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How Lactic Acid Benefits Hair, Plus Our Favorite Products To Try

If you love what lactic acid can do for your skin, you’ll love what it can do for your hair. Read on to find out everything you need to know about lactic acid for hair.

There are all sorts of ingredients you can incorporate into your hair care regimen for strands that look and feel glossy, healthy, and strong. For example, keratin treatments and products formulated with amino acids infuse protein into your tresses, and supreme moisturizers such as shea butter and jojoba oil can make for seriously shiny hair

Though less common, lactic acid is another amazing ingredient you’ll find in hair products, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it. Keep reading to learn more about lactic acid benefits for your hair and scalp and to discover whether you should add it to your regimen. 


What Is Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that’s historically derived from milk or sugars found in plants. A couple of lactic acid benefits that set this ingredient apart from other types of acids include: 

  • Very Gentle: Because of its large molecular size, lactic acid doesn’t penetrate as deeply as other acids. As a result, it’s much gentler on your skin—including the scalp! 

  • Moisturizing Properties: Similar to hyaluronic acid, lactic acid has humectant properties, which means that it draws moisture from the air. 


Soin Acide Chroma Hair Gloss

A high shine gloss treatment for color-treated hair.

One size only for Soin Acide Chroma Hair Gloss
7.1 fl oz

Is Lactic Acid Good for Hair?

While the term “acid” might sound intimidating, don’t let it throw you for a loop! Using lactic acid for hair is a good idea, especially if you want to promote excellent hair health. Its gentle exfoliating abilities help break down dead skin cells and product residue. Also, the humectant properties help hydrate your mane, so it looks shiny and smooth. 

One of our favorite products made with lactic acid is the Kérastase Soin Acide Chroma Gloss, a post-washing hair treatment that strengthens and seals the surface of the hair fiber to help preserve that salon color and high-shine finish. It’s meant to be applied from the mid-lengths to the ends of your strands after shampooing, left on for a couple of minutes, then rinsed. 


Bain Riche Chroma Respect Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Rich sulfate-free shampoo with lactic acid for medium to thick damaged, color-treated hair.

One size only for Bain Riche Chroma Respect Sulfate-Free Shampoo
8.5 fl oz

Can I Put Lactic Acid on My Scalp?

Yes, you can use lactic acid on your scalp. However, every product is formulated differently and comes with its own set of instructions. For example, Kérastase’s Soin Acide Chroma Gloss is meant for the mid-shaft to ends and shouldn’t be applied to your scalp. However, the Kérastase Bain Riche Chroma Respect Sulfate-Free Shampoo—which is also formulated with lactic acid—can be used as a traditional shampoo. 

Bottom line: Always refer to the on-label usage guidelines to maximize your hair care products and to ensure you get the best results!  

Good hair day by @sabinakarlsston.

How Long Should You Leave Lactic Acid On Your Hair?

How long you leave lactic acid on your hair ultimately depends on the formulation. Some products advise rinsing immediately. Others recommend letting it set for only a few minutes, and some specify you should leave it on for five or more minutes. When in doubt, follow the directions written out on the package. 

Which Acid Is Good for Hair?

Lactic acid isn’t the only acid for hair! There are a handful of others that can work wonders on your scalp and strands to make them as healthy and gorgeous as possible. For example, hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant that plumps up your hair to reduce breakage while also making it look glossy and hydrated. You can try it in the Kérastase Densifique Bain Densite Shampoo and Kérastase Densifique Fondant Densite Conditioner

Citric acid—which helps with pH balancing, strengthening, and smoothing—is another acid you’ll find in hair care products. In fact, it’s a key ingredient in the Redken Acidic Bonding lineup, which includes the Acidic Bonding Concentrate Sulfate Free Shampoo for Damaged Hair, Acidic Bonding Concentrate Sulfate Free Conditioner for Damaged Hair, and Acidic Perfecting Concentrate Leave In Conditioner for Damaged Hair. When used as a system, this trio can help reduce breakage, minimize the appearance of split ends, and promote sleeker, healthier-looking hair. 

If you’re looking for high-quality hair products, shop the lineup at

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