A lactic acid peel may be just the solution if your skin looks dull, or if you notice age spots, uneven pigmentation or fine lines. Using a mild alphahydroxy acid (AHA) made from fermented milk, lactic acid peels are often performed by a dermatologist, but light, superficial peels are safe to do at home. Begin with a mild lactic acid product with a dilution of 10 percent. If you skin tolerates the peel well, gradually increase future peels to a stronger solution of 30 to 40 percent.
Wash your face with a mild, liquid cleanser, then pat your skin dry with a soft towel. To prevent skin irritation, wait 15 minutes before applying the peel.
Moisten a cotton ball or cosmetic pad lightly with the solution, then smooth a thin coat over your face. Re-moisten the pad as you go, if needed. Avoid your lips, nostrils and the sensitive skin around the eyes.
Leave the peel on your face for one minute. Gradually work up to five minutes with subsequent peels. If the lactic acid is highly diluted, such as a 10 percent solution, you can leave it on your face for up to 10 minutes. Set a kitchen timer before you begin and never leave the peel on your skin for more than 10 minutes.
Smooth on witch hazel or light toner with a cotton ball or cosmetic pad to neutralize the acid, then rinse your face thoroughly with cool or lukewarm water for 30 seconds.
Apply a moisturizer. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more every time you go outdoors, even on cool, overcast days. The lactic acid will make your skin more sensitive and prone to sunburn.
For best results, apply a lactic acid peel every two weeks.
Consider using a lactic acid peel on a weekend or during a time when you plan to be home for a few days. Your skin may be pink and sensitive for a few days.
Do not perform a lactic acid peel if you have sensitive skin, facial scars or recurrent cold sores, medical problems or if you are pregnant or breast feeding. If you have any doubt, do not perform an at-home peel without talking to your physician first.
If you take prescription medications, speak to your doctor before using a lactic acid peel.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.