Welcome to the second in what is going to be a long series of quick fire skincare questions! The first of which, Can I Use Mandelic Acid Everyday? you can find right here.
This time I am tackling lactic acid because it seems to be a contradiction. Lactic acid is commonly known as the gentlest of the alpha hydroxy acids, so most people can use it without much issue. But what if you have had a bad reaction to it?
Is your skin strange? Does this happen to other people?
Is lactic acid even good for your skin?
Well, the answer is a little more complex than yes or no because you have to remember that everyone’s skin is different. There is no one size fits all when it comes to skincare. For the majority of people lactic acid is a great skincare ingredient to include in your routine.
To decide whether it’s for you the only things you need to be aware of is 1. what it does 2. it’s side effects.
What does lactic acid do in skincare?
Lactic acid exfoliates the skin. It helps the older, dull cells on the skin’s surface to slough away by dissolving the bonds that hold them together.
In doing so, lactic acid speeds up cell turnover and stimulates cell renewalAlso, lactic acid helps improve the skin’s natural moisture factor, which helps to keep the skin moisturized and feeling less dry.
When you use lactic acid regularly, it can also improve signs of aging. It stimulates collagen renewal and can firm your skin.
Interestingly, lactic acid is also the star ingredient in OTC lotions and creams for keratosis pilaris, or those “chicken skin” bumps on the backs of the arms. Lactic acid helps dissolve the plug of skin cells that build up around the hair follicle, smoothing out the bumpiness.
So, we can all agree that lactic acid has many great uses in skincare and for the most part it is harmless to most skin types because of it’s larger molecule size, which prevents it from causing too much irritation.
Well, what are the drawback?
Side effects of lactic acid
The most important thing you need to know before you start using lactic acid is that it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. This is also true of all acids which is why you need to wear sunscreen when incorporating direct acids into your skincare routine.
Some studies have suggested that the sun sensitivity can last for as much as four weeks after you’ve stopped using your product or after your peel treatment.
In addition to sun sensitivity, lactic acid can cause your skin to be irritated if you have very sensitive skin.
Skin sensitivity is something that only you can gauge so to know if your skin is irritated by lactic acid look out for; redness, burning, peeling, itchy skin, dry skin, swelling. If any of these symptoms don’t go away after a short period of time, or if you have swelling or a rash, wash it off right away. Don’t use the product again and you can assume that lactic acid is too strong an acid for you to use.
You might benefit from trying something like mandelic acid instead.