Another amazing member of the AHA family, lactic acid is a well-known chemical exfoliant that has a whole laundry list of benefits for the skin! Lactic acid skin benefits can range from simply smoothing out texture to brightening hyperpigmentation for a clear complexion - but a lot of us are still wondering, what is lactic acid, exactly?
Here’s our skincare guide to what exactly this exfoliating ingredient is and the benefits lactic acid brings to your beauty routine!
What Is Lactic Acid?
Lactic acid is classified as an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid, aka an AHA. The most common natural source of lactic acid is dairy, but these days there are many vegan and synthetic sources for this super-handy skincare ingredient.
As an AHA, Lactic Acid has similar benefits to Glycolic Acid and Mandelic Acid - however, there are a few reasons why you’d reach for Lactic Acid over the other two, especially depending on your skin type.
Sometimes, it’s just as simple as your skin liking one over the other - and this can happen for a few reasons. Lactic acid has a molecular weight that’s somewhere in between Mandelic Acid (largest) and Glycolic (smallest). Why does this matter?
Well, molecular weight affects how quickly each exfoliating acid can penetrate the upper layer of the skin - one with a lower weight like glycolic acid can pass through faster, making it more effective but also potentially more irritating.
If you’re looking for something with a little more punch than Mandelic Acid, but Glycolic Acid is a little too much for your skin, Lactic Acid might just be the perfect AHA for you!
Unclog pores and smooth skin with this exfoliating essence, created with a blend of BHAs and AHAs for smooth, glowing skin.
What Does Lactic Acid Do?
The number one reason to use lactic acid is for its exfoliating power - after all, it’s one of the most well-known chemical exfoliants out there! Consistent exfoliation has many well-known benefits for the skin - but Lactic Acid has unique benefits that’ll take your exfoliation game to the next level!
How Lactic Acid Benefits Your Skin
Ready to find out the five benefits of lactic acid? Here are five ways this chemical exfoliator can transform your skin.
1. Smooths Out Skin Texture
Ok, this is an obvious one, but lactic acid is amazing when it comes to making your skin feel and look super smooth. At the teeny-tiny, microscopic level, lactic acid loosens dead skin cells that are making your skin feel rougher than it really is, revealing new fresh skin underneath.
Loosening these dead skin cells also makes it less likely for them to clog pores and potentially turn into acne, which in turn can also help make skin look smooth and flawless.
2. Has Hydration Benefits
Did you know that small amounts of lactic acid are already found in your skin? Lactic acid forms part of the skin’s Natural Moisturising Factors, aka NMF. NMF comprises a special group of substances in the skin that help to maintain optimal skin health and bind water to your skin, effectively acting as humectants.
Lactic acid has a well-known benefit of acting as a humectant as well as an effective exfoliant, making it ideal for those with normal to dry skin. In lower concentrations, lactic acid’s humectant effects are more apparent - that’s why it can sometimes appear in products like moisturisers, even if it’s not necessarily exfoliating skin.
Elizabeth Arden Prevage Progressive Renewal Treatment | $205
Boost skin’s radiance and glow with this at-home lactic acid chemical exfoliating treatment from Elizabeth Arden
3. Fades Hyperpigmentation
One of the biggest benefits of using lactic acid has to be for its power to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation - especially when it comes to dark spots caused by sun damage. A study found that a concentration of 8% lactic acid was significantly effective at reducing the look of sun-damaged skin for skin that was even-toned and smoother than before.
That’s not the only kind of hyperpigmentation that lactic acid can fade, though! It’s also effective at fading hyperpigmentation, the tell-tale dark marks that get left behind by breakouts.
4. Boosts Skin Radiance
Like all exfoliants, lactic acid is excellent for helping to boost your skin’s natural radiance. How? Well, you can think of skin radiance as how well your skin reflects light - literally. The smoother your skin is, the more reflective and luminous it is - at least, if there isn’t any dead skin cell build up in the way!
Lactic acid effectively sloughs away excess dead skin cells and hydrates skin at the same time, boosting your skin for some serious natural glow.
5. Firms Skin & Reduces Wrinkles
Studies have found that lactic acid is also able to kick-start changes in the skin, especially when it comes to skin firmness. Lactic acid is able to influence the dermis, the layer underneath the uppermost layer of skin (aka the epidermis).
Increasing thickness of the dermis boosts the appearance of the epidermis, smoothing out any fine lines from within and firming the surface of skin, smoothing away any fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s able to do this by increasing the density of collagen fibres - remember, collagen is responsible for providing fullness and structure to our skin! By restoring this density and thickness, lactic acid proves itself as an effective, yet gentle anti-aging skincare ingredient.
Now, before you start using lactic acid in your skincare routine, there’s just one thing you need to do to get your beauty affairs in order, and that’s to wear sunscreen when you use this superstar ingredient. Lactic acid can make your skin more sensitive to the sun than it normally is, so it’s crucial to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen every day - no exceptions!
Create your perfect skincare routine (with or without lactic acid) by taking our skin quiz! You’ll get a detailed, unique skincare routine that’s perfect for your skin type.