Lactic Acid

Lactic Acid

Best used :


Caution: Sensitive skin. Mixing BHAs, retinol, vitamin CBest for: Exfoliation, dry skin, sun damage

Widely prescribed in dermatology

Mode of action:

Chemical exfoliant

Science Score:


What is the science behind lactic acid?

Lactic acid is one of the most prescribed acids used by dermatologists worldwide. Lactic, glycolic, mandelic & citric acids are members of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid group. Lactic acid applied regularly improves the signs of aging. AHAs also stimulate collagen renewal and can firm your skin. The exfoliant properties of AHAs can also address hyperpigmentation (sunspots, melasma & age spots) in addition to improving fine lines & wrinkles.

How often should I use lactic acid on my face?

Low concentration- weaker strength lactic acids can be used daily, while higher strength lactic acids should be limited to one or three times per week as tolerated. If your skin is getting too irritated, red, scaly, angry or dry, it is important to take a break for a few days to allow your skin to recover. 

What skin conditions can lactic acid treat?

  • Pigmentation including melasma*
  • Sunspots including age spots, solar or actinic keratosis
  • Wrinkles & poor skin texture
  • Dry skin including ichthyosis
  • Acne & open-enlarged pores (salicylic acid is better) 

*Melasma patients will benefit from other actives including HQ & pigment inhibitors, laser & t.acid po. 

Davin’s Skin Protip

Lactic acid is one of the most used acids in dermatology. Long before the skin care craze, we have been prescribing lactic acids in concentrations varying from 5 to 20%. A simple compounded formulation is 5% lactic with 10% propylene glycol in sorbelene cream- great as a general exfoliant. 

@cutis_dermatology, lactic is one of our most popular acid peels. One of my favourite peeling agents combines AHAs & BHAs, namely lactic acid at 16% with salicylic acid 16% & resorcinol to form Jessner solution. In summary, lactic acid is an invaluable skin care acid with solid science behind it.  


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