Lactic Acid Benefits for Skin

a woman has applied lactic acid cream on her face

What is lactic acid, exactly? 

Lactic acid is an anti-ageing and anti-pigmentation component found in both OTC and professional-grade skincare products. Lactic acid is an anti-ageing chemical generated from milk that belongs to the alpha-hydroxy acid family (AHAs). Glycolic acid and citric acid are examples of AHAs.

Continue reading to find out how a lactic acid peel can help your skin, as well as OTC products to try and what to anticipate from a professional peel. 

What are the advantages of a lactic acid peel for your skin? Does lactic acid brighten skin?

A chemical peel works by applying a chemical to the skin, in this case, lactic acid. The top layer of skin is removed (epidermis), removing dead skin cells. Some more potent formulations may also target the skin's middle layers (dermis). Despite the term, your skin does not "peel" off in any noticeable way. The consequences beneath the removed epidermis, however, are noticeable: smoother, brighter skin. 

Lactic acid is used to treat hyperpigmentation, age spots, and other skin issues that leave the complexion looking dull and uneven. Another benefit of AHAs like lactic acid is that they improve skin tone and pore appearance.

Lactic acid, on the other hand, is milder than AHAs like glycolic acid. For sensitive skin, a lactic acid peel is a preferable alternative. If you've tried another AHA and found it too strong, lactic acid could be a good alternative. 

Are there any possible adverse effects? 

Lactic acid, despite its milder nature, is still regarded as a potent AHA. Your skin will be more exposed to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation as a result of the "peeling" effects, hence sunscreen is required. Apply sunscreen first thing in the morning and reapply as needed throughout the day. 

Over time, unprotected sun exposure can result in more age spots and damage. It may potentially raise your chances of developing skin cancer. 

Lactic acid peels can cause irritation, redness, and itching, among other things. These are usually minor adverse effects that fade as your skin reacts to the product. If side effects persist after a few applications, stop using it and consult your doctor. 

If you have the following conditions, you should avoid using a lactic acid peel: 

  • eczema
  • Psoriasis 
  • Rosacea 

Before using, see your doctor or dermatologist if you have naturally darker skin. Chemical peels might increase the likelihood of hyperpigmentation. 

A lactic acid peel's application 

Use instructions differ depending on the makeup and concentration of the substance. Always read the product label and follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer. 


Look for a product with a 5 per cent acid concentration for a lighter peel. Medium peels may contain 10 to 15% lactic acid, whereas deeper (professional) peels may contain even more. As a general rule, the more the focus, the better the outcome. You may not need to apply stronger peels as frequently, but any irritation that results may linger longer. 

Preparation and application 

It's critical to perform a skin patch test before beginning your full application. This may assist you in avoiding negative side effects.

To do so, first: 

  • A dime-sized amount of product should be applied to the inside of your forearm. 
  • Ignore the wound and cover it with a bandage. 
  • If no irritation or inflammation occurs within 24 hours, the product should be fine to use elsewhere. 
  • If you encounter any negative effects, stop taking them. If your side effects intensify or continue longer than a day or two, see your dermatologist. 
  • Lactic acid peels are intended for use in the evening. Lactic acid, like other AHAs, increases UV sensitivity, therefore avoid using it first thing in the morning. 


When utilising lactic acid, you should apply sunscreen every day. Apply sunscreen every morning and reapply as needed throughout the day for optimal results. You can use a daytime moisturiser with sunscreen as well as an SPF foundation. Consider getting a lactic acid peel from an expert. 

If you aren't experiencing results from over-the-counter products but don't want to use a stronger AHA, your dermatologist or skincare specialist may recommend a lactic acid peel. 

Talk to your dermatologist about all of your medications and your level of sensitivity before obtaining a professional lactic acid peel. All of these things can influence the strength of peel your dermatologist or skincare specialist recommends. This can help reduce issues and negative effects like inflammation and scarring. 

Take Away 

Lactic acid is used to provide a mild chemical peel that may help even out your skin tone. It can assist with age spots, ageing signs, melasma, rough texture, and fine wrinkles, fine lines, among other things. Despite the availability of over-the-counter treatments, it's better to consult a dermatologist before doing a lactic acid peel at home. Side effects may be more likely if you have certain skin disorders. If you decide to attempt an over-the-counter peel, make sure you complete a skin patch test beforehand. Apply sunscreen first thing in the morning and reapply as needed throughout the day. You can use an anti-ageing serum to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles.