Mandelic Acid in Skincare, Explained

Mandelic Acid in Skincare

Mandelic acid is in desperate need of a PR makeover. This under-the-radar gem is practically visible only to people with sensitive skin. So you won’t find it unless you’re looking for it. Admittedly, it doesn’t have as much research behind it.

However, you can’t underestimate the fact that it belongs to the royal family of hydroxy acids. The name alpha-hydroxy acid carries a lot of weight and if you take a closer look at mandelic acid, you’ll see the family resemblance. Find below everything you need to know about the use of mandelic acid in skincare.

What Is Mandelic Acid?

Mandelic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that functions as a chemical exfoliant in skincare. It’s derived from bitter almonds.

Mandelic acid is good for treating signs of aging, acne, and hyperpigmentation. With a molecular weight of 152.15 g/mol, mandelic acid is one of the gentlest exfoliants.

How Does Mandelic Acid Work in Skincare?

As a chemical exfoliant, mandelic acid prompts skin turnover. As the dead skin cells detach from each other, they shed off more easily, revealing healthier and smoother skin.

But mandelic acid, contrary to more potent exfoliants like glycolic acid, does this slowly and gently. That’s why mandelic acid doesn’t usually lead to irritation and also why it’s great for exfoliating sensitive skin.

What Are the Benefits of Mandelic Acid?

Mandelic acid shares the common advantages of AHAs. But it has its own thing that makes it special too. Here are the most important benefits of mandelic acid in skincare.

1. It’s gentler.

Mandelic acid is gentler than other AHAs. It exfoliates the skin with minimal to no irritation, which makes it suitable for people with sensitive skin.

2. It’s anti-aging.

As an exfoliant, mandelic acid promotes skin turnover. It renews the skin, helps with collagen production, and improves the look of fine lines and wrinkles too, which makes it a gentle anti-aging ingredient.

3. It reduces hyperpigmentation.

Possibly due to its exfoliating benefits, mandelic acid reduces hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and acne marks too.

4. It helps with acne.

Mandelic acid also reduces acne. Its anti-bacterial benefits have an edge over other possibly irritating acids. That’s why mandelic acid is a great option for people who are dealing with acne but can’t tolerate retinoids or benzoyl peroxide. By resurfacing the skin, it helps with congestion too.

What Are the Drawbacks of Mandelic Acid?

As with any AHA, mandelic acid still has the potential to irritate and cause redness. Available commercial use, which is between 5% and 10%, doesn’t seem to have made it to clinical studies.

They are more in the range of 30% and 40% in dermatological procedures. So there’s no literature to refer to. We know it’s gentle, but I guess nobody tested its limits.

Given the fact that people with sensitive skin are the ones who are interested in mandelic acid the most, you can never be too safe when you have sensitive skin.

So proceed with caution. And as always, remember to wear sunscreen as your skin may be too sensitive to sunlight, especially in the first weeks of using mandelic acid.

How To Use Mandelic Acid

If you’re into mandelic acid, chances are you have sensitive skin, or maybe rosacea. So right off the bat, use mandelic acid a few times a week at first to test the waters. As someone with rosacea, I’d never go for more than 4 times a week with any type of acid.

You may be wondering if you can combine other actives with mandelic acid. As a general rule of thumb, avoid combining it with other alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids in the same routine. Again, avoid pairing it with retinoids or benzoyl peroxide.

You can use mandelic acid both in the morning and in the evening. To get the most benefits, apply mandelic acid on clean, dry skin and wait for it to dry before moving on to the other steps.

Read Next: Best Mandelic Acid Serums

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