The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% review

Remember when you had to sell a kidney to get your lactic acid fix (yes, I’m looking at you Sunday Riley Good Genes)? Now you can get your hands on it for less than two Starbucks coffees. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% has put lactic acid firmly on the drugstore skincare map and everyone wants a piece of it.

I swear every few days someone asks me if they should add it to their skincare routine… even though they’re already using another exfoliant! Trust me, ladies, when its comes to exfoliation, more is not the merrier. Picking the one acid that best suits your skin type is way better than using all the acids you can get your hands on.

So, who is The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% suitable for? Should you pick this over other exfoliants? What makes it so popular among skincare fanatics? Here’s everything you need to know about it.

About The Brand: The Ordinary

Part of the DECIEM beauty group, The Ordinary was founded by Iranian-Canadian Brandon Truaxe. He was on a mission to bring transparency back into the beauty world by creating a brand that was based on science, not hype. All The Ordinary skincare products are so simple, yet they don’t compromise on effectiveness.

Every bottle includes the right active to do what it says on the tin – be it fight wrinkles, reduce acne, or fade away dark spots. And no filler ingredients, no fancy exotic extract that’s only good for marketing purposes, no irritants. When it comes to transparency, the brand has nailed it.

But what really made The Ordinary so popular is the low price tag. Once open a time, you had to turn to department store skincare to get your hands on retinol or Glyolic Acid. Now you can grab a bottle for less than $10 and watch your skin transform without having to sell your kidney for it. What’s not to love?

Key Ingredients In The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%: What Makes It Work?


Lactic acid is the gentlest member of the AHAs family, a group of exfoliants that dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together so they can slow off and reveal the brighter, smoother, more even-toned skin underneath.

What makes lactic acid gentler than other members of the family, like glycolic acid, is its size. While glycolic is so small, it can easily penetrate the skin, lactic is bigger and stays on the surface, where it does the exfoliating job.

While it’s at it, it also acts as a humectant. In plain English, it attracts moisture from the air and dumps into your skin, infusing it with an extra dose of moisture that softens it and plumps it up.

This makes lactic acid a gentler option for anyone with sensitive or dehydrated skin. Dry or sun-damaged skin? I’d stick to glycolic acid (it’s a little more effective at treating the signs of aging). But if you’re looking for a gentler option, this will do. Oily skin? Don’t go anywhere near it. I don’t care what brands say, lactic acid CAN’T unclog pores. That’s a job for salicylic acid. Stray from it at your peril.

Related: AHAs VS BHA: Which One Is Right For Your Skin Type?

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Hyaluronic acid has something in common with lactic acid: they’re both moisture magnets. But hyaluronic acid goes a step further in the hydration department: it attracts and binds to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water!

This is what makes The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% so wonderful for dehydrated skin. It plumps up its hydration levels a few notches, making skin softer and plumper. The best part? It works well both in high and low humidity conditions. 😉

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine


Lactic acid may be the gentlest AHAs out there but if your skin’s very sensitive, it may still throw a little tantrum. To reduce the risk even more, The Ordinary has added Tasmania pepperberry to the mix. This plant contains polygodial, a substance that has anti-inflammatory properties.  Plus, it doubles up as an antioxidant so it can help prevent winkles too.

Fun fact: Tasmania pepperberry is what gives The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% its peachy colour.

If you’re worrying about doing The Ordinary wrong, get your butt on this The Ordinary speed training (affiliate link). It’s by my scientist friend Cheryl Woodman and in it she’s teaching you how to use The Ordinary to get makeupless skin you love.

The Ordinary Skincare Routine - Where to start with The Ordinary skincare

The Rest Of The Formula & Ingredients

NOTE: The colours indicate the effectiveness of an ingredient. It is ILLEGAL to put toxic and harmful ingredients in skincare products.

  • Green: It’s effective, proven to work, and helps the product do the best possible job for your skin.
  • Yellow: There’s not much proof it works (at least, yet).
  • Red: What is this doing here?!
  • Aqua (Water): The base of the product, it’s a solvent that helps dissolve other ingredients.
  • Glycerin: A humectant that draws moisture from the environment into your skin. Now skin has the extra moisture, it’s softer to the touch, looks plumper, and takes on a subtle glow.
  • Pentylene Glycol: It stabilises emulsions, has antimicrobial properties that helps extend the shelf life of the product, and gives skin a silky smooth feel.
  • Propanediol: A solvent that dissolves other ingredients in the formula. It also has hydrating properties that makes skin soft and smooth.
  • Sodium Hydroxide: It helps to adjust the pH of this exfoliant, maximising the effectiveness of lactic acid.
  • Acacia Senegal Gum: It thickens the texture and enhances the feel and adherence of skincare products.
  • Xanthan Gum: It thickens the texture of skincare products.
  • Isoceteth-20: It helps the watery and oily ingredients blend together effortlessly, resulting in a more pleasant texture.
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate: It attaches to and neutralises the metal ions in the water, so they won’t spoil the formula.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: It has preservative-like properties that extend the shelf life of the exfoliant.
  • 1,2-Hexanediol: It can do many things, but here it acts as a preservative to kill germs and bacteria and keep your exfoliant safe for use for longer.
  • Caprylyl Glycol: It has preservative-like properties that help other ingredients from spoiling, extending the shelf life of the product.


This exfoliant has a lightweight, slightly watery, slightly sticky texture that spreads easily on the skin. Once it has absorbed, it doesn’t feel sticky at all. But, like it is the case with most The Ordinary products, one of the ways they keep the process so low is by skimping a little on texture, hence the slight stickiness.


It’s fragrance-free and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I’m happy The Ordinary didn’t add any artificial fragrance. Fragrance is one of the most irritating ingredients in skincare. This is an exfoliant for sensitive skin. Fragrance would irritate it, so leaving it out was the right call.

But, even fragrance-free products have their own scent. If no artificial scent was added, then you’re smelling the natural smell of the ingredients. And my, they make the serum stink. Ok, it’s not that bad, but… it doesn’t smell nice. Thankfully, it doesn’t linger around long.

How To Use It

It’s an exfoliant, so you apply it right after cleansing for the best chance to dissolve dead skin cells. How often should you use it? This is an exfoliant for sensitive skin, so one or two nights a week is enough. I say nights because exfoliation makes skin more prone to sun damage. Apply sunscreen generously in the morning too. One more thing: don’t use this exfoliant on nights you use other powerful actives, like retinoids or azelaic acid.


This exfoliant comes in a see-through bottle with a dropper applicator that dispenses just the right amount of product you need. The packaging is pleasing to the eye and practical to use. I like that you can see how much product is left inside, although it’s best to store it somewhere dark. Constant exposure to light can spoil products overtime.

Want to know what ingredients you really need to avoid in your skincare products (hint: they’re NOT what you think)? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheatsheet:

Performance & Personal Opinion

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% doesn’t smell the best. But, I don’t mind too much because this stuff’s good.

I didn’t experience any irritation. Not even the slightest tingling. But then my skin’s pretty resistant. If yours is super sensitive, the milder 5% version of this formula would be better for you. If your skin can’t even take that, stick to a washcloth.

But I’m distressing. I’m Team Glycolic all the way (my skin can take it), but I’ve switched to lactic acid for this review and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Lactic acid makes my skin smoother and gives my complexion a subtle glow. I don’t have any discolourations, but if your acne is leaving dark marks behind, this can help lighten them too.

Instead, it did nothing for my blackheads, but I was expecting that (told you that’s a job for salicylic acid 😉 ).

How Does The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% compare to the other The Ordinary Exfoliants?

There’s a reason why The Ordinary has so many different exfoliants: each one of them is best suitable for a different skin type or concern. When you use more than one, you don’t get more benefits. You get a higher chance of irritation. So how do you know which one you should choose? Here’s how to pick the best The Ordinary exfoliant for your skin type and needs:

  • The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (£6.30): This exfoliant contains a very high concentration of exfoliating acids, including Glycolic and Salicylic, that’s great at fading away dark spots and cleansing pores. But, at this high concentration, exfoliation IS irritating. This is only for experienced acid users who have built tolerance to high doses. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Selfridges, The Ordinary, and Ulta.
  • The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£8.00): Glycolic Acid is the best exfoliant for fading away dark spots and it hydrates skin to boot. It’s the best option for dry and sun-damaged skin. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta.
  • The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA (£6.00): It has the same formula as The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA but with a lower concentration of Lactic Acid for people with very, very sensitive skin. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Selfridges, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta.
  • The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA (£6.90): A very gentle exfoliant that brightens and smoothens the complexion. Use it only if you can’t tolerate any other acids in this list. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Selfridges, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta.
  • The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution (£5.60): Anhydrous means water-free. Instead of a water-base, it has an oily, moisturising Squalane base that makes the exfoliant gentler to use. Salicylic acid is a great option for oily skin because it unclogs pores to prevent and treat blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Selfridges, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta.
  • The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (£5.10): Salicylic acid is the best exfoliant for oily skin. It penetrates your pores, unclogging them from within to prevent and remove blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. It has a water-base, for those who prefer a more lightweight texture. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta.

What I Like About The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%

  • Lightweight, fast-absorbing texture.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Brightens the complexion.
  • A little hydrating.
  • Non-irritating (unless you abuse it).
  • Practical and pretty packaging.

What I DON’T Like About The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%

  • Slightly sticky texture.
  • It has a bad smell.
  • See-through packaging.

Who Should Use This?

Like all Lactic Acid exfoliants, this is best suitable for sensitive skin that can’t tolerate other, more powerful exfoliants. Do you have a different skin type? Here’s what you should be using instead:

  • Acne-prone skin: You need salicylic acid to unclog pores from within and heal blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.
  • Oily skin: You need salicylic acid too to keep your pores clean and prevent breakouts in the first place.
  • Dry skin: Glycolic acid is more powerful, so it’s a better option for you. Plus, it’s hydrating too.
  • Sun damaged skin: Glycolic acid is the best exfoliant to fade away dark spots and premature signs of aging – as long as your skin can tolerate it.

Related: Glycolic Acid VS Lactic Acid: Which One Is Right For You?

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Does The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Live Up To Its Claims?

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 True.
Lactic Acid should not be used on sensitive, peeling or compromised skin. True.

Is The Ordinary Cruelty-Free?

Yes, The Ordinary – and this exfoliant – are cruelty-free. The Ordinary doesn’t test on animals and doesn’t outsource the process to anyone else either.

Price & Availability

£5.80/$6.79 at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Sephora

The Verdict: Should You Buy It?

If you have sensitive skin, this is one of the best exfoliants for your skin type. It removes dead cells, hydrates skin, and brightens the complexion without causing irritation.

Dupes & Alternatives

  • The Inkey List Lactic Acid Serum ($12.99): A lactic acid exfoliant with 1% salicylic acid to exfoliate and hydrate sensitive skin at the same time. Available at Cult Beauty and The Inkey List.


Aqua (Water), Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Isoceteth-20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.