Which is the best Lactic Acid skincare product? We take a closer look…
As I get older, I have reached a point where physical exfoliation in my skincare no longer cuts it. Chemical exfoliation is a necessity. The experts were not kidding when they warned that cell turnover slows as we age. I swear my skin became duller, less smooth, and I even started noticing some hyperpigmentation pretty much the night of my 40th birthday. It was disheartening, to say the least. But, I’m a fighter, y’all.
Helping me fight the good fight against time itself are Sunday Riley and The Ordinary.
Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably heard about skincare brand Sunday Riley. And if you’re particularly savvy, you’ve heard of The Ordinary. Both brands offer high performance skincare products that can help you achieve your best skin ever.
One of the best selling items from the former’s arsenal is Sunday Riley Good Genes ($105/1 oz, $158/1.7 oz). This is a lactic acid-based treatment that refines skin’s clarity and texture, as well as brightening.
If that price gives you pause, there’s The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA solution ($6.79/1 oz.). No, that price is not typo…
These both contain lactic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid that refines, brightens and clarifies skin) and yet come with markedly different price tags, I decided to guinea pig myself and put them both to the test for you!
Prior to this challenge, I’d only tried The Ordinary’s version of Lactic Acid. The rosy pink liquid is extremely watery, so it’s dispensed via dropper. There is no real smell to this, at least none that is obvious or that lingers. I typically apply 3-4 drops to freshly cleansed skin, patted and pressed with my fingers onto my face and décolletage.
I have sensitive skin, so as expected, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. This is not an every night product for me. It stings a little every time I use it. I can only get away with about 2-3 applications a week or my skin flakes and breaks out. I also found that unless I chased this with a heavy-duty moisturizer it would actually cause my skin to feel dry and flake.
As with all acids, try to minimize use to nighttime and always remember a sunscreen during the day. (Fact: acids cause sun sensitivity.) After one application, this made my skin appear brighter the next morning. After one week, I noticed fewer breakouts. After one month I feel like my skin was looking pretty darn amazing!
After trying The Ordinary, I decided to test Sunday Riley’s Good Genes…for science! This formulation is more of a creamy serum, as opposed to The Ordinary’s watery formula. One pump is all I need. I wash my face at night and then apply this all over my face, neck and chest.
Sunday Riley has one obvious thing in its favor: the delivery system. Packaged in an opaque bottle with a pump, it’s not only easier to apply, the product isn’t exposed like The Ordinary is. When you pay $100+ for a product, you don’t want air and light spoiling its effectiveness!
But here’s a turn off for me: I find the smell awful. Some formulations of lactic acid possess a pungent odor. Sunday Riley masks that with a grandmotherly fragrance. It’s a little too perfume-y, just not my favorite. Fortunately, it dissipates quickly.
There is no stinging with this product and it feels almost like a moisturizer. So I’m able to skip applying additional skincare after this treatment if I want. After one night, my skin looks marginally better. But it took me a full week of daily use of Good Genes to see the same results that I got from two applications of The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% + HA. However, as I have sensitive skin, I do feel my face tolerated Good Genes slightly better than The Ordinary’s lactic acid variation.
Overall, I think both products are strong delivery systems of lactic acid. The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% + HA is extremely affordable and effective. Sunday Riley’s Good Genes requires a hearty bank account for similar results. I think if you have very dry or sensitive skin, you’ll probably have better luck with Good Genes. If you have oily or normal skin, then I highly recommend The Ordinary for your lactic acid needs.
What’s your favorite acid-based skincare product? Tell us about it in the comments…