The Ordinary Lactic Acid: Everything You Wanted to Know

The Ordinary is no ordinary skincare brand. With affordable prices, minimalistic formulas, and effective ingredients, this brand is one of the most talked-about in the beauty industry. And The Ordinary lactic acid is taking the lead!

Lactic acid is a game-changer when it comes to skin health and texture. 

The Ordinary has two lactic acid serums that have different concentrations of lactic acid but are both incredibly powerful. They are No products found. and No products found..

Today, we’ll be talking about the tremendous benefits that these two products may have on your skin and how to use lactic acid The Ordinary. Let’s dive in.

Key Takeaways

In a hurry? here are the key points regarding The Ordinary lactic acid products:

  • Lactic acid is a potent ingredient that can be used as a mild exfoliation and turn your skin’s condition around. It offers tremendous skin benefits, from reducing the signs of hyperpigmentation to helping with uneven skin tone.
  • The Ordinary brand offers two lactic acid serums: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA and The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA.
  • The difference between The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA and The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA is in the concentration of lactic acid. For beginners, it may be best to start with a 5% concentration of lactic acid until the skin develops tolerance, then proceed to the higher one once the skin can tolerate it.

What is Lactic Acid and What Does it Do For Your Skin?

First things first, let’s talk about lactic acid for a bit. Lactic acid is an over-the-counter chemical exfoliant and one of the most popular alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Used often in skincare products and professional treatments, this ingredient offers unparalleled benefits to the skin. 


Lactic acid is derived from milk and is naturally found in dairy products. As you may know, dairy products have been used in the old days (think popular Cleopatra milk baths) to brighten the complexion and deliver glowing skin.

This ingredient is still widely used to this day, but most lactic acid products are synthetic (that means produced in a lab, therefore vegan).

Lactic acid is a popular anti-aging, antiwrinkle, and pigmentation-fighting ingredient. It’s a powerful chemical exfoliant that removes dull skin, increases dead skin cell turnover, and stimulates cell regeneration. 

As a result, the skin becomes brighter, more radiant, and gains a natural glowy look. An added benefit of using lactic acid (as opposed to other AHAs like glycolic acid) is that it keeps the skin more hydrated and improves its natural moisture barrier.

The Benefits of Using The Ordinary Lactic Acid

The Ordinary offers two powerful lactic acid serums, depending on your skin type, condition, and goals The only difference between The Ordinary Lactic Acid is 5% + HA 2% and The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% is the concentration of lactic acid in the formulation

Both serums are skin game-changers. They are great for chemical exfoliation newbies because they offer different concentrations. 

The benefits of using lactic acid serums are endless. Here are some of them:

  • Reduce the appearance of sun damage, pigmentation, and acne scars
  • Improve the overall skin health and texture
  • Brighten the complexion, soften the skin, and make it more radiant
  • Combined with hyaluronic acid, both lactic acid serums provide deep hydration to the skin
  • Treat uneven skin tone, help with acne-prone skin, and make the skin glow.

Related: The Ordinary Buffet review

How to Use The Ordinary Lactic Acid

So how do you use The Ordinary lactic acid? Well, let’s start by saying that not everyone should use this type of exfoliation on their skin. With that said, lactic acid serums are not suitable for those with sensitive skin, compromised skin, or irritated skin

As always, I suggest always patch test your products before committing to them fully because you can never know how your skin is going to react to lactic acid. 

Also, since The Ordinary lactic acid is technically a serum, you can add it to your current skincare routine. It’s best to use it at night and not more than three times per week. Whether you have sensitive skin, dry skin, or oily skin, you can add these serums to your regimen. 

Although lactic acid is considered to be a mild ingredient, it’s nevertheless a powerful alpha hydroxy acid. Due to its peeling effects, it will make your skin vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays which means you’ll be more prone to sunburns

Remember to always use sun protection or limit sun exposure while using the lactic acid serum and for a week after. SPF 30+ or higher will do the trick.

If you are a beginner to lactic acid peel and are not still sure how your skin will respond, introduce it into your beauty regimen slowly by using it only once a week. After that, two to three times per week will be enough to make your skin brighter and healthier. 

When Should You Use The Ordinary Lactic Acid in Your Skincare Routine?

Apply The Ordinary lactic acid serums during the treatment part of your regimen, which is after toners and before moisturizers. 


If you’re using it with other The Ordinary products, consider the brand’s recommendations. In general, when it comes to the leave-in products, you should start with applying water-based formulas first, then anhydrous or oil-based formulas, then finally cream-based or suspension-based formulas last.

Lactic acid serums are water-based which means they go first in a beauty routine (but of course, after cleaning and toning the face).

For those who are new to lactic acid, I suggest starting with The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%. On another hand, you can dilute the higher concentration of lactic acid The Ordinary to lower its potency (until your skin can tolerate the undiluted concentration). 

You can dilute it by combining it with other serums or moisturizers – a few drops of The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum will work well. Don’t mix it with retinol or another acid because the combination may damage or irritate your skin.

Can You Use The Ordinary Lactic Acid and Niacinamide Together?

One of the most common questions that The Ordinary fans always ask is whether it’s possible to mix lactic acid serums with niacinamide. Yes, you can definitely pair these two fantastic ingredients together in the same skincare routine.

But you should learn how to layer them properly if you want to get the most out of both ingredients. For example, if you want to use them on the same days in a routine, it’s best to wait around 30 minutes after applying niacinamide to follow up with lactic acid. Alternatively, you can use them on separate days to ensure maximum effect.

Both of these ingredients address similar issues such as acne as well as hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Niacinamide is a great support to the lactic acid and using them together will improve your chances of getting rid of little skin blemishes. 

No matter your skin type (combination skin, dry skin, oily skin, etc.), you can combine lactic acid and niacinamide together for maximum results.

Can You Use The Ordinary Lactic Acid and Vitamin C Together?

Another question that often comes to mind when talking about lactic acid serums is whether it’s safe to combine with vitamin C in the same beauty routine. Well, you may want to reconsider this decision. 

It’s not recommended to use vitamin C with other direct acids such as lactic acid. Since Vitamin C is also a type of acid, you may throw off the pH balance by layering these ingredients together and the pair could turn out to be useless.

Using lactic acid and vitamin C together may reduce the integrity of both compounds and compromise their effectiveness. If you do decide to use both ingredients in the same beauty routine, consider using them on alternate days or nights.

Again, I suggest always patch testing before committing to a skincare routine for a longer period. You never know what will make your skin sensitive or irritate it. 

Which The Ordinary Lactic Acid Serum Should You Use?

There are two The Ordinary lactic acid serums: No products found. and No products found.. They are pretty much the same products, but they have different concentrations of lactic acid.

Both serums are effective exfoliating AHA treatments, but depending on your skin type and issue, you may choose which one will fit you best.

If you’ve never tried any chemical exfoliating products, The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% may be a great starting point. The lower concentration of lactic acid works well on all skin types (except sensitive skin) and can be ideal for newbies.

On another hand, if you want to go for The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA, consider diluting it with other serums to reduce the concentration until your skin gets used to the acid. 

As always, it’s up to you to choose which one of these two serums you will introduce into your skincare regimen. Knowing your skin will help you care for your skin better. Here are more details on these fantastic products.

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The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA is an excellent introduction to the world of chemical exfoliation. It’s a mild peeling formulation and a lightweight serum that helps target uneven skin tone, skin irregularities, and fine lines. 

It offers a very gentle exfoliation at a 5% concentration and helps improve skin texture, reduces pigmentation caused by acne scars, and stimulates cell turnover. Supported by hyaluronic acid, this exfoliating product strengthens the skin barrier and promotes healthier, stronger skin.

This serum hydrates and moisturizes the skin with glycerin and hyaluronic acid while providing a mild exfoliation that helps remove dead skin cells and increase cell turnover. 

I would suggest trying this low concentration of lactic acid serum for those new to lactic acid and acids in general. Also, it’s great for those with sensitive skin who still want to try chemical exfoliation. 

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If you’re looking for a higher concentration of lactic acid and want to give The Ordinary a try, here’s an excellent product for you. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA offers a 10% concentration of lactic acid and is supported by hydrating hyaluronic acid. 

This high-strength superficial peeling formulation also offers mild exfoliation to the skin and may provide more immediate, faster results. But again, it’s better to start slowly and avoid any skin damage, particularly if you have sensitive skin. 

Also, it’s important to note that the pH of this formula is approximately 3.8 and that lactic acid has a pKa of 3.8 (pKa implies acid availability). 

When pKa is close to the pH, which is the case with The Ordinary lactic acid serum, that means there is an ideal balance between salt and acidity. This balance maximizes the effectiveness of the acid and is one of the reasons why this product delivers visible results.

Other than the difference in lactic acid concentrations, there are not many other differences between these two serums. It’s up to you to choose which one you will start with. 

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Final Thoughts

It’s no wonder The Ordinary lactic acid serums are so popular right now. They are powerful exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid products that can transform your skin and make you forget about the most annoying skin problems.

Once you understand the enormous benefits that lactic acid offers to the skin, it becomes pretty evident why lactic acid serums make a great addition to any skincare routine.

If you want to get rid of pigmentation, dark spots, and acne scars, lactic acid serum may be what you need right now. They’re also effective in improving skin texture and strengthening the barrier, so it’s a real win-win situation if you think about it!

I hope this article helped you understand how lactic acid works and that you’re ready to get started with acid peels and facial exfoliation. Now, go ahead and treat yourself to the best skincare products for your skin!

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