoother complexion, fighting the natural build-up of dead skin cells and excess sebum that can lead to dull, congested skin. By using this serum routinely, the lactic acid will work gently on the surface of the skin to promote younger looking, plumper skin. Here’s our full review of this product.

We also love the Lactic Acid 5% + HA from The Ordinary as another treatment to stimulate cell regeneration and improve the overall appearance of the skin. This serum has a watery texture and should be applied once a day, preferably in the evening.  

In a Mask

Murad’s Hydro Glow Aqua Peel mask combines Glycolic and Lactic Acid in the retexturizing swab, loosening the dead skin cells and smoothing the skin. This is then followed up with a moisturising mask to hydrate the skin. Not as potent as a salon treatment, I found this at-home kit to be wonderfully effective and left my skin smooth and glowing after one use. The results are instant and beautiful, we’ve posted a full review of this product here.

In a Body Cream

It is usually a little more diluted in a body cream compared to a face cream, so results won’t be as immediately noticeable. Lactic acid in skincare will soften the skin, help control body acne and smooth dry, rough skin. This Transforming Body Lotion from Ameliorate feels lovely on the skin and with prolonged use, the skin feels softer and supple, helping to keep the rough skin at bay. It helps to stimulate the renewal of healthy cells, along with replenishing moisture levels on the skin. It has a slightly strange smell to it, however.  

As a Peel

Aesthetician Dija Ayodele conducts lactic acid peels as she finds them gentler on the skin, but it still leaves you with a wonderful glow. Here’s Denise’s account of her Lactic Acid peel.

Things to remember

  • As with all AHA’s, if you use Lactic Acid make sure to follow up with a SPF as it can increase skin sensitive to sunlight.
  • Possible side effects are skin irritation not just the sensitive skins before all skin types but usually the irritation is temporary.

Contact Image Skincare to find your local stockist
Buy the Sunday Riley Good Genes for £85 from Cult Beauty
Buy The Ordinary Lactic Acid for £5.50 from Cult Beauty
Buy the Murad Hydro Glow Aqua Peel for £40 from Murad
Buy the Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion for £14.50 from Cult Beauty
Book your appointment with Aesthetician Dija Ayodele


Photography credit: http://alexsarginson.com/