If there’s one alpha hydroxy acid that’s a real MVP in the glowing skin game, it would be lactic acid. As a milder option to its family of acids, lactic acid offers magical exfoliating and beauty benefits that are suitable for virtually all skin types.
With so many lactic acid products on the market claiming to be the best and gentlest facial exfoliators, it’s hard to know where to start, especially if you have sensitive or reactive skin. We’ll be your guide to what lactic acid does for your skin and how to find the right one for radiant, glowing skin.
What is lactic acid?
If you’re worried about skin irritation from exfoliants, buying an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA for short) can be a bit like walking through a minefield. Burning, redness, and inflammation of the skin can all be side effects of using an AHA that is too harsh for your skin type. Want a natural acid that won’t trigger a bad skin reaction?
Enter lactic acid! A beautifully brightening acid usually sourced from tomatoes or milk – but also available from vegan sources like beets – it’s one of the mildest AHAs on the market. Unlike other AHAs like glycolic and citric acids, which have a smaller, more potent particle size, lactic acid has a larger molecule size.
The mild but effective acid doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply – less irritation for the win – making it a star for all skin types, even those who are pregnant or nursing. And that’s just the beginning of its beauty benefits!
What are the 3 benefits of lactic acid?
How unique is our skin? ! It has the impressive ability to regularly rejuvenate itself, sloughing off dead cells to reveal smoother skin underneath. Yet there are still times when we may need to help our wonderful skin, especially when extreme temperatures can plague us with dry, dull complexions and often skin sensitivities.
Enter lactic acid to the rescue! Although this natural acid is milder than other acids in its family, it doesn’t lack effectiveness in exfoliating your skin, helping it slough off dead skin cells that can clog your pores and dull your complexion. You may not literally see the skin come off, but you will see these types of benefits:
#1. Reduces dull skin and uneven skin tone
Dull skin is often caused by a combination of poor circulation and a buildup of dead skin cells. Lactic acid can help solve both of these problems at once, promote the circulation of collagen and blood to your skin while helping it get rid of those pesky sticky cells. Lactic acid may also benefit dull, tired complexions by promoting healthy cell regeneration.
#2. Helps heal sun-damaged skin
Lactic acid can lessen signs of discoloration or hyperpigmentation. If you notice age spots or discoloration on your skin that may have come from sun exposure, this powerful acid can help promote healthy cell turnover, resulting in a more even skin tone with fewer dark spots. Due to its gentle nature, lactic acid can be used on the face, neck and chest to fight signs of skin damage caused by UV rays.
#3. Fights the signs of aging
Lactic acid can benefit the skin at the cellular level by promoting collagen production, cell regeneration and circulation. In fact, this natural acid has been used as an anti-aging treatment for centuries, and it is even said that Cleopatra was bathing in curds (a common source of lactic acid).
As for your inner queen, lactic acid can diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots, and can also promote skin elasticity and firmness. Meanwhile, lactic acid can brighten and even out your skin tone, making it a plant powerhouse for mature skin.
Does lactic acid help cleanse the skin?
To answer this question, let’s take a quick look at the cause of acne. Acne occurs when your skin follicles become clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. The exfoliating powers of lactic acid can benefit acne-prone skin by increasing cell turnover, which keeps pores free of dead skin cells and thus reduces the risk of breakouts.
Since acne can occur or be exasperated by dry skin, lactic acid can act as a natural moisturizer. In other words, lactic acid mimics a group of molecules naturally present in our skin that helps moisturize and maintain the skin barrier. This protects the skin from being too dry and therefore overcompensating by sending excess oil, which can clog pores and cause breakouts.
Some lactic acids also have antimicrobial properties which can help fight acne-causing bacteria in your skin tissues. And not only does lactic acid help fight existing breakouts and prevent future ones; all-star acid can also help diminish the appearance of scars from previous acne breakouts.
How often should you use lactic acid on your face?
Lactic acid is considered safe for all skin types, but it’s important to note that your skin may be more photosensitive than usual after exposure to these ingredients. If you’ve just used lactic acid on your skin, we recommend taking the extra precaution of applying a layer of sunscreen before leaving the house for the day.
Remember, as part of your overall skincare regimen, after exfoliation you should apply an occlusive product like a moisturizer that will help protect the delicate skin that has just resurfaced. We love our new Coffee Bean Face Cream, which has been formulated to be gentle, deeply hydrating and rejuvenating to counteract environmental damage and achieve anti-aging skin. Powered with green coffee extract to stimulate blood circulation to the skin, this cream transforms the face for supple skin and a healthy, vibrant glow.
For extra hydration, use a face oil suited to your skin type and needs. When face oil is applied after your moisturizer, it creates an extra occlusive layer to seal in moisture. Plus, it has super water blocking benefits
The best lactic acid products for the skin
We know that lactic acid is a gentle yet powerful natural skincare ingredient that can improve texture and minimize pores to promote cell turnover and restore luminosity. The best part is that this superstar acid benefits all skin types! With this kind of skincare status, we’ve had to incorporate lactic acid into some of our top skincare products.
With beet lactic acid, our apple enzyme exfoliating cleanser reveals glowing skin with our exfoliating cleanser made with additional ingredients like green apple, licorice and citrus. Not only is it a great exfoliant, but it’s also particularly high in antioxidants, making it a great anti-aging ingredient for smooth, glowing skin. It works in harmony to unclog and minimize pores, even skin tone and brighten skin, leaving you with super soft to the touch skin.
Be sure to pair it with our Apple Enzyme Resurfacing Serum, which is made with skin-brightening licorice, kojic acid from sake (fermented rice), alpha hydroxy acid from sugar, lactic acid beet and fruit enzymes from pineapple, green apple, citrus and papaya. 10% of these radiance-enhancing active ingredients act together for 4 main functions: brighten and even out skin tone; lighten scars and dark spots; accelerates cell turnover to smooth out bumps and scales for super soft, smooth skin; minimize the appearance of pores.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the harsh side effects of retinol, our Bakuchiol Rejuvenating Cleanser offers a safer, natural alternative to retinol. This gentle yet powerful cleanser removes impurities to stimulate cell turnover for a smoother complexion. It also brightens skin discolorations for a more even skin tone and visibly reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
If you’re worried about skin irritation after trying a chemical exfoliant, try lactic acid first. It works well on sensitive areas, like under the eyes. If your skin is prone to redness and irritation, formulations containing lactic acid may be more effective than other AHAs. Look for dramatically improved skin texture, enhanced radiance, and increased skin clarity and firmness with regular use.