8 Best Lactic Acid Cleansers in 2021

Hydrate while you exfoliate with our brilliant selection of Lactic Acid cleansers for all skin types

If you’ve sidestepped physical scrubs and moved over to the realm of chemical exfoliants, you might want to consider the benefits of a Lactic Acid cleanser. Lactic Acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), a natural chemical exfoliant that refines the surface of your skin by breaking down dead skin cells, impurities, and sebum.

Dermalogica Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser - one hand using the pump lid of bottle to squeeze product out onto finger tips of other hand - 650 x 404Dermalogica Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser - one hand using the pump lid of bottle to squeeze product out onto finger tips of other hand - 650 x 404

More active AHAs such as Glycolic Acid can be aggressive and irritating to some. However, Lactic Acid is a very gentle chemical exfoliant. Aside from exfoliating, this ingredient also helps improve moisture retention and works to prevent congestion and improve pigmentation. If you have sensitive skin, be sure to check out our guide The 10 Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin

Lactic Acid is the perfect chemical exfoliant for sensitive skin, especially dry and mature skin, as it moisturises while it gently resurfaces. Used several times a week in a cleanser, toner, or serum, Lactic Acid will leave your skin visibly plumper and revitalised.

Lactic Acid is the secret weapon in any great anti-ageing routine, as it helps boost collagen production and promotes skin renewal. In turn, this acid helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles by hydrating the skin.

Due to its antibacterial properties, Lactic Acid is a great solution to keratosis pilaris and ingrown hairs. As it’s also highly moisturising, Lactic Acid, particularly in the form of a cleanser, is also great for men dealing with beard dandruff, acne, and irritation.

Skinstitut L-Lactic Cleanser - young woman with manicured nails and braided hair applies cleanser to her cheeks - 650 x 404Skinstitut L-Lactic Cleanser - young woman with manicured nails and braided hair applies cleanser to her cheeks - 650 x 404

Many of our best face cleansers include chemical exfoliants. If you don’t suffer from skin sensitivity, a combination of AHAs and BHAs can lead to glowing results. Many of our selection below combine Lactic Acid with Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Mandelic Acid for multiple levels of exfoliation.

Being a mild chemical exfoliant, Lactic Acid can easily pair with more potent exfoliants such as Azelaic Acid. Lactic Acid is even gentle enough to be considered pregnancy-safe. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t the case when paired with other AHAs and BHAs such as Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid.

With any form of exfoliation, it’s important to take it easy. So although Lactic Acid is one of the less potent AHAs, there’s no need to overdo it. All of these cleansers deliver great results when used in conjunction with a good moisturiser and, most importantly, a broad-spectrum SPF, as exfoliation sensitizes the skin.

Our Lactic Acid cleansers below suit a range of complexion types and needs, help you trap moisture in your skin, and give you a gorgeous, radiant glow.

An essential Lactic Acid cleanser that will hydrate and nourish all skin types.

Skinstitut L-Lactic Cleanser is a gentle but extremely effective, lightly foaming cleanser. Formulated with the purest form of this type of alpha-hydroxy acid, L-Lactic Acid, this cleanser is safe for sensitive skin. While working to exfoliate and decongest problematic skin, this cleanser also nourishes with Vitamin E, Soy Bean Oil, Raspberry Extract, and Goji Berry Extract. The inclusion of Vitamin B5 and Seaweed Extract improves the skin’s moisture levels and barrier defence. This is a true and simple L-Lactic cleanser that will support and strengthen all skin types, leaving every complexion healthy and radiant.

A dual-action cleanser containing Lactic Acid to revitalise and retexture the skin.

Dermalogica Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser is a rich treatment cleanser designed for mature skin types to create a youthful complexion. The inclusion of Lactic Acid as a key ingredient helps hydrate and stimulate cell turnover to plump the skin and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin E provides nourishment and protects against free radical damage, while Rose Flower Oil soothes any irritation. This cleanser is also a great option for dry, sensitive, and acne-prone skin: the creamy formula won’t strip or unbalance the skin. This gentle exfoliating cleanser leaves skin feeling soft and comfortable, and it removes makeup well too.

With a combination of Mandelic Acid and Lactic Acid, this cleanser refines the skin’s surface.

Medik8 Pore Cleanse Gel Intense tackles congestion and uneven skin texture. A combination of Mandelic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Red Clover Extract helps minimise pores, reduce sebum, and regulate oil production. While these AHAs scour your skin’s surface, Salicylic Acid works deep within your pores to exfoliate at multiple levels. Added Glycerine then helps hydrate the skin. Pore Cleanse Gel Intense is a dream for oily and combination skin, as it reduces shine and decongests the skin. This light gel cleanser leaves skin very soft, smooth, and refreshed, and it helps reduce breakouts to boot.

A cleanser that uses a powerful combination of AHAs and BHAs to transform the complexion.

Murad Age Reform AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser 200ml uses multiple exfoliating agents to smooth and polish the skin’s surface. A powerful combination of Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Salicylic Acid removes dead skin cells and impurities, and helps improve overall skin texture. This triple-action cleanser helps improve dull complexions, revealing bright and healthy skin while reducing fine lines and wrinkles. This cleanser can also be used on the body and is perfect for dealing with bacne or keratosis pilaris. As it’s quite a potent cleanser, Age Reform AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser should be used only once or twice a week.

A light foaming cleanser that uses a cocktail of actives to clear and revive skin.

Aspect Exfoliating Cleanser is a gentle foaming cleanser that smooths and brightens dull skin by lightly exfoliating dead skin cells and removing impurities. Key ingredients Lactic Acid and Salicylic Acid exfoliate at multiple levels, decongesting the skin and refining skin texture. Anti-inflammatories Aloe Vera and Canadian Willow Herb then work to soothe the skin. This blend of actives suits a range of skin types and concerns, and leaves skin fresh and luminous. When used every other day, this cleanser can help improve the tone and texture of your skin for glowing results.

A comfortable, low-foam Lactic Acid cleanser that works to smooth and soothe the skin.

PCA Skin Facial Wash is a mild facial wash designed to gently exfoliate, hydrate, and soothe. This low-foam gel formula contains Lactic Acid to exfoliate without causing irritation. Willow Bark Extract helps reduce congestion, while Aloe Vera soothes any redness or inflammation. Allantoin helps boost hydration, leaving skin feeling comfortable and moisturised. PCA Skin Facial Wash is a must-have for those looking to remove all traces of makeup, oil and pollution, as this cleanser leaves skin feeling pure. Highly recommended for those with sensitive skin also dealing with oily skin and acne, this face wash helps the healing process.

An exfoliating cream cleanser that uses Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid for soft and supple skin.

Alpha-H Liquid Gold Resurfacing Cleansing Cream promotes a healthy complexion with its highly nourishing formula. A combination of Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid works to boost cell turnover, refine texture and tone, and improve lines and wrinkles. While these actives exfoliate and help minimise pores, Coconut Oil and Shea Butter hydrate and nourish the skin. This is an ideal formula for dull, dry, dehydrated skin types—especially mature skin. By promoting a healthy, bright, and firm complexion, Liquid Gold Resurfacing Cleansing Cream perfectly primes the skin for other products. This cleanser can also be used as a face mask for extra glow: simply leave on for an extra 3 to 5 minutes.

An invigorating, natural Lactic Acid cleanser that leaves skin fresh and clarified.

Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser is a lightly exfoliating formula that keeps skin clear. This clear, foaming gel includes Lactic Acid, which gently exfoliates and helps maintain a balanced complexion, even in a polluted environment. Liquorice Root and Blackcurrant help soothe the skin and alleviate stress, making this a perfect cleanser for sensitive and troubled skin types. This mild cleanser delivers an aromatic experience with its fresh, floral scent and so becomes an amazing everyday staple. A little goes a long way with Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser, making it perfect for use morning and night.

So, let's recap the 8 Best Lactic Acid Cleansers in 2021

  1. Skinstitut L-Lactic Cleanser

  2. Dermalogica Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser

  3. Medik8 Pore Cleanse Gel Intense

  4. Murad Age Reform AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser 200ml

  5. Aspect Exfoliating Cleanser

  6. PCA Skin Facial Wash

  7. Alpha-H Liquid Gold Resurfacing Cleansing Cream

  8. Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser

Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty’s highly trained Customer Service team. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.

This article has been updated on 12/02 to replace discontinued products with our recent product recommendations. Hannah from our Customer Service team has helped to bring you our most recommended products and up-to-date information.

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