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Lactic acid
Lactic acid

Lactic acid, a member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family, is a well-regarded ingredient in the field of dermatology and skincare for its exfoliating and moisturizing properties. Naturally occurring in sour milk and other fermented products, lactic acid is also produced in the human body and plays a role in various metabolic processes.

In skincare, lactic acid is primarily known for its ability to gently exfoliate the skin. By breaking down the bonds that hold dead skin cells together on the skin's surface, lactic acid helps to promote the shedding of these cells, revealing fresher, brighter skin underneath. This exfoliation process not only improves skin texture and tone but also stimulates cell renewal.

One of the key advantages of lactic acid over other AHAs is its moisturizing capability. Lactic acid helps to increase the skin's natural moisturizing factors (NMF), which are essential for keeping the skin hydrated. Its unique ability to draw moisture into the skin makes it particularly beneficial for treating dry and dehydrated skin conditions.

Physiological Effects of Lactic Acid
  1. Exfoliation: A gentle exfoliant that removes dead skin cells from the skin's surface, promoting smooth skin.
  2. Moisture Retention: It is a humectant, meaning it helps the skin retain moisture, improving hydration and reducing dryness.
  3. Collagen Stimulation: Lactic acid can stimulate collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin, aiding in skin firmness and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  4. Skin Brightening: It helps in lightening dark spots and evening out skin tone, making it effective in treating hyperpigmentation.
  5. pH Balancing: Lactic acid can help balance the skin's natural pH levels, which is beneficial for maintaining a healthy skin barrier.
Role in Managing Dermatological Skin Conditions
  1. Aging Skin: Its collagen-stimulating and exfoliating properties make lactic acid effective in anti-aging treatments, reducing signs of aging like wrinkles and age spots.
  2. Acne-Prone Skin: By unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells, lactic acid can help reduce acne breakouts.
  3. Dry Skin (Xerosis): Its humectant properties are beneficial in hydrating and relieving dry skin.
  4. Hyperpigmentation: Lactic acid is used to treat hyperpigmentation issues, including melasma and sun damage.
  5. Keratosis Pilaris: It can help in managing keratosis pilaris by exfoliating the excess keratin that blocks hair follicles.
  • Smith, W. P. (1996). Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
  • Kornhauser, A., Coelho, S. G., & Hearing, V. J. (2010). Applications of hydroxy acids: classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology.
  • Stiller, M. J., et al. (1996). Topical 8% glycolic acid and 8% L-lactic acid creams for the treatment of photodamaged skin. A double-blind vehicle-controlled clinical trial. Archives of Dermatology.
  • Rawlings, A. V., Davies, A., Carlomusto, M., Pillai, S., Zhang, K., Kosturko, R., ... & Watson, D. (1996). Effect of lactic acid isomers on keratinocyte ceramide synthesis, stratum corneum lipid levels and stratum corneum barrier function. Archives of Dermatological Research, 288(7), 383-390.