Mandelic acid is the holy grail of acids for helping heal acne. It’s not nearly as harsh as other popular acne treatments like glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide, so acne-prone skin tends to respond much better to it. It’s also a very powerful ingredient for fighting hyperpigmentation and signs of aging.
At CLEARSTEM Skincare, we’re obsessed with this ingredient, and for good reason!
So, what exactly is mandelic acid and what are the benefits? Keep reading to find out.
What is Mandelic Acid?
Mandelic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy-acid (AHA) that’s derived from bitter almonds. (1) It has been widely studied and proven effective in its ability to relieve acne.
Mandelic acid is a larger molecule in comparison to other acids, which makes it less irritating to the skin. On top of that, it’s a natural anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory acid; all of which are key characteristics that make it a star ingredient in skincare products for acne. (2)
How Does Mandelic Acid Work?
Natural and gentle exfoliation is what’s necessary to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin to reveal the smooth, clear, and refreshed skin that’s underneath. Mandelic acid is the perfect potent, yet gentle exfoliant to facilitate this process.
It does so by binding to the dead skin cells and gently sloughing them away without being overly drying or irritating to the skin’s surface due to the larger molecule size previously mentioned. This allows it to penetrate the skin at a slower rate.
It’s critical that you let the mandelic acid sit on your skin for at least 10-15 minutes before moving to the next step in your skincare routine. Otherwise - due to the pH - it can’t fully penetrate the skin and works its magic!
Benefits of Mandelic Acid
Great for Acne-Prone Skin
The anti-bacterial nature of mandelic acid alone makes it very effective at clearing active breakouts. Combine that with its anti-inflammatory properties, its ability to slowly and gently penetrate the skin, and the way it effectively exfoliates the skin’s surface without being overly drying and you have the perfect acid for acne-prone skin.
Balances Out Hyperpigmentation
Since mandelic acid does not trigger an inflammatory response within the skin, like some other acids such as glycolic do, this makes it uniquely effective at healing the skin’s surface and lightening dark spots. (4)
In addition to the anti-inflammatory response that mandelic acid triggers, it also inhibits the overproduction of melanin, which helps to prevent future hyperpigmentation from occurring. These two properties of mandelic acid make it a great option for deeper skin tones. (2)
Evens Out Skin Texture
When dead skin, dirt, and bacteria are allowed to collect on the surface of the skin, this leads to that unwanted, uneven texture. The gentle exfoliation and sloughing away of dead skin cells that mandelic acid provides is key for smoothing out skin texture.
Folliculitis is a fungal infection of the hair follicle (think razor burn). This is easily cleared with mandelic acid - thanks again to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. (2)
Minimizing Large Pores
Perhaps one of the best benefits of mandelic acid is its ability to minimize pore size. I know what you’re thinking… that’s a large claim that many skincare ingredients boast, but for mandelic acid it’s actually true.
So, how does it do this? Since mandelic works to exfoliate and unclog pores, a natural side effect of this is reduced pore size. It’s a win-win!
How to Incorporate Mandelic Acid in Your Skincare Regimen
If you struggle with acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines & wrinkles, folliculitis, or uneven skin texture, mandelic acid is a must-try.
First things first, we recommend getting your hands on a good mandelic acid serum. Lucky for you, CLEARSTEM Skincare has you covered 😉. Next, follow these tips for incorporating mandelic acid into your skincare regimen:
- Start small: Begin by applying it just 2-3 times per week and monitor how your skin responds! This will also give you the opportunity to ensure you don’t have any adverse reaction. If you notice your skin getting overly dry, scale back
- Let it sit on your skin for at least 10-15 minutes before moving to the next step in your skincare routine. This step is critical! It’s what really allows the mandelic acid to work its magic! After cleansing your face at night, apply a thin layer of mandelic acid as your next step. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes and then follow it up with a hydrating serum and moisturizer. Keep it simple!
- Mandelic acid comes in different strengths ranging from 5% to 15%. Consult a dermatologist or esthetician to determine the level of strength that’s best for your skin.
- Be patient! Although some may see an immediate improvement, it can take up to 8 weeks to see any changes in your skin.
Source 1: Benefits and Uses of Mandelic Acid https://www.healthline.com/health/mandelic-acid
Source 2: Mandelic Acid: The Best Acid for Acne, Pigmentation, and Aging https://learn.artofskincare.com/the-uses-and-benefits-of-mandelic-acid/
Source 3: Effects of Topical Mandelic Acid Treatment on Facial Skin Viscoelasticity https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30513536/
Source 4: Glycolic acid peels versus salicylic-mandelic acid peels in active acne vulgaris and post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation: a comparative study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19076192/