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Lactobionic Acid: Structure, Benefits, Mechanism of Action, Research Studies, Formulations, Considerations for Skincare

Last updated: Aug 2023
In this article:

Introduction to Lactobionic Acid

Lactobionic acid is a compound that belongs to the family of polyhydroxy acids and is derived from lactose (milk sugar). It is known for its potential use in various fields, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food industries, due to its unique chemical structure and properties.

Chemical Structure

Lactobionic acid is a disaccharide formed by the condensation of gluconic acid and galactose. It has a molecular formula of C12H22O12 and a molecular weight of 342.3 g/mol. The acid's structure contains a carboxyl group, hydroxyl groups, and a lactonic ring, making it a versatile compound.


The primary source of lactobionic acid is lactose obtained from whey, cow's milk, or other dairy products. The lactose is first converted into lactobionic acid through a process of oxidation. The resulting compound is a white, crystalline powder that is readily soluble in water.


  • Antioxidant: Lactobionic acid exhibits strong antioxidant activity, helping to scavenge harmful free radicals in the body. This property is vital in protecting skin cells from oxidative stress and preventing premature aging.
  • Moisturizing: Due to its unique chemical structure, lactobionic acid has excellent water-binding properties. It helps to retain moisture in the skin, resulting in improved hydration and a smoother complexion.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Lactobionic acid has shown anti-inflammatory properties, making it effective in soothing irritated and inflamed skin. This makes it a valuable ingredient in skincare products targeting conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and acne.
  • Chelating Agent: Lactobionic acid has the ability to chelate metal ions, such as iron and copper, which can be harmful if present in excess. This property makes it useful in various industrial applications, including preventing metal corrosion and stabilizing cosmetic formulations.
  • Skin Exfoliation: The lactonic ring present in lactobionic acid allows it to gently exfoliate the skin by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells. This promotes a more youthful and radiant complexion and can be used as an alternative to more aggressive chemical exfoliants.

Lactobionic Acid: Your Skincare Solution

Lactobionic acid is a powerful skincare ingredient that offers a plethora of benefits to the skin. From its antioxidant properties to its anti-aging effects, incorporating lactobionic acid into your skincare routine can give you healthier and more youthful-looking skin. In this guide, we will discuss the various benefits of lactobionic acid in skincare.

1. Antioxidant Properties

  • Lactobionic acid is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radicals, which are known to cause premature aging and damage.
  • By neutralizing these harmful molecules, lactobionic acid helps to reduce oxidative stress and keep the skin's natural defense mechanisms intact.

2. Moisturizing Effects

  • Lactobionic acid has humectant properties, meaning it helps to attract and retain moisture in the skin.
  • This makes it an excellent addition to hydrating skincare products, especially for those with dry or dehydrated skin.
  • By improving the skin's moisture barrier, lactobionic acid helps to prevent transepidermal water loss, keeping the skin plump and moisturized.

3. Exfoliation Benefits

  • Lactobionic acid has gentle exfoliating properties, making it suitable for even sensitive skin types.
  • It helps to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve skin texture and tone.
  • Regular use of skincare products containing lactobionic acid can lead to smoother and more radiant skin.

4. Skin Brightening Effects

  • Lactobionic acid aids in brightening the skin by reducing the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
  • It inhibits the enzyme responsible for melanin production, leading to a more even skin tone and a reduction in the visibility of discoloration.

5. Anti-Aging Properties

  • Lactobionic acid stimulates the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, proteins essential for maintaining its firmness and elasticity.
  • By promoting these structural proteins, lactobionic acid helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving the skin a more youthful and rejuvenated appearance.

How to Incorporate Lactobionic Acid into Your Skincare Routine

When incorporating lactobionic acid into your skincare routine, it's essential to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase usage as tolerated by your skin.

Look for products like serums or moisturizers that contain lactobionic acid and apply them after cleansing and toning the skin.

Always follow up with sunscreen during the day to protect your skin from UV damage.

How Does Lactobionic Acid Work? A Comprehensive Guide


Lactobionic acid, a polyhydroxy acid derived from lactose, has gained popularity in the skincare industry due to its potential therapeutic effects. This guide provides a comprehensive understanding of how lactobionic acid works, focusing on its mechanism of action, interaction with skin cells, and its effect on collagen production.

Mechanism of Action:

  • Lactobionic acid acts as an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals and protecting the skin from oxidative stress.
  • It functions as a chelating agent, binding to metal ions responsible for harmful reactions in the skin, preventing environmental damage caused by heavy metals.
  • Lactobionic acid exhibits mild exfoliating properties, aiding in the removal of dead skin cells and improving skin texture.

Interaction with Skin Cells:

  • Lactobionic acid strengthens the skin's barrier function, reducing transepidermal water loss and increasing hydration.
  • It stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid, enhancing skin hydration and plumpness.
  • By promoting cell turnover, lactobionic acid can improve skin tone and texture, as well as reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Effect on Collagen Production:

Collagen, responsible for skin elasticity, plays a crucial role in maintaining youthful-looking skin. Lactobionic acid:

  • Stimulates collagen production, improving skin firmness and reducing signs of aging.
  • Activates cell signaling pathways that enhance collagen synthesis.
  • Inhibits enzymes responsible for collagen breakdown, protecting existing collagen and preserving skin structure.


Lactobionic acid provides various benefits to the skin through its antioxidant, chelating, and exfoliating properties. It improves hydration, texture, and tone while stimulating collagen production. Incorporating products containing lactobionic acid into your skincare routine may result in a healthier, more youthful complexion.

As with any skincare ingredient, it is important to conduct a patch test before using lactobionic acid, especially if you have sensitive skin. Furthermore, consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional if you have any concerns or specific skin conditions to ensure its safe and appropriate use.

Research Studies on Lactobionic Acid in Skincare

Lactobionic acid is a popular ingredient in skincare products due to its potential benefits for the skin. It is a polyhydroxy acid (PHA) known for its hydrating, exfoliating, and anti-aging properties. This guide provides an overview of key research studies conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of lactobionic acid in skincare.

Clinical Trials:

  • A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that a lotion containing lactobionic acid significantly improved skin hydration and reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Another clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy demonstrated that a gel formulation of lactobionic acid reduced skin redness and improved skin tone and texture.

Safety and Efficacy:

Numerous studies have investigated the safety and efficacy of lactobionic acid, demonstrating its suitability for use in skincare products. A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science showed that lactobionic acid exhibits excellent skin tolerability and is non-irritating even at high concentrations. It revealed that lactobionic acid is suitable for sensitive skin types and does not cause any significant adverse effects.

Comparative Studies:

  • A study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment compared the efficacy of lactobionic acid with glycolic acid, another popular exfoliating agent. The study found that lactobionic acid provided similar exfoliation benefits while being gentler on the skin and causing less irritation compared to glycolic acid.
  • Another comparative study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology compared the efficacy of lactobionic acid with salicylic acid for the treatment of acne. The study demonstrated that lactobionic acid was as effective as salicylic acid in reducing acne lesions but caused fewer side effects such as dryness and irritation.

In conclusion:

Research studies have consistently shown the efficacy and safety of lactobionic acid in skincare. Clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in improving various skin conditions, including hydration, texture, and aging signs. Furthermore, lactobionic acid has been proven to be well-tolerated and suitable for sensitive skin types. Comparative studies have highlighted the benefits of lactobionic acid over other skincare ingredients, such as its gentler exfoliating properties and reduced side effects. These research findings provide valuable insights for skincare product developers and consumers seeking effective and safe skincare solutions.

Formulations and Products Containing Lactobionic Acid

Lactobionic acid, a gentle polyhydroxy acid derived from lactose, has gained popularity in recent years for its numerous skincare benefits. Known for its ability to gently exfoliate, hydrate, and improve the skin's texture, formulations and products containing lactobionic acid are becoming increasingly popular in the skincare industry. In this guide, we will explore the different types of products that incorporate lactobionic acid and their specific benefits.

Creams and Lotions

Lactobionic acid is commonly found in creams and lotions due to its hydrating and moisturizing properties. These formulations often contain other hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides. Creams and lotions with lactobionic acid are suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and dry skin. They work by gently exfoliating and promoting skin cell turnover, resulting in smoother, plumper, and more even-toned skin.


Lactobionic acid serums are highly concentrated and deliver potent doses of this beneficial ingredient to the skin. These serums are lightweight and easily absorbed, making them ideal for layering with other skincare products. Lactobionic acid serums work effectively in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, while also providing gentle exfoliation and hydration. They can be applied both morning and evening after cleansing and toning.


Lactobionic acid masks offer an intensive treatment to the skin, providing a surge of hydration and rejuvenation. These masks are designed to be left on the skin for a specific amount of time, allowing the lactobionic acid to penetrate deeply and work its magic. Lactobionic acid masks are perfect to use as a weekly treatment to revitalize and brighten the complexion, leaving the skin noticeably smoother and more radiant.

Treatment Products

In addition to creams, lotions, serums, and masks, lactobionic acid can also be found in various treatment products. These may include targeted treatments for specific skincare concerns such as dark spots, dullness, or uneven skin texture. Lactobionic acid treatment products are formulated to deliver high concentrations of the ingredient to address specific skin issues, providing visible results with regular use.

Tips for Incorporating Lactobionic Acid Products

When incorporating lactobionic acid products into your skincare routine, it's essential to start slowly and patch test first, especially if you have sensitive skin. Gradually increase the frequency of use to allow your skin to acclimate to the product. Always follow product instructions and consider consulting a dermatologist if you have any concerns.


Formulations and products containing lactobionic acid offer numerous skincare benefits, including gentle exfoliation, hydration, and improved texture. Creams, lotions, serums, masks, and treatment products are all excellent choices depending on your specific skincare needs. By incorporating lactobionic acid into your routine, you can achieve smoother, more radiant skin. Remember to always follow proper skincare practices and consult a professional if needed.

Considerations and Precautions for Using Lactobionic Acid

  • Potential side effects: While lactobionic acid is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience mild side effects such as redness, irritation, or a stinging sensation upon initial use.
    • To minimize the risk of side effects, it is recommended to perform a patch test before introducing lactobionic acid to your entire face.
    • Apply a small amount to a discreet area such as the inner arm and monitor for any adverse reactions.
    • If no irritation occurs within 24 hours, it is generally safe to proceed with regular use.
  • Compatibility with other skincare ingredients: Lactobionic acid can be used in combination with various other skincare ingredients.
    • However, certain ingredients, such as retinoids or AHAs/BHAs, can increase the skin's sensitivity and may cause irritation when used alongside lactobionic acid.
    • To avoid potential skin reactions, it is advisable to introduce one new ingredient at a time and allow the skin to adjust before adding another.
  • Dosage and concentration guidelines: The optimal concentration of lactobionic acid in skincare products can vary depending on skin type and tolerance.
    • As a general guideline, a concentration of around 5-10% is considered effective for most individuals.
    • If you have sensitive or reactive skin, it may be advisable to start with a lower concentration (2-3%) and gradually increase it over time.
    • Consulting with a dermatologist or skincare professional can provide further guidance on suitable concentrations for your specific needs.
  • Appropriate usage for different skin types: Lactobionic acid is versatile and can benefit various skin types, including dry, sensitive, and aging skin.
    • However, it is important to understand how it interacts with your specific skin type and concerns.
    • Those with dry or sensitive skin may want to start with a lower frequency of use (2-3 times per week) and gradually increase it if no adverse reactions occur.
    • Individuals with oily or acne-prone skin can generally use lactobionic acid more frequently (up to daily), but should still monitor for any signs of irritation.

In summary, while lactobionic acid can offer numerous benefits for your skin, it is crucial to consider potential side effects, assess compatibility with other skincare ingredients, follow appropriate dosage and concentration guidelines, and tailor its usage to your specific skin type.

By taking these considerations into account, you can enhance the effectiveness and safety of lactobionic acid in your skincare routine.


Lactobionic Acid in Skincare

Lactobionic acid is a type of polyhydroxy acid (PHA) used in skincare products for its exfoliating and moisturizing properties. It offers several benefits:

  • Helps to gently remove dead skin cells, resulting in a smoother and brighter complexion.
  • Suitable for sensitive skin types as it has a larger molecular structure than other AHAs, making it less irritating.
  • Has antioxidant properties that help to protect the skin from environmental damage and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

In addition, lactobionic acid aids in hydrating the skin by attracting and retaining moisture, leading to improved skin texture and overall moisture balance. It can be found in various skincare products such as:

  • Cleansers
  • Toners
  • Serums
  • Moisturizers

This versatile ingredient offers a range of benefits for different skin concerns.