Like other AHAs, lactic acid works to dissolve the bonds between old, dead skin cells. It’s therefore known as an exfoliator, and for working particularly well at improving discoloration and dull skin. However, it is composed of slightly larger molecules than other AHAs. Its larger size means it works at a slighter slower pace, making this unsung AHA a more predictable worker than its quicker and (dare I say) more unruly counterparts.
This slower-motion action means you get all the action, and none of the potential sensitivity that can be associated with acidic exfoliation. So, it’s the perfect AHA for ALL skin types and ideal if you have sensitive skin, those who are new to using acids or those who want to combine AHAs with retinoids.
It’s got hydrophilic properties (“hydro” = water; “philic” = loving), which means it’s attracted to water in the skin, works on the surface (not in the pores, like BHAs) and helps to hydrate. It also ups the levels of ceramide, which is one of the building blocks of healthy skin, and has antioxidant properties.
Which lactic acid product is right for me?
There are two important things to consider when choosing a lactic acid formula. One is the percentage of lactic acid. The second is how long the product is designed to stay on your skin for.
If you choose a product that you don’t remove, like a serum, your skin is being exposed to the ingredients for a longer time. In contrast, when you apply a product like a cleanser, which is quickly removed, or a mask that might stay on for ten minutes before being removed, your skin is exposed to the ingredient for a shorter time. Both options are useful, and I will guide you on the best one (or both!) for your skin’s needs during a consultation.