Lactic Acid & Ginkgo

Lactic Acid & Ginkgo

In the battle between Western and Eastern skincare (aka retinoid lovers versus herbal fans), we’re presented with two opposing beauty ideologies. On one hand, Western culture favors the whole pain-is-beauty mindset, willing to endure harsher chemical exfoliants for that polished, pearly glow. In the East, however, the gentler resurfacing powers of natural plant and fruit extracts are embraced. While in both regions, the goal is the same—great skin, of course—Eastern culture honors time and patience for a slow-and-steady payoff.

While one method doesn’t necessarily surpass the other, studies do show that the long haul method reaches a safer and more predictable destination—one without as many bumps, bruises, and blemishes along the way! So if you’re curious about slowing down your skincare routine to a gentler pace, consider getting familiar with these two hero ingredients: lactic acid and ginkgo!

What is lactic acid?

Ever tried a yogurt skin mask? The Eastern beauty community loves yogurt treatments because it’s a natural byproduct made from friendly bacteria. “During yogurt production, these bacteria produce lactic acid, causing milk protein to coagulate,” explains Dr. Seiji Nagaoka, a food researcher based in Tokyo Japan. The resulting lactic acid is essentially nature’s version of retinol.

We classify lactic acid as belonging to two categories: postbiotics and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).

Lactic acid: postbiotic & alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)

Lactic acid is a type of postbiotic, a fermented ingredient created when microbes (like bacteria and yeast) munch down on sugar molecules from milk or plant proteins, and produce smaller compounds called postbiotics, explains Dr. Nagaoka.

Lactic acid also belongs to the AHA group. This class of fermented ingredients is known to peel the outer skin layer, revealing a smoother and more radiant complexion, much like the results we seek from retinol (just milder). But that’s not the only reason it’s the most popular of AHAs; lactic acid comes with a unique multitasking duo: it works as both an exfoliant (skin-shedder) and a humectant (water attractor)! This unique combo allows lactic acid to resurface the skin, while promoting hydration to soothe the dermis and prevent inflammation, explains Dr. Sheau-Chung Tang, a biochemist from Tzu Chi University, Taiwan.

What is ginkgo?

Native to China, ginkgo is a tall and slender tree, with golden wing-like leaves that are packed with antioxidants. A powerful anti-ager, ginkgo is high in flavonoids and terpenoids, which prevent damage to cellular DNA from free radicals (oxygen-suckers). This shielding action is critical to preserving our healthy dermal DNA.

This good genetic material is the blueprint that maps out the quality and longevity of our skin. In turn, ginkgo helps prevent genetic mutations such as premature aging and other degenerative conditions.

How does ginkgo work in skincare?

The application of gingko helps replenish oxygen levels in our skin tissue, thereby slowing down the deterioration process. Think of this technology as wrapping our skin cells in bubble wrap, keeping them safe and resilient against external stressors: air pollution, cigarette smoke, industrial chemicals, etc.

Ginkgo has a looong list of other incredible healing talents, which is why Eastern skin care has been formulating products with it for centuries! According to a study at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy, a team of biomedical researchers observed the anti-inflammatory effects of ginkgo as a treatment for colitis. To control inflammation, gingko carries antibacterial and antifungal properties, along with moisturizing, exfoliating, and pH-balancing effects.

Although many medical studies admire the effects of ginkgo on its own, when it comes to cosmetic applications, ginkgo works best in pairings with other ingredients—like lactic acid!

Lactic acid and ginkgo in skincare

Lactic acid and gingko are the ultimate combo for gentle skin rejuvenation. While one does the resurfacing work (lactic acid), the other (ginkgo) gently sweeps away leftover skin particles—all the while keeping the dermal barrier calm and germ-free.

To better understand this incredible process, consider this analogy: imagine digging up sand on a beach. You’re scraping away the rough granules to reach the wet, smooth sand underneath. Here, lactic acid would be the digger, while ginkgo would be the rushing tide—a blanket of nutrients, oxygen, and hydration covering the shore. After a few waves roll in, it seals any cracks in the sand for a velvety-smooth surface. Restoring the beach to its most pristine pre-touched condition, gingko is a natural healer—like the sea, it serenades our skin!

This activity whereby two ingredients enhance the effects of each other is called synergy.

The synergistic effects of lactic acid and ginkgo

The synergistic effects of lactic acid and ginkgo in skin care is a fairly new niche in cosmetic science, even though this combo has been used for generations for amazing skin results. Currently, we already have a wealth of data on the synergistic effects of ginkgo and green tea, thanks to a group of biomedical researchers based in China.

Their study revealed that the blended formulation “significantly enhanced viable epidermis thickness and the number of cell layers, suggesting a moisturizing effect and increased cell renewal…In addition they synergistically acted on the skin elasticity and skin barrier function.” These results mark the future of cosmetics, whereby home-use products can achieve amazing therapeutic powers by marrying the right ingredients.

Inspired by today's fascination with synergistic skincare, Nuria’s Defend Gentle Exfoliator was developed to bring this advanced science to a simple, in-home treatment! Delivering the best of both worlds: exfoliation and damage-protection, this innovative formula targets signs of aging from all angles in the gentlest way.

Good things come to those who wait. And this motto couldn’t be more true than with the art of Eastern skin care! Slow and steady wins the race to your best face :)


About the author, Naomi Furgiuele
Naomi is the founder of Nuria and a self-professed nerd with a love for all things science and skin care. She’s had a hand in product development for some of the biggest global beauty brands in the business, gets some of her best ideas while out on a run, and loves her exfoliator almost as much as her awesome family.


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