Use of lactic acid as a skincare ingredient dates back to ancient Egypt, when Cleopatra used to bathe in sour milk to improve the texture and appearance of her skin. A natural byproduct of plant and dairy fermentation (though most often created in a lab today), lactic acid is a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid that helps promote the skin’s natural exfoliation process.

Important Things to Know about Lactic Acid

  • Lactic acid is a gentle yet effective exfoliating ingredient for rough, dry skin anywhere on the body. It can be beneficial especially for scaly skin on your legs, bumpy skin on the backs of your arms, elbows, knees and calluses.
  • Lactic acid products are often used with other skincare ingredients and products in a routine because of their gentle exfoliating effects, which can help reduce the layers of dead skin cells that can get in the way of products’ absorption. A combination of alpha-hydroxy lactic acid and beta-hydroxy salicylic acid can be especially effective in improving the texture of rough or bumpy skin since both of these ingredients are mild exfoliating acids.
  • Most lactic acid products can be used daily to improve rough, dry skin and maintain soft, smooth skin. However, it is important to read the usage instructions before application.
  • It is important to always use broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect the skin from being exposed to UV rays. However, when using lactic acid lotion or cream, the gentle exfoliating effects can leave your skin more vulnerable to sun damage. So, taking extra sun protection measures (such as limiting sun exposure and reapplying sunscreen every two hours during extended periods of outdoor time) is recommended.
  • Glycerin is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores due to its extremely lightweight composition that works to attract and seal moisture at the skin's surface. This feature of glycerin means that despite its intensely moisturising properties, it does not lead to breakouts or an unrefined skin texture caused by clogged pores and is therefore suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone.

  • Lactic acid is an exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acid that helps promote the shedding of dead skin cells. By gently eliminating the buildup of dead cells, this ingredient helps soften and smoothen your skin, and improve its overall texture. In addition, lactic acid is a component of the skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF), which is a blend of compounds naturally found in the skin that helps it hold on to the moisture. Bathing or washing with soaps and cleansing products can reduce the levels of NMF in the outer most layers of the skin.
  • Humectants, including glycerin, are typically used at a concentration of 5% or less and are formulated with other ingredients with skin softening properties such as other emoillients. This is because the pure form of humectants (100% concentration) can increase water loss in the skin when in areas of low humidity. When concentrations are kept lower than 5%, humectants are at their most effective and can work to efficiently fight off dryness while maintaining moisture levels in the skin.

  • Glycerin is a natural compound that is extracted from vegetable oils or animal fats. Vegetable glycerin works to attract and lock in moisture, for a smooth, healthy complexion.
    On a molecular level, the chemical formula of glycerin is C3H8O3, meaning it contains three carbon atoms, eight hydrogen and three oxygen. Within this formula, the three oxygen molecules pair up with three hydrogen molecules to form -OH groups, and it is due to these groups that glycerin become hygroscopic and therefore easily retains water

  • Lactic acid creams and lotions are formulated to help improve rough and bumpy skin due to its gentle yet effective exfoliating properties.
  • Lactic acid is helpful for smoothing and softening rough or scaly skin. You can try CeraVe Lactic Acid products, which are powered by the goodness of one of the gentlest alpha-hydroxy acids and offer hydrating and exfoliating benefits, making it suitable for even dry and sensitive skin.

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