The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% - review


You may remember me mentioning that I used some Adore Beauty gift vouchers to buy a bundle of products from The Ordinary earlier this year.

I think I bought ten items in total, and I only ended up a few bucks out of pocket so that's a plus.

Since then I've been introducing them one by one, and next up for review is this lactic acid. Long story short, it's too much for me and I can't use it as directed - but I have been able to use it as a mask so all is not lost.

As you may know, The Ordinary has a 5% lactic acid and this 10% one. I did consider going for the 5% but decided to go for this 10% because I thought I could always dilute it (so it operated more like a 5%), although I must admit that I'm not actually sure if that's how skincare works. 

Eg, if I use twice as much of the 5% as I do the 10%, do they end up being the same strength when I'm adding them to a cream or serum anyway? Logically I would have thought so, but that doesn't mean that's correct because I'm no expert and I don't know how these things work in practice.

Perhaps if I'd bought the 5% I might have been able to tolerate it better. Who knows.

The Ordinary claims/product details:
  • Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxyl acid that exfoliates the skin
  • This 10% formulation offers mild exfoliation and is supported with a purified Tasmanian pepperberry known to reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity that is often associated with exfoliation
  • Contraindications: lactic acid should not be used on sensitive, peeling or compromised skin; please refer to additional sun protection note and other warnings provided (see The Ordinary's website
  • This pH of this formula is approximately 3.8
  • To use: apply once per day, ideally in the PM; can be diluted with other treatments to reduce strength until skin develops tolerance; avoid contact with eyes; if irritation persists, discontinue use and consult a physician
  • RRP $12.70 for 30ml


I went to review this product about a month ago because I'd given it a good test run and was ready to give you my thoughts (which were basically that this product is too strong for me and I can't tolerate it; more on that in a sec), but when I had almost finished the review, I came across another review where the person suggested trying this as a mask - and I'm pleased I found that because it's meant I've been able to use it without upsetting my skin. 

But let's go back to the beginning.

It's a clear, sticky product with an odd texture and scent. Apparently none of The Ordinary's products contain fragrance, which is a good thing and I don't mind the weird scents, but I'm not a huge fan of the sticky texture because I personally find that it takes some work to rub in (if you're using it alone) and it can also change the texture of any cream I add it to - making the latter product difficult to rub in as well - so that's something to keep in mind.

I introduced this product around three months ago. I'd heard that it was very strong and had given some people trouble (eg Stephanie Nicole mentioned wanting to fire this off in a rocket launcher), so I went in super carefully to start with.

I began by adding a single drop to my night cream every second or third evening. I'd been using another lactic acid product before this so I wasn't too worried about building up a tolerance because I could use that without issue, but I'd also been warned about this product so I wanted to go in very slowly.

After that I began adding two drops to my serum every second evening, so I was placing it earlier in the skincare routine and I was using a little more of it. I did this for about a month and noticed that my skin became very papery, dry and sensitised. I also noticed that my face had started to develop white patches (hypopigmentation, as in, the opposite of hyperpigmentation), so of course I stopped using it altogether.

I had a rest from it for a few weeks, then decided that this product wasn't responsible for the white patches (a vitamin c product was), so I brought it back in. I wasn't using any other active ingredients during this time, aside from The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid Toner every second evening, and its Salicylic Acid (reviewed here) occasionally as a spot treatment.

After a couple of weeks, my skin became very dry, papery and sensitised again (but I didn't develop more white patches). I was really careful with it this time and I only used a drop every second evening in my night cream, but it's safe to say that this product is too strong for me so I wrote it off and started writing this review. 

Then I came across the idea to try it as a mask, so I did that and I'm glad I did because I've now found a way to use it: before that I'd resigned myself to either passing it on or adding a little to my body cream occasionally, just to get through it.

I've been using it as a mask for the last month. I use it once or twice a week this way: I apply a generous amount and leave it on for fifteen minutes before washing it off. After use my skin looks brighter and feels firmer, smoother and resurfaced, and it's also a little plumper too. I think that because I'm now washing it off, whatever it's doing, it's not doing it too much and I can tolerate it this way. No more dry, papery or sensitised skin.

Overall I do like this product now and while I wouldn't buy it again because I do have other masks that do similar things and do them a little better, it's still effective and it doesn't upset my skin.

So in sum, while this product works for some people when you use it as directed, it doesn't work that way for me because it's too strong and irritating for my dry skin - but it does work well as a mask and I'm pleased that I've found a way to use it.

Worth trying, but very carefully.

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