Lactic Acid is an an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA or fruit acid) produced by glycolysis. It is a natural, biologically safe product that plays an essential role in the carbohydrates metabolism in human body and is also an important component of the natural moisturizing factor of the skin (NMF).
The light-weight lactic acid molecules pass through cell membranes easily providing uniform penetration of lactic acid into skin layers and its uniform exposure all over the skin surface.
Lactic acid acid is one of the safest and gentle peeling agent. It is perfect for dry and hypersensitive skin, but can also work great for oily skin, what actually means that it suits all skin types.
Multi-action of lactic acid positively affects many processes including epidermal regeneration, skin microcirculation, glycosaminoglycan, collagen and ceramides synthesis providing deep moisture and strengthening skin’s barrier function.
As a light superficial peeling agent, lactic acid is primarily designed for young skin with minor problems, but it also can be used as a part of complex therapy by women over 35.
Indications for lactic acid:
- Epidermal dehydration (dry, thirsty, flaky skin)
- Mild acne (comedones, blackheads, whiteheads, post-acne)
- Striate atrophy of skin (fresh superficial stretch marks on face and body)
- Epidermal hyperpigmentation (pigmentation spots on the outer layer of skin)
- Hyperkeratosis (rough and thickened horny layer of skin)
- Seborrhea (excessive oil secretion caused by a violation of the sebaceous glands)
- Hypersensitive allergy-prone skin
- Enlarged pores
- Loose, sagging skin
- Dull uneven skin tone
- Photo-aging (skin aging caused by excessive UV-radiation)
- Fine lines and superficial wrinkles
Contraindications for lactic acid:
- Individual hypersensitivity to the active components of the peel
- Acute phase of herpes
- Pregnancy and lactation period
- Acute inflammation
- Violation of skin integrity
- Administration of medications that increase photosensitivity (retinoids and some antibiotics)
- Recently done epilation
- Fresh solarium or natural sun tan
- Telangiectasia and couperose (spider veins and dilated capillaries). Acceptable is only higher pH level lactic acid in a lower concentration.
- Cold-related illnesses
- Oncological diseases
Properties of lactic acid:
- Keratolytic effect by disruption of the bonds between corneocytes in the horny layer which results in exfoliation of dead skin cells. This process promotes skin renovation activating cell proliferation in the basal layer.
- Hydrating effect. As one of the NMF components, lactic acid provides powerful moisturizing action. Natural Moisturizing Factor is a water retaining substance complex in the horny layer of skin possessing the ability to attract and retain moisture providing skin turgor and elasticity. By epidermal renovation biologically dead cells of the horny layer (corneocytes) are replaced by metabolically active cells of the basal layer (keratinocytes) additionally providing deep moisture.
- Lifting effect achieved by proliferation (cell division) and fibroblasts (dermal papilla cells) activity stimulation. Fibroblasts are primary cells of loose connective tissue that produce components of the intercellular substance (collagen, elastin, fibronectin) and are responsible for synthesis of glycosaminoglycans (or mucopolysaccharides known for lubricating properties that are essential for human body). By increasing hydration and viscoelastic properties of the skin, lactic acid improves skin turgor, smoothes skin texture and reduces fine lines and small wrinkles.
- Sebostatic and comedolytic effect by disruption of intercellular connections between corneocytes unblocking clogged pores and reducing sebum secretion. Lactic acid also promotes triglyceride degradation inhibiting lipase released by acne-causing bacteria, thereby preventing inflammation. It helps to control sebum secretion reducing excessive oiliness and relieving dryness, promotes large pores shrinking and improving of acne skin with comedones, papules and pustules without over-drying it.
- Whitening effect achieved by dead skin cells exfoliation. Lactic acid also facilitates uniform distribution of melanin granules in the epidermis and promotes tyrosinase inhibition – a melanogenic enzyme that affects skin color. As a result, skin tone becomes fair and even.
- Bacteriostatic and anti-inflammatory effect. The acidifying effect of ionized lactic acid supported by skin non-penetrating lactate ion provides unfavorable conditions for pathogenic bacteria growth (most effective against anaerobic bacteria and slightly less effective against yeast and fungi).
- Antioxidant effect. Reducing free radical’s production such as superoxides and hydroxyls, lactic acid provides strong skin protection from harmful environmental factors.
Advantages of lactic acid peel:
Compared to other chemical agents, lactic acid is the gentlest available causing less skin discomfort. Lactic acid is hypoallergenic and skin-friendly being a naturally occurring skin component. Lactic acid doesn’t cause a strong skin flaking due to its mild effect, peeling off a very thin layer of dead skin cells that is hardly noticeable.
In contrast to face peels with other AHAs, lactic acid peel doesn’t cause skin dehydration providing ultra-deep moisture and restoring skin’s protective barrier. These unique properties of lactic acid peel make it suitable for both dry and oily skin.
Lactic acid doesn’t possess a photosensitizing effect, so it can be used all year round. In summer it’s important to use a strong sunscreen with at least SPF 50+ and follow recommendations to prevent complications. Avoid excessive sun exposure and overheating.
Lactic acid is relatively safe for patients with darker skin tones having a low risk of post-peel hyperpigmentation