Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Anti-aging is big business. In fact, the market is projected to reach $271 billion by 2024. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about preserving their youth through skincare products, cosmetics and supplements. When new anti-aging ingredients are put in the spotlight, consumers listen.

Lactic acid is the latest anti-aging ingredient to make headlines, and it’s one that’s receiving praise from dermatologists. The ingredient has been in high demand from anti-aging ingredient providers like Wisepowder.

Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that comes from sugars in dairy products. It’s a gentle chemical exfoliant that’s able to penetrate the top layers of the skin and make it easier for the skin to absorb other products.

Although lactic acid is getting a lot of new attention, it’s not a revolutionary ingredient. In fact, it’s an ingredient that has inadvertently been popular for centuries. Cleopatra reportedly cleansed her face with milk, which is a rich source of lactic acid.

Lactic acid stimulates the skin’s surface and interferes with the bonds between the cells. The process encourages cell turnover and sloughs off dead skin cells to reveal a brighter complexion and smaller pores.

Dermatologists often prefer lactic acid over glycolic or salicylic acid because it’s gentler and less irritating. Some acids can be harsh and drying which can lead to redness and other adverse reactions. The side effects associated with harsh ingredients turns some users off from acids altogether.

Many skincare products now contain lactic acid, but this potent ingredient is usually combined with other active ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and retinol. The combination of these ingredients has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of hyperpigmentation, as the lactic acid helps fade dark spots with continued use.

Although this AHA is useful for all skin types, it can increase skin sensitivity. Users can avoid adverse reactions by simply starting with a small amount of the AHA to see how their skin reacts.

Because of its potency, lactic acid should only be used once a week as part of a skincare routine. Users may also have to change their skincare routines to avoid irritation, particularly if they use other exfoliants. Regular use of lactic acid can also make the skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays, so it’s even more important to wear sunscreen daily.

Sunscreen should be worn regularly anyway and should be reapplied regularly each day to prevent harmful sun damage.