Lactic acid is a type of Alpha Hydroxy Acid (or AHA) used for its amazing power to smooth, hydrate and exfoliate. It speeds up cell turnover in your skin like all AHAs, helping it renew itself faster, but it’s one of the few exfoliants that’s suitable for people with dry skin!
So it works brilliantly in lotions to provide a skin-renewing effect while you moisturize. Pretty neat! So now that you want it, it’s time to surf through the hundreds of lactic acid treatment options out there. But what is the best lactic acid lotion?
Well, that depends on a bunch of things, like what skin type you have, what results you’re looking for, and how experienced you are with chemical exfoliants. So here are 13 of our absolute favorite lotions with lactic acid, handpicked for all skin concerns and budgets.
The 13 Best Lactic Acid Lotions
1. PCA SKIN Body Therapy 12% Lactic Acid Lotion
If you’re thinking 12% sounds generous for a leave-on treatment, you would be correct! Maybe not for beginners but a very effective product nonetheless which is even suitable for people with dry skin and those avoiding fragrance.
Thanks to some brilliant skin softening and protecting ingredients like shea butter (a source of Vitamin E) and sodium hyaluronate (which can hold up to 1000x its weight in water), this is a deeply effective and soothing moisturizer.
If you suffer from acne, you might find it a little comedogenic thanks to a fairly high concentration of Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride. But if you have dry, cracked, or flaky skin, it could be a lifesaver!
All in all, while this product leans more towards luxury prices, it follows through with a formula that not only feels silky and makes your skin immediately softer but has huge long term benefits.
2. Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories C Scape High Potency Body Lotion
Another powerhouse formulation, this is a slightly less heavy option for normal to dry skin. In particular, if you suffer from keratosis pilaris and dry patches, this could be just what you’ve been waiting for.
Urea, a naturally occurring hydrator, is one of the key nourishers here. It’s special in that it’s not just a humectant (attracting water to the skin) but an emollient too, meaning that it also traps the moisture with a protective seal once it’s there.
Impressively, this lotion also contains some mineral SPF in the form of zinc oxide. As well as being one of the environmentally friendly forms of sun protection, this ingredient is actually great at helping control oil production and soothing acne.
You’ll still want to put your regular sunscreen after of course if you’re using this during the day, but it’s great to see a brand recognizing that AHAs can cause sun sensitivity and doing something about it!
3. AHAVA Dermud Deadsea Mud Nourishing Body Cream
A really creamy vegan formula that feels lovely on the skin. And it’s full of goodies to nourish, hydrate, and smooth all in one product!
This formula is rich in fatty alcohols, non-drying alcohols that protect your skin from moisture loss and bacteria. Along with these, AHAVA has included Zinc extract, Aloe, and of course Vitamin E. Even without the lactic acid, this is an impressive lotion.
The titular Dead Sea Salt isn’t the best ingredient in here, but it is nice to have. Not only is it said to contain essential minerals and have antimicrobial properties.
If you suffer from eczema or keratosis pilaris, pop some of this on and it’ll help smooth your skin texture while reducing redness. It might not be as strong as some higher-end brands, but it’s a fantastic all-rounder and highly non-irritating.
4. Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion
Eucerin really knows a thing or two about dry skin. And this super affordable moisturizer with lactic acid is a testament to that.
Despite being suitable for those with very dry skin, the texture is surprisingly lightweight and absorbs quickly. It’s also fragrance-free and sensitive skin safe. If you’re wary of trying new products for fear of irritation, this product is a good shout.
Lactic acid isn’t very high up on the ingredient list, but you should still see some of the benefits. And with the inclusion of star ingredients like urea, shea butter, and fatty acids, your skin will be happier in the long run.
This product claims to give 48hr hydration too. Now that’s not a claim you see every day! Overall, a strong contender for the best lactic acid lotion on a budget.
5. Touch KP Exfoliating Lotion
If you want the benefits of multiple exfoliating acids without irritating your skin, look no further than this wonder lotion that’s suitable for all skin types. Whether you suffer from body acne, keratosis pilaris, or regular old dryness, it’s got you covered.
Glycolic acid is the main event here, coming in at an impressive 12%. This is good because it penetrates deeper than other AHAs due to its small molecule size.
This is what makes this lotion such a powerful anti-aging tool. It renews your skin to speed up cell turnover not only on the surface but deep down.
But don’t worry about it being too harsh. Glycine Soja Oil comes in as a natural emollient, and arginine is included to boost blood flow to improve overall skin health.
6. DRMTLGY Anti-Aging Exfoliating Body Lotion
Branded as ‘Medical Grade Skincare’, this body lotion with lactic acid stands out among the rest of the mid-range market for its potency and foolproof formula. Perfect for conditions like keratosis pilaris.
If you’re a fan of fancy fragrances, you might not be impressed by the smell. But who cares when it works!? Thanks to a stellar formulation that includes natural, non-clogging emollients to balance out the strength of the lactic acid, this is a really well-rounded product.
And lactic acid is actually the second ingredient on the ingredient list (meaning there’s a lot of it!). Just remember that exfoliating acids are something your skin might have to “get used to”, so if you’ve never used AHAs before, start slow and work up to daily use.
7. Dermal Therapy Alpha Hydroxy High Potency Lotion
At 10% acid and 10% hydrating urea, this is a really balanced lotion suitable for those who even have very dry skin. It’s also fragrance-free and non-greasy!
The really surprising thing here though is that this is a whopping 16fl.oz of product. Making it a good value for money and the best lactic acid lotion if you want to save money or just don’t have time to be regularly restocking.
We love this lotion’s thicker texture overall feel. It’s perfect as a night-time treatment after showering, but especially in the winter when you’re feeling a little dry and drab.
The formula contains silk proteins that bolster the skin’s barrier and firm texture. So while this isn’t marketed specifically as an anti-aging product, it might as well be!
8. Beekman 1802 Pure Goat Milk Whipped Body Cream
This product’s name might raise a few eyebrows. Goat milk? In skincare? Really? So for the uninitiated, goat’s milk has actually been used as a moisturizing agent since ancient times.
But it’s more than just a simple hydrator. It also contains Vitamin A – which you might know as ‘retinol’! – and AHAs. Pretty impressive for a goat. But how are these benefits incorporated into this cream?
For starters, it’s formulated at a pH balanced to mimic the natural pH of the skin so it won’t mess up the natural flora and fauna of your dermis. It also has a nice thick consistency, living up to its name to give a luxurious feel and a lot of use from one tub.
This cream comes in over 10 “flavors” with distinct scents. So if you like to avoid fragrance this might not be the one for you. Otherwise, why not treat yourself?
9. Amlactin Alpha Hydroxy Therapy Rapid Relief Restoring Lotion + Ceramides
Finally, something formulated with ceramides! These are lipids that help to restore your skin barrier and aid any damage caused by acne, dryness, or over-exfoliation. So they pair really well with AHAs.
But this lotion doesn’t contain lactic acid precisely. Instead, it used ammonium lactate which is simply an alternative. It might not be as pricey as lactic acid, but from a medical standpoint, it might actually be more effective!
It also has some simple but solid emollients like petrolatum to form a rich protective seal over the skin throughout the day. All without fragrance or parabens!
There’s nothing super fancy here, but it is insanely cheap for a ceramide cream, and we have to applaud Amlactin for that.
10. EnaSkin Dark Spot Corrector
Formulated to be rich enough for the body but gentle enough for the face, this is a fantastic product for evening out the complexion and treating post-acne dark spots.
For a nice mid-range price, this product gives you not only soothing and renewing lactic acid, but oil fighting salicylic acid and kojic acid too. Kojic acid is an interesting one because it’s less well known but has some great skin brightening properties.
If you’ve suffered from any kind of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (or PIH) you’ll know it’s hard to smooth out that complexion again. So it’s great to see so many targeted ingredients in one place. One of the more interesting being Morinda Citrifolia extract said to have antioxidant benefits.
A lot of these lotions really need to be lathered into the skin. But this lightweight serum option packs a punch in just a couple of drops.
11. CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin
A widely loved favorite in the skincare world, this moisturizer with lactic acid and salicylic acid is great for both body acne and keratosis pilaris.
As always with CeraVe, you can expect a good dose of ceramides from this lotion, essential ingredients if you really want to replenish your skin’s barrier and prevent future damage. And of course, it’s fragrance and irritant-free.
While not as immediately effective as Amlactin for sorting out textural issues, it has a much better overall feel and absorbs in really quickly. We think it wins with regards to residue too, leaving little to none even when you’ve slathered it on!
This is definitely for people wanting to use gentler skincare for results over a longer period of time. So if you have sensitive skin (or you’re worried about AHAs sensitizing you to sun damage) it’s perfect. All in all, a really solid formula.
12. Beauty Facial Extreme Exfoliating Body Lotion
Back up to higher percentages now, this is a 12% option for when you really need to break through problem areas and calloused skin.
You can use this anywhere on the body but it’s particularly great for your elbows, feet, thighs, and bum. Be careful using it on more delicate places that aren’t as flashy, and don’t forget your SPF!
Beauty Facial Extreme doesn’t disclose the ingredients on their website – which is a little disappointing! – but they do have a 30-day money-back guarantee. So if you try it out and find that it irritates your skin, it won’t be money wasted.
13. natrx LACT10 Exfoliating Moisturizer
Packaged almost like a medicinal serum, this well-formulated little number doesn’t mess around. Nor does it bulldoze through dirt too harshly. It’s just a perfect middle of the road strength.
Compared to the other products listed here, the ingredient list is refreshingly short. Also, it stands out in being formulated for normal to oily skin rather than oily to dry.
This is definitely one for the organic ingredient lovers out there. It’s got some refreshing tea tree oil, an excellent acne fighter when used in moderation, and rosehip oil too which is rich in the much sought after ingredient Vitamin A.
All in all, this is a great little anti-aging formula if you’re looking for something light and non-greasy yet powerful. Not to mention it’s vegan and cruelty-free!
Joan S. Wilson is a lifelong makeup and skincare enthusiast. She used to work as a makeup artist for 5 years. Joan is always curious and wants to learn more when it comes to makeup and skincare. She tries her best to make other people’s skin health better. This is why Joan is so passionate about writing articles on beauty topics. She always looks for products that are high-quality, dermatologist-tested, and does that it says on the label. In every article, she shares her knowledge to make your life healthier and happier!