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.
Like glycolic acid, it’s an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), however, it’s far more moisturising to the skin than glycolic, and less likely to cause irritation. It’s therefore an excellent choice for more sensitive complexions when it comes to acid exfoliants.
Naturally present in milk, lactic acid has a larger structure than glycolic acid, and doesn’t affect the thickness of your skin (not that that means you can skip using your best SPF moisturiser in the morning).
Unlike salicylic acid, beta-hydroxy acid that penetrates deep into your pores, AHA sloughs off dead skin cells leaving a more radiant, smooth complexion underneath.
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 enirched with AHA exfoliating prowess; for example, Sunday Riley’s Good Genes serum can be left on overnight to smooth out the skin, or a thicker layer can be applied as a 10-15 minute wash-off treatment.
Similarly, lactic acid cream gently resurfaces 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
A lactic-acid enriched serum that gets to work on skin damaged caused by the sun, pollution and ageing, this serum is a super treatment for a complexion that turns back the clock on your face. With Jourdan Dunn, Helen Mirren and Stella McCartney reportedly big fans, you know it's good.
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.