Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is used in skincare for its exfoliating properties. It is an ingredient in many skincare products, including two affordable face serums from the skincare brand The Ordinary.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% is a lightweight lactic acid serum that gently exfoliates the skin. In comparison, The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% is a lactic acid serum that is half the strength of the 10% version and provides a more gentle exfoliation.
Today, I’ll discuss my experience with the two serums in this The Ordinary Lactic Acid review.
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The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% and The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
The Ordinary lactic acid serums are formulated to exfoliate the skin with lactic acid. Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that breaks down the bonds between dead skin cells and lifts them away, revealing new, fresh skin underneath.
Both serums contain hyaluronic acid in the form of sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer (see description below). Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that attracts and holds water in the skin, resulting in a plumping effect.
Both serums also contain a Tasmanian pepperberry derivative to help reduce irritation associated with acid use.
The Ordinary lactic acid serums are fragrance-free, vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated at a pH between 3.60 and 3.80. This acidic pH is necessary for lactic acid to work effectively.
Normal skin has a pH of around 4.7, so depending on your skin type, the serums may sting a little when first applied to the skin. This is usually minimal and should go away quickly.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid Serums: Key Ingredients
Lactic Acid: Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (a direct acid), that exfoliates the skin’s surface and sweeps away dead skin cells. By increasing cell turnover, lactic acid helps to brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of dullness, uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Lactic acid has a larger molecule size than another popular AHA, glycolic acid. This means that it won’t penetrate the skin as deeply and will cause less irritation, making it a good choice for those with more sensitive skin.
Lactic acid also has moisturizing properties, which can help replenish the skin barrier, making it a great exfoliating option for those with dry skin.
Glycerin: Glycerin helps to attract and retain moisture in the skin. By keeping the skin hydrated, glycerin helps prevent the skin from becoming dry, rough, and flaky.
Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer: Sodium hyaluronate is a type of salt that acts like a sponge and soak up moisture from the air, making it an excellent ingredient for keeping the skin hydrated.
This form of hyaluronic acid is a crosspolymer, which is said to have better water-binding properties than other forms of hyaluronic acid. It’s cross-linked and forms a mesh on the skin that helps lock in moisture for better and long-lasting hydration.
Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract: Tasmannia lanceolata fruit/leaf extract is a plant extract that is anti-inflammatory and soothes skin irritation. It also has antioxidant benefits that help to protect the skin from environmental damage.
AHAs like lactic acid benefit many skin types, including aging, dry, acne-prone, and sun-damaged skin.
NOTE: It is important to note that AHAs can make your skin sensitive to the sun, so it is important to use sunscreen when using any product that contains AHAs and for a week after to protect your skin from sun exposure.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid Review
Both The Ordinary Lactic Acid concentrations are lightweight water-based lactic acid serums. The 5% concentration has a slightly lighter shade and is more gentle on my somewhat sensitive skin. That being said, I prefer the 10% concentration for its ability to provide a more potent exfoliation.
My skin is noticeably smoother and brighter, and my pores appear smaller after using the 10% concentration. I’ve also noticed a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
When used consistently, both of these serums, especially the 10%, are great for uneven skin tone and textural irregularities.
The serums have a super thin consistency, slightly thicker than water, without any stickiness or greasiness. They sink into the skin quickly and don’t leave behind any residue.
If you have somewhat sensitive skin like me, these serums can be a great alternative to glycolic acid products, which might be too irritating.
When just starting out with direct exfoliating acids, consider starting with the 5% lactic acid concentration.
If your skin tolerates the lower concentration well, you can move on to the 10% concentration and stronger acids.
Since these serums are so affordably priced, you can currently buy both the 5% and the 10% concentrations for a fraction of the price of a luxury lactic acid serum!
The Ordinary Lactic Acid Conflicts
Avoid using these lactic acid serums in the same skincare routine as copper peptides, peptides, The Ordinary EUK134 0.1%, or The Ordinary 100% Niacinamide Powder.
Alternate use of lactic acid (alternate morning and night or different days) with other direct exfoliating acids like glycolic acid, mandelic acid or salicylic acid, pure/ethylated vitamin C products, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids like retinol.
For more on mixing The Ordinary products, see my The Ordinary Conflicts guide.
How To Use The Ordinary Lactic Acid
After cleansing and toning your skin, apply your The Ordinary lactic acid serum to your face and neck, avoiding the sensitive eye area.
Use your fingers to massage the serum into your skin in a circular motion until fully absorbed.
Follow with any thicker water-based serums and a moisturizer designed for your skin type. Don’t forget a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher in your morning skincare routine.
Use The Ordinary lactic acid serum once a day, preferably in the PM, since AHAs can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Before using these serums and any new skincare product for the first time, be sure to patch test to avoid any potential allergies or sensitivities.
For more details on using The Ordinary lactic acid, please see my post How To Use The Ordinary Lactic Acid.
Alternatives To The Ordinary Lactic Acid Serums
There are many other lactic acid serums on the market, ranging from drugstore buys to high-end luxury serums.
Another affordable lactic acid serum comes from The Inkey List.
The Inkey List Lactic Acid Serum contains 10% lactic acid and is suitable for dry and sensitive skin types. It is enriched with 1% hyaluronic acid for additional hydration.
If lactic acid isn’t strong enough for you, consider glycolic acid. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution contains 7% glycolic acid, amino acids, aloe vera, ginseng, and a Tasmanian pepperberry derivative to improve skin texture, radiance, and clarity.
If glycolic acid or lactic acid is too strong for your skin, consider an AHA with a larger molecule size like mandelic acid.
The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA is formulated with 10% mandelic acid and is suitable for all skin types. It contains sodium hyaluronate crosspoylmer and a Tasmanian pepperberry derivative, just like The Ordinary lactic acid serums.
See my comparison between mandelic acid and lactic acid in my The Ordinary Mandelic Acid vs Lactic Acid post.
If you’re looking for a more luxury lactic acid serum, consider Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment. (This is one of my all-time favorite skincare products.)
Check out this post on Good Genes and some drugstore dupes, including The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% +HA!
NOTE: The Ordinary actually suggests indirect exfoliators to avoid skin sensitivity and inflammation. One such product is NIOD Non-Acid Acid Precursor, which comes from The Ordinary’s sister brand, NIOD.
Where To Buy The Ordinary Lactic Acid
FAQs – Frequently Ask Questions
Yes, The Ordinary lactic acid can be used daily, preferably in the PM. However, if you’re new to exfoliating acids or have sensitive skin, it might be best to start by using it a few times a week and then gradually increasing the frequency as your skin gets accustomed to it.
No, you do not wash off The Ordinary lactic acid serums. The Ordinary lactic acid serums are leave-on treatments. After applying your serum, allow it to absorb into your skin. There’s no need to rinse it off. Follow with any additional skincare products and a moisturizer in your skincare routine.
Yes, you can use lactic acid and hyaluronic acid together in your skincare routine. Lactic acid is a chemical exfoliant that helps remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover, while hyaluronic acid is a humectant that attracts and retains moisture in your skin. Using them together can ensure that while you’re exfoliating your skin, you’ll be keeping your skin hydrated.
You should avoid using The Ordinary lactic acid in the same routine as peptides (including copper peptides), The Ordinary EUK134 0.1%, or The Ordinary 100% Niacinamide Powder. Additionally, you should alternate its use (either in the AM/PM or on different days) with other direct exfoliating acids like glycolic acid, mandelic acid, salicylic acid, pure/ethylated vitamin C products, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids like retinol.
After applying lactic acid, you can layer with hydration-boosting ingredients, like The Ordinary hyaluronic acid, niacinamide (unless using The Ordinary’s 100% Niacinamide Powder), and ceramides. Ensure that you always finish with a moisturizer to lock in hydration and, if applied in the morning, a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Definitely! After allowing The Ordinary Lactic Acid to fully absorb into your skin, be sure to follow up with a moisturizer suitable for your skin type. This helps lock in the benefits of the lactic acid and keeps your skin hydrated and your moisture barrier protected.
Final Thoughts on The Ordinary Lactic Acid
If you are looking for a mild exfoliation with moisturizing benefits, one of The Ordinary lactic acid concentrations could be a good fit for you.
They’re great starter products for any anti-aging skincare routine and if you want to address wrinkles and fine lines, and dull, uneven skin tone.
Learn more about lactic acid and all The Ordinary exfoliating acids in my guide to The Ordinary acids.
Thanks for reading!