Mandelic Acid

Mandelic Acid

Best used: In PMCaution: Sensitive skinBest for: Pigment 
Comments: Useful exfoliantMode of action: Exfoliant Science Score:


What are the skin benefits of Mandelic Acid?

Mandelic acid, much like other members of the alpha hydroxy acid family can exert powerful effects on the skin, namely:

  • Chemical Exfoliation: Mandelic acid is a chemical exfoliant, meaning it removes layers of dead & dull skin cells through a reaction with the skin known as keratolysis

  • Accelerates cell turnover: By dissolving skin cells, mandelic acid works to increase cell turnover, reducing the sun damage, acne, & blackheads

  • Pigment corrector & skin brightener: Exfoliated skin is clear skin. This acid goes a step further, strengthening the skin so it stays bright with continued use.

  • Unclogs Pores: Mandelic works itself deep into pores, penetrating deeper than other acids often used on blemish-prone skin. It further strengthens pores by increasing collagen production.

  • Reduces hyperpigmentation: Increased cell turnover and exfoliating properties means that mandelic acid reduces the skin pigmentation & post acne pigmentation scars. 

What is the science behind Mandelic Acid?

This acid is derived from almonds, and forms part of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid family. Other members include lactic, citric & glycolic acid. Mandelic acid is the big brother of the AHA group & has the largest molecule size. This enables the acid to penetrate slowly & hence may give less side effects & is gentler on the skin compared to other AHAs.

How do I use Mandelic Acid?

Apply once per day, ideally in the PM. This acid can be diluted with other treatments to reduce strength until your skin develops tolerance. Do not attempt to use Mandelic Acid on broken skin or if your skin’s barrier is compromised – acne, dermatitis, irritated or angry skin. Consider performing a patch test prior to use.

Davin’s ProTip on the use of Mandelic Acid

Probably the “go to” skin acid if you have sensitive skin. The larger molecular weight does slow down penetration into the deeper layers of the epidermis. Having said that, I still see many cases of rosacea that flare up with this AHA. I do think that a buffered formulation of 10% with a pH with a 3 in front of it is still too high. The very reason one chooses this acid over lactic or glycolic is to reduce the chances of skin sensitivity


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