Today, I’m going to discuss the best lactic acid peels available on the market (spoiler: my top pick is QRxLabs Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel).
Lactic acid is a popular peel that is very gentle and does not penetrate beyond the epidermis due to its large molecule size (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).
It’s structurally similar to glycolic acid and provides comparable results for hyperpigmentation, fading acne scars, and improving skin texture (firmness, smoothness) and skin tone (evenness).
In other words, lactic acid peels should be a part of everyone’s skincare regimen! 🤗
ⓘ Let’s help you find the right lactic acid peel for your skin concern and budget!
What Is The Best Lactic Acid Peel?
Here are my top picks for the best lactic acid peels:
- Best Overall Peel: QRxLabs Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel
- Best Runner-Up Peel: Perfect Image Lactic 50% Gel Peel
- Best Starter Kit: Platinum Skin Care Lactic Acid 50
- Best Peel Pads: Platinum Skin Care Lactic Acid 50 Peel Pads
- Best Leave-On Peel: Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate
- Best for Silky Skin: ELEMIS Peptide⁴ Overnight Radiance Peel
- Best for Wrinkles & Fine Lines: Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel
- Best for Sensitive Skin: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
- Best for Blemish-Prone Skin: Skyn Iceland Nordic Skin Peel
- Best for Enlarged Pores: Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Lactic Pore Treatment
1. Best Overall Peel: QRxLabs Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel
Summary: QRxLabs is my #1 pick for an effective and affordable lactic acid peel for brighter, smoother, and more even skin. 🤗
Best For: Dark Spots, Uneven Tone, Acne Scars, Wrinkles & Fine Lines
50% Lactic Acid
Licorice Root Extract
Get It @ QRxLabs
QRxLabs is my top pick for an effective and affordable lactic acid peel at only $19.95 for 1.0 oz.
This professional grade chemical peel uses 50% Lactic Acid which is considered a medium peel and is a “step-up” from beginner peels like 30% Glycolic Acid (like this one by QRxLabs).
Lactic acid is structurally identical to glycolic acid, except for a methyl group, and provides comparable results with fewer side effects (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).
In particular, lactic acid peels are often used to treat hyperpigmentation like dark spots, age spots, melasma, and uneven tone, as well as reduce signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines.
To help fight hyperpigmentation even further, QRxLabs added natural skin lightening agents:
- Kojic Acid: a mushroom-based ingredient with antioxidant and anti-tyrosinase properties that helps boost the overall effectiveness of other ingredients in a skin lightening formula (sources: Cutis, 2010 and Indian Journal of Dermatology, 2013).
- Bearberry Extract (Beta Arbutin): extracted from the Uva Ursi plant, this natural derivative of hydroquinone has demonstrated effectiveness for melasma patients in two clinical studies (source: The Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology, 2018).
- Licorice Root Extract: studies show that licorice root contains two extracts: i) Glabridin, which was 16x more powerful than hydroquinone at inhibiting melanin in one study and ii) Liquiritin, which helps reduce uneven skin tone by distributing melanin more evenly (sources: Pigment Cell Research, 1998 and The Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology, 2018).
As you can see, the combination of 50% Lactic Acid with natural skin lightening agents creates a powerful solution for brighter, smoother, and more even-looking skin.
Green Tea Extract and Chamomile Extract round out the formula to reduce skin sensitivity.
Finally, a word of caution: this is a strong peel (as many reviewers can attest to) so make sure to follow the product instructions on pre-peel preparation, peel duration, and post-peel recovery.
My Verdict: QRxLabs Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel is my top pick for an effective lactic acid peel that can clear blemishes, reduce acne scars, fade hyperpigmentation, and soften wrinkles & fine lines. This chemical peel includes natural skin lightening agents and is super affordable at $19.95.
2. Best Runner-Up Peel: Perfect Image Lactic 50% Gel Peel
Summary: Perfect Image also offers an excellent lactic acid peel with skin brightening boosters. 🙌
Best For: Dark Spots, Uneven Tone, Acne Scars, Wrinkles & Fine Lines
50% Lactic Acid
Licorice Root Extract
Get It @ Perfect Image
Perfect Image is my (very close) second pick for an effective lactic acid peel at $29.95 for 1.0 oz.
This bestselling chemical peel features a similar formulation to QRxLabs with 50% Lactic Acid and a blend of natural skin lightening boosters like Kojic Acid, Bearberry Extract, and Licorice Root Extract.
(please see my previous discussion under QRxLabs for a full explanation of each ingredient)
Overall, this formula will help you fade dark spots faster and unify uneven skin tone for a clearer, smoother, and more radiant-looking complexion.
Lactic acid also stimulates collagen production to reduce the appearance of wrinkles & fine lines.
In addition, Perfect Image included a complex of skin soothing ingredients:
- Cucumber Extract: helps hydrate, nourish, and soothe skin with vitamin C and amino acids (source: Phytochemical and Therapeutic Potential of Cucumber, 2013).
- Green Tea Extract: contains polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (source: Protective Mechanisms of Green Tea Polyphenols in Skin, 2012).
- Chamomile Extract: a traditional herb used to treat burns and wounds for centuries; it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe skin and promote healing (source: Practical Uses of Botanicals in Skin Care, 2009).
- Comfrey Extract: another traditional herb used for muscle aches and joint pain; its ability to reduce inflammation and swelling may help soothe sensitive skin following chemical peels (source: Comfrey: A Clinical Overview, 2012).
This helps reduce any stinging, redness, or sensitivity, both during and immediately after you apply the chemical peel (it’s especially useful as 50% lactic acid is a medium-depth peel).
Finally, like before, make sure you read the product instructions carefully before applying this peel.
Exclusive Discount: Perfect Image is offering my readers a 15% discount on all orders with the coupon code DERM15 and shipping is free on orders over $20. 🤑
My Verdict: Perfect Image Lactic 50% Gel Peel is another fantastic lactic acid peel that can help with many skin concerns, including hyperpigmentation, acne scars, dry skin, and signs of aging. This chemical peel costs $10 more than QRxLabs but offers additional skin soothing ingredients.
3. Best Starter Kit: Platinum Skin Care Lactic Acid 50
Summary: Platinum Skin Care has put everything you need for a lactic acid peel in this starter kit.
Best For: Beginners, Convenience (also makes a great gift idea 🎁)
Each Set Contains:
-Lactic Acid 50% Peel
-Peel Prep Solution
-Fan Brush or Gauze Strips
Get It @ Platinum Skin Care
If you’re looking for a starter kit, Platinum Skin Care has you covered with their Lactic Acid 50 Kit.
This convenient set includes everything you need to get started:
- 2.0 oz Lactic Acid 50% Peel – this is double the usual bottle size (1.0 oz) and includes Panthenol, Allantoin, and Rosemary Leaf Extract to reduce redness and soothe sensitivity.
- 2.0 oz Peel Prep Solution – an alcohol-based toner to prepare your skin for a chemical peel. This helps remove any surface oils and debris to allow the lactic acid to work effectively.
- 4.5 oz Post-Peel Neutralizer – a baking soda solution with Panthenol and Tea Tree Oil. Use the neutralizer after 2-5 minutes to stop the chemical peel from penetrating too deeply.
- Your choice of Fan Brush or Gauze Pads – my personal preference is gauze pads as I find it’s hard to get an even application using a fan brush.
This lactic acid kit is perfect for beginners and should last you about 4-6 months. The only thing that’s missing is a post-peel recovery cream, and for that, I’d recommend two products:
- Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Sheet Masks – I use these right after a peel and they’re absolutely amazing for restoring skin hydration and reducing post-peel redness.
- La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 – this is currently my favorite recovery cream and features panthenol, madecassoside, and essential minerals to repair your skin barrier. 🙌
In this video, Jen from Platinum Skin Care explains that lactic acid penetrates very superficially into your epidermis due to its large molecule size, making it a great option for dry or sensitive skin.
With regular use, lactic acid peels help improve many skin conditions, including hyperpigmentation, uneven tone, inflammatory acne, chronic dry skin, wrinkles and fine lines, and much more.
My Verdict: For the ultimate convenience, Platinum Skin Care’s Lactic Acid 50 Kit has everything you need to start peeling at home for healthier, smoother, and more radiant-looking skin. 👍
4. Best Peel Pads: Platinum Skin Care Lactic Acid 50 Peel Pads
Summary: This is the same peel by Platinum Skin Care above, but in the convenient form of 24 peel pads at a very affordable price. 👍
Best For: Convenience, Travel Use
50% Lactic Acid
Get It @ Platinum Skin Care
If you prefer to use peel pads, Platinum Skin Care has the same lactic acid 50% peel from before, but in the convenient form of 24 peel pads for just $30 right now (a pretty decent deal).
These peel pads are pre-soaked in the same chemical solution and are perfect for travel use.
For maximum effectiveness, I recommend picking up a pre-peel cleanser (rubbing alcohol works) to remove skin oils & debris and a post-peel neutralizer (baking soda & water is fine, too).
Remember to use this product consistently because peel pads can dry out over time.
My Verdict: If you prefer peel pads, Platinum Skin Care’s Lactic Acid 50 Peel Pads are a great option.
5. Best Leave-On Peel: Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate
Summary: The Liquid ExfoliKate is a nightly leave-on peel with 10% AHAs for brighter & smoother skin with reduced pore sizes.
Best For: Smoother Skin Texture, Enlarged Pores, Uneven Tone
10% AHAs (Lactic, Glycolic, Malic)
Phytic Acid with Fruit Enzymes
Peptides, Honey, Tea Extract
Get It @ Kate Somerville, Amazon
If you’re a peel enthusiast who wants to keep your skin flawless and glowing every day, I suggest using Kate Somerville’s Liquid ExfoliKate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment every night. 😉
Featuring 10% AHAs (Lactic, Glycolic, Malic), this leave-on peel dissolves dead skin cells and removes surface build-up for better absorption of your skincare routine.
In addition, Phytic Acid and Pumpkin, Papaya, and Pineapple Enzymes provide additional exfoliation to reveal brighter & smoother skin with less noticeable pores.
Peptides, Honey, and Green Tea Extract round out this multi-acid formula to calm and soothe skin.
You should apply Liquid ExfoliKate after cleansing but before applying serums or moisturizers.
In terms of real-world results, Kate Somerville cites an independent study that found:
- After 7 Days: 100% showed improvement in pore sizes
- After 4 Weeks: 93% saw visibly reduced skin dullness
Customer reviews have also been positive, with comments of fading acne scars, smoother skin, smaller pores, brighter skin tone, and better absorption of skincare products like Retinol.
My Verdict: Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate is a nightly leave-on peel that’s gentle enough for daily use and helps keep your skin looking flawless and glowing every day of the week. 👏
6. Best for Silky Skin: ELEMIS Peptide⁴ Overnight Radiance Peel
Is your skin feeling (and looking) dull and tired lately?
I can’t say I blame you in today’s crazy world. 😑
To help rejuvenate your skin and restore its silky smoothness, British luxury brand ELEMIS has created the Peptide⁴ Overnight Radiance Peel with Lactic Acid, Hibiscus Flower Milk, and Peptides.
We already know that Lactic Acid is a mild AHA that helps exfoliate dead skin cells to remove surface dullness and hydrate your skin barrier by drawing in moisture from the environment.
Meanwhile, Hibiscus Flower Milk supports cell renewal and contains antioxidants that were shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer and improve wound healing in clinical studies (sources: Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 2017 and BioMed Research International, 2017).
Finally, ELEMIS incorporates two ingredients that are exclusive to its brand:
- British Night Scented Stock: grown in East Anglia (UK), ELEMIS is the first company to use this fragrant flower oil which is rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin E (source: ELEMIS)
- Peptide⁴: a yeast peptide inspired by the body’s natural circadian rhythms that helps support the skin’s own “synchronized internal clock” for cell renewal (source: ELEMIS)
An independent study of 120 people after 4 weeks found that:
- 98% said their complexion looked brighter
- 94% said their complexion looked less tired and dull
- 93% saw improvements in skin clarity
My Verdict: ELEMIS Peptide⁴ Overnight Radiance Peel will help “peel away your problems” with gentle Lactic Acid, fragrant Hibiscus and Night Scented Stock, and yeast derived Peptide⁴.
7. Best for Wrinkles & Fine Lines: Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel
Dermalogica is a professional beauty brand often found in dermatologist offices and salons.
The company’s Rapid Reveal Peel is a set of 10 lactic acid peels in individual tubes of 0.1 oz.
Each one is good for one facial peel and features ingredients like Pumpkin Enzyme, Rice Bran Extract, and Australian Caviar Lime, all of which provide additional exfoliation benefits for your skin.
Overall, this product is great for travel use (comes with a travel bag) and anti-aging purposes, such as reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and uneven skin tone.
Dermalogica recommends using this product in between professional chemical peel treatments to maintain your results as it’ll keep your skin looking (and feeling) healthier and smoother.
Reviewers commented that Rapid Reveal Peel was salon-quality, reduced hyperpigmentation, left behind softer & smoother skin, and got rid of their wrinkles, fine lines, and crepey skin.
My Verdict: For anti-aging concerns, Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel is a great option in between professional treatments with Lactic Acid to remove surface dullness and restore skin clarity.
8. Best for Sensitive Skin: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
If you’re looking for a gentle peel, I highly recommend The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% + HA.
This product is about as low as you can go in terms of lactic acid concentration and includes additional skin soothing ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid and Tasmanian Pepperberry.
I’ve used this product many times for my uneven skin tone and it has a liquid-gel consistency.
Lactic Acid 10% + HA is gentle enough to used every night after toner (don’t layer on anything else).
Reviews have been positive, with comments of clearer skin, fewer bumps, and smoother texture.
My Verdict: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA is perfect for sensitive skin (and it’s only $6.80 😍).
9. Best for Blemish-Prone Skin: Skyn Iceland Nordic Skin Peel
Have you been binge watching Game of Thrones during this pandemic and thinking,
(“Who the heck wrote the script for Season 8?!” 😣)
I mean, “How does Jon Snow keep his skin looking like a Northern God?”
Now you too can unleash your inner Stark (or should I say Targaryen 😲) with the Nordic Skin Peel from Skyn Iceland. #ForTheNorth
This unique chemical peel features Lactic Acid for gentle exfoliation, Witch Hazel and White Willow Bark (a natural source of Salicylic Acid) for clearing out pores and reducing congestion, and a proprietary natural blend called Icelandic Complex that includes:
- Pure Icelandic Glacier Water: with 6 essential minerals to hydrate and detoxify your skin
- Arctic Superfruits: Arctic Cloudberry and Cranberry Seed Oils that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants
- Pure Molecular Oxygen: to refresh and energize your skin’s deepest layers
In addition, Papaya Fruit Enzyme helps dissolve dead skin cells and remove surface dullness while Jojoba Seed Oil keeps your skin hydrated and restores elasticity and smoothness.
My Verdict: Nordic Skin Peel is a fun and refreshing way to experience lactic acid goodness and detoxify your stressed out skin with pure Icelandic glacier water and arctic berry extracts. Now grab your Valyrian sword and dire wolf and fire up your favorite episode of Game of Thrones. ⚔️
10. Best for Enlarged Pores: Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Lactic Pore Treatment
Last but not least, Peter Thomas Roth offers a professional grade lactic acid peel in its PRO Strength collection called Lactic Pore Treatment.
This product features 30% Lactic Acid to purify and decongest your skin, especially enlarged pores, while Witch Hazel provides astringent benefits to clarify and clear away excess oils and debris.
5% Glycerin is also included to help with post-peel hydration and recovery.
Finally, Peter Thomas Roth cited an independent study of 29 women that found:
- 100% agreed their skin felt smoother
- 96% agreed their skin was cleaner, fresher, and renewed
- 90% said their skin was clearer and less oily
My Verdict: For oily skin and enlarged pores, Peter Thomas Roth’s Lactic Pore Treatment keeps your skin balanced by purifying with Lactic Acid, toning with Witch Hazel, and hydrating with Glycerin.