What Is Ammonium Lactate?
Ammonium lactate is an ingredient that is often used to treat dry or scaly skin. Ammonium lactate is part of a class of ingredients called alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs, some of the other ingredients in this class are glycolic acid and lactic acid.
Ammonium lactate is generally used as a prescription medicine to help treat inherited dry skin conditions or severely dry skin. However, it can be found in over the counter products in lower concentrations. Ammonium lactate is mostly formulated in a lotion or cream product.
the good: Is a great exfoliator that is used to help improve dry scaly skin.
the not so good: There are other AHAs available that may be less irritating to the skin.
Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.
Keep an eye on: Keep an eye out for the differences in legislation around ammonium lactate. It is not always a prescription item.
What Are The Benefits of Ammonium Lactate?
Ammonium lactate is mainly used to improve the moisture and hydration of the skin. It can also be used as a buffering agent in the product as well as a pH adjuster.
Hydration and moisture restoration is the main benefit of using an ammonium lactate product. It may seem counterintuitive to use an acid to help improve moisture as overusing acids can break down the skin’s natural barrier and have been linked to moisture loss. However, what is thought to occur is that ammonium lactate, when applied to the skin, acts as a humectant or water preserving ingredient. While the mechanisms of action aren’t fully understood, ammonium lactate is often used for this benefit.
Ammonium lactate, like most AHAs, also exfoliates the skin, helping to remove dead skin cells and flakiness. Removing the dead skin that often builds upon the surface of the skin may also help to improve the hydration and moisture levels of the skin. This is because dry, flaky skin has trouble retaining and holding onto moisture.
Is Ammonium Lactate Safe?
Ammonium lactate is generally considered to be safe in the concentrations that it is approved in. However, it can be quite an irritating product, particularly if you have irritated or sensitive skin. Stinging or burning is often associated with its use on open or cracked skin.
Emer JJ, Frankel A, Sohn A, Lebwohl M. A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Ammonium Lactate Lotion 12% and Halobetasol Propionate Ointment 0.05% in the Treatment and Maintenance of Psoriasis. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011;4(2):28-39.
Bellew S, Del Rosso JQ. Overcoming the Barrier Treatment of Ichthyosis: A Combination-therapy Approach. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(7):49-53.