The Regimen

5 Questions About Mandelic Acid Answered

What is Mandelic Acid

Meet Mandelic Acid, the gentle resurfacer of your skin’s dreams.

Mandelic acid is one of our favorite ingredients because of its powerhouse ability to take on the trifecta of skin care’s biggest issues: acne, photo-aging, and hyperpigmentation with gentle efficiency. Despite all its amazing benefits, mandelic acid is not as well-known as some of the other AHAs, and we get a lot of questions about it. So, in this blog, we are revealing the secrets behind the gentle giant of AHAs.

In This Blog:

Is Mandelic Acid an AHA?

Mandelic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that’s derived from bitter almonds. It has a larger molecular structure than other AHAs, so it absorbs into the skin more slowly and doesn’t cause irritation that can trigger hyperpigmentation. It also has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory, and micro-exfoliating properties. And because it acts to inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that stimulates melanin production, it’s also a natural brightener.

Can You Use Mandelic Acid With Retinol?

Both mandelic acid and retinol are used to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, and photo-aging, but they have different mechanisms of action. Mandelic acid clears dead cells from the skin's surface through chemical exfoliation, loosening the cellular bonds between dead cells to slough them away. Retinoids act on receptors in the deeper layers of the skin to accelerate cell turnover and stimulate functions that improve the skin's texture, tone, and volume.

Retinoids work best when combined with an antibacterial for acne and a brightening agent for hyperpigmentation. Mandelic Acid is much gentler than retinoids and can be used alone to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, and photo-aging at a slower rate, which does not cause reactive hyperpigmentation.

If your concern is acne, use a mandelic acid cleanser and toner for the antibacterial properties, along with a mandelic acid serum in the morning and a retinoid serum at night.

Melanin-suppressing properties make mandelic acid a top choice for targeting hyperpigmentation. Retinoids accelerate cell turnover to aid in lifting pigment but do not suppress melanin production. The two can be used together to speed results.

For fine lines, you can use mandelic acid formulations, as well. But to treat more advanced photo-aging, retinoids are still the gold standard.


Is Mandelic Acid Safe?

Mandelic acid is safe for all skin tones. It is a particularly good choice for skin of color because of its gentler action. It won’t cause irritation that can trigger hyperpigmentation. Mandelic acid is safe for use during pregnancy and nursing and is an excellent choice for treating melasma, acne, and photo-aging. It’s also a favorite among men because it won’t sting when used after shaving and helps eliminate razor bumps and prevent ingrown hairs.


Does Mandelic Acid Cause Purging?

Skin care products with active ingredients accelerate cell turnover, pulling everything to the surface faster, including any pimples that have been forming under the surface. While it can seem like a sudden flare-up, it is a natural process of unclogging pores and ridding the skin of impactions. Mandelic acid’s gentler activity can mean that any purging will be less intense than it might be with a stronger active like retinoids or glycolic acid.


How Should I Incorporate Mandelic Acid Into My Skincare Routine?

Mandelic acid is a multi-tasking ingredient used in cleansers, toners, and serums. Depending on your skin issues and goals, you may want to use all mandelic acid in all three steps. A mandelic-heavy regimen is an excellent choice if you are targeting acne and pigmentation, especially in sensitive skin. If you’re targeting acne and signs of aging, you may want to use mandelic acid in the morning and retinoids at night.

For mild issues or when using mandelic acid for the first time, go with the lower percentage. This allows your skin to acclimate. When you feel your skin has reached a maintenance plateau and want to push your results farther, move up to the next percentage.


Shop mandelic acid products.

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