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You’re probably used to hearing about traditional AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid, but there’s one other active ingredient that’s just as impressive. Though fairly lesser known (and gentler on skin) than other AHAs, mandelic acid works great for improving the overall texture and tone of skin to give you a brighter, clearer complexion.
But the benefits of using mandelic acid for the skin go far beyond enhancing your complexion, effectively treating a wide range of common skin concerns, such as acne, pigmentation, and aging skin.
What is Mandelic Acid?
Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that’s derived from bitter almonds. Compared to other AHAs we usually hear about — like glycolic acid and lactic acid — mandelic acid’s uniqueness lies in its larger size and molecular weight, which also means it takes longer to penetrate skin. For this reason, mandelic acid is considered to have a lower potential of irritating skin.
What are AHAs?
Dirt, oil, and dead skin cells tend to accumulate on the surface of skin over time, which could lead to a dull or uneven skin tone. That said, regular exfoliation is a must if you’re hoping to achieve youthful, radiant skin.
However, not all exfoliants are the same. Mechanical or physical exfoliants involve physically sloughing away dead cells from the surface of skin. However, the abrasive nature of physical exfoliants may irritate skin or even strip its essential moisture.
Alternatively, chemical exfoliants like AHAs are a much gentler form of exfoliation which can effectively dissolve the bonds that hold together a buildup of dead skin cells and other debris.
Benefits of Mandelic Acid for the Skin
Mandelic acid provides a gentle form of exfoliation to reveal youthful, radiant skin. Although we can go on for days about the benefits of using mandelic acid for the skin, we’ve rounded up a short list of its main skin-enhancing qualities.
Here are the key benefits of using mandelic acid for the skin:
- Brightens skin
- Improves skin texture
- Evens out skin tone
- Reduces signs of premature aging
- Accelerates cell turnover
- Boosts collagen production
- Lightens hyperpigmentation and dark spots
- Reduces breakouts
Let’s take a closer look at what mandelic acid can do for the skin:
As mentioned, mandelic acid is considered to be one of the milder AHAs. Compared to other AHAs, mandelic acid is believed to be a more tolerable option for those who have sensitive or blemish-prone skin. However, its exfoliating qualities are similarly effective when it comes to brightening skin, clearing pores, and reducing hyperpigmentation.
The anti-aging benefits of mandelic acid are quite substantial. As you probably already know, collagen and elasticity in skin tends to decrease with age.
Mandelic acid has the ability to boost cell turnover and encourage collagen production in skin. By promoting new cell production, mandelic acid can be rather effective when it comes to firming skin and improving visible signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Additionally, mandelic acid may help reduce hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and sun damage — all of which are key factors when it comes to achieving youthful-looking skin.
Several factors may contribute to breakouts, including excess oil and clogged pores — where dead skin cells or bacteria may get trapped beneath the surface of skin and cause inflammation.
Using mandelic acid can help minimize breakouts by penetrating deeply into skin to clear pores and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, its ability to increase cell turnover may help improve the appearance of acne scars.
How to Incorporate Mandelic Acid into an Existing Skincare Routine
Apply in the evening
When using mandelic acid, it’s best to incorporate this ingredient into your evening skincare routine — after cleansing. How often you use products containing mandelic acid will largely depend on what type of skincare product it is and how high the concentration of this active ingredient is.
For example, a serum containing a lower percentage of mandelic acid can be used more often than a peel. Ultimately, be sure to avoid using mandelic acid with other AHAs, BHAs, peels, retinol, and retinoids.
Start off at a low percentage
When first starting out, go with a lower percentage so your skin can get familiar with this ingredient. Over time, you may gradually work your way up to find the right concentration that’s required to adequately address your skin’s needs.
Wearing sunscreen is especially important when you’re using mandelic acid. As with any other AHA, mandelic acid may increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, which means there’s also a higher risk of sun damage. To protect your skin, try to limit the amount of time you spend in the sun and always load up on SPF.
Precautions for using Mandelic Acid
Consult with a dermatologist
Understanding your skin is the first step in achieving optimal skin health. Before introducing mandelic acid — or any new ingredient — to your routine, it’s always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist to make sure it’s right for your skin.
Do a patch test
Recognized as one of the milder AHAs, mandelic acid is considered to be less irritating for those who have sensitive or blemish-prone skin. But because everyone’s skin will react differently, we always recommend doing a patch test first to see how your skin tolerates this ingredient. If you experience any sort of allergic reaction to mandelic acid, such as irritation, redness, or itching, stop using it immediately.
If you’re looking for a gentle exfoliant to give your skincare routine a boost, mandelic acid might be what you’re looking for. From clarifying skin and reducing breakouts to improving hyperpigmentation and diminishing fine lines, the benefits of using mandelic acid for the skin are plentiful — and exactly what makes it one of our top skincare choices for achieving healthy glowing skin.
What’s your favorite skincare ingredient? Let us know in the comments below if you have any skincare recommendations for us — and of course, if you have any tips to share from your own personal experience using mandelic acid for the skin!