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Lactic acid for skin: The complete guide for beginners

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When it comes to skincare, not all acid exfoliators are equal...

Like many other chemical exfoliants, lactic acid is an increasingly popular skincare ingredient in many a beauty lover’s regime.

Like glycolic acid, it’s an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), however, it’s far more moisturising to the skin than glycolic, and less likely to cause irritation. It’s therefore an excellent choice for more sensitive complexions.

Naturally present in milk, lactic acid has a larger structure than glycolic acid, and doesn’t affect the thickness of your skin (not that that means you can skip using your best SPF moisturiser in the morning).

Unlike salicylic acid, beta-hydroxy acid that penetrates deep into your pores, AHA sloughs off dead skin cells leaving a more radiant, smooth complexion underneath.

Lactic acid peel

Max-strength chemical peels are performed by a professional, but it’s possible to buy slightly weaker AHA peels you can perform in the comfort of your own home. Kate Somerville’s Exfolikate Treatment, for example, is a mega tingling formula that sloughs all the dead skin cells from your face, leaving you positively glowing.

Don’t fancy the fuss of applying a peel and sitting around waiting for it to do its thing? Peel pads, like those made by Skyn Iceland are an easy way to exfoliate fuss-free both morning and night.

Lactic acid serum and cream

These are leave-on formulas enirched with AHA exfoliating prowess; for example, Sunday Riley’s Good Genes serum can be left on overnight to smooth out the skin, or a thicker layer can be applied as a 10-15 minute wash-off treatment.

Similarly, lactic acid cream gently resurfaces the skin while you moisturise for a smoother finish to your complexion over time. If you have sensitive skin, higher concentrations of lactic acid may still cause your skin to become irritated, so always do a product patch test beforehand.

Keep scrolling for team Marie Claire‘s top five favourite lactic acid skincare products you can shop now. Happy peeling!

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