7 Best Lactic Acid Cleansers for Satin Smooth Skin (2021 ✅)

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Find the best lactic acid cleanser for your skin type, skin condition, and budget! Overall, my top recommendation is Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser.

Did you know that adding a lactic cleanser to your skincare routine is one of the best ways to keep your skin looking younger, smoother, and more vibrant?

That's because alpha hydroxy acids like lactic acid draw out impurities, resurface skin texture, brighten skin tone, and even stimulate collagen production. (source: Soleymani et al., 2018)

Washing your face with a lactic acid cleanser also prepares your skin to better absorb subsequent skincare treatments like a chemical peel, retinol serum, or face cream.

But with so many lactic acid cleansers on the market, which one is right for you? 🤔

In this post, I'll discuss how to choose a lactic acid cleanser and my top recommendations.

RELATED:

What Is The Best Lactic Acid Cleanser?

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Editor's Choice: Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
  2. Professional Salon Quality: Dermalogica Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser
  3. Best Value for Money: PCA Skin Facial Wash
  4. Best for Satin Smooth Skin: SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
  5. Best for Signs of Aging: Platinum Skin Care Lactic Anti-Aging Cleanser
  6. Best for Brilliant Brightness: Glo Skin Beauty Hydra-Bright AHA Cleanser
  7. Best for Clogged Pores: Cosmedix Purity Clean
Murad AHA BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
1
EDITOR'S CHOICE

Murad AHA/BHA 
Exfoliating Cleanser

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Best For:

✅ Cleansing
✅ Exfoliation
✅ Hydration
✅ Brightness
✅ Smoothness

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Glycolic Acid
⭐ Lactic Acid
⭐ Salicylic Acid
⭐ Jojoba Esters
⭐ Vitamin C Derivative
⭐ Licorice Root Extract

Key Features:

👍 6.75 oz Value Size
👍 For All Skin Types, including Sensitive Skin
🏆 5 Stars on Amazon!
🏆 1,500+ Reviews

If you haven't tried Murad's #1 bestselling AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser yet, what are you waiting for?!

(obviously, a massive sale! 😉 On Prime Day last year, this popular lactic acid cleanser was 30% off!)

With 1,500+ reviews and an astronomical 4.8/5.0 rating (85% five-star ratings), I've literally never seen such a highly rated product in all my years as a skincare editor.

Featuring a triple-acid blend of glycolic, lactic, and salicylic, this cleanser chemically exfoliates dead skin cells, removes surface debris and excess oils, and effectively prepares your skin for further treatments, such as a vitamin C serum, retinol cream, or chemical peel.

RELATED:

While alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid may trigger skin sensitivities in some people (lactic acid is very gentle), most customers reported no skin reactions on their usually sensitive skin. 👍

Meanwhile, biodegradable jojoba beads physically exfoliate to polish away dull, dry skin.

(don't worry, it's nowhere near as abrasive as your typical drugstore face scrub)

Murad AHA BHA Exfoliating Cleanser Ad

Finally, although it's not mentioned on the package, Murad also included a vitamin C derivative (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) and licorice root extract (Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate), both of which provide skin brightening benefits by inhibiting your skin's melanin production.

However, this is definitely not as effective in a cleanser format compared to a vitamin C serum, so think of it as a bonus freebie in this otherwise pretty simple formulation.

RELATED:

My Verdict: If you're in the market for a new cleanser, Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser might have you changing your entire skincare routine (spoiler: it's that good!).

With 1,500+ reviews and an astronomical 4.8/5.0 on Amazon, this triple-acid cleanser is both effective and excellent value for money (the 6.75 oz size will last you many months).

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Dermalogica Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser
2
PROFESSIONAL SALON QUALITY

Dermalogica Age Smart 
Skin Resurfacing Cleanser

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Best For:

✅ Mature & Aging Skin
✅ Enlarged Pores
✅ Hyperpigmentation
✅ Melasma
✅ Uneven Skin Tone

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Lactic Acid
⭐ Vitamin E
⭐ Rose Flower Oil

Key Features:

👍 5.1 oz Size
👍 Salon Quality
🏆 Extraordinary Reviews
🏆 1,000+ Ratings!

Have you ever wondered what brand professional salons use after an oh-so satisfying facial treatment?

Dermalogica is one of them and you've probably seen their products on the shelves of your local salon or spa.

Now, you can bring the spa experience back home with Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser to jump-start your regular skincare routine.

This powerful lactic acid cleanser is one of Dermalogica's many bestsellers with over 1,000 reviews on Amazon and an impressive 4.7/5.0 rating (second only to Murad!).

The active ingredients are very simple: just lactic acid and vitamin E, but there's a number of oils as well, including sunflower seed, rose flower, clove flower, rosewood, lemon peel, and geranium.

According to Dermalogica, rose flower oil is used to "refresh the senses" but it's not entirely clear what purpose the other oils serve (maybe hydrating effects?).

In any case, if you have acne-prone or oily skin, I'd skip this one and get Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser instead.

Among the hundreds of positive customer reviews (currently 82% five-star ratings!), women said that using Dermalogica made a visible difference in their complexion, including:

  • Reduced hyperpigmentation such as dark spots and melasma
  • Diminished pore sizes
  • Softer & smoother skin texture
  • Less noticeable acne scarring
  • Promotes a healthy & natural glow

RELATED:

Dermalogica Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser Ad

My Verdict: For a professional salon quality cleanser, trust Dermalogica to revitalize your skin for a brighter, smoother, and younger-looking appearance. With 1,000+ reviews on Amazon, Age Smart Skin Resurfacing Cleanser is one of the best lactic acid cleansers on the market.

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PCA Skin Facial Wash
3
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY

PCA Skin
Facial Wash

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Best For:

✅ Bulk Buyers
✅ Savvy Shoppers
✅ Exfoliation Enthusiasts

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Lactic Acid
⭐ Aloe Vera Leaf Juice
⭐ Allantoin
⭐ Willow Bark Extract

Key Features:

👍 7 oz Value Size
👍 Perfect for Sensitive Skin
👍 Cruelty-Free
👍 Fragrance-Free
🏆 Extraordinary Reviews
🏆 900+ Ratings!

When you start taking your skincare seriously, it becomes more like a ritual or rite of passage.

(no cult invites, please...🤣)

For this, PCA Skin Facial Wash is an excellent cleanser to start your morning ritual and end your evening one with a mix of exfoliating yet hydrating lactic acid, soothing aloe vera, moisturizing allantoin, and blemish-clearing willow bark extract (a natural source of salicylic acid).

Best of all, it's a professional quality face wash that won't break the bank at $33 for 7 oz (~$4.7 per oz).

With 900+ reviews on Amazon, customers have commented that PCA Skin helped them with anti-aging, adult acne, clogged pores, and even dry skin!

It's excellent for daily use, removing makeup and environmental impurities, and preparing your skin for further treatments like PCA Skin Rejuvenating Serum with plant stem cells and antioxidants.

P.S. save 20% on both products and get an SPF 50 sunscreen with Preventative Essentials Kit.

PCA Skin Facial Wash Ad

My Verdict: Build a complete anti-aging or anti-acne skincare ritual with PCA Skin Facial Wash, an affordable lactic acid cleanser with aloe vera, allantoin, and willow bark extract, that will result in many, many months of cleaner, fresher, and smoother-looking skin.

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SkinMedica AHA BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
4
BEST FOR SATIN SMOOTH SKIN

SkinMedica AHA/BHA 
Exfoliating Cleanser

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Best For:

✅ Smoother Skin Texture
✅ More Even Skin Tone

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Sugar Cane
⭐ Sugar Maple
⭐ Orange Fruit
⭐ Lemon Fruit
⭐ Salicylic Acid
⭐ Licorice Root
⭐ Jojoba Esters

Key Features:

👍 6 oz Value Size
👍 Professional Quality
👍 Naturally Derived AHAs
👍 Fruity Fragrance
🏆 Extraordinary Reviews
🏆 1,000+ Ratings!

Continuing our search for the best lactic acid face wash, SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is yet another premium AHA/BHA cleanser that is almost identical to Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser.

(it even has the same name!)

However, once you look beneath the surface at the actual ingredient list, you'll find that SkinMedica is different as it uses naturally derived AHAs:

  • Sugar Cane Extract: glycolic acid, of course!
  • Sugar Maple Extract: malic and tartaric acids
  • Orange & Lemon Extract: citric acid

And unlike Murad, SkinMedica does not uses SLES or Sodium Laureth Sulfate, if that's important to you.

SLES is a gentle cleansing agent that creates a foaming/lathering effect and is actually very safe but it's commonly confused with SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which may cause skin irritation.

(sources: Paula's Choice, Healthline)

Similar to Murad, SkinMedica includes jojoba spheres to lightly resurface your skin texture for improved softness & smoothness while licorice root extract brightens brown spots.

Finally, salicylic acid (not naturally derived) contributes the BHA part of this formula and helps degrease oily skin by unclogging blocked pores and regulating excess sebum production.

SkinMedica AHA BHA Exfoliating Cleanser Ad

My Verdict: Silky smooth skin is around the corner when you use a professional cleanser like SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser with naturally derived AHAs, salicylic acid, and exfoliating jojoba spheres, for reduced signs of wrinkles, fine lines, and pigmentation.

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Platinum Skin Care Lactic Anti-Aging Cleanser
5
BEST FOR SIGNS OF AGING

Platinum Skin Care 
Lactic Anti-Aging Cleanser

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Best For:

✅ Wrinkles
✅ Fine Lines
✅ Pigmentation
✅ Dry Skin
✅ Sensitive Skin

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Sweet Almond Oil
⭐ Aloe Vera Gel
⭐ Hyaluronic Acid
⭐ Lactic Acid
⭐ Organic Extracts
⭐ Jojoba Esters

Key Features:

🧪 pH = 4.25
👍 6 oz Value Size
👍 Rich Creamy Cleanser
👍 Very Positive Reviews

As you age, your skin starts to lose its natural elasticity due to declining collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycan levels, resulting in thin, crepey, and dry skin.

Unlike teens and adults with oily skin, what you need now is a rich creamy cleanser that won't strip your skin's natural oils while still providing a good bit of exfoliation to regularly remove dead skin cells.

Platinum Skin Care Lactic Anti-Aging Cleanser is such a cleanser that helps reduce signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and pigmentation with a blend of lactic acid, hydrating agents like almond oil and hyaluronic acid, and organic extracts that rejuvenate and refresh dry skin.

This luxurious and creamy cleanser has been reviewed by dozens of customers as extremely gentle on aging skin, deeply moisturizing, and always leaves their skin feeling silky smooth without stripping its natural oils.

Meanwhile, organic extracts of horsetail, hops, rosemary, and white pine purify, soothe, and restore balance.

Finally, jojoba esters (beads) round out the formula for added physical exfoliation.

Follow up with Platinum Skin Care Lactic Anti-Aging Toner with SYN®-AKE for the best results (SYN®-AKE is a patented synthetic peptide that helps smooth wrinkles and fine lines).

My Verdict: Complete your anti-aging skincare routine with a luxuriously creamy cleanser like Platinum Skin Care Lactic Anti-Aging Cleanser for a silky smooth and hydrated complexion.

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Glo Skin Beauty Hydra-Bright AHA Cleanser
6
BEST FOR BRILLANT BRIGHTNESS

Glo Skin Beauty 
Hydra-Bright AHA Cleanser

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Best For:

✅ Hyperpigmentation
✅ Dark Spots
✅ Melasma
✅ Uneven Skin Tone

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Vegan Lactic Acid
⭐ Blue Lotus Flower
⭐ Moringa Seed Oil

Key Features:

👍 6.7 oz Value Size
👍 Spa Quality
👍 Sulfate-Free
🏆 Fantastic Reviews

Does brilliantly bright skin seem to elude you?

Well, allow me to introduce you to Glo Skin Beauty!

Hydra-Bright AHA Cleanser is a godsend for dark spots, melasma, and uneven skin tone, powered by lactic acid, blue lotus flower (water lily), and moringa extract.

Vegan lactic acid exfoliates and brightens dull skin while blue lotus flower restores hydration to your skin and balances its natural oil content. (source: SkinBetter)

Meanwhile, moringa seed oil (found in prestige brands like Estée Lauder) deeply nourishes and protects your skin from free radical damage.

Notably, Glo Skin Beauty is sulfate-free (including SLES, SLS) but does use a number of alternative sodium-based surfactants as well as essential oils and fragrance.

Customer reviews are very positive with an excellent 4.6/5.0 on Amazon (80% five-star ratings) and one woman commented that she preferred Glo Skin Beauty to Dermalogica.

Glo Skin Beauty Hydra-Bright AHA Cleanser Ad

My Verdict: Your skin wants to glow - let Glo Skin Beauty Hydra-Bright AHA Cleanser help you reveal rapidly radiant skin with vegan lactic acid, blue lotus flower, and moringa extract.

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Cosmedix Purity Clean
7
BEST FOR CLOGGED PORES

Cosmedix 
Purity Clean

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Best For:

✅ Acne
✅ Blemishes
✅ Breakouts
✅ Clogged Pores
✅ Oily Skin

Key Ingredients:

⭐ 5% L-Lactic Acid
⭐ Tea Tree Oil
⭐ Peppermint Essential Oil

Key Features:

👍 5 oz Size
👍 Cooling Gel Cleanser
👍 Doubles as a Mask
🏆 Excellent Reviews

Do you struggle with constant breakouts?

While salicylic acid is more often prescribed for acne vulgaris (due to its lipophilic properties), it's often very drying and may irritate sensitive skin.

If that sounds like you, Cosmedix Purity Clean is a good alternative with gentle 5% lactic acid and tea tree oil to banish blemishes, blackheads, and clogged pores.

In particular, Cosmedix uses chirally correct L-lactic acid which is the chemical form of lactic acid that your body recognizes and can readily use.

Regular lactic acid formulas contain both L- and D- forms, but since your body can't use the D form, half of it goes to waste and may even contribute to skin irritation.

(source: All Natural Skin Solutions)

By the way, the same problem exists for vitamin C: L-ascorbic acid is the chirally correct form.

(and that concludes our chemistry lesson of the day 😀)

Aside from that, peppermint essential oil provides a cooling and refreshing sensation that, combined with lavender and tea tree oil, soothes inflammation and calms the complexion.

For a deeper cleanse, use Cosmedix Purity Clean as a detoxifying mask for 1-3 minutes before rinsing your face to purify pores, remove excess oils, and dissolve dead skin cells.

Cosmedix Purity Clean Ad

My Verdict: Clear up breakouts, fade blemishes, and purify pores with Cosmedix Purity Clean featuring 5% chirally correct L-lactic acid, tea tree oil, and peppermint essential oil for a cool and soothing cleansing experience.

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Woman Washing Face With Cleanser
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