The Best Lactic Acid Products At Every Price

The gentlest AHA can give your skin amazing results, and these three products are proof.

I love a good chemical exfoliant. I’ve raved about mandelic acid before, but my love for AHAs doesn’t end

Recently, in my never-ending quest for clear, hyperpigmentation-free skin, I’ve been branching out, and I’ve been especially loving lactic acid. Derived
from dairy, lactic acid is an AHA that exfoliates the skin to even skin tone
and prevent acne, while its humectant properties hydrate the skin.
It is gentler than the ubiquitous glycolic acid, so it’s still suitable for
sensitive skin, but it's also more available and accessible than mandelic acid,
so it’s a terrific bet if you’re still waiting to give AHAs a try.

Over the
past few months, I’ve been testing out so many lactic acid products in every
kind of base and at every concentration. Here are my top picks for the most
effective products at every price point.

Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner

At less thant $9, this is the most affordable lactic acid product I’ve come up
with, and I’ve looked on the entire
As luck would have it, it’s a really lovely formula to, so if
you’re feeling a little bit like so...

... this lactic acid
toner is gold. GOLD, I SAY.

This toner is gentle enough for nightly use and has an
extremely simple formula: water, aloe vera, and a couple of pH adjusters, so if
your skin is sensitive and acne-prone, it won’t find much to quarrel with

I swiped some on with a cotton pad after cleansing, and waited about 20
minutes for it to fully dry before applying moisturizer. I
always wake up to smoother skin with reduced redness. The only downside is that
because the concentration of lactic acid is relatively low, it will take longer
to give you results. But you know, slow and steady or whatever.

Makeup Artist’s Choice 40% Lactic Acid Peel

This next one is a fair bit more potent, and at $35 for one ounce, a bit pricier, too. I swear by MUAC’s at-home peels, and this one is no exception.

Apply this peel once a week (following the included instructions
carefully--nobody wants chemical burns) for big, hyperpigmentation-busting
impact. Just one peel will give you smoother, glowier skin, and after about six
weeks, you will see a major difference in pigmentation.

For me, the drawbacks
are that it contains alcohol, which dries my skin, and you can only use it once
a week, so while it does a number on dark spots, it isn’t a regular enough
usage schedule to ward off acne. If you’re not zit-prone, though, this may be
all you need.

If you’re still not convinced, they offer cheaper sample kits so
you can feel it out before you commit.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment

Holy crap, you guys. When Sunday Riley sent me this serum, I
wanted so badly not to love it for the $105 price tag alone, but it works so, so well.

The first morning I woke up after using it, I was staring slack-jawed in my
mirror and disbelief. I think I actually, out loud, said “Woaaaaahhhhh” at myself. And every morning thereafter I’m still shocked.

This serum has made the
fastest visible difference on hyperpigmentation of any product I have ever
used. It contains 40% lactic acid, just like the MUAC peel, but for reasons I
do not understand, it can be used daily rather than weekly.

In addition to the acid, Good Genes is
packed with brightening licorice and anti-inflammatory arnica, which do a great
deal in fighting uneven skin tone themselves. I know it is mad pricey, but I am
already saving up to buy another bottle when this one runs out. It’s worth
splashing out for, especially if you have a special event coming up that you
want amazing skin for fast.

You can
also make the cost hurt a little less by using it once a week, overnight or as
a mask, and using a less expensive product like the Silk Naturals toner to
maintain in between.

In the end, though, it more than satisfies my desire for
instant gratification and never-need-foundation-again levels of beautiful skin.