brunette lady using lactic acid skin on her face with a cotton pad

Lactic Acid For Skin

Read on to discover what is lactic acid, how it's used in skin care products, where it comes from and what the benefits of lactic acid are.

What Is Lactic Acid?

And where does lactic acid come from?

Lactic acid is a large molecule of the alpha-hydroxy acid family (AHAs), and is relatively similar to glycolic acid except that it is a larger molecule and so doesn't penetrate as deeply into the skin. It's naturally occurring and is also found in dairy products such as milk and has been used by many people across the world as a form of skincare.


Lactic acid is a non-friction type of exfoliant that works by breaking down and dissolving the structure of dead skin cells without causing sensitivity. Lactic acid stays on the outer layers of the skin due to its large molecular size where it works to lift and remove dead skin cells to reveal brighter, more even skin, as well as adding moisture to the outer layers of the skin.

Lactic acid for skin: what does it do?

Lactic acid as a skincare ingredient which can be found in over-the-counter products as well as in more intensive professional treatments, such as a lactic acid chemical peel, which removes the top layer of the skin to produce smoother, brighter looking skin. Lactic acid is milder than other types of acids used in skincare as it only penetrates the outer layers of the skin. This is why lactic acid for skin is an excellent skincare ingredient for those with a sensitive type who might be cautious about using more abrasive peels and exfoliants in their skincare routines. If you've previously used another AHA in the past and found it too strong, lactic acid is a good option to try.
blonde lady pointing at smooth skin after using lactic acid skin
5 key benefits of lactic acid for skin


Lactic acid dissolves the bonds that hold dead skin cells together on the surface of the skin helping to lift and remove them, resulting in brighter looking skin as well as improved skin texture.
lady washing her face at the sink
5 key benefits of lactic acid for skin


Lactic acid is unique from it's AHA counterparts in that it helps to improve the skin's natural moisture factor, enabling the skin to keep itself hydrated for longer.
lady cupping her face with her hands and smiling
5 key benefits of lactic acid for skin

Reduces wrinkles

Lactic acid stimulates collagen production, which helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles to leave you with plumper, firmer looking skin.
lady with face cream on her cheeks
5 key benefits of lactic acid for skin

Reduces acne

Due to lactic acid's less abrasive nature, it's excellent at helping to clear up acne as it exfoliates the skin and cleans the pores without irritating your skin.
brunette lady biting her lip and using lactic acid skin
5 key benefits of lactic acid for skin

Increases cell turnover

Lactic acid exfoliates away the dead skin cells and stimulates cell turnover and production which is how it leaves skin looking brighter and softer.

How often should you use lactic acid for skin?

Although lactic acid is a gentle AHA, you should avoid using it too much. If it is part of a face cream, face wash, or cleanser, it is safe to use every day and will provide you with lots of skincare benefits if done so. However, if you're using a lactic acid peel, you should refrain from using it more than once or twice a week, regardless of your skin type.

Types skincare where you can find lactic acid:

  • Chemical peels
  • Face washes
  • Cleansers & toners
  • Creams
  • Serums
three women with different skin types

What skin types should use lactic acid?

Lactic acid for skin is suitable for all skin types, but is especially beneficial to those with sensitive skin, as it is gentler than many other acids.

NIVEA & Lactic Acid

nivea lactic acid face wash product

NIVEA MicellAIR Professional Exfoliating Face Wash

NIVEA MicellAIR Professional Exfoliating Face Wash contains mild lactic acid to gently cleanse and remove sebum and impurities without drying out your skin. This gentle formula exfoliates and refines the appearance of pores leaving you with noticeably smooth, radiant, and glowing skin.

Due to lactic acids gentle nature, this product is suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin, and can be used daily.