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What Is Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is a rock star in skincare!

chalkboard with chemical makeup of lactic acid

Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele was the first to isolate the compound from sour milk. In the late 1800s, German pharmacist Boehringer Ingelheim created methods to mass-produce lactic acid when he discovered it was a byproduct of fermented sugar and starch in the bacteria of sour milk.

Simply, lactic acid is a chemical exfoliant that comes from the fermentation of lactose — a carbohydrate found in milk.

Benefits of using lactic acid on the skin

  • Kills bacteria including the P. Acnes bacteria that causes acne and it unblocks pores
  • Increases cell turnover which improves skin texture, tone, appearance and firmness
  • Smooths fine lines and surface wrinkles
  • Helps the skin hold moisture
  • Helps fade hyperpigmentation

Lactic Acid vs. Other Acids

The lactic acid molecule is larger in structure so it can’t penetrate as deeply as other acids. This allows for greater tolerance in those with sensitive/reactive skin. Lactic acid works on the top layers of the stratum corneum resulting in polishing, exfoliating, providing anti-bacterial support, and reducing TEWL (transepidermal water loss).

DermaplanePro & Lactic Acid

We looked at a variety of acids for our AHA/BHA Skin Prep Solution and decided on 2 acids we found to do a great job and don’t cause irritation in the skin. We chose to include Lactic acid in our AHA/BHA Skin Prep Solution in a 2% concentration (5% or less only affects the epidermis). This is a very light application so is well-tolerated, and kills bacteria while gently initiating the exfoliation process by loosening the bonds between skin cells resulting in a better exfoliation during dermaplaning.

Lactic Acid Peels

Peel strengths begin around 10% with a pH of 3.5 or lower. Peels penetrate deeper into the skin resulting in further correction such as helping skin become firmer and thicker, treating moderate to severe hyperpigmentation by normalizing the amount of melanin produced by fading age spots and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and highly visible pores.

‌‌Lactic acid as an effective antimicrobial. 

Some research suggests that lactic acid and probiotic supplements can help with sensitive skin. By teaming up to fix certain inflammatory reactions, they can both give a microbial balance to the skin. While probiotics promote more in-depth regulation by balancing the gut, lactic acid works alongside them as a treatment for moderate skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and acne. – WebMD

Lactic acid for acne.

Skin with a tendency to get acne can be more sensitive to exfoliating therapies. Lactic acid chemical peels in low concentrations have shown significant improvement in skin texture and reduced inflammatory lesions in people with acne.

Always use SPF when using products containing lactic acid or any other AHA/BHA or retinol. Do not combine with BPO (benzoyl peroxide).

Happy dermaplaning,

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