Index Peeling

Lactic Acid Peel

Lactic Acid is an organic alpha or 2-hydroxypropionic 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).

Lactic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA or fruit acid).
For industrial applications lactic acid is prepared by chemical synthesis by fermentation of glucose. Lactic acid is naturally present in sour milk, pickled vegetables, cheese, wine and beer, especially by its fermentation.
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 peel is regarded as one of the most safe and gentle face peels alongside with almond peeling. It is perfect for dry and hypersensitive skin, but can also work great for problem 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 peel, lactic acid peel 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 face peel:

1. Epidermal dehydration (dry, thirsty, flaky skin)
2. Mild acne (comedones, blackheads, whiteheads, post-acne)
3. Striate atrophy of skin (fresh superficial stretch marks on face and body)
4. Epidermal hyperpigmentation (pigmentation spots on the outer layer of skin)
5. Hyperkeratosis (rough and thickened horny layer of skin)
6. Seborrhea (excessive oil secretion caused by a violation of the sebaceous glands)
7. Hypersensitive allergy-prone skin
8. Enlarged pores
9. Loose, sagging skin
10. Dull uneven skin tone
11. Photo-aging (skin aging caused by excessive UV-radiation)
12. Fine lines and superficial wrinkles
13. Local peeling for around the eyes area with a higher pH level lactic acid in a lower concentration.
14. Skin preparation for the application of more aggressive cosmetological treatments as well as supplementary treatment by a complex correction of age-related skin changes.
Contraindications for lactic acid face peel:
1. Individual hypersensitivity to the active components of the peel
2. Acute phase of herpes
3. Pregnancy and lactation period
4. Acute inflammation
5. Violation of skin integrity
6. Administration of medications that increase photosensitivity (retinoids and some antibiotics)
7. Recently done epilation
8. Fresh solarium or natural sun tan
9. Telangiectasia and couperose (spider veins and dilated capillaries). Acceptable is only higher pH level lactic acid in a lower concentration.
9. Cold-related illnesses
10. Oncological diseases
11. Diabetes

Properties of lactic acid:

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.

6. 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).

7. Antioxidant effect. Reducing free radicals 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 peel types, lactic acid peel is the most gentle peel available causing less skin discomfort.
Lactic acid is hypoallergenic and skin-friendly being a naturally occurring skin component.

There is no need to hide your face from people after the procedure, because lactic acid peel 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.

Salon superficial lactic acid peel without pre-peel preparation is allowable inasmuch as this chemical peel is very soft and works as a skin prep for other cosmetological treatments itself. Notice that in this case more procedures are required.

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 60 and follow recommendations of the beauty therapist to prevent complications. Avoid excessive sun exposure and overheating.
You will see the result after the first treatment getting younger and smoother even toned skin.
The gentle effect of superficial lactic acid face peel doesn’t require the use of any special after-peel skin treatments except good skin moisturizer with sunscreen. However you can achieve a long-term effect using skin care products containing lactic acid that can be applied to different face and body parts performing different tasks depending on concentration of the active ingredient and pH level.
Lactic acid is relatively safe for patients with darker skin tones having a low risk of post-peel hyperpigmentation. Lactic acid face peel doesn’t contain abrasive particles and is suitable even for hypersensitive skin.

Special aspects
Some manufacturers design aggressive peels that tend to be more medium-depth peels rather than superficial. Always ask your beauty therapist about his practice using certain products to be sure you will get a good result that was proved many times before.
Try to find out which active ingredients does the used lactic acid peel contain. Some manufacturers add hydroquinone to the formulation to provide better whitening effect. This is a toxic compound forbidden in Western Europe, Japan and some Central Asian countries due to its ability to cause endocrine disruption accumulating in the body. Thereby hydroquinone can be used only once as an emergency treatment to remove local pigmentation spots.
By the relative air humidity below 65% glycerin draws moisture from the lower layers of the skin and holds it on the surface instead of taking moisture from the air, thereby drying the skin from the inside out. To avoid undesirable skin reactions always try to find out as much as possible about the peel formulation asking your beauty therapist.

Lactic acid peel stages:

1. Pre-peel preparation
That is one of the chemical peel types that doesn’t require a pre-peel skin preparation. All you need is to avoid sun exposure at least 2 weeks before the procedure and always use a sunscreen when you go out. In case you have frequent herpes outbreaks, you should take a course of preventive medications before starting skin peel treatment.
However, depending on your individual skin feutures your beauty therapist can advise you to prep your skin using a cream containing 1-2% lactic acid or a few low-concentrated fruit acids every night 2 weeks before the procedure.

2. Make-up removal and skin cleansing
Make-up removal using cleansing gels, lotions and other products helps to remove contamination from the surface of the skin preparing it for the following procedures.

3. Skin toning
Lactic acid or fruit acids containing toner is used to remove fat and tone up the skin.

4. Pre-peel
A special pre-peel treatment containing lactic acid is used to provide uniform penetration of lactic acid into skin, increase efficiency of the procedure and test the skin sensitivity before the procedure. Pre-peel preparation is preferable, but not obligatory. Otherwise the procedure should be started with the lowest concentration of lactic acid under supervision of the beauty therapist to control skin reaction.

5. Peeling (direct application of lactic acid)
The beauty therapist applies 2 coats of 30-90% lactic acid using a special brush or a cotton swab and leaves for a while from 2 to 20 minutes depending on individual skin futures. Lactic acid is applied in a certain sequence: forehead, temples, cheeks, neck, chin, periorbital area (1 cm from ciliary margin of upper lid, 0,5 cm from ciliary margin of lower lid).

The beauty therapist should control skin reaction and remove the preparation by appearance of erythema (excessive skin redness). Therefore the first procedure should be performed with low-concentrated lactic acid and shortest exposure time. If the skin shows no negative reaction, the exposure time can be increased step by step.

The ability of the active ingredients to penetrate deeper skin layers and perform its therapeutic action depends on the concentration and pH level of lactic acid.
The exposure time, concentration and pH level of lactic acid are set by the beauty therapist depending on individual skin futures of the patient including skin type, skin tone and sensitivity according to manufacturer’s recommendations and individual skin problems that are to solve.

6. Neutralization
The neutralizer is applied directly over the peeling composition in reverse order from the most sensitive areas to the least sensitive. Then it’s washed off with large amount of cold water. Do not wash off the neutralizer with warm or hot water to avoid skin irritation caused by chemical reaction of the substances by high temperature. The face should be then gently dried with a towel.

7. Skin calming and moisturizing
It is recommended to complete the procedure with a calming mask (for example a leave-in algae seaweed face mask with cooling effect) and apply a suitable nourishing/moisturizing cream containing aloe vera and jojoba oil.

8. Post-peel home skin care
Lactic acid peel doesn’t require a lot of post-peel skin care products – a good moisturizer containing at least SPF 30 sunscreen is enough for a proper home skin care within treatment course and for a week after the last procedure.

Lactic acid peel. Photo before and after procedure

Please observe the following recommendations after face peel treatment:

1. Do not touch or scratch the treated skin areas
2. Do not use make-up within next 24 hours
3. Avoid skin cleanser with aggressive cleaning agents within next 24 hours
4. Avoid epilation on the treated skin areas
5. Avoid direct sunlight and excessive sun exposure

To achieve best results, take a course of at least 4-8 procedures of lactic acid peel every 10-14 days. The frequency can vary depending on individual skin futures. Regular home post-peel skin care containing lactic acid helps to maintain the result for at least a year after finishing the complex treatment.
Lactic acid works well with other acids softening up the effect of more aggressive components. It also allows getting a great result avoiding complications. However, the concentration of lactic acid in a combined peel should not exceed 15%.

Potential skin reaction and possible side effects:

1. Slightly visible skin peeling within next 2-4 days after the procedure.
2. Slight redness that disappears in the first two days.
3. Warming and burning effect during the peel treatment can be eliminated with the neutralizer.
4. Hypersensitivity may occur by patients with thin sensitive skin, but can be significantly reduced by using Panthenol and shea butter.
5. Chemical burn caused by procedure technology violation or therapist’s lack of awareness about peel’s performance. Skin sensitivity test before the procedure is required. Panthenol and Olasol help to reduce symptoms and repair damaged skin.


Single peels cost about $90 - $100. The cost for a course of 6 peels is $510 - $560.

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