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Meet Lactic Acid, The Best Chemical Exfoliant For *Sensitive Skin*

It's one of the milder acids in the AHA family!
lactic acid skincare products

Want to move beyond your ~basic~ skincare routine? It's time to introduce chemical exfoliants to your regimen! Now before you add that buzzy, internet-famous product to your shopping cart, we should let you know that you should do your research first before incorporating acids into your arsenal.

If you have sensitive skin, most chemical exfoliants might be too *harsh* for your face. You'll be glad to know that lactic acid, a member of the AHA family, is gentle enough for your delicate skin. Keep on scrolling to learn more about this skincare MVP:

What is lactic acid?

Lactic acid is a member of the AHA family that includes more well-known ones like glycolic and mandelic acid. It's a natural chemical exfoliator that sloughs away dead skin cells and increases cell turnover rate.

If you have sensitive skin, lactic acid serves as a great introductory exfoliant into the world of acids due to the size of its molecules. According to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D, for example, glycolic acid has smaller molecules, enabling it to penetrate into the skin easier, making it more potent. Lactic acid, on the other hand, has larger molecules, so you're getting more of a ~surface~ treatment, aka you'll be able to tolerate its effects better.

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What are the benefits of lactic acid?

  1. It exfoliates dead skin cells.

    Just like other chemical exfoliants in the AHA family, lactic acid is great at sloughing away dead cells to make way for a brighter and glowy complexion. It's mild yet highly effective, making it a prime pick for those with sensitive skin.

  2. It increases the skin's moisture level.

    Lactic acid is a humectant, which means it helps to hydrate the complexion by attracting water molecules to the outer layer of the skin.

  3. It can treat acne.

    According to a study, this skincare superstar has also been found to treat acne lesions, so yay for a ~multitasking~ product!

  4. It minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.

    It has been found that a higher concentration of lactic acid can penetrate both the dermis AND epidermis, resulting in firmer skin and lesser fine lines and wrinkles.

How do I incorporate lactic acid into my skincare routine?

As with other chemical exfoliants, you'll want to *gradually* incorporate lactic acid into your regimen to let your skin get used to it. According to celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, a three-on, three-off schedule works best for this. Apply it for three nights in a row, then take a break for the next three and just use hydrating ingredients to let your skin recover.

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Also, since lactic acid peels away the outermost layer of your epidermis, it makes your skin more prone to sunburn, so make sure to load up on your SPF (which you should be doing anyway!)

What are the best lactic acid skincare products I can try?

  1. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA

    This peeling serum from The Ordinary contains 10 percent lactic acid that offers gentle exfoliation for your complexion. You may dilute it with other products—such as your moisturizer—to help build your skin's tolerance for it.

    The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA, P685, BeautyMNL


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  2. The INKEY List Lactic Acid

    Another option below P1,000, this exfoliant also contains hyaluronic acid and moisturizing properties to help your skin lock in moisture.

    The INKEY List Lactic Acid, P930, BeautyMNL (Currently sold out)

    Read Also: The Best Skincare Products To Try From The INKEY List


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  3. CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

    This cult-fave moisturizer is loaded with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid that help to restore your skin's protective barrier and provide long-lasting hydration. It's also great for those with eczema

    CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, P1,450



  4. Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment

    This treatment from Sunday Riley is loaded with purified, high-grade lactic acid that exfoliates dull skin and dislodges gunk from pores to reveal a smoother-looking complexion.

    Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment, P5,580/30ml,


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  5. Pixi Clarity Tonic

    This clarifying tonic is loaded with lactic, glycolic, and salicylic acid to exfoliate your skin and greatly reduce sebum production level. Make sure to follow up with a hydrating moisturizer after using this!

    Pixi Clarity Tonic, P1,120/100ml,


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  6. Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength 30% Lactic Acid Complex Pore Treatment

    This treatment has a high concentration of lactic acid—30 percent!—so make sure to slowly introduce this into your routine so as not to *shock* your skin.

    Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength 30% Lactic Acid Complex Pore Treatment, P5,450,


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