Lactic acid is a wonderful AHA family acid that exfoliates the skin while moisturizing it. Lactic acid also makes the skin thicker and firmer which reduces the look of wrinkles and fine lines.
While the name may confuse you, lactic acid used in topical skincare is actually vegan-friendly. Vegan skincare often utilizes the skin-improving powers of lactic acid. Here is the best vegan lactic acid skincare for 2023.
Best Vegan AHA Skincare
Best Vegan Glycolic Acid Skincare
PS all products below are vegan and cruelty-free, meaning they are free of animal-derived ingredients and have not been tested on animals. 💚
Best Vegan Lactic Acid Skincare
Lactic acid works best in treatments, serums, cleansers, and toners. Here are the best vegan lactic acid skincare products for 2023. These vegan skincare products are sure to make a positive difference to your skin.
- Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
- Biossance Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum
- Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum
- The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Exfoliating Serum
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
We love this vegan lactic acid treatment from Sunday Riley. It absorbs fast and significantly improves the skin texture and tone overnight. A medium concentration of lactic acid fades dark spots and works well for dry skin. Licorice and lemongrass brighten up and refresh the skin.
- What we like: leaves a glowy and dewy finish, fast absorbing
- What we don’t like: it’s expensive
- What reviews say: plumps the skin, unclogs pores, helps with hormonal acne
Key ingredients: lactic acid 5%, licorice, lemongrass | Main benefits: brightening, refreshing, hydrating | Features: vegan, mineral oil-free, artificial fragrance-free, gluten-free, recyclable packaging, made in the USA
Biossance Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum
This vegan lactic acid night serum from Biossance smooths the skin texture overnight. It also helps to reduce acne and tightens the skin. Since it contains 10% of lactic acid, we recommend it for oily, normal, and combination skin types. Hydrating squalane balances the acid well.
- What we like: helps with breakouts, unclogs pores
- What we don’t like: takes time to see results
- What reviews say: improves and smoothens skin texture, reduces acne
Key ingredients: lactic acid 10%, clover, squalane | Main benefits: smoothening, softening, brightening | Features: vegan, recyclable packaging, artificial fragrance-free, made in the USA
Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum
This vegan serum with lactic acid and peptides is great for mature, oily, combination, and acne-prone skin. High lactic acid concentration helps to tighten the skin and reduce fine lines. Signal peptides balance the skin and restore the skin’s hydration levels.
- What we like: tightens up the skin, clears breakouts
- What we don’t like: uncomfortable packaging
- What reviews say: reduces fine lines, brightens up the overall complexion, works great for aging skin
Key ingredients: lactic acid 10%, signal peptide complex, multi-amino-acid blend | Main benefits: plumping, moisturizing, brightening | Features: vegan, essential oils-free, silicone-free, fragrance-free, made in the USA
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Exfoliating Serum
The Ordinary’s vegan lactic acid serum is affordable and perfect for oily and acne-prone skin. It reduces acne as well as old acne scars. The serum has also Tasmanian pepperberry to reduce potential inflammation from the acid and hyaluronic acid to gently hydrate the skin.
- What we like: great value for money, smoothens skin texture
- What we don’t like: it can be too harsh for sensitive skin
- What reviews say: works great for oily skin, reduces old acne scars
Key ingredients: lactic acid 10%, hyaluronic acid, Tasmanian pepperberry | Main benefits: exfoliating, smoothening, soothing | Features: vegan, silicone-free, gluten-free, alcohol-free, nut-free, artificial fragrance-free, made in Canada
Freck Beauty Cactus Water Cleansing Lactic Acid Toner
Freck Beauty’s vegan lactic acid toner is great for balancing combination skin. Lactic acid gently gets rid of excess oil and dirt while cactus flower hydrates the skin. The toner makes the skin overall smoother and softer over time. All skin types can use this mild toner.
- What we like: leaves a refreshed feeling, makes the skin soft
- What we don’t like: contains fragrance
- What reviews say: clears out acne, does not dry out the skin
Key ingredients: lactic acid 1%, cactus flower extract, kelp extract | Main benefits: exfoliating, hydrating, brightening | Features: vegan, gluten-free, recyclable packaging, made in the USA
Shop on: Sephora, Beauty Bay
Dermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser
Dermalogica’s vegan lactic acid cleanser will really renew the skin by removing old skin cells and unclogging pores. This also helps to boost the skin’s moisture levels and make it much plumper. This cleanser suits all skin types but we recommend dry and sensitive skin types be careful.
- What we like: reduces acne scars, removes dirt and old skin
- What we don’t like: it can be harsh around the eye area
- What reviews say: reduces fine lines and wrinkles, works great for all skin types
Key ingredients: lactic acid 5%, rose flower oil | Main benefits: exfoliating, smoothening, plumping | Features: vegan, artificial fragrance-free, artificial colors-free, made in the USA
Peach & Lily Power Cocktail Lactic Acid Repair Serum
Peach & Lily’s vegan lactic acid serum is packed with antioxidants and perfect for preventing signs of aging. This serum helps to smooth out skin texture and lighten dark spots. Hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin and algae extract will make the skin softer.
- What we like: reduces hyperpigmentation, smooths texture
- What we don’t like: it can be too harsh for sensitive skin
- What reviews say: helps with small pimples and breakouts, makes dark spots less visible
Key ingredients: lactic acid 10%, algae extract, ginseng, hyaluronic acid, ceramides | Main benefits: firming, smoothening, soothing | Features: vegan, essential oil-free, artificial fragrance-free
Shop on: Ulta, Official site
Is Lactic Acid Vegan?
Lactic acid used in skincare is usually vegan. While lactic acid could also be derived from cow’s milk, in skincare, lactic acid is made from fermented grains, sugarcane, or legumes.
While lactic acid is vegan-friendly, be careful with lactic acid skincare products as they can contain other animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax, honey, or animal glycerin.
To make sure your lactic acid skincare is vegan, choose products with a certified vegan label or prefer fully vegan and cruelty-free brands.
What To Look For In Vegan Lactic Acid Skincare?
When looking for vegan lactic acid skincare products, pay attention to the concentration of the acid in the formulas. The higher the percentage, the stronger its effects are.
Here are some pointers for choosing the right vegan lactic acid strength.
- Low concentrations of lactic acid (2%) will help with small imperfections such as pimples and make the skin smoother. This works best for dry and sensitive types.
- Medium concentrations of lactic acid (4-8%) such as four to eight will reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It makes the skin texture stronger and more resistant.
- High concentrations of lactic acid (9-12%) are good for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin. It reduces acne, pigmentation, and wrinkles, and makes the skin softer. As strong lactic acid products cause tingling and burning, we do not recommend this for sensitive and dry skin.
As lactic acid makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, we recommend using vegan lactic acid skincare in your nighttime routine. And always wear vegan sunscreen the following day.
FAQ About Vegan Lactic Acid Skincare
Yes. While lactic acid could be derived from milk, in skincare, lactic acid is usually vegan.
The best vegan lactic acid skincare product is the Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment.
You will find the best selection of vegan lactic acid skincare online, especially on Amazon, Ulta, and Sephora.
We are glad that the lactic acid used in skincare is vegan. Lactic acid is an excellent exfoliating ingredient that does not strip the skin of moisture.
We highly recommend vegan lactic acid serums from Sunday Riley, Biossance, The Ordinary, and Drunk Elephant. You can also find some good quality vegan lactic acid cleansers and toners.
As vegan lactic acid skincare is on the rise, we will keep on trying out new products and updating this article with our favorites.
See also: Best Vegan Exfoliators
Update on May 04 (2023): Fact checked and medically reviewed by MD Shimona Garg
Update on February 19 (2023): Added more references