The Ordinary 5% Lactic Acid – a COVID special

Mask-ne is real, folks. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% pro-mask. It’s such an easy thing to wear to protect yourself and other people. But boy does it mess with your skin. Brand new breakouts on the lower half of my face, check. Extremely red, itchy and dry skin where the mask is supposed to cover, check.

What does this have to do with lactic acid, you ask, especially when I’ve already posted about it before? I consider lactic acid my official exfoliating powerhouse during this very long mask season. This will help bring acne to the surface and turn the skin cells over. Compared to salicylic acid, glycolic acid and adapalene/benzoyl peroxide combination, I found this to be the pretty clear winner. I started off using this every two days, to daily, and as of this writing, I’m back down to 3 or 4x a week usage.

As with most acids, there’s a purging period that comes with the use of this product. For me, it was a major purge. Even though I keep this product around in my medicine cabinet, I don’t use it every day, so I certainly wasn’t immune to it’s effects when switching to daily use. I felt like I was at pre-spironolactone levels of acne — goes to show how much crud was probably building up in my skin. Heck, I almost threw in the towel. But by week three, most of the acne was gone and my skin was glowing!

Lactic acid will still continue to pull up new acne even after the purging period is done, but there won’t be as much, and it will disappear quickly. In my opinion, it’s worth it for the healthy glow and smooth texture you get from this product.

Since even it’s 5% iteration is pretty strong, you’re going to want to layer up on some emollients afterwards. My favorite to use in this case was The Ordinary’s Rosehip Seed Oil. While the lactic acid is busy at work pushing the dead skin out, rose hip oil does a nice job of clean-sweeping all the grits out of the pores.

Something else that did help my acne decrease was switching from cloth masks to paper/disposable masks. I hate the idea of disposable masks because they’re just so… wasteful. I don’t need more reasons to contribute to landfills! But no matter how vigilantly I was washing my cloth masks, the cloth was a way bigger offender of trapping dirt and oil into my skin.

As with all acids, users who are new to these types of products should start off slow. You really only need two drops of this product to spread throughout your face, and should start by applying only every two days. And wear your sunscreen! Despite all my usual acid product warnings, this is a cheap little fixer-upper for $10 that got my skin back to normal under the mask. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 3/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes, if used carefully!

My Current Routine

For the sake of documenting a moment in time, and perhaps to reflect in five years to ask myself “why on Earth did I use that?”, I wanted to list some of my current skincare favorites. I recently went on a short trip, which is always great for forcing yourself to decide on which products are truly must-haves (and also useful in those moments where you think to yourself, “why did I forget to pack that?!).

Now, of course, I don’t use all of these every single day, but everything listed is in heavy rotation. All of these products have been in my routines for a minimum of five months — some have been in my routine for over six years. I can say that all of these have maintained or improved my sensitive, acne-prone skin. Everyone’s reactions are different, but if I had to recommend products to someone with skin issues, these would all be included in that list.

AM Routine

  • COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
  • Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray
  • Melano CC Gel (although I’m not 100% sold on this one yet…)
  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
  • Rohto Skin Aqua Super Moisture Milk SPF50

PM Routine

  • COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (I obviously love this)
  • Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray (same with this, I would spritz this every hour on the hour if I could)
  • Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner

PM Exfoliant Options:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA
  • The Ordinary 5% Lactic Acid
  • Epiduo
  • Derma-E Anti Wrinkle Eye Cream

PM Moisturizer Options

  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
  • Cerave PM

PM Heavy Moisturizers — “Last Step”:

  • Bio-Oil
  • CosRX Honey Ceramide Cream
  • HadaLabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Solution

Makeup

  • IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Illumination – Medium
  • Maybelline Stick Corrector Concealer (under eyes, and on/around eyelids with careful blending)
  • NYX Tinted Brow Mascara in Brown
  • L’oreal Lash Paradise
  • Physicians Formula Eye Booster Pencil Eyeliner
  • Physicians Formula Mineral Glow Pearls in Bronze (used as bronzer)
  • Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter in Molten Rose Gold