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Published: November 24, 2021


The term “lactic acid” can refer to a few different things. In the fitness world, it relates to an acid that builds up in the muscles during strenuous exercise. In the beauty world, lactic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid, along with glycolic acid, mandelic acid, and salicylic acid, that can be created naturally or formed in a lab.

Lactic acid is a naturally occurring ingredient found in sour milk products like yogurt and kefir. As the milk ferments, it turns sour and lactic acid is created. Legend has it that Cleopatra used to take sour milk baths as a way of maintaining her beautiful, youthful appearance. What’s good for Cleopatra must certainly be good enough for our skin. Lactic acid provides the perfect introduction to the beneficial world of AHAs that is gentle and effective for most skin types.

woman looking at her skin after a lactic acid treatment


When compared to other AHAs, lactic acid has a small molecule size, which allows it to penetrate deeply underneath the skin’s surface. However, it is a bit larger than the smallest AHA - glycolic acid - making it less harsh and easier for sensitive skin types to utilize. In addition to working its way under the skin’s surface.

People with sensitive skin or those undergoing harsh acne treatments, such as taking prescription medication to combat acne, may struggle finding a product that is kind to their skin and effective. Lactic acid has gained popularity over the years because it is both. Read on to learn all the fantastic benefits you’ll reap by incorporating lactic acid products into your routine.


Lactic acid promotes skin health in a number of ways but the most important are:

Stops acne in its tracks

It’s a gentle exfoliator that removes dead skin and excess sebum. Acne is a skin condition caused by the buildup of dead skin cells, sebum, and oil that clogs pores, causing infections such as pimples, pustules, and cysts. Lactic acid easily sloughs off the top layer of the epidermis, revealing fresh, new skin cells below and minimizing the risk of breakouts. 

/skin regimen/ Glycolic-Lactic Peel. This powerful peel harnesses the properties of lactobionic acid to help you achieve glowing skin while mitigating the signs of premature aging. Add in to your weekly skincare regimen to achieve a brighter, more youthful complexion. 

Prevents signs of aging

As we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen. Collagen particles are too large to be absorbed directly into the skin, so it’s crucial that we choose products to stimulate the internal production of this ingredient. Lactic acid particles are small enough to penetrate the skin and are a necessary ingredient in strengthening the collagen formation. In addition to boosting collagen production, lactic acid’s gentle exfoliating abilities reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Brightens dull complexions

As dead skin cells build up, they can dull our overall complexion, making us look tired and older. Since lactic acid is both exfoliating and hydrating, it promotes cell turnover which decreases the appearance of dark spots and age spots, while hydrating the new skin cells underneath. Those struggling with hyperpigmentation can greatly benefit from lactic acid treatments, especially chemical peels.

Fosters hydration

Lactic acid is a humectant, meaning it’s molecules naturally attract water to themselves. Unlike other exfoliants, this ingredient performs double duty by scrubbing away the surface layer while delivering moisture to boost elasticity and strength. Lactic acid can improve skin texture and skin tone by keeping it amply hydrated. 

Combats body acne

If you struggle with bacne or chest acne, finding a body scrub that doesn’t totally tear apart your skin can be tricky. A body scrub with lactic acid works to slough away dead skin in hard-to-reach areas like the back and shoulders without causing undue irritation, redness, or micro tears. 

Body Strategist Peel Scrub. This effective body scrub uses both mechanical and chemical means to remove grime from the body. Silica, orange peel, and 10% AHAs rub off excess sebum softly without stripping the skin of its natural lubrication. Other exfoliants often remove the necessary lubricants right from our skin’s surface, leaving it vulnerable, exposed, and prompting our pores to create even more sebum to replace what was taken. 

woman applying a lactic acid treatment on her cheek on a blue background
woman applying a lactic acid treatment on her cheek on a blue background


Before embarking on a new skin care regimen that incorporates any alpha hydroxy acid, consult with your dermatologist or esthetician. Haven’t yet found a skin-care expert you can trust? Use our convenient spa locator to find experienced, knowledgeable estheticians near you.

Fortunately, lactic acid is gentle enough that even those with skin sensitivities are most likely able to use this ingredient. Start with a smaller dosage and perform a patch test before applying lactic acid to your entire face or body. When using lactic acid in your skin care routine, take into account the following considerations:

Pair lactic acid with a supple moisturizer

Because lactic acid is an exfoliant, it will leave behind a fresh, new layer of skin that needs moisture. Replenish it with a supple face lotion after each cleanse.

Hydramemory Cream. This hyaluronic-acid based face cream delivers a heavy dose of moisture to thirsty skin cells. HA molecules attract water to themselves and can hold up to many times their weight in H2O. 

Wear SPF 30 daily

Because it is an acid-based ingredient, lactic acid can increase epidermal sun sensitivity. While you should be wearing sunscreen daily anyway, it’s especially important to apply at least an SPF 30 to your face and neck daily when using lactic acid cleansers, toners, or moisturizers. Even if you have been in the sun your entire life, it’s possible to reverse sun damage with the proper routine.

Start slow when beginning to use lactic acid

Don’t use a lactic acid cleanser every night. Instead, start every other night or as your dermatologist or esthetician recommends. Try utilizing a cleanser once a week and see how your skin reacts. If your overall appearance improves without becoming irritated, you may increase your usage.


It’s never too early - or too late - to start implementing practices that help your skin remain healthy, for life. If you struggle with acne, need a gentle exfoliant, want clearer skin, or are looking for ways to ramp up your anti-aging routine, consider introducing a lactic acid cleanser into your skin care routine. If you struggle with skin conditions like rosacea or eczema, consult a dermatologist before starting any over the counter lactic acid treatments.

[ comfort zone ] looks for ways to use naturally-occurring ingredients (and avoid toxic ingredients) in our skin care products. By choosing mother nature-made ingredients over synthetic ones, our products promote your skin’s health and well being, giving it the tools it needs to stay vibrant, radiant, and strong.

a close up of a lactic acid treatment on woman's body


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