Lactic Acid (Dry skin)

Lactic acid or lactate is an organic acid that exists naturally in our skin. In the skin, lactate works partly by attracting and binding water as one of the components in the skin’s so-called ‘natural moisturising factor.’ This serves to keep the upper skin layers well-hydrated, which is important for sustaining the skin barrier function1.

What does the science say?

Level of evidence: C

The levels of natural moisturising factors have been shown to be reduced in psoriatic lesions2, and in eczematous skin3 compared with healthy skin. In high concentrations, lactic acid may help to loosen scales which can then subsequently be removed. The exact mechanism for this is not yet completely understood, but thought partly to be through disintegrating some of the components that hold cells together1.

HelloSkin’s experts were unable to find any scientific data or clinical trial regarding the use of lactic acid in people with dry skin (xerosis). However, in one study in human volunteers, topical application of 12% ammonium lactate was able to limit the skin damage to the forearm inflicted by use of a potent steroid for 3-4 week4.

The concentration of an ingredient is important for its efficacy, and therefore products containing the same ingredient may not necessarily have the same effect as in the studies mentioned above. Updated: July. 2017

Updated: July 2017


1[Practical Dermatology 36-40, July 2012]

2J Dermatol. 2014

3J Dermatol Sci. 2012

4J Am Acad Dermatol. 1992