The Ordinary vs Glossier: Lactic Acid


Before we get into this comparison I just want to highlight what lactic acid is, this so you know if you should even buy it at all . Lactic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin. Up to 10% lactic acid in a formulation can offer mild exfoliation.

It works primarily on the outer most layer of the skin, perfect for those of you who have slightly more sensitive skin. If you have been wanting to add an acid to your skincare regiment but find that everything irritates your skin to the point it is uncomfortable then you should probably try lactic acid WITH a mixture of something more hydrating and soothing like, hyaluronic acid.

The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid offering

The real question isn’t whether you should use it or not (I highly recommend using a chemical exfoliate in your routine), it’s which one should you use? The world of acids in beauty is understandably daunting. Which one should I use? What percentage works for my skin? Which brand is reputable enough to trust? All these questions before we’ve even gotten into the sustainability credentials of the brand!

So, to make it easier I put it in a table with the most important things I think you should look for:

Highlighted ingredients: Salicylic Acid BHA that unclogs pores by breaking oil bonds attaching dead cells to skin, and 0.5% of overall formula.
Glycolic Acid Brightening AHA that breaks water bonds attaching dead cells to skin, improving tone and texture.
Lactic Acid AHA that reduces the appearance of dark spots.
Gluconolactone PHA that exfoliates while moisturizing and conditioning.
Anti-Stress Complex Ultra-soothing aloe, hydrating glycerin, and calming niacinamide make Solution extra gentle.
£19 for 130 mL – 10 percent lactic acid.
The OrdinaryHighlighted Ingredients: purified Tasmanian pepperberry known to reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity that is often associated with exfoliation. Hyaluronic Acid, mitigates the irritation that can be caused the lactic acid by keeping the skin hydrated.
£5.80 for 30 mL – 10 percent lactic acid.

To answer one of the questions above the best way to know what percentage works for your skin is to try them. Start low. If this is your instance then The Ordinary wins hands down, they have multiple percentages to choose from at £5 a pop you’re not really risking much. But start low. The have one milder than this one too, with just 5 percent lactic acid.

The Ordinary’s formulation isn’t just the basics either. With a combination of HA and Tasmanian Pepperberry, this option is really delivering a safe and healthy way to try chemical exfoliation and keep it in your routine without the fear of ‘over-acidifying’. A term I’m pretty sure I coined and basically means at such a low percentage and with other hydrating ingredients, you could use this everyday without stripping your skin of essential oils.

Glossier also have 10 percent lactic acid in their formula but they also have three other acids including; glycolic, salicylic and gluconolactone. Hence, I would recommend this for those of you who are well aquainted with chemical exfoliation and are looking for the next step up in your routine. It’s very likely, if you’ve been using acid for a long time, that your skin has become used to it and so your usual acid is having a lesser impact than it once had. I know this from experience and so if you have found yourself in a similar situation this may be your answer.

The core ingredients can tell you a lot about which product is for you. In this instance it’s essential to look at your skin’s sensitivity. Even though they both had 10 percent lactic acid, Glossier has three more exfoliating acids and so for those of you with very sensitive skin it may work best to start with The Ordinary’s version.