Mandelic Acid: The Magic Ingredient for Everything from Acne to Rosacea
Exfoliating acids are an essential part of a healthy skin regimen. These active compounds spur cellular renewal, unclog pores, undull dry skin, rev up collagen production, and fade dark marks. But because of their strength and active nature, acids can be irritating to sensitive skin. So how can you reap all the benefits of chemical exfoliation without triggering redness, irritation, or hyperpigmentation?
Mandelic acid is the hero you’ve been waiting for. Strong enough to take on everything from acne to fine lines, gentle enough to treat hyperpigmentation and rosacea with no arguments from your skin.
What is mandelic acid?
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 or rosacea. Compare that to an acid like glycolic, which has a tiny molecular structure. If you’ve ever used glycolic acid, you know that it’s often accompanied by a slight stinging sensation. That’s the sign of it quickly penetrating the top layers of skin. Mandelic’s larger structure means it penetrates the stratum corneum at a more gradual and controlled rate, greatly reducing the risk of redness, irritation, itching, or inflammation.
Like other AHAs, mandelic acid works by dissolving the cellular “glue” that binds dead cells, allowing them to shed from the skin’s surface. This process increases cellular metabolism and brings new, healthier cells to the surface faster.
How is mandelic acid different from other AHAs?
Mandelic’s larger molecular structure makes it the gentlest of the AHAs, but that’s not all that sets it apart. Mandelic also has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. And because it acts to inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that stimulates melanin production, mandelic acid is also a natural brightener.
This unique benefits package makes mandelic acid a perfect solution for all skin types and tones.
Mandelic is ideal for treating acne in sensitive or dark skin tones prone to hyperpigmentation. It kills acne bacteria, clears pores, and tamps down inflammation to fade existing acne scars (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and prevent new marks from forming.
If you have dry, easily irritated skin and have found glycolic acid a bit too intense, mandelic acid is a powerful but more “polite” alternative. Think of it as glycolic’s less irritating cousin.
Pregnant and nursing mothers love mandelic acid for its ability to take on all their hormonally-driven skin issues, including melasma and breakouts, without worry. Mandelic acid is a naturally-derived, pregnancy-safe ingredient.
Because of its slow absorption rate and anti-inflammatory properties, mandelic acid is well-tolerated by rosacea-affected skin as well. Its antibacterial properties give it another advantage since bacteria is thought to be a causative factor in rosacea.
Which percentage should I choose?
Vivant’s mandelic acid toners and serums come in graduating percentage levels. Always start with the lower percentage to allow your skin to acclimate. While mandelic acid is known for its gentle activity, it still requires an acclimation period.
When you feel your skin has reached a maintenance plateau and you’d like to push your results farther, you can move up to the next percentage. Those with extremely sensitive skin should stick with the lower percentages.