Lactic acid skin care can either exfoliate or hydrate the skin, depending on the formulation, and it happens to be one of the gentlest options around! We’ve searched high and low for the best lactic acid skincare products, and we’ve reviewed them here for you.
In this article:
Our Picks of the Best Lactic Acid Products for Skin
After you dig deeper into lactic acid skin benefits and uses, here you have 20 best lactic acid products to add to your skincare routine!
1. Dermadoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ Healthy Toner with Glycolic & Lactic Acid
This lactic acid toner is no joke. It includes both glycolic and lactic acids to thoroughly exfoliate the skin, along with soothing green tea and skin-tightening lemon peel extract. It’s a formula that is best for those with combination or oily skin, and it is not recommended for anyone with sensitivities. You can pick it up from Sephora.
2. Dermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser
This lactic acid cleanser works to remove all traces of dirt, sweat, makeup, and impurities from the skin while also promoting cell turn-over. It contains a healthy dose of lactic acid, so let it work by taking your time massaging the cleanser into your skin. This gel formula foams up nicely, and is ideal for those with oily and combination skin. Find it for yourself at Nordstrom.
3. EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
It’s rare to see lactic acid in sunscreen formulas, but not unheard of, nor uncalled for. The lactic acid here isn’t enough to exfoliate the skin, but it is certainly enough to keep the skin hydrated. This fabulous sunscreen also includes a blend of mineral and chemical sunscreen ingredients, and some skin-brightening niacinamide. It’s a great sunscreen for all skin types. You can buy it online from Dermstore.
4. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
This brand’s CEO may have been acting weird on social media lately, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that The Ordinary make some of the best active skincare products in extremely affordable formulas. This formidable serum exfoliates with a whopping 10% lactic acid, and also keeps the skin hydrated with considerable amount of hyaluronic acid. This is a strong exfoliant, but it can actually work well with all skin types. It is sold online via Cult Beauty.
5. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
This exceptional face scrub gives a double exfoliation with a mix of lactic acid and gentle silica beads. The beads work from above to dislodge dead skin cells, while the lactic acid works from below to force them to shed. It can be used 2 to 3 times a week, and is a great choice for anyone whose skin can tolerate a physical exfoliation, no matter their skin type. Buy it directly from Nordstrom.
6. PCA Skin Nutrient Toner
This exfoliating toner is one of the best lactic acid products for those with sensitive skin. In addition to a light exfoliation that is appropriate for daily use, this toner also fortifies the skin with a probiotic pumpkin ferment extract that brings hydration and fortifies the skin’s barrier. You can buy it online through Dermstore.
7. Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
2000 reviewers cannot be wrong. The high price tag is totally worth it with this magical exfoliating serum. This perfectly formulated product exfoliates gently while also fortifying the skin with hydrating prickly pear extract and some probiotics. Licorice root extract helps to brighten the skin tone and eliminate hyperpigmentation. This oil-free formula is appropriate for all skin types. It is available for sale at Sephora.
8. REN Glyco Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask
This exfoliating mask treatment can be used on a weekly basis as a pick-me-up that renews the skin. It contains both lactic and glycolic acids for a very thorough exfoliation, as well as skin hydrating and rejuvenating botanicals. It’s a great mask for all skin types, for smoother, clearer skin. It is sold through Sephora.
9. Glytone Rejuvenating Mask
This mask combines clays with lactic and glycolic acids to perfectly purify and resurface clogged and congested skin. This mask is best suited for those with oily skin types, since clay is perfect for that mattifying effect. It also contains vitamin C to fight acne scars, pigmentation, and premature aging. It is available online through Dermstore.
10. Philosophy Hope in a Jar
This moisturizer contains a touch of lactic acid for gentle exfoliation, along with a collection of skin-nourishing and hydrating compounds. It is a non-comedogenic moisturizer that is perfect for those with combination, normal, and oily skin. Do be warned, as some reviewers complain about the scent. Pick it up for yourself at Sephora.
11. GlamGlow SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment
This is a powerful skin-clearing mask that is ideal for those with oily and combination skin. It contains kaolin clay and charcoal to absorb oils and impurities from the skin, and a collection of six acids including lactic acid to give a very thorough exfoliation. This mask helps to tighten the pores, mattify the skin, and eliminate dead skin and congestion. You can buy it directly from Nordstrom.
12. Obagi Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte
This exfoliating moisturizer does not play around. It includes both glycolic and lactic acids, to give a very thorough exfoliation, as well as a touch of glycerin and kalaya oil to moisturize, soothe, and nourish the skin. This option works for all skin types. It is available for online purchase via Dermstore.
13. Dr. Brandt Skincare Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator
This gentle scrub works on two levels to exfoliate the skin physically from above, and to dislodge dead skin cells from below with the help of lactic acid. It’s an anti-aging scrub that can work for all skin types, and it is gentle enough that you can leave it on your skin for a few minutes before rinsing away. Grab it at your next visit to Sephora.
14. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
This is a two-step skin treatment that brightens and exfoliates the skin extremely thoroughly. It’s a great choice for combatting breakouts, acne scars, premature aging, and hyperpigmentation no matter your skin type. The first step is an exfoliating pad with salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids. Step two is an anti-aging and brightening pad loaded with vitamin C and vitamin A. If you’d like to try it, you can find it at Dermstore.
15. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Intensive Peel
This brightening and clarifying lactic acid mask is a great choice for problematic, acne-prone, and oily skin. It contains kaolin clay, charcoal, and silt to absorb excess oil and to fortify the skin with minerals. Salicylic acid helps to unclog the pores and to minimize acne breakouts. Lactic acid ensures that the skin is thoroughly exfoliated. You can purchase it from Sephora.
16. Eminence Organic Skin Care Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer
This skin-soothing moisturizer is perfect for oily, normal, and combination skin. It contains both salicylic and lactic acids, for light exfoliation both inside and outside the pores. It softens the skin with glycerin and yogurt, and soothes redness with willow bark extract and calendula. Buy it online from Dermstore.
17. Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength Exfoliating Mask
This skin-brightening peel is serious business, and is best for weekly use for all skin types. It contains both AHAs and BHAs, including lactic acid, for a very thorough exfoliation, as well as skin-renewing vitamin A and brightening vitamin C. It helps with all kinds of texture issues and imperfections in the skin, and is available for sale at Ulta.
18. Yon-Ka Alpha-Peel
This leave-on peel comes in the form of a gel to help perfectly resurface the skin. It includes 8% AHA from both lactic and glycolic acids, as well as salicylic acid, so you know that this means serious exfoliation. It also contains skin-softening urea and anti-aging botanical extracts. It can work for all skin types except for the very sensitive. Pick it up online through Dermstore.
19. PÜR Eyedentity Firming Eye Cream
Sometimes the skin around the eyes also benefits from gentle exfoliation. This eye cream includes a safe amount of lactic acid along with peptides, ceramides, and vitamins to hydrate, rejuvenate, nourish, and protect the eye area. This is a serious anti-aging product that can work for all skin types. You can find it at Ulta.
20. DHC Renewing AHA Cream
This milky emulsion contains 8% lactic acid for a complete exfoliation that is perfect for dry and normal skin types. It also contains hyaluronic acid for that deep hydration, and can be used with or without a moisturizer. Buy it directly from Dermstore.
How to Choose Lactic Acid Products for Skin?
Almost every skincare product can include lactic acid, from cleansers and toners to serums and moisturizers, to peels, scrubs, and face masks.
- As an exfoliant, lactic acid will be most effective in toners and serums since those tend to be used near the beginning of the skincare routine, and they sit closest to the skin.
- In masks and peels, lactic acid can also be very effective, especially if it is found at a higher percentage than what you would normally use on a daily basis.
- In moisturizers, lactic acid will take longer to penetrate into the skin, especially if serums had been used beforehand. It can make sense to use if you prefer to only use one product or if your skin is sensitive, and you don’t want the lactic acid to penetrate into your skin too quickly. Of course, lactic acid may also show up in non-exfoliating moisturizers, simply as a pH-balancing ingredient or as a humectant.
- Lastly, in cleansers, lactic acid tends to be the least effective. This is because cleansers rarely stay on the skin for long enough to make a difference. Cleansers also tend to have a pH that is higher than 4, so the lactic acid hardly exfoliates. You can leave the cleanser on your skin for a minute or so to get a bit of an exfoliation, but don’t expect much. Cleansers with lactic acid can still be great for keeping the skin feeling moisturized, however, so don’t totally discount them.
Photos via Sephora, Dermstore