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Ingredient Spotlight: Lactic Acid

Lactic Acid... For Hair?


Estimated Read Time:  3 minutes


Summary: In this blog we detail and explore what lactic acid is and how it works for hair. We’ll discuss what lactic acid does, whether you should be using it in your hair care and it’s benefits. Read on to discover more about lactic acid, where it comes from and how it can serve your locks… 


What Is Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is more commonly thought of as a hero skincare ingredient, but it can work as a remarkable hair care ingredient too!

Lactic acid is a part of the AHA group – alpha-hydroxy-acids. It’s been used for thousands of years because of its rejuvenating properties. Lactic acid is an exfoliant and is also thought to stimulate collagen and elastin production, making it essential for hair health and appearance. It’s naturally found in milk, though the lactic acid in today's beauty products is usually synthetically produced from a carbohydrate extract.

Of all the AHAs, lactic acid is considered the gentlest.

What Does Lactic Acid Do?

Lactic acid helps optimise the scalp environment by balancing its pH levels. The natural and healthy pH level of your hair ranges between 4.5 and 5.5 – meaning that our hair is naturally more acidic. We need and want our hair to be between these two levels for optimum health, as the cuticles will naturally be closed and healthy, helping to support the strength and thickness of each individual strand and follicle.

Maintaining a natural scalp pH and hair pH level means that the acidic sebum produced by your scalp will help fight bacteria, keeping your hair from falling out or becoming weak and thin. Light acidic substances like lactic acid can bring you hair and scalp to a good pH balance which can help result in healthier growth and higher quality hair strands.

Lactic acid also has antibacterial and exfoliating properties so it can aid in stripping the hair and scalp of dirt, pollutants, and product build up. However, it does this without stripping strands of the much-needed moisture that hair needs. This allows for easier detangling, and protects the hair against heat styling tools too. It can also help relax and smooth the hair’s structure, making locks more manageable.

Lactic Acid Benefits For Hair

Lactic acid, is touted as having multiple benefits for hair. These can include:

  • Reducing risk of dandruff, via maintaining the pH balance of the scalp
  • Thought to increase elasticity in the hair strands, helping reduce frizz
  • Thought to increase strength of the hair strands, helping reduce breakage via sealing the hair’s cuticle
  • Protects your hair from heat styling tool damage (blowdryers, tongs, irons etc.)
  • Naturally removes dead skin cells from the scalp
  • Conditions and moisturises the scalp, promoting manageability of the hair

Is Lactic Acid Vegan?

Lactic acid is a byproduct of the bacterial fermentation of sugar. Lactic acid is often vegan in health and beauty products, but this isn’t always the case, as it can be sourced from dairy and meat products too.

Brands are generally becoming more aware of the demand for cruelty-free, vegan-friendly products. Because of this, hey are generally publicising those that are classed as vegan more openly on packaging. If you’re unsure, contact the manufacturer/brand the item is made by.

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Sarah Milton

A passionate content writer, with a specific interest in the science behind hair care. Having created content for several years, I’ve grown my knowledge exponentially in the science behind hair growth, quality and texture, and what ingredients our tresses need to thrive. When not in the office, I’m walking my dog along the beach or invested in a brilliant television drama.


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