Ask anyone with stunning skin what their secret weapon is, and chances are they’ll mention using products with lactic acid. This ingredient delivers amazing results in a short amount of time. And luckily for skin care lovers, most of our favorite brands have lactic acid infused into their products.
There are a few different acids that are popular in skin care right now: AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs. Lactic acid is part of the AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) family, and it’s a powerful exfoliant that not only reduces acne breakouts, but it also diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging.
We spoke with dermatologist Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo, who gave us a breakdown of what lactic acid is and why we should include it in our skin care routine. She said, “Lactic acid is an AHA, which are acids derived from natural plant substances such as sugar cane, milk, and grapes, which is why they are referred to as fruit acids.”
The higher the percentage of lactic acid in a product, the more intense it is. When combined with soothing ingredients and a balanced pH, the lactic acid isn’t painful. You’ll feel a slight tingle and a bit of a sting. If anything, it should feel satisfying because it means the acid is permeating the skin.
So who should be using lactic acid in their skincare routine? Dr. Imahiyerobo said:
When using chemical exfoliants, it’s imperative to use sunscreen anytime you step outside. AHAs make the skin extremely sensitive to the sun. This will increase signs of aging if you don’t take any precautions. So slather on that sunscreen and pack a hat before you head on out.
Since so many products contain lactic acid, we rounded up 14 of our favorites to get you started on your search.
1Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
Considered the holy grail of skin care, this clarifying, line-smoothing lactic acid treatment has a very high potency. It immediately exfoliates dull, dead skin cells and reveals smoother, fresher, plump skin.
2The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
You can’t beat the price of this product. It combines lactic acid with purified Tasmanian pepperberry to help reduce the inflammation and sensitivity that can come with exfoliation.
3Dermadoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ Healthy Toner with Glycolic & Lactic Acid
Refresh your skin with this rejuvenating toner to reveal a vibrant, healthy complexion.
4GlamGlow SuperMud Activated Charcoal Treatment
Snag this fan-fave, skin-clearing mask that is formulated with six acids to help minimize pores and clear skin.
5Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
Beloved by celebs and beauty lovers alike, this dual-action exfoliator can be used once or twice a week to reveal glowing, radiant skin. Lactic acid and fruit enzymes work together to give you dramatic results.
6Dior Capture Youth Collection
This skin care product is made with vitamin C and AHAs to brighten and even skin tone. The lactic acid helps reduce shine and refine pores.
7Dr. Brandt Skincare Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator
This cult-fave exfoliator softens imperfections and reveals clear, bright skin while diminishing the appearance of fine lines, acne marks, and skin discolorations.
8Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
This highly active cleanser includes a trio of exfoliating acids and jojoba beads to revitalize skin daily.
9Ren Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
Get your daily dose of clean bioactive extracts to exfoliate and balance your skin naturally.
10Tata Harper Clarifying Mask
Treat yourself to this complexion-clearing treatment made with AHA superfruits and quartz sand micro-crystals – how luxurious!
11Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
Get a salon-quality facial with this powerful peel that includes 25% AHA and 2% BHA. It has a blend of glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and salicylic acids. Use it once or twice a week to enjoy that famous baby-soft skin.
12OleHenriksen Invigorating Night Transformation Gel
This anti-aging serum with potent AHAs gives you an even tone and smooth texture.
13Skyn Iceland Nordic Skin Peel with Alpha-Beta Complex
These double-duty pads exfoliate flaky skin, clean dirt and oil, and diminish fine lines without irritation, thanks to an infusion of calming emollients.
14Aesop Parsley Seed Cleanser
Your face will feel insanely fresh and clean thanks to this clarifying facial cleanser. It removes surface impurities and offers a mild exfoliation.