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How to Layer Hyaluronic Acid and Lactic Acid (CORRECTLY)

by Ella Goodman 30 Jan 2024

Hey, skin care savvy!

Welcome to your ultimate guide on mastering the art of layering lactic acid and hyaluronic acid.

Are you ready to up your skincare game and give your skin the TLC it deserves?

Let's jump into this white-knuckle journey and discover the secrets behind these powerhouse ingredients.

Get ready to learn, experiment, and transform your skin care routine into a personalized ritual that screams "You!"

Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid and Lactic Acid Together?

Absolutely! It's like pairing your favorite jeans with a stylish top – they're just meant to be.

  1. The Science of Synergy: Lactic acid, a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), exfoliates by loosening the glue that holds dead skin cells together. This reveals fresh, new skin underneath. Now, enter hyaluronic acid, the hydration superhero. It's like a tall drink of water for your skin, capable of holding up to 1000 times its weight in water. When you combine these two, you're not just exfoliating; you're ensuring that the new skin is well-hydrated and supple.
  2. Enhanced Effectiveness: Think of lactic acid as the opener, setting the stage by removing the outer layer of dead skin. This allows hyaluronic acid to penetrate more deeply and effectively. It's like clearing a path in a crowded room, ensuring the star of the show (hyaluronic acid) can make its grand entrance seamlessly.
  3. Balancing Act: Lactic acid's exfoliating properties can sometimes leave the skin feeling a bit exposed or sensitive. That's where hyaluronic acid comes in, restoring balance. It soothes and calms the skin post-exfoliation, reducing the potential for any irritation. Together, they ensure your skin is not just smooth but also soothed and hydrated.
  4. The Perfect Routine: Using these two in your skincare routine is pretty straightforward. After cleansing, apply a lactic acid serum to exfoliate. Once that’s absorbed, follow up with a hyaluronic acid moisturizer or serum. This sequence allows each ingredient to work its magic without interference.
  5. Customization is Key: While this combo is generally a safe bet for most skin types, always remember that skincare is personal. Your skin's response might differ from someone else's. So, start slow, especially if you're new to AHAs like lactic acid, and always listen to your skin. If you notice any discomfort, adjust the frequency or concentration of the products.
  6. Don't Forget the Sunscreen: A quick but crucial reminder – lactic acid can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. So, pairing these two powerhouses with a good sunscreen is not just smart; it's essential. Think of it as the final, protective seal on your skincare routine.

What Goes First: Lactic Acid or Hyaluronic Acid?

Here’s the golden rule of skincare layering: thin to thick.

Start with lactic acid. Here’s why:

  1. The Opening Act - Lactic Acid: Think of lactic acid as the opening act in your skincare concert. It's lighter, agile, and has a critical job to do - exfoliation. By applying it first, you’re ensuring that it directly contacts your skin, unobstructed, to do what it does best: gently dissolving away dead skin cells, revealing a brighter, smoother complexion. It's like setting the stage for the main act, ensuring everything is primed and ready.
  2. Why Lactic Acid First: Delving deeper, lactic acid, a milder AHA, works by loosening the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. When applied to clean, dry skin, it can penetrate efficiently, maximizing its exfoliating benefits. Applying it first makes sure that these benefits are not hindered by barriers like creams or oils, which could limit its effectiveness.
  3. Layering Logic: In skincare, layering is all about maximizing product effectiveness. Applying lactic acid first makes sense because of its molecular size and function. It's lighter and needs to sink deep into your skin to work effectively. This approach is like having an appetizer before the main course - it prepares your skin for what's coming next.
  4. The Perfect Follow-Up - Hyaluronic Acid: After lactic acid has had a chance to work its magic, it's time for hyaluronic acid to enter the scene. This hydration powerhouse acts like a soothing, nourishing encore after the exfoliation show. Hyaluronic acid is all about locking in moisture, soothing your skin, and giving it that plump, hydrated look.
  5. Why Hyaluronic Acid Second: By applying hyaluronic acid after lactic acid, you’re effectively locking in moisture on newly exfoliated skin. This maximizes hydration as the hyaluronic acid can penetrate more deeply and efficiently on the fresh, exfoliated skin. It's akin to watering a freshly tilled garden - the water reaches deeper, nourishing the roots more effectively.
  6. Texture Matters: In the world of skincare, texture plays a crucial role in determining application order. Since lactic acid serums are typically lighter than hyaluronic acid creams or serums, applying them first makes logistical sense. It ensures that each product can be absorbed properly without hindering the other’s functionality.
  7. Layering Like a Pro: For those who love a bit more detail, apply your lactic acid serum using gentle, upward strokes, allowing it to fully absorb into your skin. Then, when your skin is ready for hydration, bring in the hyaluronic acid. It will glide over the skin, soothing and hydrating it.

What Are the Benefits of Lactic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid?

Lactic acid and hyaluronic acid aren’t just another pair of ingredients; they’re like the Batman and Robin of your skincare routine, each bringing unique and compelling benefits to the table.

Let’s delve into the science behind these power players and uncover why they're not just good, but great for your skin.

  1. Lactic Acid – The Collagen Catalyst: When we talk about lactic acid, it's not just an exfoliation story. Yes, it’s fantastic for sloughing off dead skin cells, but its real superpower lies in its ability to boost collagen production. Collagen is the protein responsible for keeping our skin firm and youthful. As we age, collagen production decreases, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Lactic acid steps in like a superhero, stimulating collagen synthesis, which helps in reducing the appearance of fine lines and giving your skin a firmer, plumper look. It's like having a natural facelift agent right in your skincare arsenal.
  2. Hyaluronic Acid – The Deep Hydrator: Moving on to hyaluronic acid, this isn't just your average moisturizer. As we’ve seen already, it's a hydration powerhouse with the incredible ability to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. But here’s the twist – hyaluronic acid doesn't just sit on your skin's surface. It penetrates the deeper layers, hydrating your skin from the inside out. This action is crucial in maintaining skin’s moisture balance and preventing transepidermal water loss, where water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates. This deep hydration keeps your skin looking plump, hydrated, and radiant.
  3. Synergy in Action: When used together, lactic acid and hyaluronic acid create a synergy that's nothing short of magical. Lactic acid’s exfoliating action removes the outer layer of dead skin cells, which can hinder absorption. This allows hyaluronic acid to penetrate more effectively, ensuring deeper hydration. It’s like clearing a path for the hydration troops to dive deep into your skin’s layers. The result? Skin that's not only deeply hydrated but also smoother and more radiant.
  4. Fighting Environmental Stressors: Together, these two ingredients do more than just beautify your skin. They arm it against environmental stressors. Lactic acid’s exfoliating properties help in removing the accumulation of pollutants and impurities. Meanwhile, the enhanced moisture barrier from hyaluronic acid ensures that your skin is better equipped to deal with external aggressors like pollution and UV rays.
  5. Suitable for Sensitive Skin: Contrary to popular belief, lactic acid and hyaluronic acid are suitable for sensitive skin types. Lactic acid is milder compared to other AHAs, making it less likely to cause irritation. Hyaluronic acid, with its natural moisturizing properties, complements this by soothing and hydrating the skin post-exfoliation.

Should You Put Lactic Acid on Wet or Dry Skin?

Short answer: Always apply lactic acid when your skin is dry.

Here’s a breakdown of the science:

  1. The Science of Absorption: Think of your skin as a sponge. When it's wet, it's already saturated, making it harder for lactic acid to penetrate effectively. Applying lactic acid to dry skin is like rolling out a red carpet for it to walk straight in. This ensures even absorption and reduces the chance of irritation. It's not just about applying the product; it's about making sure your skin is in the best state to receive it.
  2. Avoiding the Irritation Trap: Ever noticed how applying certain products on wet skin can feel more intense? That's because water can drive ingredients deeper into your skin, which sounds great in theory, but with lactic acid, it can lead to irritation and sensitivity. It’s like turning up the volume too high – sure, you can hear the music better, but it might end up hurting your ears. By applying lactic acid to dry skin, you control the depth of penetration, keeping the exfoliation process gentle yet effective.
  3. The Uneven Application Hazard: Applying lactic acid on wet skin can also lead to uneven application. Some areas might end up with more product than others, leading to patchy results. You want the lactic acid to be the maestro of your skincare orchestra, not a confused musician unsure of where to play. Dry skin ensures that the product spreads evenly, giving you consistent results.
  4. Maximizing Effectiveness: When your skin is dry, lactic acid doesn't have to compete with water. This means it can work its magic undisturbed, ensuring you get the full benefits of its exfoliating and hydrating properties. It's like giving lactic acid an open stage to perform, allowing it to show off its full potential.
  5. The Right Way to Apply: After cleansing, take a moment to gently pat your skin dry. No need to rush – treat your skin with care. Once it's dry, apply your lactic acid serum with gentle, upward strokes, ensuring you cover all the areas you want to target. This methodical approach turns your skincare routine into a ritual, where every step is purposeful and contributes to the final result – glowing, healthy skin.
  6. Post-Application Care: Just because you've applied your lactic acid on dry skin doesn’t mean you should skip hydration. Follow up with a hyaluronic acid moisturizer to lock in moisture and keep your skin balanced. This is like the cool-down after an intense workout – necessary and refreshing.

Unleashing the Power of Your Skin Care Duo

Now that you know the what, why, and how of lactic acid and hyaluronic acid, it’s time to put this knowledge into action.

Remember, every skin type is unique, so listen to your skin and adjust accordingly.

Experiment with confidence, embrace the process, and watch as your skin transforms with this incredible duo.

Ready to embark on this transformative journey with lactic acid and hyaluronic acid?

Now go forth and make your skincare routine not just a routine, but a daily ritual of self-love and care!

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