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Is Lactic Acid Good for Closed Comedones?

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Closed comedones are non-inflammatory acne lesions that commonly appear on areas such as the forehead, cheeks, and chin.

These small, rounded bumps form when dead skin cells and sebum get trapped in the pores. Over time, the blockage hardens and the comedone becomes more visible.

However, these lesions are fairly easy to treat and can be treated with many different agents, including yes, lactic acid one of the best treatments for closed comedones.

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So if you want to know how lactic acid works on closed comedones and if this ingredient is right for your skin, read on!

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What Causes Closed Comedones?

How Does Benzoyl Peroxide Help Treat Closed Comedones - The Skincare Culture

Closed comedones are small, round bumps that form on the skin when a hair follicle becomes clogged with sebum and dead skin cells.

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They’re not usually red or discolored, and unlike an inflamed pimple, they don’t have a white head to pop or scratch.

Although they cannot be ruptured and appear blind, a closed comedo has a small opening at the top, but we cannot see it with the naked eye.

This distinguishes it from open comedones or blackheads, which are also non-inflammatory acne lesions; However, they have a black surface because the plug of sebum and dead skin cells oxidizes when exposed to oxygen.

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As mentioned above, both conditions are non-flammable; However, they can turn into a pimple if not treated properly.

This can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria feeding on the cellular debris stuck in the pore, prompting the immune system to fight it by sending white blood cells to the area and causing inflammation.

The result can be an inflamed pimple like a pustule (with a white head on top), a papule (a blind pimple), or a more severe cyst.

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Another fun fact about them is that both open and closed comedones can turn into a pimple if you try to squeeze them, but you don’t remove the entire plug.

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This usually happens when people try to squeeze them but can’t take the pain, leaving some leftover material that literally festers in the pore, triggering the immune system to trigger an inflammatory response that would form a pimple at the site, where there was a pimple non-inflammatory lesion overnight.

How Does Lactic Acid Help Treat Closed Comedones?

Lactic acid is one of the most effective ingredients for closed comedones.

Lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid derived from milk, dissolves the glue-like substances that hold skin cells together, helping to loosen and slough off dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.

This action causes the comedone to open and the contents to be dissolved and removed.

Lactic acid also helps stimulate new cell growth and stimulates skin cells to regenerate from below, which can help improve the overall appearance of the skin.

Not only is lactic acid excellent for closed comedones, but it can also help fade hyperpigmentation, smooth uneven textures, improve sun damage and acne scars, and make the complexion look brighter, smoother, and more even.

Lactic acid is found in over-the-counter products like cleansers, toners, and creams. It can also be used by a professional through chemical peels for a stronger and more effective dose that deeply exfoliates and brightens the skin.

Whether used at home or by a professional, lactic acid is an excellent choice for those looking to target closed comedones.

Best lactic acid serums for closed comedones

The Ordinary – Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%

Lactic acid 5% + HA - The culture of skin care

Best for all skin types.

The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% is a simple, gentle and hydrating serum that contains a low concentration of Lactic Acid to gently slough away dead skin cells from the skin’s surface and Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate and plump the skin.

This combination makes it an excellent choice for all skin types, including oily, sensitive and acne-prone skin, as it does not dry out the skin or cause irritation.

REN – Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

REN - Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic - The Skincare Culture

Best for all skin types.

REN Daily AHA Tonic is an exfoliating toner that contains a combination of lactic acid and salicylic acid to brighten skin’s surface, unclog pores and reduce the appearance of closed comedones and blemishes.

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Although this is a gentle combination of low strength exfoliating acids, it should not be used daily as directed as this can lead to over peeling, dryness, irritation and a damaged skin barrier.

Therefore, it’s best to exfoliate 2-3 times a week for great results without the risk of damage.

Paula’s Choice – Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA

Paula's Choice - Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA - The Skincare Culture

Best for mature skin.

Paula’s Choice Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA is a great treatment for mature skin struggling with blemishes, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores and closed comedones.

Containing a blend of several alpha hydroxy acids, including glycolic, lactic and malic acids, it rejuvenates the skin, smoothes the complexion and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.

Biossance – Squalane Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum

Biossance - Resurfacing Serum with Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid - The Skincare Culture

Best for sensitive skin.

Enriched with low lactic acid and barrier-repairing squalane, Biossance Squalane + Lactic Acid Serum is a great choice for those with sensitive skin looking to target closed comedones.

This serum not only removes dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, but also helps to hydrate and repair the skin’s barrier, preventing moisture loss and further irritation.

Drunk Elephant – Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum

Drunk Elephant - Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum - The Skincare Culture

Best for dry skin.

Drunk Elephant’s Protini Powerpeptide Resurf is an excellent lactic acid serum for those looking to tackle multiple skin concerns at once.

Due to the exfoliating lactic acid, the serum can help to eliminate closed comedones, blemishes and hyperpigmentation, while cell-communicating ingredients such as peptides help improve the skin’s overall appearance by boosting collagen production and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.

However, due to the addition of emollients and oils that could potentially be problematic for oily skin, the Protini Powerpeptide Resurf is best suited for those with dry skin.

Simone Sydel |  Licensed beautician

My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take good care of their skin, and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skin care products that I’ve tried. Here you can find out more about me.

The Acne Solution: Your ultimate guide to a flawless complexion

A comprehensive, no-nonsense course that shows you how to never have acne againby a licensed esthetician specializing in oily/acne-prone skin.

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