An ingredient that has made a niche for itself in the anti-aging category is lactic acid. You must have come across lactic acid products in the cosmetic sections of departmental stores. If not, you must have at least heard of it. But while you may think otherwise, lactic acid isn’t a modern-day phenomenon. Its use dates back to ancient Egypt. As per historical records, Cleopatra bathed in sour milk to keep her skin youthful. But is lactic acid good for skin, and what does lactic acid do for skin? This blog will cover all that and more. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

What is Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is a common ingredient in OTC skincare products. A light peeling agent, it is one of the most famous alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). AHAs are water-soluble organic compounds that offer various benefits for the skin. Individuals use lactic acid to soften and beautify their skin globally. Besides, many professionals use lactic acids for treatments and peels. Also, did you know that lactic acid is also found naturally in dairy products? In fact, it is what gives soured milk and yogurt that distinctive tang. According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, most lactic acid is produced by fermentation using beet sugar or cornstarch. Thus, some products containing this ingredient may be suitable for vegans.

What are the Benefits of Lactic Acid?

Read on to learn about lactic acid for skin benefits and what is lactic acid used for on skin.

1. Removes Dead Skin Cells

It helps to remove ded skin cells from your skin’s surface by acting as an impeccable exfoliator. Thus, it reveals a layer of skin with a more even skin tone.

2. Battles Signs of Aging

Lactic acid for skin helps diminish signs of aging like wrinkles by stimulating the renewal of collagen, a fiber that keeps your skin firm. Moreover, it facilitates the fading of sunspots and smoothes fine lines.

3. May Treat Bumpy Skin

It helps to dissolve the plug of chicken bumps, a skin condition that occurs on the arms and legs. While chicken bumps (keratosis pilaris) are generally harmless, the condition is often bothersome. Applying a lactic acid lotion can help treat this condition.

4. Helps Treat Acne

One of the key lactic acid benefits is treating acne. This AHA exfoliant treats acne by exfoliating dead skin cells that clog pores and trigger breakouts.

How To Use Lactic Acid Safely?

Lactic acid is the gentlest of AHAs. That is why most people can use it without any problem. It is a versatile ingredient present in various products, including cleansers, exfoliators, serums, facial treatments, and body scrubs. While it is safe to use, following these instructions ensures the best outcome. Wondering how to use lactic acid for face safely? We’ve got you covered.

Tips & Tricks

1. Go Slow

Lactic acid for face can irritate your skin if its concentration in the product is too high. Thus, it’s helpful to conduct a patch test and start with a lower concentration before moving to potent items. For using lactic acid for the skin, it’s vital to go slow. Here’s how you can conduct a patch test:
  • Apply the product to a test spot like your elbow or behind ear.
  • Do this twice a day for a week.
  • Leave the product on for as long as the product information suggests.
  • If you don’t experience any irritation or inflammation, continue using the product.

2. Layer on a Moisturizer

Never forget to apply a moisturizer after using lactic acid for skin products. It helps calm your skin and forms a physical barrier over the outer layers. It’d ensure that your skin remains protected from any free radicals.

3. Say Yes To SPF

Lactic acid, like other AHAs, increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. As a result, it becomes vital to wear sunscreen. Whether indoors or outdoors, wear an SPF 30+ after using lactic acid for face products. If not, you might undo the lactic acid benefits.

Products Through Which You Can Incorporate Lactic Acid in Your Skincare Routine?

Wondering what are the lactic acid uses and how to include lactic acid in your skincare routine? We’ve got you covered. Here are a few lactic acid for face products you can consider. Choose the one you feel comfortable using.


A face wash containing lactic acid is easy to include in your skincare routine. You can use it like a regular cleanser. Beneficial for acne-prone skin, it is an effective way of reaping the benefits of lactic acid without taking much of your time. However, avoid the areas around the eyes, as a lactic acid facewash might irritate your skin, leaving it flaky and dry. But as you wouldn’t leave it on for long, the chance for irritation is limited.


Serums typically deliver a more potent shot of active ingredients to the skin than their counterparts. They are meant for daily night application after cleansing and before moisturizing. If your skin gets irritated, scale back to using a serum twice per week. Lactic acid serum benefits include the elimination of dead skin cells and moisturization.

Creams or Lotions

Leave-on treatments are the best if you plan to use lactic acid for face to brighten the skin and gives an even tone. If you wish to use lactic acid in the long run, your best bet for these is creams or lotions. To minimize sun damage, try using these at night. And in addition to it if you use hyaluronic acid face serum it will be beneficial to keep dryness in check.


Lactic acid masks or peels give you an effective dose of exfoliation and make your skin smoother. In addition, they help with skin rejuvenation and refine skin texture. Experts recommend using such masks once a week or as needed. Generally, these products are stronger (higher in lactic acid concentration) than their counterparts.

When To Use Lactic Acid

You can incorporate a lactic acid for skin product in your skincare routine on alternate days in a week to avoid skin irritation. It’d help you treat your skin with hydrating ingredients.

What Can I Pair with Lactic Acid for Better Results?

To get better results from a lactic acid for skin product, pair it with a potent moisturizer that suits your skin type. It will hydrate and soothe your skin. Besides, use an SPF of 30+ to protect yourself from harmful sun rays.

Anything I Shouldn’t Pair With Lactic Acid?

While using products with AHA ingredients like lactic acid for skin care, you should avoid pairing them with vitamin C. That is because the latter is also an acid. So, the pH level might get thrown off by layering these ingredients together and they might be useless. Also you should avoid pairing retinol & lactic acid together.

Precautions To Take While Using Lactic Acid for Face?

There are various side effects of lactic acid. Thus, it’s essential to take precautions while using lactic acid for skin care products. Read on to understand some essential precautions that can help you.
  • Do not use lactic acid for face on irritated or red skin.
  • Never use it in excess, as that can lead to inflammation.
  • Always do a patch test to see if it suits your skin type.
  • It is vital to wear sunscreen after using a lactic acid product.
  • Start with a low concentration product of 5% to 10%. If it suits your skin, you can work up to 20 to 30%.
  • Avoid mixing lactic acid for face products with other products that contain AHAs, BHAs, or retinol at the same time of application.

Lactic Acid vs Salicylic Acid

While lactic acid for skin care belongs to the AHA family, there’s another class of products called beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). As of today, the most commonly used BHA in the cosmetics category is salicylic acid. While it works in a manner similar to that of lactic acid, salicylic acid has a lower chance of irritating your skin. Unlike lactic acid, it is oil-soluble and can penetrate the pore line to remove dead skin cells. Thus, salicylic acid might be a superior exfoliator. However, it’s not suitable for every skin type. While salicylic acid is better for oily skin, acne, and blackhead concerns, lactic acid for face care is better suited for treating hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. That said, both of them are potent options for improving damaged skin. Pro tip: Use salicylic acid serum with niacinmaide if you if open pores is the concern that you want to resolve FAQs

Is lactic acid good for the face?

Yes, it is. Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (a chemical compound used in skincare products) that helps eliminate accumulated dead skin cells on the top skin layer. Besides, it increases cell turnover and makes the skin firmer. As a result, it helps to decrease fine lines and deep wrinkles on your face.

Can I use lactic acid on my face every day?

Even though lactic acid for face care is a milder AHA exfoliant, you shouldn’t use it daily, as you’d risk over-exfoliating your skin and messing up its natural barrier. Consider using a lactic acid product thrice a week or as recommended by your doctor.

Can lactic acid remove dark spots?

Yes, it can. Lactic acid for skin is an exfoliant that removes the top layer of dead skin cells to reduce dark spots and cleanse pores. Besides, it smoothes fine lines and improves skin texture.

Will lactic acid lighten skin?

You’ll notice a brighter and smoother complexion every time you use a lactic acid product. This AHA exfoliant in the form of a mask and peel is ideal for skin lightening. It might take four to six consistent applications over the course of 45 days for you to see visible changes.

Should I moisturize after lactic acid?

Applying a moisturizer after using lactic acid for face products is a great idea. It helps soothe your skin and hydrates it.

How long do you leave lactic acid on your face?

It depends on the product that you’re using. While a lactic acid face cleanser would be washed off immediately, a peel or mask shouldn’t be kept on for more than 15 minutes. Conversely, lactic acid serums or lotions are leave-on products, and you should not wash them off.

Should I leave lactic acid serum overnight?

Yes, you can. Such serums are leave-on products. So there’s no risk associated with leaving them on overnight.