Cleopatra was known to have bathed daily in asses’ Milk as part of her beauty regimen.  Was this an extravagance when clean water would do? No, it wasn’t a waste- Cleopatra’s Milk baths contained many skin beneficial properties, and are touted as the secret to the radiant skin she is renowned for. AmLactin (generic: ammonium lactate), a brand name moisturizing cream, claims it is “serious care for softer skin”.  It has a seriously high concentration (above 10%) of lactic acid,  a chemical derivative of milk (not necessarily from a donkey).

Lactic acid is the gentlest of the naturally occurring alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA’s) which are commonly used in cosmeceutical applications to “keratinize” skin. As new cells push their way up to the very top layer of the skin, older, dead cells fall away, leaving fresh, smooth skin. AHA’s are clinically proven to increase the occurrence of the cell turnover process which has a rather profound effect on the softness and smoothness of skin. Moreover, lactic acid is highly hydroscopic which imbues it with the ability to attract and hold water. It is one of the most powerful skin humectants.

Previously available by prescription only, the AmLactin brand is available in Rx strength over the counter (OTC) and can be found at most drugstores. A 12% concentration of lactic acid, neutralized with ammonium hydroxide, and a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 is found in the AmLactin fragrance free body lotion ($19). In order for a substance to penetrate skin, the pH must be lower than the skin’s pH which is approximately 5.5.
There is also a foot cream ($9.59) which appears to be identical in formulation to the AmLactin XL (ULTRAPLREX) Moisturizing Lotion. The concentration of lactic acid is not listed for the foot cream or the XL lotion. A bit of digging revealed that the XL formulation is a proprietary blend of lactic acid with potassium and sodium lactate; both are salt derivatives of lactic acid commonly used to prevent spoilage of meat due to the salts’ antimicrobial properties. I imagine this is useful in avoiding fungal infections of the foot.

Based on TIA’s reader comments and the positive reviews on sites like Drugstore.com, AmLactin is highly recommended for moisturizing and softening skin. I can attest to the effectiveness of AmLactin XL ($28.79)from personal use.  As a New Yorker, I tend to walk everywhere and the mileage can really take a toll on the feet. By the end of any given day, the bottoms of my feet usually have dry patches and feel like sandpaper, especially on the soles and heels. I’ve always had dry skin and returning to the arid climate of a NY apartment doesn’t help. I apply AmLactin all over my feet after showering and usually put socks on overnight. By morning, the bottoms of my feet are exfoliated and baby smooth – often smoother than when I get a pedicure! I generally use AmLactin XL every few nights and sometimes I need to use it every night. I also like to apply it on my arms and legs in winter when I alternate AmLactin body Lotion with Vaseline Sheer Infusion with Stratys-3. AmLactin is a powerful exfoliator so I would not advise applying it post shaving or on broken skin!

Generic ammonium lactate is generally used to treat mild to severe forms of dry, scaly skin and is often prescribed to manage keratosis pilaris (KP). KP is a condition that causes little red bumps on the skin with no known cause or cure. The reviews are generally mixed on the effectiveness of AmLactin for KP.

Other ingredients in AmLactin formulations include light mineral oil, white petrolatum and methylparaben. I don’t love these ingredients but am willing to overlook them due to the efficacy of the product. The stuff just works!

If you’d like the soft, smooth skin of a Pharaoh with a decent price tag, there are coupons available on the AmLactin website.