Whenever you look for a gentle exfoliator to slough away those dead skin cells and reveal a radiant and even complexion, lactic acid serums are always the best option. They’re taking the first spot in many people’s routines since lactic acid shares the same exfoliating effects of other acids while it’s less irritating or drying. For this reason, those with dry or sensitive skin often prefer a lactic acid serum over a glycolic acid one. And also because lactic acid is such a fantastic skincare multitasker that could be used to fight most skin concerns, including wrinkles, dark spots, and acne. Now, if you are looking for the best lactic acid serums to keep your skin flawless and healthy, this article is for you.
But first, to quench your thirst for knowledge, here’s what you need to know about lactic acid to get the most from your serum.
- Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment
- Biossance Lactic Acid Night Serum
- StriVectin Advanced Retinol Smoothing Face Serum
- Tata Harper Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum
- The INKEY List Lactic Acid Serum
- Skinceuticals C+AHA Exfoliating
- Paula’s Choice RESIST 10% AHA Serum
- Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum with Lactic Acid
- Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum
- Perricone MD Deep Crease Serum
- Osmosis Skincare Antioxidant Infusion Serum
- Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Treatment
- ELEMIS Lactic Acid Peel
- The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
What is lactic acid?
Lactic acid is part of the alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) family. Like other AHAs, lactic acid’s main role in skincare is to increases cell turnover and slough off dead cells from the outer skin layer, which comes with many benefits. As new healthy cells replace old ones, skin becomes thicker, firmer, and brighter. Besides exfoliating, lactic acid also acts as a humectant — it draws moisture into the skin — and helps consolidate the skin’s protective barrier by increasing levels of ceramides. Compared with other acids, lactic acid is more gentle as it has the largest molecular size, meaning it can’t penetrate the skin deeper enough to trigger irritations.
Lactic acid serums benefits
There’s no denying that lactic acid has multiple benefits for your skin. Plus, it’s so gentle that almost anyone can use it, which makes a lactic acid serum even more appealing. Generally speaking, the best lactic acid serums aim to exfoliate the skin and stimulate cell renewal. Thus, they are usually used to improve skin texture, reduce aging signs, fade hyperpigmentation, and maintain skin plump and youthful.
Besides, as lactic acid is skin-friendly, it’s compatible with powerful ingredients such as other AHAs, retinol, niacinamide, or vitamin C. In fact, a lactic acid serum usually contains supporting ingredients like the aforementioned ones to deliver even more benefits. For sensitive or dry skin, lactic acid may as well be used with skin-identical ingredients like squalane, hyaluronic acid, or ceramides for a softer exfoliation that still delivers a smoother and brightener complexion.
Just so you know, lactic acid works best in serums since serums are formulated to penetrate further into the skin, allowing lactic acid to operate more effectively.
Are lactic acid serums safe?
Overall, lactic acid is suitable for all skin types and considered safe for daily use when used in the right concentrations (less than <10%). Besides, because it’s gentle and moisturizing, lactic acid is beginner-friendly and easily tolerable. But like any other AHAs, lactic acid can cause irritations too. Although it’s less unlikely, you may risk over-exfoliating your skin by overusing your lactic acid serum.
How to use lactic acid serums?
To be on the risk-free side, start using your lactic acid serum once in two or three days. If you feel your skin is not drying or irritating, go for daily use. Always use a moisturizer after your serum with lactic acid to reduce the dryness caused by exfoliation.
Nevertheless, AHAs, including lactic acid, increase skin sensitivity to the sun, so make sure you apply sunscreen whenever you go out.
The best lactic acid serums
Whether you want to fight wrinkles, dark spots, breakouts, or hyperpigmentation, below you’ll find the best lactic acid serums that’ll do just that. Plus, they’ll soften, brighten, and revitalize your skin!
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment
This is for sure one of the best lactic acid serums targeting skin brightening, dullness, dark spots, and wrinkles appearance. Sunday Riley Good Genes contains purified-grade lactic acid to eliminate dead cells, revealing a glowing and clear complexion, while licorice and lemongrass brighten the appearance of dark spots, improving skin texture. At the same time, it maintains the skin hydrated and softened with a botanical blend of plant extracts and squalane, which also help prevent and alleviate irritations. Not to mention, it’s great for all skin types and free of most less skin-friendly ingredients such as parabens, SLS, drying alcohol, and synthetic fragrance.
Biossance Lactic Acid Night Serum
For a clean night serum with lactic acid, pick this one. Biossance Resurfacing Serum comes with a simple formula that all skin types can use, and it does wonders at skin brightening and diminishing wrinkles. Not only it contains 10% lactic acid for a deep and powerful exfoliation, but it also has squalane and red clover, both known to improve skin hydration, increase thickness, and reduce irritations. Since nothing in this serum can dry out your skin, it’s a perfect choice for anyone lacking moisture or with sensitive skin.
StriVectin Advanced Retinol Smoothing Face Serum
An all-in-one solution, this serum with lactic acid soothes fine lines and wrinkles, evens out skin tone, and reduces pores look without drying the skin or causing irritations. It works gently yet very effectively, as it combines the exfoliant power of lactic acid and retinol with relieving and soothing ingredients like ceramide, ginger extract, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. That way, it speeds up cell turnover and enhances skin firmness while keeping the skin moisturized and plumped. Although it’s a bit pricey, worths every penny!
Tata Harper Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum
Tata Harper is your best bet if you are looking for a natural serum with lactic acid. Here’s one made with 22 botanical ingredients, from which nine are antioxidants, five are soothing, plus lactic acid, and willow bark extract, a natural source of salicylic acid. This serum literally got everything your skin needs to stay glow and radiant. Lactic and salicylic acids exfoliate the skin and promote its thickness, while antioxidants keep it protected. On top of that, soothing ingredients like squalane, glycerin, and Calendula extract increase skin moisture and relieve irritations. No wonder it’s a Tata Harper best-seller product.
The INKEY List Lactic Acid Serum
Lactic acid is the main star in this budget-friendly serum designed to help skin appear brighter and more even-looking. It provides mild exfoliation, tolerable by most skin types, with 10% lactic acid, picking out dullness and uneven skin texture. Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and castor oil are added to soothe and hydrate the skin, relieving irritations that may be caused by lactic acid. There’s no much to say about this serum since its ingredients list is so tiny — meaning it’s clean and simple but very effective.
Skinceuticals C+AHA Exfoliating
Skinceuticals combine 10% pure vitamin C and 15% AHAs in one of the best lactic acid treatments. Its antioxidant-rich formula increases the skin defense against sun damage for up to four days, preventing photoaging and skin discoloration. In the meantime, glycolic and lactic acids clear up the skin of dead cells, remove excess oil and unclog pores, which will lead to a healthier and brighter complexion. Due to its high concentrations of active ingredients, this serum works really great for aging signs, oily skin, and acne yet may feel too harsh on sensitive skin.
Paula’s Choice RESIST 10% AHA Serum
It’s hard to say no to Paula’s Choice AHA Serum when it has such a powerful formula that is still tolerable by most. It’s that product where glycolic, lactic, malic, tartaric, and salicylic acids all meet to get your skin to its best version ever. This high-concentrated exfoliating cocktail soothes away every skin imperfection you may have, from wrinkles, dark spots, sun damage to breakouts and oily skin. And it’s unlikely to cause irritations since it also contains plenty of skin-loving ingredients, including ceramide, licorice root, green tea extract, and peptides. If you haven’t found that exfoliating serum your sensitive skin can handle, this is it.
Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum with Lactic Acid
Loaded with lactic acid and two sources of vitamin C, this serum fights dullness and uneven texture, fine lines, and loss of elasticity. Dermalogica Biolumin-C also aids in reducing dark spots through the exfoliating properties of lactic acid. And since it has peptide, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid, it gives the skin the dose of hydration it needs so it won’t ever dehydrate or irritate.
Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum
Another best serum with lactic acid comes from Drunk Elephant. It fortifies and supports skin thickness and firmness with a powerful formula that mixes peptides, amino acids, and 10% lactic acid. More precisely, with high-concentrated lactic acid, this serum repairs skin texture and targets dullness, while a blend of 11 peptides, squalane, and green tea extract strengthens the skin barrier and returns that glowing complexion.
Perricone MD Deep Crease Serum
This lactic acid-infused serum is best at addressing wrinkles, creases, and saggy skin, as well as maintaining suppleness and firmness. The reason Perricone MD’s serum is among our favorites is its formula. First of all, it uses three peptides and squalane to support the skin’s moisture barrier, making the skin appear smoother while reducing the chances of wrinkle formation. Then, lactic acid offers a gentle exfoliation to restore skin health. And finally, flax, chia, and macadamia seed oils, which are rich in vitamin F, help calm irritations and regulate excessive water loss. Give this serum a shot if you want to get rid of those aging signs but can’t tolerate harsh products.
Osmosis Skincare Antioxidant Infusion Serum
With niacinamide and lactic acid on top of the ingredient list, this serum will do a great job at replenishing and revitalizing dull and rough skin. Lactic acid and niacinamide are among the best pair for skin brightening and hyperpigmentation. The first one removes pigmented cells, and the last regulates melanins levels, the pigment that darkens the skin. These two powerhouses are supported by seven antioxidants, including green tea and vitamin E, to increase skin protection against free radicals while promoting collagen production. Soothing ingredients like honeysuckle extract, peptides, and glycerin are also added to relieve dryness. As the skin exfoliates, hydrates, and collagen levels increase, wrinkles will appear less prominent.
Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Treatment
Let this serum work overnight to enjoy a smoother, brighter, and wrinkle-free complexion. It contains anything you’d want from an anti-aging and dark spot treatment. First, it has ferulic acid, an antioxidant that works to boost the effects of other antioxidants. And guess what? Dr. Dennis Gross’ Wrinkle Serum is full of antioxidants like retinol, niacinamide, vitamin E, green tea, and gallic acid. Besides acting as an antioxidant, retinol also stimulates cell renewal and promotes thicker skin, helped by lactic and glycolic acids. In addition to these anti-agers, the treatment includes bakuchiol, which provides retinol-like effects without irritation, mandelic acid that targets skin discolorations, and niacinamide to reinforce the moisturizing barrier. Indeed, it’s magic at diminishing any signs of aging without drying or irritating.
ELEMIS Lactic Acid Peel
Or you can use this lactic acid peel enriched with hibiscus acids, flower milk, vitamin E, and peptides. The complex of acids helps support skin’s cell renewal through gentle exfoliation, while naturally sourced vitamin E leaves the skin feeling soft and supple. It’s suitable for all skin types and works like a charm to improve skin texture, even its tone, and diminish wrinkles and dark spots look.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
The Ordinary put for grabs one of the best yet affordable, lactic acid serums that work just fine at reducing wrinkles and dark spots. Besides 10% lactic acid, it’s enriched with Tasmanian pepper berry to reduce the sensitivity associated with exfoliation. More than that, it contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin that keeps skin plumped and moisturized. Be aware that this one provides a high-strength lactic acid peeling, which some may feel too harsh on daily use.