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Les produits contenant de l'acide lactique.

What Are the Benefits of Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is a leading active ingredient in cosmetics thanks to its numerous benefits. In addition, lactic acid is well tolerated by all skin types. In this article, you will learn which skin care products contain lactic acid.

Published March 1, 2024, by Sandrine, Scientific Editor — 6 min read

What Are the Benefits of Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is an organic acid that belongs to the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family. This ingredient is very popular because lactic acid is milder and better tolerated compared to glycolic acid, another AHA. Lactic acid has a weight of 90.08 g/mol which is higher than glycolic acid (76.05 g/mol). Therefore, it enters less deeply into the epidermis and acts only on the surface.

When applied to the skin, lactic acid has numerous advantages:

  • It has keratolytic properties, which means that it removes dead cells on the surface of the epidermis that clog pores and make the complexion appear sallow. In addition, lactic acid dissolves intercellular compounds, stimulating cell renewal. In this way, it revitalizes a sallow complexion and prevents blackheads. Additionally, studies have shown that the use of lactic acid contributes to a decrease in inflammatory pimples.

Note: In vivo studies have shown that the application of 12% lactic acid over a period of three months lead to a reduction in wrinkles, an improvement in skin elasticity and an increase in dermis cells.

  • It effectively moisturizes the epidermis. Researchers have shown that lactic acid improves the skin's natural moisturizing factor (NMF).

Note: The NMF or natural moisturizing factor is composed of amino acids, their derivatives and extracellular compounds such as lactic acid. Its hygroscopic properties allow it to bind and retain water in the stratum corneum, thus maintaining skin hydration.

  • It helps to fade pigment spots. Lactic acid inhibits the activity of enzymes involved in melanogenesis (mechanism that causes melanin production): Tyrosinase. The results of the studies show that topical application of lactic acid significantly reduces pigment spots. However, these studies were conducted with a peel containing 82% lactic acid (this is higher than the 10% concentration allowed in cosmetics). A healthcare professional is required when using lactic acid in such high doses.

Although lactic acid is praised mainly for the skin, it also has benefits for the hair:

  • It has an anti-dandruff effect. Dandruff is a problem that affects many people. The phenomenon is caused by a too quick cell renewal. The cells of the epidermis, not mature enough to fall off naturally, stick together. By using keratolytic agents such as lactic acid, dandruff can be effectively removed. Thanks to its keratolytic properties, it helps to remove dandruff more easily.

  • If your scalp is dry, it may be due to a disruption in the hydrolipidic film. Lactic acid has hygroscopic properties that prevent insensitive water loss and strengthen the corneal layer responsible for protecting the skin.

Worth knowing: the scalp is nothing more than the extension of the facial skin! The only difference is the very high presence of hair follicles.

Therefore, lactic acid helps to cleanse the scalp.

To note: Lactic acid is also used as a pH regulator. It allows to acidify hair care products, especially conditioners and mousses.

Products Containing Lactic Acid

Due to the benefits mentioned above, lactic acid is included in many cosmetic products. It is available in various dosage forms, such as lotions, serums, creams, cleansers, shower gels, masks, and tonics. In addition, it is also used in cosmetic formulations, as this substance regulates pH.

Typology has developed two care products based on lactic acid: the mild exfoliating serum and the exfoliating mask.

  • The highly concentrated, (10% lactic acid) mild exfoliating serum provides your skin with gentle exfoliation thanks to its action on the surface. By removing dead skin cells from the skin, it revitalizes the radiance of the complexion and fights impurities. The skin is smooth and bright. In addition, it contains acerola extract, an antioxidant that fights free radicals responsible for a dull complexion. Our serum is suitable for all skin types (oily skin, dry skin and combination skin). It is also suitable for sensitive skin as it is non-irritating, unlike glycolic acid.

  • The exfoliating mask consists of an exfoliating complex with A.H.A. and P.H.A. removing dead skin cells to unclog pores and refine skin texture. In the long term, it helps reduce blemishes such as blackheads. Used once or twice a week, this gel mask provides an even complexion and a smoother skin texture.

Since lactic acid is a photosensitizing molecule, this skin care product should only be used in the evening. It is highly recommended to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen the next morning. Perform a skin test before each application. Put a few drops of your care in the crook of your arm or on the back of your hand and wait 24 hours. If you observe skin reactions, do not use the serum on your face.


  • SMITH W. P. & al. Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (1996).

  • Rotsztejn H. & al. Lactic and lactobionic acids as typically moisturizing compounds. International journal of dermatology (2018)


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