9 Gentle Mandelic Acid Serums That Leave Your Skin Brighter

Best Mandelic Acid Serums

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Removing dead skin cells, encouraging skin turnover, stimulating collagen production, and smoothing out the skin texture run in the family. The family of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), that is. And mandelic acid is on the rise for taking on the family business and bringing something to the table that others can’t. It comes in mostly serums and deserves your attention if you need a gentle way to exfoliate your skin. Keep reading for the best mandelic acid serums and why you need one.

Benefits of Mandelic Acid Serums

Mandelic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid used in skin care products, especially serums, to exfoliate the skin. Due to its molecular makeup, mandelic acid is not as fast-acting or deeply penetrating as other chemical exfoliants.

Mandelic acid serums work slowly, but gently, to help you with acne, signs of aging, and uneven skin tone. You can safely exfoliate and collect the benefits without worrying about irritation, or redness.

That’s why mandelic acid serums are more popular among people who have sensitive skin and can’t tolerate potent exfoliants like glycolic acid and people who are new to exfoliating acids.

Before diving in though, I want to bring something up for fellow friends with sensitive skin. Now, I don’t usually mind fragrance in skincare. Most of the time, I get by without irritation. And to be honest, I like good-smelling skincare.

But I know fragrance is a whole thing for people with very sensitive skin. And I’m disappointed with some of these mandelic acid serums out there.

Why would you take something people with sensitive skin can especially benefit from and formulate it with the one thing they can’t tolerate? It just defeats the purpose!

Anyways, remember that mandelic acid is still a chemical exfoliant. And you might want to start slow with it -just to be safe. Find below the best mandelic acid serums for gentle exfoliation.

Best Mandelic Acid Serums

1. Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water

Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water -  Best Mandelic Acid Serums

This Korean mandelic acid serum/toner/liquid -they seem to avoid labeling it- has a concentration of 5% for superficial exfoliation. The gentle formulation resurfaces the skin without disrupting the skin barrier or irritating the skin. Because it contains Centella Asiatica, a potent antioxidant with incredible soothing benefits.

And it has panthenol, vitamin B5, to hydrate and soothe the skin. Plus, it has licorice extract, which is super brightening for the skin. The multi-functional mandelic acid improves your skin texture and reduces fine lines and hyperpigmentation while keeping it calm, and hydrated.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, panthenol, Centella Asiatica
Skin Type: All
Size: 4 oz/120 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free

2. The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA - Best Affordable Mandelic Acid Serum

This is one of the cheapest mandelic acid serums you can try. It’s minimal, potent, and effective. The concentration makes it more suitable for people with oily and acne-prone skin who could tolerate something stronger but still less irritating.

Plus, the oil-free formula makes it even better for congested skin with clogged pores and blackheads. The added hyaluronic acid minimizes potential dryness too.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, hyaluronic acid
Skin Type: All
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free, oil-free, fragrance-free

3. Elemis Pro-Collagen Tri-Acid Peel

Elemis Pro-Collagen Tri-Acid Peel -  Best Mandelic Acid Serums

This is a rinse of mandelic acid treatment. So the application is in line with traditional peels: you apply it, wait a little bit, and then neutralize it with water. The serum contains mandelic acid as alpha-hydroxy acid. But it also contains a polyhydroxy acid (PHA), namely lactobionic acid. It also is a gentle exfoliant with major hydrating benefits.

The two acids slowly resurface the skin and reveal a smoother, brighter complexion. The third acid is Asiatic acid, a component of Centella Asiatica. So you have a nice antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action too, which is great for people with sensitive skin. The serum packs algae extracts to hydrate the skin too and it’s a great option if you’re not into leave-on peels.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, lactobionic acid, algae extract
Skin Type: All
Size: 1 oz/30 ml

4. Exuviance Radiance Serum

Exuviance Radiance Serum - Best Mandelic Acid Serums

This offers a similar AHA & PHA combo. But this one is easier on the AHA and heavier on the PHA. Besides mandelic acid, it contains lactobionic acid and gluconolactone. So the serum exfoliates but has a major focus on plumping the skin all thanks to PHAs’ humectant properties.

It reduces the look of fine lines as an immediate action. But the best thing about it is that it contains vitamins C, E, and A as an antioxidant blend to ward off free radicals, brighten the skin, and combat sun damage. This mandelic acid serum is a great anti-aging serum if you have mature, sensitive skin.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, lactobionic acid, vitamin C
Skin Type: All
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Good To Know: Contains fragrance

5. Neostrata Mandelic Mattifying Serum

Neostrata Mandelic Mattifying Serum - Best Mandelic Acid Serums For Acne

If you’re dealing with acne and acne scars but your skin is prone to irritation and dehydration too, this one is excellent. You can clear up your skin, gently exfoliate it, and fade the look of discolorations. Because the mandelic acid serum is formulated with gluconolactone.

While exfoliating is a must when you have congested skin, harsh exfoliators can easily make things worse. But this one doesn’t allow that. Plus, it’s fragrance-free to eliminate breakouts from irritation. Also, the formulation has a mattifying effect on the skin and it basically absorbs oil to reduce shine too.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, gluconolactone
Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic

6. Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

This rich mandelic acid serum contains a potent blend of hydroxy acids to multitask. It has lactic acid as well as salicylic acid to target the oily layers of the skin too. So it exfoliates to increase skin turnover but also targets acne. In addition, it has vegan retinol, namely bakuchiol, for major anti-aging benefits without irritation. It has resveratrol, a potent antioxidant, to guard the skin against free radicals while improving the skin tone.

And to amplify the brightening effects, it packs niacinamide. The night serum also contains soothing green tea, hydrating hyaluronic acid and panthenol, and signal peptides to aid with collagen production. Overall, it’s a great product with a focus on hyperpigmentation and dark spots if mainstream options are too irritating for you.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, bakuchiol
Skin Type: All
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free, vegan

7. Vivant 8% Mandelic Acid 3-In-1 Serum

Vivant 8% Mandelic Acid 3-In-1 Serum

This is another multi-tasking mandelic acid serum for the skin that’s not ready for mainstream options. The serum combines mandelic acid with lactic acid to ensure gentle exfoliation. The latter is exceptionally helpful in increasing the skin’s moisture levels as lactic acid is also a humectant.

To maximize that, the serum has sodium PCA, which is another humectant that plumps the skin. As sensitive skin is usually intolerant to mainstream brighteners, the serum has niacinamide in it too. So you can exfoliate the skin without irritation and improve your skin texture and tone without having to deal with sensitivity.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, niacinamide, lactic acid
Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily
Size: 1 oz/30 ml

8. The Inkey List Mandelic Acid Treatment

The Inkey List Mandelic Acid Treatment

If you have oily, blemish-prone skin and are dealing with acne marks and dark spots, this night serum is worth looking into. In addition to 10% mandelic acid, it contains 0.1% retinol. The retinol concentration is not too high and it’s also encapsulated so it’s very unlikely to irritate.

But the combination has a two-fold benefit. It encourages skin turnover to slowly fade hyperpigmentation. And it gets rid of surface discolorations with exfoliation. This is a night serum but personally, I like it more as a dark spot corrector to use only on problem areas.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, encapsulated retinol, glycerin
Skin Type: All, especially acne-prone
Size: 0.5 oz/15 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free, vegan, fragrance-free

9. Glytone Mandelic Gentle Resurfacing Serum

Glytone Mandelic Gentle Resurfacing Serum

Similarly, if you have unwanted discolorations, dark spots, and uneven skin tone but a glycolic acid product irritates your skin, this brightening mandelic acid serum packs a concentration of 10% paired with phytic acid.

Phytic acid is also a gentle acid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. But it’s majorly brightening and great for people with redness-prone, sensitive skin. The serum hydrates and soothes with vitamin B5 and increases radiance without visible peeling, flushes, or irritation.

Key Ingredients: Mandelic acid, phytic acid, panthenol
Skin Type: All
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic

So these are some of the best mandelic acid serums out there. If you’re new to the ingredient, The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA comes in a gentle formula that makes it suitable for all skin types as it’s made without irritants. But if you need something more potent and targeted, try Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum. It works for a variety of skin concerns like hyperpigmentation, acne, and signs of aging.


Read Next: Best Skincare Products For Hyperpigmentation

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