You’ve likely heard of Lactic Acid in skincare. At Dermalogica, we’re a firm favourite of this chemical exfoliant. Read on to discover why and learn all about Lactic Acid.
Understanding Chemical Exfoliation
Any form of exfoliation removes dulling, dead surface skin cells to reveal smoother, clearer and brighter looking skin. Chemical exfoliants include both Enzymes and Hydroxy Acids and allow for exfoliation without the need for friction. Exfoliants that feature granules, such as Rice Powder, polish the skin’s surface and come under the umbrella of physical exfoliants.
Hydroxy Acids are naturally occurring acids derived from the sugars in particular plants. They penetrate the skin and weaken, or unglue, the bonds that hold our skin cells together, causing a burst of exfoliation. Along with exfoliation, each Hydroxy Acid has additional benefits that make them suitable for treating specific skin concerns.
To drill down a little further, Hydroxy Acids are grouped into two categories: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). The key differences? AHAs are ideal for treating skin dryness, dullness and premature skin ageing, whereas BHAs work best for oily, congested and breakout prone skins.
Where does Lactic Acid sit? Traditionally derived from sour milk, Lactic Acid is part of the AHA family. It has a larger molecular size, meaning it gently enters the skin, making it a suitable for sensitive skins.
What Are the Benefits of Using Lactic Acid?
This highly accessible AHA is a multitasker when it comes to what it can offer the skin. In addition to exfoliation, it hydrates AND brightens. This makes it a go-to for skin health and an excellent choice for treating uneven skin tone, whether that be dark spots or post breakouts marks. It’s also considered pregnancy safe (although it’s always recommended to check your skincare with your doctor), so it can be used to prevent and treat melasma, otherwise known as the “mask of pregnancy”.
How Does Lactic Acid Fit in With My Skincare Routine?
There’s no set answer, but Lactic Acid is mostly found in exfoliants. Reminder, exfoliation comes after a thorough cleanse. Think of cleansing (washing your face) as your “vacuum” and exfoliation as your “mop”, working deeper to rejuvenate the skin. Lactic Acid is also found in leave-on skincare, such as serums, masques and moisturisers.
It’s important to know how many exfoliating ingredients are in your regimen. Although exfoliation is a key skin health strategy, too much exfoliation can have the opposite effect. Wearing a daily sunscreen is another “need to” when using Lactic Acid, as exfoliation can increase sun sensitivity.
Dermalogica and Lactic Acid
With its multitude of skin benefits and gentle approach, Dermalogica has always used Lactic Acid in our retail and professional products.
Rapid Reveal Peel contains a 10% concentration of Lactic Acid. It’s also paired with Pumpkin Fruit Enzymes that work gently to further smooth and boost brightness. This weekly at-home peel has been clinically proven to enhance skin radiance and visibly reduce fine lines.
Another Dermalogica exfoliant starring Lactic Acid is Daily Superfoliant - an anti-pollution powder that deeply detoxifies. It combines Activated Binchotan Charcoal that adsorbs pollutants and impurities from the skin with a blend of AHAs, Enzymes and Rice Powder—used once a day or every few days.
For a smaller dose of Lactic Acid, turn to Dermalogica’s hero masque: MultiVitamin Power Recovery Masque. This vitamin-rich, creamy masque instantly brightens dull skin while deeply moisturising. It contains a rejuvenating concoction of skin nutrients including Vitamins A, C, E and F and soothing Oat Kernel Extract, alongside Lactic Acid. Pro Tip: sleep in MultiVitamin Power Recovery Masque and wash off in the morning for an ultra-conditioning skin treatment.
Reach out to your local Dermalogica Professional Skin Therapist for personalised Lactic Acid recommendations or to experience professional grade Lactic Acid exfoliation and peels.