The Best Mandelic Acid Skincare Products and Benefits Explained


ou don’t have to keep up to date with the latest in beauty ingredients to notice the meteoric rise of acid-based skincare.

A new generation of products has been released to coincide with our ever growing knowledge and interest in the details of each ingredient list. Emerging skintellectuals led to transparency in the industry where skin-damaging components that dominated the pre-active offering were discarded in favor of technical, effective and science-based ranges with acids at their core.

From hyaluronic acid to azelaic acid, it can feel like there’s a high-tech name to know every week, making it hard to know where to start. But if you’re just starting to up the ante in your skincare routine, there’s a powerful acid you need to have on your radar.

Mandelic acid should be your gateway into the world of chemical exfoliants. The milder AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) is derived from bitter almonds and takes a less irritating approach to moving dead skin.

The multitasking ingredient accelerates cell turnover, improves the appearance of hyperpigmentation and helps unclog pores.

We consulted Dr. Kemi Fabusiwa (@dr.fab), junior physician and skincare expert for the INKEY list to decode mandelic acid.

What does mandelic acid do?

“Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that can be found in different types of products such as serums, blemish treatments and peels. It increases cell turnover by removing the top layer of dead and dying cells from skin, allowing your younger, healthier cells to rise to the surface.Mandelic acid has a larger molecular size than other AHAs like glycolic acid, which means it can exfoliate the skin without penetrating too deeply.This makes mandelic acid a great option for those who need gentle exfoliation.

Why use mandelic acid?

“Alpha hydroxy acids such as mandelic acid are able to exfoliate the skin and slough off older skin cells. For this reason, they can help exfoliate old skin cells that are clogging pores, which which makes it great for breakouts and acne, but it can also help clear up areas of hyperpigmented skin for those who want a more even skin tone.

What type of skin is mandelic acid suitable for?

“Mandelic acid is a universal ingredient that can work well for people with oily or dry skin. Due to its large molecular size, it is also suitable for people with hypersensitive skin types.

What ingredients does mandelic acid work well with?

“Mandelic acid works well in conjunction with ingredients like niacinamide and salicylic acid. It is important to always pay attention to signs of inflammation (redness, swelling, warmth, irritation) when combining actives. But it has a nice synergistic effect with other anti-acne ingredients.

In what type of products does mandelic acid work best?

“Mandelic acid is an exfoliating acid, which means it works well in serums, peels, and blemish treatments. It can also be left on overnight in some formulations.

Shop the best products with mandelic acid below

INKEY List Mandelic Acid Treatment

The INKEY List

By cutting out long ingredient lists to include only the essentials, The INKEY List puts mandelic acid at the center of this gentle yet powerful treatment. It was created to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and acne scars using the winning combination of mandelic acid and retinol. The latter is included in the small percentage of 0.1 to ensure that it will not cause irritation, but is instead designed to smooth the skin with continued use.

The texture is extremely light and thanks to the addition of the vitamin A derivative, it also has a sebum-regulating and anti-wrinkle effect. Apply to cleansed skin and follow with moisturizer.

Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA

the ordinary

When breakouts leave behind an undesirable appearance, turn to Mandelic Acid to brighten, smooth, and say goodbye to scarred remnants. This topical treatment from The Ordinary gets to work providing gentle exfoliation.

In this formula, mandelic acid combines with glycolic to take a slow but steady approach that ensures it can be tolerated by all skin types. There’s also HA (aka hyaluronic acid) to hydrate and plump. The light texture is quickly absorbed and leaves a healthy glow.

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Correcting Serum

Skin allies

This serum from Allies of Skin is best applied at night and lets its magic work while you sleep. It is specifically intended to treat stubborn hyperpigmentation, large pores, breakouts and uneven texture, reversing your concerns to leave you with luminous glass skin.

While you sleep, it strengthens the skin’s natural barrier through the combination of Mandelic Acid with other powerful ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Bakuchiol, Peptides and Organic Rosehip. These work in tandem to achieve noticeable skin improvements – even out texture, firm, boost elasticity and calm redness. A little goes a long way. Use every night.

Paula’s Choice 25% AHA + 2% BHA Skin Perfecting Exfoliating Peel

Paul’s choice

To combat dullness, uneven skin tone and textured skin all at once, Paula’s Choice has launched this combination of acids. The brand is appreciated for its 2% BHA Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliator and it goes along the same lines, but in addition to eliminating blemishes, it adds skin smoothing, brightening, and fighting fine lines to its list of accomplishments. This differs from some of the other formulas on this list because it is a rinse-off peel designed to be used once a week.

In just 10 minutes, salicylic acid (BHA) unclogs pores, while the cocktail of AHAs (glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, tartaric acid and malic acid) provides resurfacing. Add the calming effects of allantoin, butterfly pea flower extract and others and you have an impressive and effective treatment that is gentle on the skin at the same time.

Youth To The People Mandelic Acid Exfoliator + Superfood Unity

The youth to the people

While the Youth To The People Exfoliator smoothes and decongests pores, it will also leave you with hydrated, supple and glowing skin. Powered by antioxidant-rich plant extracts, it’s a water-like liquid that includes mandelic acid in the formula to slough off dead skin cells and minimize the appearance of hyperpigmentation. There are also salicylic acid and gluconolactone known for their moisturizing effects. Even so, it can feel quite drying on the complexion, so follow application with a nourishing moisturizer. Bonus points for the herbal scent.

Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth BHA+AHA Salicylic Serum

Glow recipe

K-beauty Glow Recipe’s Strawberry Smooth Serum is a cult product for a reason. In order to achieve that coveted glass skin tone – a trend that started in South Korea and has since grown globally – this formula is at your disposal to shift dull skin cells. and let yourself shine from the outside in.

This is achieved through a combination of BHA and AHA acids – the former of which is salicylic acid, while the latter is mandelic acid. It’s fast-acting and effective, but never fear, there won’t be any downtime because thanks to hyaluronic acid, strawberry water, leaf extract and enzymes, it moisturizes at the same time. Plus, it smells fruity, absorbs quickly, and creates a smooth canvas for makeup application that follows.

Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Peels

Dr Denis Gross

Eliminate dark marks with a simple swipe of this wipe. The pad was created by the label led by dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross to act as a professional-level treatment you can do at home. As such, it’s not as harsh on the skin as you’ll find in the clinic and was created to be used daily if needed. The peel is made up of a two-step process.

You start with the first dab – infused with lactic, mandelic, glycolic AHAs and salicylic BHAs – which you glide over the face in a circular motion, wait for it to dry, and repeat with the dab labeled “two” which highlights the retinol, reservatrol and ascrobic acid among the most powerful anti-aging ingredients. The exfoliating pads will leave your complexion glowing with sun spots appearing much lighter, while uneven skin tone has been smoothed out.

VOTARY Radiance Revealing Mask


VOTARY harnesses the power of natural ingredients to give your skin all the nutrients it deserves. Each of the products is created in small batches in the UK and blended by hand so they are kind to the planet as well as your complexion. The Radiance Reveal mask does what it says on the box.

Mandelic acid plays a key role in the formulation, placed alongside lactic acid to gently resurface the skin and give it a radiant look. Use twice a week – say Wednesday and Sunday for example – and you’ll notice fine lines reduced, hyperpigmentation lightened and breakouts even less frequent.

About Sally Dominguez

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