By Shannon R., SELF magazine
Yogurt is one of SELF's favorite superfoods--you can eat it any time of day and it's loaded with good-for-you nutrients like calcium and protein, as well as healthy bacteria for a happier tummy. But should you add it to your skin care routine as an exfoliator?
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Does yogurt exfoliate?
Technically, yes. The pH of yogurt is about 4.5 which IS low enough for it to be effective as an exfoliant. However, yogurt only contains about 0.9% available acid after fermentation. Even if we assume that ALL the acid in yogurt is in the form of lactic acid (a common alpha hydroxy acid) that's still a very low concentration for an active exfoliant.
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How much lactic acid do you need to exfoliate?
The level of AHAs used in skin care products varies depending on the intended effect. AHAs act as a chemical exfoliant (different than scrubs that use beads to slough away dead skin cells), which break down the keratin protein (outer layer of your skin) resulting in smoother skin. Regular "over-the-counter" exfoliating products contain anywhere from 5 to 10% AHAs. Products formulated for professional application, like chemical peels, contain much higher levels (as high as 70% for products administered by doctors!). Obviously, the higher the level of AHAs, the more of an exfoliating benefit you will receive. As you can see, the amount of lactic acid in yogurt is only a fraction of what is needed for effective exfoliation.
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It certainly won't hurt to use yogurt on your face but it's not an effective substitute for a skin care product containing up to 10 times as much lactic acid. if you are searching for a natural exfoliant, you may want to give buttermilk a try. Buttermilk contains between 3-4% lactic acid which is much higher than levels found in yogurt. It's still not as high as the levels found in AHA products, but you may see some benefit. Unfortunately, I find buttermilk to be a bit stinky and the consistency is runny which makes it difficult to apply. However, it is an option that may work for you!