Sodium lactate is an active ingredient in Divi’s Scalp Serum, Shampoo & Conditioner. This multifunctional salt has an impressive range of therapeutic benefits. It's also, perhaps unfairly, one of the most frequently overlooked ingredients listed on personal care products.
Those familiar with sodium lactate probably know it best for its moisturizing properties. Sodium lactate's intense hydrating power is why you'll find it in lotions, creams, body wash, and specialized soaps to manage dry skin conditions.
Skin hydration is not the only benefit this dermal moisturizing hero offers. It works harmoniously with amino acids, essential oils and other ingredients in hair and scalp care formulations to promote scalp health and strong, lustrous hair.
What is Sodium Lactate?
Sodium lactate is a sodium salt of lactic acid – one of the alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) forming part of the human body's Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF), produced by the body to keep skin hydrated, healthy and supple.
As an endogenous substance – a chemical occurring naturally in human skin and all human and animal muscle tissue – sodium lactate has high bioavailability. This means the human body more easily utilizes it than non-endogenous substances.
How is Sodium Lactate Made?
The sodium lactate liquid found in body wash, skincare products, and other formulations like serums, shampoo, and conditioners is produced in a lab from naturally derived ingredients. The simple process begins with the fermentation of sugars found in corn syrup or beets. This produces lactic acid, which is then neutralized to form sodium lactate.
It's most often described as a colorless or slightly yellow syrup with a subtly saline flavor, though we wouldn't recommend tasting your hair products to find out if this is true! Powdered sodium lactate and sodium lactate liquid are safe and readily available online. They're popularly used in artisanal cold process soaps and homemade soap to extend shelf life and create a creamy, moisturizing texture.
What Does Sodium Lactate Do Exactly?
It's helpful to know what sodium lactate is and where it comes from, but the most pressing question on everyone's mind is this: What does it do, and how does it benefit your scalp?
Natural Humectant Keeping Skin Hydrated
Sodium lactate is what's known as a natural humectant, which is a substance that draws moisture into itself and retains it. Humectants are effective skin and scalp moisturizers. Their molecular structure allows for easy binding with water molecules. When applied topically in Divi’s Scalp Serum, sodium lactate can significantly increase the moisture content of the scalp and hair shaft if it's porous enough for water to penetrate.
Sodium lactate is an especially potent humectant and a superior moisturizer. Its ability to increase moisture content in the skin's surface is more than twice as powerful as that of glycerin and second only to hyaluronic acid, which our Scalp Serum also contains. It's clinically proven to increase surface skin hydration by as much as 84%.
Sodium lactate's hydrating effects are most potent when used alongside other great humectant ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and sodium PCA. You'll often find a combination of these ingredients in some of the best hydration-promoting hair serums and leave-in products. However, one of its most exciting attributes is its ability to improve hair and skin hydration even when briefly applied as part of a cleanser, shampoo or "wash-off" conditioner.
Keratolytic Agent to Exfoliate Dry Skin
Keratolytic agents can exfoliate dry skin and remove chemical residue on the hair and scalp. Sodium lactate has a mild keratolytic action and is often used alongside keratolytic ingredients, like alpha hydroxy acids.
Buffering Agent to Balance pH
Sodium lactate supports skincare and cosmetics formulations as a buffering agent, which is a substance that maintains a stable pH. This has the beneficial effect of promoting healthy pH levels in the skin and scalp. Both skin and scalp have an ideal pH of around 5.5 (slightly acidic), yet most personal care products are alkaline (pH 7.5 or above).
Effective Preservative and Bacteriostatic Agent
Sodium lactate is a mild preservative and is often used alongside other full-spectrum preservative ingredients to maximize the shelf life of your favorite personal care products. It's also a bacteriostatic agent used to preserve good bacteria and maintain the ideal skin microbiome.
Can Sodium Lactate Help With Hair Growth?
The short (if incredibly tentative) answer is yes. Sodium lactate could promote hair growth. However, it doesn't directly affect hair thickness or growth. It improves your scalp, which is the environment where hair can grow. A better scalp is better for hair growth, so sodium lactate can promote hair growth in a second-degree way.
Supporting Hair Growth by Promoting Scalp Health
If sodium lactate were to support hair growth, it would only do so indirectly as a tiny part of broader nutrition and hair care regimen designed to promote hair health and total physical health. Furthermore, such a regimen would only facilitate better hair growth if poor health were in some way responsible for limited hair growth in the first place.
Sodium lactate can contribute to maintaining proper hair follicle function, a healthy scalp, and strong hair via several mechanisms. As such, it's a fantastic addition to any formulation in your care routine.
Boosting Blood Circulation
Sodium lactate's hydrating effects can positively impact blood circulation in the scalp. Proper blood circulation to the scalp is essential to hair health. Without it, hair follicles may not get an adequate supply of the nutrients necessary to build new hair or the oxygen required to function. In this way, sodium lactate may stimulate hair growth and improve new hair strength in people who suffer from limited hair growth due to poor circulation.
Improving Hair Quality
Sodium lactate helps improve hair quality as part of a well-rounded scalp care routine. Keeping the scalp hydrated can contribute to the normal production of the body's Natural Moisturizing Factor. This, in turn, promotes hair follicle health and can improve the quality of new hair as it grows.
Removing Chemical Residue
The build-up of chemicals on the outer surface of the hair shaft can interfere with moisture absorption. Over time, this can lead to hair becoming lackluster and brittle. Products containing sodium lactate can help improve strength, shine and elasticity in existing hair – mainly when the formula also includes stronger keratolytic agents.
Reducing Hair Breakage
Sodium lactate doesn't make hair grow faster or thicker – no single ingredient or product can. However, formulations containing this salt can sometimes create the illusion of hair growing faster by limiting any breakage-hindered length.
Other Therapeutic Application for Sodium Lactate
People who suffer from any of the following dry or inflammatory scalp conditions may find sodium lactate helps manage or reduce their symptoms as part of a complete therapeutic routine.
Dry, Itchy Scalp
Thanks to its intense hydrating action, this sodium salt can help treat dry scalp conditions, especially when used alongside other moisturizing ingredients, like sodium hyaluronate.
Sodium lactate can also soothe irritated and sensitive scalps by promoting a healthy pH balance and restoring moisture. In this respect, serums containing sodium lactate can be helpful in the treatment of scalp irritation, where a primary cause is an exposure to environmental chemicals.
The moisturizing and soothing properties of sodium lactate make it a popular ingredient in serums and creams used to treat psoriasis. However, where inflammatory skin conditions are concerned, its potential therapeutic benefits don't end here.
Several studies show how sodium lactate may serve as a mild anti-inflammatory agent. This suggests sodium lactate could play a part in limiting or calming flare-ups in people with psoriasis and other inflammatory scalp conditions. Any anti-inflammatory action sodium lactate exhibits is likely most powerful when used alongside other potent anti-inflammatory ingredients, like eucalyptus oil and rosemary leaf extract. As a mildly keratolytic substance, sodium lactate may also improve the symptoms of psoriasis by gently removing plaques and rough skin on the scalp.
Sodium lactate may help treat flare-ups associated with seborrheic dermatitis or eczema of the scalp when applied in conjunction with other soothing, moisture-promoting ingredients. The irritation associated with dry, inflammatory scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis can cause people to repeatedly scratch affected areas of the scalp, leading to hair follicle damage, thinning hair and further irritation. For this reason, sodium lactate may be most helpful in combating this condition when included in formulations alongside calming ingredients, like peppermint oil.
Dandruff (flaky scalp) is a common symptom of dry scalp conditions like psoriasis and eczema. It's also quite frequently caused by factors like overuse of styling products and other environmental exposures that can lead to a build-up of irritating chemicals on the scalp. People who struggle with dandruff may find that products containing sodium lactate reduce dryness and flaking by improving scalp hydration. Its mild keratolytic function could help remove the chemical build-up and product residue causing irritation and dandruff.
Is Sodium Lactate Safe to Use Topically?
Sodium lactate is non-toxic and safe for most people to use in a topical serum, shampoo or conditioner. Sodium lactate is so safe that it's frequently used as a preservative and acidity regulator in many food products. Though essentially harmless, sodium lactate can increase sun sensitivity when applied regularly to the skin in high concentrations.
Is It Suitable for Vegans to Use?
Despite its name, sodium lactate has no chemical similarity to lactose or other dairy derivatives. It is not derived from animals or animal by-products. This means it's suitable for vegans and people who wish to avoid dairy.
Divi’s Scalp Serum, Shampoo & Conditioner – all of which contain this sodium salt ingredient – are cruelty-free, which means none of the ingredients in these products are tested on animals.
Who Can Sodium Lactate Help?
As an all-around superstar moisturizing ingredient with soothing and balancing properties, sodium lactate is considered suitable for use by people of all skin and hair types. If you're thinking about trying personal care products with sodium lactate, it's essential to check the rest of the ingredients list for potential allergens or irritants. However, sodium lactate won’t be the cause of those allergies or irritations.
Should I Seek Professional Advice Before Using Sodium Lactate for Scalp Health
Sodium lactate has shown no indication thus far of causing skin irritation or allergic reactions during chemical testing and should be safe for use by people of all skin types. However, it's still advisable to perform a patch test with any sodium lactate-containing products or to seek advice from your dermatologist (skin doctor) if you have any concerns.
We advise starting with Divi’s Scalp Serum to help soothe your scalp and get improved blood circulation to the scalp, which improves hair follicles and promotes a habitat for healthy hair growth. Then, look into Divi’s Shampoo & Conditioner bundle for more scalp and hair care essentials.