What is lactic acid? Lactic acid is a hydrating alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) commonly derived from milk, but there are alternative vegan sources, like fermented corn starch, beets, and other sugar-rich foods. Synthetic forms of this ingredient are often found in peels and serums.
What does lactic acid do for skin? Lactic acid brightens, smooths, and evens skin, while also making it look firmer. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.
What are the benefits? Lactic acid brightens dullness, smooths, and evens skin, while also making it look firmer. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.
How does it work exactly? It exfoliates by loosening the bonds between dead skin cells to reveal a more radiant complexion.
How do I use it? It’s generally recommended for nighttime use, and suggested frequency varies from product to product. Check the packaging for specific instructions.
Are there any potential side effects? You may experience slight tingling, stinging, and/or redness. (Don’t worry—this is normal.)
What can I pair it with? While it can be used with many other ingredients and products, sunscreen’s an essential when lactic acid is a part of your routine. Another important step: cleansing the morning after you use lactic acid to sweep away dead skin cells.
Anything I shouldn’t pair it with? Don’t use it on days you use retinol since both are potent ingredients. Alternate between the two to avoid irritation.
Go slow. Start by following the instructions on the packaging—many advise using lactic acid every other night, or even once or twice a week. Slight tingling or redness is normal, but if you experience anything more intense, talk to your derm.
Layer on a moisturizer. This essential step nourishes and balances skin so it doesn’t overproduce oil.
Say yes to SPF. Sun protection is a must when using lactic acid because sloughing off dead skin cells can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.