Strengths: Inexpensive; can be a good moisturizer for dry skin due to lactic acid's water-binding properties.
Weaknesses: Not an option if you're looking for an AHA product to exfoliate.
LactiCare is a dermatologists' standby recommendation for patients with dry skin. Manufactured by Stiefel Laboratories, it is billed as the original alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) product. It has been around for years, and does contain the long-studied AHA ingredient lactic acid. However, the pH of the base is too high for the AHA to function as an exfoliant. Despite that letdown, the amount of lactic acid is impressive, and the company does not make any exfoliation claims. Rather, they state that lactic acid "acts as a hygroscopic humectant and intracellular elasticizer." That's a fancy way of stating that lactic acid helps reinforce skin's barrier function and ability to retain moisture, which it does when the pH is high and the amount of AHA is low. Lactic acid, when paired with emollients and/or occlusive ingredients, can be a formidable weapon against dry skin, including cases of eczema. Topical application of lactic acid stimulates the production of ceramides in skin, which help relieve the rough texture and itchiness of chronic dry skin (Source: Dry Skin and Moisturizers: Chemistry and Function, by Loden and Maibach, CRC Press, 2000, pages 236–237).
For more information about LactiCare, call (888) 784-3335 or visit www.stiefel.com.