Beauty, Product Review, Skin Care

The Ordinary – Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Review

As I mentioned in my posts earlier, I have been meaning to add Acids in my skincare routine to help with exfoliation while targeting the textural irregularity on my face. I have never tried acid’s before so to start with I wanted to start small so I chose Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%, A Mild Lactic Acid Superficial Peeling Formulation from The Ordinary. They also offer a more potent 10% solution but since I am a beginner in the acid-for-skin-care realm I decided to go slow.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% Review

The Ordinary- Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Review

Lactic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and works by breaking down the bond between dead skin cells, causing them to slough off and reveal the newer, healthier skin underneath. Historically derived from fermented milk, hence the name “Lactic”! (No wonder Cleopatra used to bathe in Milk!)


10.70 USD approx 700 INR for 30 ml

Buy Online:

The Ordinary Site or (I got mine from Beautylish)

Product Claims:

  • This 5% formulation offers very mild exfoliation and is supported with a purified Tasmanian Pepperberry known to reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity that is often associated with exfoliation.
  • ph 3.60-3.80
  • pKa of 3.8
  • Alcohol-free
  • Oil-free
  • Silicone-free
  • Nut-free
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Cruelty-free


Aqua (Water), Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Isoceteth-20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Hydroxide (This is the pH Regulator), Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol*

*Notice the ingredients printed on the package is different from those mentioned above which is from their website.

The Ordinary- Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Ingredients printed on outer cardboard packaging

The Ordinary- Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Ingredients

It comes packaged in a translucent glass bottle with a dropper. Basic packaging that does the job, just don’t drop it!

The amber-colored formula has a runny gel like consistency, so it spreads well and little is enough to cover the whole face and neck.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5 HA 2 Review India Outer Packaging Information card from beautylish2

Outer Cardboard package with Information Card from

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5 HA 2 Review India bottle size

Translucent Glass Bottle

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5 HA 2 Review India Packaging with dropper2

Dropper with a white rubber top

The smell of this product is terrible! It’s unpleasant to say the least. Its bad enough to be a deal breaker to be absolutely honest, but all of us need to come to terms with the fact that acids smell because its chemical and acids need PH regulating agents and they also smell! To take care of this issue, brands often add fragrance and fragrance is not good for the skin hence the big movement towards fragrance free! Inspite of knowing all this I am still unable to reach out for it as much! I purchased this in July 2017 and The Ordinary has changed its formula afterwards claiming to have addressed this problem.

“Lactic Acid has a natural odour that some people find unpleasant. This formula was updated in October 2017 to use a grade of lactic acid that has no odour per customer feedback. Additionally, this update removed the use of carrageenan, a seaweed-based viscosity-enhancer, also due to feedback from customers. These changes improve the sensory aspects of the formula but do not impact efficacy.”
Source: The Ordinary Website

As per the directions from the brand, I use it in my PM skin care routine. I use it once in a couple of days because I feel everyday would be too much since I am also using the Glycolic Acid Toning Solution. In the sequence of products used it comes in after the toner and before serum. Using the tips of my fingers I spread it all over the face and neck avoiding the eye contour.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% Review How to use


The formula feels like any other water based serum, it goes on smooth and dries down quite matte making the skin feel slightly tight, which is weird because it also has HA (Hyaluronic Acid) and since HA is a humectant I was expecting it to be a little more moisturizing!

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% Review India Packaging with dropper formula

The Ordinary- Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Colour of the Formula

The Ordinary- Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% Review India Consistency Colour

The Ordinary- Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Consistency

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5 HA 2 Review India Absorption Finish

The Ordinary- Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Matte looking skin after Serum is absorbed

The pH (salt) of this formula is mentioned to be 3.6- 3.8. Also The Ordinary is rightfully quite proud and open about the fact that the pKa (acid availability.) is 3.8 which is equal to the pH. When pKa is close to pH, there is an ideal balance between salt and acidity, maximizing effectiveness of the acid and reducing irritation.”    

I am using it for around 5 months now but not everyday; I have only finished half of this bottle. When I used it for the first time I did a patch test on the side of my neck because; you should always patch test things lest it melt your face off! The patch test was a success so I started using it on my face. And my face also reacted similarly, nothing happened! No peeling/ purging/ breakouts/ irritation etc. This is attributed to a well formulated product i.e. correct pH.

Nothing bad happened nor did any good! I didn’t experience any perceivable exfoliation at all. So much so, that I don’t think it did anything for me. I believe this is way too mild and I should have perhaps gone with the 10% formula directly.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% Review India Outer Packaging Information card from beautylish

The Ordinary: Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Final Thoughts


  • Affordable price point
  • Good formula to introduce acids to your skin


  • Unpleasant odor (Newer packaging may not have it)
  • Not available easily in India.

Closing Thoughts:

I have a significant amount of product left and I intend to use it. If things change I will write an update to this post. Also please remember that skin-care products like this perform differently for people due to many factors.

If you do choose to give it a shot I definitely recommend a patch test because acids often tend to cause sensitivity and inflammation. While using acids it is doubly important to use an effective sunscreen because alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) may increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

If this product worked differently, I would love to know your experience in the comments.

Update – 17 Sep 2018

The Ordinary – Brand Review

So far I have tried many products from TO’s portfolio. Namely,

After finishing the above products and experiencing this complete lineup over the past year I want to take a minute and share my opinion of the brand with you folks so that you can make an informed purchase decision.

The Ordinary has taken the global beauty world by storm, this has literally not happened before and there are two big reasons for that

  1. Their rock bottom pricing and
  2. Their unique (but also questionable) Marketing Strategies.

I totally understand that every one wants to try these ultra affordable skin care and anti-aging products mostly because one can collect a host of formula’s at a price of one product from the expensive high-street brands. This has attracted so much chatter about how DECIEM can rationalize the low prices of The Ordinary products when they themselves own other skincare brands like NIOD which sells similar products at a much higher price point. This difference is quite strange to be honest!

TO products feature a lot of ingredients that are also seen in expensive formulas from the high street brands. Some of these are definitely expensive to source especially so when claimed to be cruelty free/ cold pressed /organic etc. Moreover skin care products need to go through some very strict regulatory tests where right from the stability of the formula to the manufacturing units where they are bottled needs to comply with some stringent standards and obviously all this costs a lot of money. So you have to wonder how are they able to price things so low!

It feels like all the marketing budget is focused on attracting consumers to this super affordable brand via social media (and of-course the drama going on with the owner helps to do that; Like they say any publicity is good publicity) to eventually direct them to their more expensive sister brands. I have seen many famous bloggers review The Ordinary offerings and then very casually slip in the fact that with regards to certain aspects like potency/ pH value/ formulation / molecular weight of a particular ingredient etc. the other expensive sister brands are better.

The majority of TO’s products are one ingredient formulas which is unlike products from other skin care brand which offer a potent mix of varied ingredients to target the particular skin requirement. So if one wants to replicate the same they would have to purchase several products at once to round-up those many ingredients. Then there is the obvious question of what goes in what order and the massive confusion revolving around building a routine, which is well know among folks who have attempted to create a regimen using The Ordinary products.

In the end there is no doubt that low prices are very welcome but then based on the stuff I have already tried and the skin care community chatter that I am privy to; I have come to realize- in terms of efficacy there are very few products from TO that actually stand out, the rest just skim the surface and that fact is simply drowned by the noise their marketing creates.

If you agree or agree to disagree I want to hear from you in the comments or find me on Instagram and let’s have a conversation.


12 thoughts on “The Ordinary – Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% | Review

  1. Preity says:

    Hey! I have been thinking of getting some of the ordinary products, and I think I will try beautylish. But do you by any chance remember how much shipping charges or customs duty you ended up paying?

    • Shipping was free because my order was above that limit. But I shipped it to friends house in USA who later carried it to me. Unfortunately Beautilish might not work for you because someone recently told me that they stopped shipping to India. Other options the deciem site, cultbeauty or Amazon. Also you will get some duty related knowledge in my ColourPop Haul post.

  2. Jia says:

    I have gone through a few reviews of products from the ordinary, and so many people say most of their stuff doesn’t do a thing. I know the peeling solution works first-hand, but does anything else do anything? It seems we are getting scammed by “thickened water” with some chemical smells thrown in so it seems like there’s something there. I bought about 10 different serums, and I think I might sell the lot aside from the peeling solution I was really looking forward to the niacinamide for the pores. I have skin just like yours [combination, no blemishes, basically clear complexion (lucky us!)], so I have zero hope!

  3. Jia Pia says:

    Oh, do you ever think the reason TO is so cheap because they only use one ingredient? The more expensive serums generally have quite a few ingredients, and how much would it be to by then individually from TO? Could it really be the same at the end of the day? I guess being able to customize may be more cost-effective in case you don’t need/want some ingredients in other combo serums. Then again, if my water theory has a grain of truth…

    • About the price what I understand is that the ingredient in itself is very cheaply sold my the manufacturers. Other skincare brands will bedazzle it, spice it up, spend on packaging and marketing and so the end customer ends up paying a lot more.
      In case of TO they have avoided all that gimmick so they reduce price there and moreover if you think about it if TO is managing to sustain itself at that price point, the raw material must be for much less.

      About Efficacy …that’s a whole different ball game… I also feel it has a lot to do with our psyche…for instance Estée Lauder’s ANR… I found it effective, this is also probably because I had spent so much on it and could have been heartbroken if it didn’t. Lol …like a protection mechanism. TBH I have written so many posts and tried so many products and I have rarely written a complete 100% positive review about anything.

  4. Peeling solution is coming home to me..haha..I just wish it was easy to get TO in India. I have nearly found an exfoliant that worked…so I am keeping my fingers crossed about this one. I am also interested in actually getting a peel done at a dermatologist..but I guess that will have to wait for covid to calm down.

  5. Jia Pia says:

    Oh! I wanted to ask: which exfoliant worked well for you? I just love the peeling solution, but I’m always open to trying new products. I’ve noticed products tend to become less effective the longer you use them, so I wouldn’t mind switching things up every now and then. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated!

    • I have tried the Glycolic Acid Toner from TO, but I am yet to find anything I have really loved and was very effective. So your rave reviews for the peeling solution give me some hope.

  6. Jia Pia says:

    One more thing. I’m starting a business called UrBFF (beauty, fashion, and friends) where people can communicate about makeup, skin care, clothing, anything really in order to find like-minded friends virtually. I am building an app, website, and there will be a YouTube channel. I am actually working on a game that I can’t get into yet because I have not patented it yet. Would you be interested in being an affiliate of sorts? I will plug your blog everywhere I can, and you can connect with more people. I figure we can all help each other out as we are all one big family of people that love to take care of ourselves!

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