Lactic Acid Face Serum
The Inkey List’s simply-named Lactic Acid Face Serum doesn’t offer much beyond its namesake ingredient for exfoliation, but does what it says without problematic ingredients.
This fragrance-free serum has a very fluid, almost water-like texture that absorbs quickly into skin. It’s suitable for all skin types, and layers well with other skin care products. Skin is left feeling immediately smoother and softer.
The big draw here is 10% lactic acid, a form of alpha hydroxy acid that has extensive research proving its effectiveness, second only to glycolic acid.
This exfoliating serum is formulated at a pH of 3.60, which is within the optimal range of 3 and 4 for its to work best as an exfoliant. With daily use, this is likely to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and signs of sun damage including dullness and uneven skin tone.
Joining the lactic acid is skin-plumping sodium hyaluronate, hydrating castor oil, and Agastache mexicana extract, a plant which has antioxidant properties. For a product labeled as a serum we’d like to see a more potent blend of ingredients, including additional antioxidants, but we’re happy that it skips the irritating ingredients that The Inkey List’s glycolic acid product (and so many others on the market) contains.
In short, it’s a good, effective exfoliant, though one we wish had just a little more!
- Lightweight texture works well with other skin care products.
- Includes 10% lactic acid at a pH that’s optimal for exfoliation to occur.
- Includes skin-plumping sodium hyaluronate and hydrating castor oil.
- Packaged to protect its light- and air-sensitive ingredients.
- Formula would be more impressive with additional beneficial ingredients.
A gentle exfoliator designed to help skin appear brighter and more even looking, while providing additional hydration.
The Inkey List is the creation of Colette Newberry and Mark Curry, respectively the former branding and product developers of the widespread UK-based drugstore chain Boots, which has its own namesake skin care line. As with a number of up-and-coming “indie” brands, the media coverage centers on their inexpensive products with minimalist formulas that tend to focus on a single star ingredient, such as hyaluronic acid, squalane, or retinol.
If you’re wondering about the inspiration for the name, it’s the pronunciation of the acronym “INCI,” which stands for the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, an agreed-upon, regulated list of how cosmetics ingredients should be identified on product labels. Each product has its chief ingredient listed on the packaging with dictionary-style writing underneath showing how the name is phoneticized, a clever and slightly erudite touch.
Though the formulas are somewhat basic, The Inkey List gets its packaging spot-on – all products are in opaque containers, with no jars or clear containers to be found. Fragrance isn’t on this brand’s radar, either--at least not in terms of adding it to their products (which will make your skin very happy).
We’d like to see more complex formulas, but then again such formulas cost more to make, and The Inkey List is mostly a bargain brand. We wrote “mostly” because in some cases, on an ounce-per-ounce basis, The Inkey List costs just as much as some other brands offering the same type of products (like leave-on exfoliants) in larger sizes.
Even with the predominantly one-note ingredient theme, the brand typically includes beneficial ingredients in efficacious amounts and skips irritants, with the exception of a couple a products that contain witch hazel water and drying denatured alcohol.
That aside, the brand offers a good selection of effective products, something we’re always glad to see. The Inkey List is sold exclusively in the U.S. at Sephora; you can learn more about the brand here: https://www.sephora.com/brand/the-inkey-list.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.