When it comes to skincare, not all acid exfoliators are equal
Like many other chemical exfoliants, lactic acid is an increasingly popular skincare ingredient in many a beauty lover’s regime.
Not that well-versed in this AHAs magical skincare powers, though? Here’s everything you need to know about it, and whether it’s right for your skin type.
What is lactic acid?
‘Lactic acid is one of the larger molecules of the alpha-hydroxy acid family, water-soluable like glycolic acid, but stays more on the outer layers of the skin,’ explains The Inkey List co-founder Mark Curry. ‘Our lactic acid acid comes from milk and fruit sugars.
‘Staying on the outer layers of the skin, it un-glues dead cells to reveal brighter, more even skin, as well as provide additional moisture to the outer skin layers.
‘It suits all skin types who want brighter, more even and hydrated skin. This should be one of the first exfoliating acid people go to if they are more sensitive or cautious about exfoliating.’
Lactic acid peel
Max-strength chemical peels are performed by a professional, but it’s possible to buy slightly weaker AHA peels you can perform in the comfort of your own home. Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Treatment, for example, is a mega-tingling formula that sloughs all the dead skin cells from your face, leaving you positively glowing.
Don’t fancy the fuss of applying a peel and sitting around waiting for it to do its thing? Peel pads, like those made by Skyn Iceland are an easy way to exfoliate fuss-free both morning and night.
Lactic acid serum and cream
These are leave-on formulas enriched with AHA exfoliating prowess and can be left on overnight to smooth out the skin, or applied as a 10-15 minute wash-off treatment, depending on the instructions on the bottle.
Similarly, creams gently resurface the skin while you moisturise for a smoother finish to your complexion over time. If you have sensitive skin, higher concentrations of lactic acid may still cause your skin to become irritated, so always do a product patch test beforehand.
Keep scrolling for team Marie Claire‘s top five favourite lactic acid skincare products you can shop now. Happy peeling!
Exfoliating and moisturising, this powerful little bottle works wonders on your complexion, loosening the bonds between dead skin cells for a better overall tone and texture.
With a scent just like the smell of freshly squeezed oranges, this lactic and azelaic acid tonic is gentle enough to use every day, morning and night.
Dubbed the '2-minute Hollywood glow', Exfolikate is a seriously strong treatment that you definitely feel getting to work on your skin. Leave on for a couple of minutes and rinse with warm water to give your face a brighter, smoother finish. It's a real quick fix for better looking skin in a flash.
Oskia's best selling Renaissance Mask combines fruit acids and aromatic rose and chamomile extract to brighten the complexion and even out skin's tone and texture – and boy does it work. Massage into the skin and it'll turn from pink to white so you know when it's been activated. Use when your skin needs perking up and you want to blur enlarged pores a little.
Skyn Iceland's peel pads are an easy and convenient way to give your skin a daily dose of lactic. Each pad is soaked with just the right amount of product for a gentle yet effective exfoliation post-cleansing.
This skin clearing treatment from super-clean skincare guru Tata Harper is packed with both lactic acid and a fruit enzyme cocktail, as well as salicylic acid to help decongest pores. It also soothes inflammation and calms skin that's prone to redness.