Mandelic Acid Skin Care Products


Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is used to exfoliate the skin. It is used to treat acne, hyperpigmentation and aging of the skin. Mandelic acid is used in over-the-counter skin care products and professional chemical peels. It is the mildest of all alpha hydroxy acids and can be used safely on a wide variety of skin types.

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You have probably heard of glycolic acid , lactic acid , and are even familiar with hyaluronic acid for skin care. Mandelic acid is not as well known as a skin care ingredient, even in the beauty industry.

But that's starting to change as more skincare brands add it to their lines. Mandelic acid itself is a beneficial skin care ingredient.

Mandelic acid is naturally derived from bitter almonds and works by gently exfoliating the skin.

It loosens the bonds that keep dead cells on the skin's surface, allowing them to shed more efficiently. What separates mandelic acid from its AHA counterparts is the size of its molecules. Its molecules are larger than any other alpha hydroxy acid used in skin care. Its molecules are twice the size of glycolic acid.

Because it is important? The larger mandelic acid molecules penetrate the skin much more slowly than their smaller counterparts. This slow absorption means that it is much gentler and less prone to irritating the skin.

Just because mandelic acid is absorbed slowly does not mean that you feel like it "sits" on your skin. It simply means that the acid will penetrate the layers of the skin much more slowly than, for example, glycolic acid. Slow absorption occurs at the molecular level.


Regular consumption of mandelic acid can help alleviate many skin problems. The results you get from mandelic acid, like almost all skincare ingredients, are cumulative. The more you use it, the better results you will see .

Brightens the complexion

As an exfoliating agent, mandelic acid improves the complexion. Exfoliated skin is softer, smoother and more luminous.

Reduces hyperpigmentation and melasma.

Mandelic acid can help reduce all types of hyperpigmentation: sun or age spots , freckles, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation , and melasma .

Melasma on the forehead.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Helps improve pimples and blemishes

While it is not used just to treat acne, it can be included in your acne treatment to help unclog pores and reduce comedones . Mandelic acid is antibacterial, so it can be especially helpful in reducing inflammatory acne . It also helps remove dark spots caused by acne.

Softens the signs of aging

Mandelic acid is also a gentle care agent for aging skin. It can help smooth out fine wrinkles and long-term use can help the skin to become firm and supple. However, this will not actually lead to a reduction in fine lines, such as the lines between the eyebrows (aptly named "11"). But if you have dry skin, some studies have shown that mandelic acid can help dry skin make more of its own natural sebum or oil .

A gentle scrub for all skin types.

Mandelic acid is the mildest of all alpha hydroxy acids, so it can be used on a wider range of skin types, including sensitive skin and rosacea . Even people who cannot use other AHAs can often use mandelic acid without them. irritation. It is especially beneficial for discolored skin because it does not cause inflammation or hyperpigmentation like other AHAs.

Possible side effects.

Mandelic acid products and peels are gentle compared to other AHA treatments and do not cause side effects. However, all alpha hydroxy acid products and treatments can cause side effects. The most common are:

  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Peeling
  • Irritation or redness
  • Delicate or sensitive skin

These side effects are more likely if you start with a high percentage of the mandelic acid product.

Mandelic acid peels can trigger a herpes outbreak if you are prone to it. (It's not just mandelic acid; many chemical peels can trigger a herpes outbreak, as can microdermabrasion .)

If you are particularly susceptible to herpes, consider peeling with a dermatologist rather than an esthetician , or using the peel at home. A dermatologist can prescribe antiviral medications to prevent a herpes outbreak. This should be taken into account, especially if you peel before a big event like a wedding.

Do not combine mandelic acid with prescription medications, unless your doctor has told you it is normal.

Choice of treatment

As mandelic acid becomes more popular, more and more products containing this AHA appear on the market. It's nice to have so many options, but how do you know which ones are right for you?

Over-the-counter products

For general exfoliation, a brighter complexion, and minor blemishes and age spots, over-the-counter products or cosmeceuticals are ideal.

While you can find mandelic acid cleansers and toners, it is most often added to facial serums and scrubs at home.

The facial serums are designed for daily use. You apply them after cleansing (and toning if you use toner) and before moisturizing. Facial serums are non-rinsing products, so don't rinse them. Most mandelic acid facial serums are applied only at night.

Homemade mandelic acid peels are stronger than serums. You will use them a couple of times a week at most. Because they generally contain a higher percentage of mandelic acid, homemade peels give faster results, but they can also cause more irritation. Follow the instructions for use of your specific peel product.

Be aware that adding a mandelic acid product along with another scrub or acne remedy, even an over-the-counter one, can cause excessive dryness and irritation.

If your skin becomes irritated, don't use mandelic acid on days when you use another scrub, and vice versa.

Professional peels

Stronger professional mandelic acid peels can be used to treat melasma and more severe cases of hyperpigmentation, as well as active cases of acne .

An esthetician can perform a superficial mandelic acid peel at a salon or spa . A dermatologist performs a deeper peel. To treat acne, mandelic acid is usually combined with salicylic acid for a peel .

During the exfoliation, a mandelic acid solution is applied to the face and left to act for a certain time, depending on the type of skin. It does not hurt, but you may feel a tingling or burning sensation while the peel is applied. With a superficial peel, you may not notice any side effects. With a deeper exfoliation, your skin will peel off for several days, revealing the clearer skin underneath.

Mandelic acid peels have less potential for side effects than glycolic acid peels and are preferred for people prone to hyperpigmentation. This is not a one-time treatment. As with any chemical peel, you must go through a series of peels to see good results. Most of the time, a professional peel is done once a week for six to eight weeks (but your exact treatment plan will depend on your skin and the results you want).

After the first exfoliation, you will notice that your skin is softer, brighter and smoother. But don't expect discoloration and fine lines to noticeably improve after the initial peel. They improve gradually with treatment.

Tips for using mandelic acid

Whether you choose over-the-counter products or professional peels, there are several things you can do to get the most out of your treatment.

Start with a low concentration and gradually increase. Using a heavy-duty product or a peel can cause irritation, even with the generally mild mandelic acid. Start with a lower percentage and gradually increase to get your skin used to the AHA. This way you will have fewer side effects.

Do not use heavy duty scrubs for home use. Now, through online stores, you can have high mandelic acid peels delivered right to your doorstep. But just because you can buy a heavy duty shell doesn't mean you have to. The higher the percentage of mandelic acid in your peel, the greater the risk of side effects.

You can still achieve good results with a lower resistance peel if you use it consistently. Leave the strongest peels for the trained ones.

Use sunscreen daily. Any exfoliation or AHA product can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. When using any exfoliating or exfoliating product, you should use an SPF of 30 or more every day to protect your skin from sun damage.

Get the word of drug information

The greatest benefit of mandelic acid is its mild nature. Other AHAs and topical retinoids may work faster and are generally more effective, but not all skin types can handle these products. For more sensitive skin, mandelic acid is a very good option. If you are using any prescription skin care medications, be sure to get your doctor's approval before adding anything to your current skin care routine.

Whichever mandelic acid treatment method you choose, remember that slow and steady results will bring results. Be consistent and give the product time to work.

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