Is Lactic Acid Vegan? What Is Lactic Acid Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Published: June 2022.
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Lactic acid is a skincare ingredient and a chemical exfoliator. Although it is possible to produce lactic acid from milk, it is plant-derived in skincare. Therefore, lactic acid in skincare is vegan.

The lactic acid in skincare offers s a variety of benefits. It is even suitable for sensitive skin. But let’s learn about it more.

What Is Lactic Acid? What Is Lactic Acid Made Of?

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It is a chemical exfoliator usually made from fermented grains, beer, beet, or sugarcane.

Lactic acid, also known as 2-hydroxy propionic acid, is a component of the skin’s natural moisture retention system. As well as a protective acid mantle. It regulates the physiological pH value. And bacterial colonization of the skin. 

The active ingredient is produced when sugars are broken down from carbohydrates. It is found as a component in foods such as beer, whey, sugarcane, and, of course, milk. 

Industrially, it is obtained either from sugar-based lactobacillus species or synthetically. This means, that those species might sometimes be animal-derived.

In skin care, however, lactic acid is vegan. Incidentally, the term lactic acid arose from the fact that it was first discovered in milk.

Why Is Lactic Acid Used In Skincare?

Lactic acid is used in skincare because it is a chemical exfoliator. It also controls moisture, regulates pH, and boosts collagen and elastin activity. So, it has moisturizing and anti-aging properties. 

As a gentle peeler, lactic acid is one of the AHAs that has a keratolytic effect. It dissolves dead skin cells on the upper layer of the skin. It thoroughly cleanses impurities and leaves the skin looking smooth and freshly polished.

Its effect is similar to fruit acid peeler. The latter, however, is stronger than lactic acid. Therefore, lactic acid is more suitable for sensitive skin types.

Further, lactic acid is a moisture booster. It binds and stores water. Lactic acid protects the skin from drying out and moisturizes it sustainably. 

Moreover, the AHA regulates pH. It is part of the skin’s natural protective acid mantle. Unlike many chemical care products that mess up the pH value, lactic acid supports and regulates it.

This means, that lactic acid has a valuable feature in maintaining the skin’s healthy protective layer. So, it protects against environmental influences and harmful microorganisms.

In addition, lactic acid stimulates collagen and elastin production. Therefore, it is often present in skin care products designed for mature skin. 

Lactic acid reaches the skin cells particularly quickly. So, the active ingredient stimulates the body’s own production of elastin and collagen. Damaged cells heal and the formation of new cells activates. 

Whether as a peeler or as an active ingredient in an everyday cream, the optimal dosage of lactic acid is 10% or less. With a higher concentration of lactic acid, the skin could become irritated.

FAQ About Lactic Acid

What is lactic acid?

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It is a chemical exfoliator usually made from fermented grains, beer, beet, or sugarcane.

Is lactic acid vegan?

Lactic acid might be milk-derived. In skin care, however, lactic acid is always vegan.

Is lactic acid made of milk?

In skincare, lactic acid is only plant-derived. Industrially, lactic acid is obtained either from sugar-based lactobacillus species or synthetically. This means, that lactic acid might sometimes be derived from milk. So, lactic acid occurring in other areas might not be vegan.

Summary

Lactic acid is one of the alpha-hydroxy acids. It is characterized by its exfoliating effect, which refines and evens out the complexion. It stimulates collagen formation and makes the skin more elastic and even. 

Although the term acid sounds like an aggressive substance, lactic acid is fairly gentle and is therefore ideal for sensitive skin. 

However, it still is an acid. So products containing lactic acid should only be used according to the instructions. In any case, we also recommend consulting a professional before treatment.

Lactic acid is produced in the process of fermentation. Although it is possible to get lactic acid from milk, it is vegan-friendly in skincare. But to confirm the origin of your product’s whole ingredient list, we recommend buying from 100% vegan brands.

See also: Best Vegan Exfoliators 2022

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.