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Everything You Need to Know About Mandelic Acid

Mandelic acid is a gentler AHA that provides all the benefits of stronger AHAs and retinol without the irritation, making it perfect for sensitive and acne prone skin.

Updated July 19, 2021 by Amanda Dixon

Everything You Need to Know About Mandelic Acid

For those with acneic and sensitive skin types—peels, exfoliators, and resurfacing skincare treatments can often result in irritation, itching, or dryness. But these treatments offer a variety of skin-brightening benefits. Resurfacing AHAs increase cell turnover, transforming dull, congested skin to give you a brighter, smoother, more radiant complexion. That’s where mandelic acid comes in. Mandelic acid is a gentler AHA that provides all the benefits of stronger AHAs and retinol without the irritation, making it perfect for sensitive and acne prone skin.

What is Mandelic Acid?

Mandelic acid is a gentle alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from almonds. Like glycolic acid and other AHAs, mandelic acid promotes cellular turnover allowing skin to shed naturally, resulting in revitalized, healthier looking skin. What makes mandelic acid unique is its molecular structure. It penetrates the skin more slowly than other AHAs, making it much less likely to cause irritation. So, if you’ve been longing for more renewed skin sans the discomfort—you’ve come to the right place!

Mandelic Acid Benefits

Exfoliating: Mandelic acid promotes cell turnover, allowing skin to shed dullness and discoloration more easily, leaving behind fresher, healthier skin.

Illuminating: The process of exfoliation eliminates congestion and debris that may cause dullness. Skin appears brighter and more illuminated with continued use.

Purifying: This unique AHA goes deep into pores to clear away blemish causing pollution and buildup to eliminate blackheads and prevent future breakouts.

Brightening: Increased cell turnover works to diminish the appearance of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and acne scars for a more even skin tone.

How to Use Mandelic Acid

While mandelic acid is ideal for those with sensitive skin types, there are a few rules to follow when incorporating this multitasking ingredient into your beauty routine. First, don’t use mandelic acid products with other AHAs or retinols. Doubling up on resurfacing AHAs and retinoids with mandelic acid can result in dryness and irritation.

Additionally, resurfaced skin is more sensitive to sun exposure. So you’ll want to avoid harmful UV exposure or wear a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect skin. Lastly, avoid using mandelic acid on sunburned skin. This is likely to result in additional redness and drying, so wait until your sunburn is completely healed before applying these products.

Our Favorite Mandelic Acid Products

Shasta AHA Refining Acid Wash

HoliFrog Shasta AHA Refining Acid Wash

The wrong cleanser can wreak havoc on skin. Especially those with sensitive skin. Luckily, there’s HoliFrog Shasta AHA Refining Acid Wash. This unique cleanser is blended with the best combination of soothing and brightening acids that treat and refine skin while you wash. Soothing non-fragrant botanicals reduce irritation and keep skin calmed and hydrated. And unlike other cleansers, you won’t find any irritating fragrances, essential oils, or alcohols here.

PCA Skin
Acne Gel

If you're prone to breakouts, blemishes, and dull skin—look no further than PCA Skin Acne Gel. This refreshing gel treatment that goes to work immediately to treat blemishes, prevent breakouts, and stop overproduction of oil. The 2% salicylic acid in the patented OmniSome delivery system and mandelic acid work to simultaneously eliminate existing breakouts while unclogging pores. Use as a full face treatment or as a spot treatment to target occasional breakouts for a crystal clear complexion.

Dr. Dennis Gross
Alpha Beta® Ultra Gentle Daily Peel

It’s true! A gentle daily peel for beautiful, glowing skin without dryness or irritation. These gentle yet ultra-effective treatment pads deliver precise exfoliation to reduce the appearance of pores and enhance radiance while calming and hydrating skin. Ideal for fragile and sensitive skin types, this multitasking peel is formulated with colloidal oatmeal and other nourishing botanicals to replenish and soothe even the most delicate skin. The result? Healthy, radiant looking skin.

Allies of Skin
Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

We love this night serum for tackling breakouts, blemishes, and dark spots. Mandelic acid sinks deep into skin to dissolve dead skin cells that can clog pores while working to reverse dark spots and hyperpigmentation. A nourishing blend of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and essential fatty acids hydrate and comfort skin. It’s gentle enough to use every night, so you can wake up to beautifully bright skin each and every morning.

Interested in learning more about keeping oily skin balanced and healthy? Check out our Step-by-Step Skincare Routine for Oily Skin.

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