How to Use Lactic Acid in Your Daily Skincare Routine

how to use lactic acid

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In this world full of retinol, be someone’s lactic acid 😅

Umm..okay! I know that sounds too cheesy! But come on. Don’t you think that lactic acids are highly underrated when it comes to skincare? I mean, look around yourself.

Beaty influencers, advertisements, magazines- they all scream at the top of their voice to “enlighten” you about the HERO ingredients of skincare – Hyaluronic acid, Niacinamide, Vitamin C and, of course, Retinol. But how often have you heard them trying to walk you through the benefits of lactic acid? 

Darling, lactic acid deserves a permanent place in your bathroom cabinet. So, today I will be sharing with you everything I know about this miraculous ingredient called lactic acid.

What is Lactic Acid, Anyway?

how to use lactic acid serum

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from milk (but don’t worry, it’s often vegan these days!). It’s a gentle but effective exfoliant, meaning it helps to slough off dead skin cells, revealing the fresh, glowing skin underneath. Think of it as a friendly peel that says, “Hey, let’s make you shine!”

Why Should You Use Lactic Acid?

You might be thinking, “Why should I add another step to my skincare routine?” Great question! Here’s why lactic acid is worth it:

  • Gentle Exfoliation: Unlike some harsher acids, lactic acid is kind to your skin. It gently exfoliates without causing irritation.
  • Hydration Boost: It’s not just about exfoliation—lactic acid also helps your skin retain moisture. Hello, hydration! 💧
  • Brightening Effect: Regular use can help reduce the appearance of dark spots and pigmentation, giving you a more even skin tone.
  • Anti-Aging Benefits: Over time, it can help to smooth fine lines and improve skin texture, making your skin look youthful and radiant.

How to Use Lactic Acid in Your Skincare Routine?

how to use the ordinary lactic acid serum

1. Start with a low concentration.

Lactic acid comes in different strengths, typically ranging from 5% to 10%. If you’re new to using it, start with a lower concentration to allow your skin to get used to it gradually. For instance, start with a 5% concentration initially and then later switch it up to 10%.

2. Cleanse Your Face

Always start with a clean slate. Use your favorite gentle cleanser to wash away any makeup, dirt, and oil.

3. Patch test the product first.

Lactic acid is usually safe for all skin types, but if the concentration is potent, it may cause irritation in sensitive skin types. So, before applying it to your face, do a patch test. Apply a small amount of the product on your inner wrist or behind the ear and wait for 24 hours.

If you don’t experience any irritation, redness, or itchiness, it’s safe to use it on your face.

4. Now, Apply the lactic acid.

how to use the ordinary lactic acid serum

If you’re using a toner or serum, apply it directly on your completely dry skin after cleansing your face. Use a cotton pad to sweep the toner over your face, or apply 2-4 drops of the serum using your fingertips.

Massage it in by dabbing your fingers, as you’d do with a beauty blender. It would not take more than 1-2 minutes for the product to get absorbed fully and nicely.

If you’re using a mask, follow the instructions on the packaging and apply it generously to your face. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water.

5. Lastly, moisturize it like there’s no tomorrow.

Lactic acid can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so always, always, always wear a nice moisturizer and sunscreen during the day. SPF 30 or higher, folks! Look for a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid or glycerin to lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated.

When should I use lactic acid in my routine?

Lactic acid is best used at night and can be combined with other skincare products or it can be used alone. It’s best to start off using lactic acid 1-2 times a week, gradually increasing the frequency if your skin tolerates it. You should only use it every other day if you have sensitive skin.

What layers well with lactic acid?

how to use the ordinary lactic acid serum

Lactic acid is a true MVP when it comes to working with other ingredients! Whether you’re using Vitamin C, niacinamide, alpha arbutin, or hyaluronic acid, lactic acid is the perfect teammate that can help supercharge these active ingredients.

But that’s not all – lactic acid even plays well with others in gentle AHA and BHA formulations! When combined, this dynamic duo can help you achieve the ultimate goal of radiant, youthful-looking skin like no other.

What not to mix with lactic acid?

Of course, not all ingredients play nice with lactic acid. So, if you’re thinking about mixing lactic acid with retinol, retinoids, or higher concentrations of AHA and BHAs, it’s time to hit the pause button. And don’t even think about pairing lactic acid with AHA BHA peels – that’s a recipe for disaster!

Trust me, this can lead to two things: over-exfoliation and skin peeling, leaving you with skin that’s more sensitive to the sun than ever before.

How long does lactic acid take to work?

The effects of lactic acid can vary depending on the concentration used. On average, it takes roughly 1-2 weeks of consistent use to start seeing results. However, keep in mind that the benefits you experience will depend on your skin type and the severity of any skin concerns you may have.

Are There Any Side-effects of Using Lactic Acid?

how to use lactic acid serum

Lactic acid generally has NO side effects at all.

However, if you are allergic to lactic acid itself, then that’s a completely different story altogether.

Also, you must know that lactic acid makes your skin sun sensitive. So, you will have to invest in good quality sunscreen if you wish to reap the benefits of lactic acid.

And here’s the good news for all the pregnant and nursing ladies! Unlike some other skincare products, lactic acid is completely safe to use if you are expecting or breastfeeding your baby.

Top 6 Lactic Acid Products You Should Get Your Hands On!

1. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA Serum

How to Use Lactic Acid in Your Daily Skincare Routine

When it comes to serum, the Ordinary lactic acid 10% serum is undoubtedly the best product you will ever come across. First of all, the serum deeply hydrates my skin. Also, it does not irritate my skin at all. You need to apply a few drops of the serum and they get absorbed easily into your skin. There will be no stickiness or heaviness on your face. 

The serum is the perfect concoction of lactic acid and hyaluronic acid. Together they make my skin soft, supple, hydrated and radiant.

After using it for about one month straight, I have experienced visible changes in my skin. The pore size has significantly reduced. Also, blackheads and whiteheads formation have reduced drastically. 

The product is beginner-friendly and combats multiple skin issues such as puffy eyes, inflammation and so on. Since it is alcohol and gluten-free, the serum is completely safe for sensitive skin types as well. 

2. CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin

How to Use Lactic Acid in Your Daily Skincare Routine

Maybe you are wondering why I have added this salicylic acid-based product to this list! Hang on!

The lotion is formulated with active ingredients such as salicylic acid, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Because of this smart blending, the product feels rich, creamy and super hydrating. But it does not leave behind any stickiness on your skin, and it feels soft and smooth to the touch.

What I love the most about this body lotion is that it does not have any overbearing fragrance. In fact, it is scent-free. ]

Quite popular among dermatologists, this lotion by Cerave prevents the building up of blackheads and whiteheads and renders smooth, radiant skin. The dry patches all over my body have vanished magically because of regular application. Also, the skin feels smooth and soft to the touch.

3. Dermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser

How to Use Lactic Acid in Your Daily Skincare Routine

This has got to be the best cleanser if you wish to incorporate lactic acid as a cleanser. On regular usage, it has enhanced the texture of my skin significantly. The formulation also consists of vitamin E. As a result, the cleanser renders my skin supple and soft. I feel that this cleanser will be extra beneficial for those with dry skin.

You just need to blend the product with water slightly, and it foams up. In the long run, you will notice a significant reduction in sun spots, pigmentation and dark patches. 

For me, it is a 10 on 10 lactic acid product that you must definitely try!

4. Elemis Peptide4 Overnight Radiance Peel

How to Use Lactic Acid in Your Daily Skincare Routine

This peel-off mask is my absolute favorite. I came across it almost by accident. Actually, I ordered something else, and that product got exchanged for this Elemis Peptide4 Overnight Radiance peel. I decided to keep it and try it on my face.

And oh my gosh! The results are AWESOME!!!!

First of all, I am in love with the milky consistency and texture of the peel. It feels and smells like a dreammmmm. The formulation also consists of the goodness of the hibiscus flower. 

So, basically, you will have to apply it on your clean face before hitting the bed. Leave it overnight and wake up to glowing, nourished and beautiful skin the next morning.

5. REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

How to Use Lactic Acid in Your Daily Skincare Routine

So, I did not mention toners in the above list ‘coz most of the toners do not offer many benefits of lactic acid. However, when I used REN, it changed my perspective. This is one of the best lactic acid-based toners that you should include in your skincare kit. 

This toner gently exfoliates your skin and adds to the radiance of your skin. It is good for those who travel a lot because of work or studies and need to look fresh before any meeting.

On regular application, the toner helps in unclogging your pores and also offers an even skin tone. 

6. Vitamin C + Lactic 15% Firm & Bright Serum by Dr. Dennis Gross

How to Use Lactic Acid in Your Daily Skincare Routine

Oh my my! I am head over heels in love with this deadly duo. The serum is a combination of lactic acid and vitamin C. The serum is incredibly beneficial in smoothing your fine lines, removing dark spots and enhancing the radiance of your skin.

So, it is a relatively new launch, and I found the packaging and the ingredients too good to ignore. This gorgeous serum exfoliates your dead skin cell and reveals the hidden glow of your skin. By fading away redness and working on discoloration, the serum gradually offers an even tone skin complexion to the user. 

Things to Look for While Buying Lactic Acid for Your Skin

  • Always start with low-strength lactic acid products. For beginners, the percentage should be between 5% to 10%.
  • Avoid layering lactic acid with multiple active ingredients. I would suggest you stick to basic cleansing, then apply a lactic acid serum and seal it with a moisturizer and sunscreen.
  • If you are using lactic acid during your skincare routine, avoid applying retinol products. Otherwise, this may cause irritation and redness on your face.

Which is better retinol or lactic acid?

Both retinol and lactic acid are known to be absolute powerhouses but with different levels of potency and tolerability. Retinol reduces wrinkles, brightens up your skin tone, and smooths out texture like nobody’s business, but may cause irritation for some.

Lactic acid, the gentle giant of exfoliators, sloughs away dead skin cells, revealing a brighter and more hydrated complexion. Plus, it is generally well-tolerated by most people. However, it may not be as effective for deeper wrinkles or stubborn discolorations.

Wrapping Up How to use lactic acid!

Lactic acid can bring sea changes to your skin, provided that you give this one-sided lover a true chance! Embrace the goodness of lactic acid in your life, and your skin will thank you for the same. It is okay if you are already using retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid etc. All you need to do is to make room for this underrated ingredient in your skincare regime. Try for a few months, and you will never be able to say “No” to lactic acid again in life.

See ya’ll super soon!

Toodles xo <3

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