Sodium Lactate



Sodium Lactate at a glance

  • The sodium salt of lactic acid
  • Works as a hydration-enhancing ingredient due to its hygroscopic nature
  • Also functions as a buffering agent (to adjust a product’s pH value)
  • Is an antioxidant, while higher amounts can exfoliate
  • Proven track record of safety

Sodium Lactate description

Sodium lactate is the sodium salt of lactic acid. In skin care, this ingredient is used primarily as a hydrating and buffering agent (to adjust a product’s pH value). It also offers antioxidant properties as a secondary benefit, while higher amounts (5% or more) in an acidic pH can exfoliate. Regarding exfoliation, it should be noted the salt aspect of sodium lactate makes it weaker for this purpose than lactic acid. Of note, this ingredient is part of skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF), helping to maintain skin’s hydration. Sodium lactate is described as a colorless or yellowish syrupy liquid. It is considered very hygroscopic (a substance that absorbs moisture from its environment and improves water retention). Sodium lactate has a proven track record of safety within cosmetic use backed by decades of assessments. It is also classified as a food additive emulsifier by the US FDA further signifying its safety.

Sodium Lactate references

  • Nutrition Reviews Advance Article, July 2020, pages 1-16
  • Code of Federal Regulations, April 2020, ePublication
  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, March 2014, pages 321-326
  • Materials Sciences and Applications, January 2012, pages 18-23
  • Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, February 2007, ePublication
  • International Journal of Toxicology, January 1998, pages 1-241

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.