Regimen Lab Skincare Encyclopedia ?

Sodium Lactate

*Preliminary Lab Notes* - Full Entry Under Development

Ingredient Profile

Common Name: Sodium Lactate
INCI: Sodium Lactate
Source: Corn, Beets
Sodium Lactate Molecule

kligman ingredient evaluation

Penetration: Under analysis
Biochemical Mechanism: Under analysis
Level of Evidence: Under analysis

Regimen's Take

Sodium Lactate is one of the skin's Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMFs) and the sodium salt of lactic acid. It is a great humectant because it binds water easily, but is also important in maintaining the skin's acid mantle. It keeps the skin's pH below 5, which is the optimal ph level to limit microbial growth and even fight UV damage. It is also keratolytic, meaning it helps remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, improving the appearance of the skin and contributing to its overall healthy function (without removing dead skin cells, your skin attempts to hydrate those dead cells - making hydration more difficult). Sodium Lactate is usually used as a less tacky alternative for Glycerin.


  • Sodium Lactate is a great humectant in skincare
  • It can function as a weak buffer to prevent changes in skin pH
  • It has a mild exfoliating effect in the skin
  • Effective in moisture barrier repair

The full Regimen Lab Skincare Encyclopedia Entry for Sodium Lactate is in development. Check back in a few weeks for an update!

What is Sodium Lactate?

Sodium Lactate, a 60% concentration in water, and is the sodium salt of natural Lactic Acid, produced through the fermentation of sugar, an alpha hydroxy acid that occurs everywhere in nature. It is naturally produced in the skin and also occurs naturally in all animal and human muscle tissue.

What are its benefits to the skin and how is it used it the cosmeceutical industry?

Sodium Lactate is one of the Natural Moisturizing Factor of the skin, required in the maintenance of natural hydration. Sodium Lactate is a superior moisturizer, increasing the moisture content of skin by up to 84%. Sodium Lactate is also known to reduce irritation and increases the efficacy of alpha and beta hydroxy acids. It is widely used as it significantly increases and accelerates the skin lightening action of Vitamin C in skin products. With its water binding capacity, it dramatically improves the moisture content of the skin and also its antimicrobial action and ability to inhibit bacteria development, and is seen in cosmetics and beauty products, especially shampoos and liquid cleansers, as a preservative, buffering agent, pH controlling agent, or exfoliant. (1)

Clinical Studies:

In guinea pig footpad corneum, it has been shown that both lactic acid and sodium lactate increase the water holding capacity and skin extensibility (2). When the pH increases, the adsorption of lactic acid decreases, because of the ionization of the acid (2). In another study on strips of stratum corneum from human abdominal skin, the uptake of water by sodium lactate was greater than that by lactic acid, but the stratum corneum was plasticized markedly by lactic acid and not by sodium lactate (3).

A clinical study involving the in-vivo efficacy of skin lightening formulations using licorice and VC-IP alone or in combination with sodium lactates on Asian skin specifically Malaysian is described. The results showed significant improvement on the skin lightening efficacy of the formulations containing a combination of sodium lactates and the whitening agent compared to the whitening agent alone. Hence it can be concluded that there is synergies between sodium lactates and the skin lightening agents being studied. Besides enhancing the skin lightening effect, incorporating sodium lactates in the formulations has further advantage as it acts as a Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF) and therefore improves the moisturising effect of the skin (4).

*Link for additional study regarding Evaluation of a moisturizer containing sodium lactate and urea to ameliorate senile xerosis:

*supplementary studies:

1 Barel, A. Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology

2 Middleton  JD. Development  of  a  skin  cream  designed  to  reduce  dry  and  flaky  skin.  J  Soc Cosmet Chem 1974; 25:519–534.

3 Takahashi M, Yamada M, Machida Y. A new method to evaluate the softening effect of cos-

metic ingredients on the skin. J Soc Cosmet Chem 1984; 35:171–181

4 Ismail, Rosnah & Ahmad, Salmiah & , Aotd. (2004). {PAGE } Sodium lactates in skin lightening formulations: its synergy with other skin lightening agents.

The Skincare Encyclopedia aims to improve public understanding of the biology and chemistry of skincare. The Encyclopedia is rooted in core scientific principles and extensive research, in many cases in collaboration with the authors of the original studies referenced. This is a project of Regimen Lab, maintained by a group of multidisciplinary scientists, MDs, and researchers.