Is Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate Safe?



What Is Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate?

Sodium lauroyl lactylate is a naturally-derived ingredient that is used in cosmetics and skincare products as a surfactant, emulsifier, and moisturizer. It is also used to enhance the delivery of other ingredients into the skin and extend the scent of products. 

Sodium lauroyl lactylate is a sodium salt of the reaction of lauric acid and lactic acid. Lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid with a 12-carbon atom chain, which makes it a medium-chain fatty acid.  Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats and oils. Lauric acid is one of the main fatty acids that can be obtained from coconut oil. Lactic acid, the other half of the equation, is an alpha-hydroxy acid that is obtained from milk. These two natural ingredients can be reacted together to form sodium lauroyl lactylate. In addition to use in the cosmetic industry, sodium lauroyl lactylate is used as a food emulsifier that is FDA-approved as a food additive.

Sodium lauroyl lactylate

The good: Sodium lauroyl lactylate is used to improve the texture and feel of cosmetic and skincare products. It also has the added benefit of helping to moisturise the skin.

The not so good: Sodium lauroyl lactylate doesn’t provide any specific benefits to the skin as it is mainly used to improve the formulation. Its benefit to moisturizing the skin is minor and means it isn’t used as a key ingredient.

Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients

Keep an eye on: Nothing to keep an eye on here.

What Is Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate?

In cosmetics and skincare products, sodium lauroyl lactylate functions as a surfactant, emulsifier, and moisturizer. It can be found in products such as shaving creams, baby products, facial cleansers, fragrances, and more.



Sodium lauroyl lactylate is a natural surfactant, which means it lowers the surface tension between two substances, such as two liquids or a liquid and a solid. This allows excess oil and dirt to be easily washed away from the skin, which is why sodium lauroyl lactylate can often be found in cleansing products such as shampoos and cleansers. Another reason why sodium lauroyl lactylate works well in cleansing products is due to its ability to produce a soft, light foam. It is considered to be a gentle cleansing ingredient that will not irritate or dry out the skin.



Sodium lauroyl lactylate also functions as an emulsifier in cosmetics and skincare products. Emulsifiers are necessary for products that contain both water and oil components. When you mix water and oil-based ingredients it can be difficult to keep them from separating or splitting. To address this problem, an emulsifier can be added to improve the consistency of a product, which enables an even distribution of the skincare benefits.



The moisturizing properties of sodium lauroyl lactylate primarily come from lauric acid. As a fatty acid, lauric acid lubricates the skin and forms a protective barrier on the skin’s surface that helps to prevent water from evaporating. Lauric acid is also well known for its antimicrobial activity, which is why it is often considered to be an effective ingredient to use on acne-prone skin.

Due to its sodium backbone, sodium lauroyl lactylate has the ability to easily penetrate through the top layers of skin. Once absorbed, sodium lauroyl lactylate works to moisturize the skin and also to enhance the delivery of other active ingredients. In addition, sodium lauroyl lactylate can be used to extend the fragrance release of fragrance ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products.

Is Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate Safe?

The safety of sodium lauroyl lactylate has been evaluated and rated on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. According to the Cosmetic Database, sodium lauroyl lactylate is rated as a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest risk to health and 10 being the highest. However, the Cosmetic Database does note that there is limited available data on sodium lauroyl lactylate as an ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products. Since sodium lauroyl lactylate penetrates the skin easily, it should be used with caution when combined with other ingredients that could be irritating or sensitizing.

Cosmetic Ingredient Review, 2018. ‘Safety Assessment of Alkyl Lactyl Lactate Salts as Used in Cosmetics’, CIR. 



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