What is Mandelic acid?
Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) extracted from bitter almond that has been studied extensively as a treatment for common skin concerns as photoaging, acne and melasma, with additional focus on use as a pre- and post-laser treatment. Mandelic acid is an aromatic AHA and its molecular size is smaller than any other aromatic AHA, making it the most effective in skin care products; however its size is smaller than that of glycolic acid, the most popular AHA in skin care, making it much less of an irritant.
What does Mandelic acid do?
Mandelic acid works on two levels: as a mild exfoliant and as an antibacterial. It has been clinically proven to help eliminate hyperpigmentation in the skin, such as Melasma, as well as acne and oily skin. It has also been shown to eliminate fine lines and wrinkles from the skin. In stronger formulas, when administered by a professional, Mandelic makes a great chemical peel and is less irritating than a glycolic peel with very similar results.
How does Mandelic acid work?
As an alpha hydroxy acid, Mandelic acid works by breaking up the bond between skin cells, leading to an increased rate of cellular turnover. This is beneficial because it purges the skin of dead skin cells, which can lead to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne, among other conditions. Mandelic acid has also long been known to have antibacterial properties, which are especially beneficial in the treatment of acne and oily skin.
Who can use products with Mandelic acid?
Because of its molecular size, Mandelic acid is well tolerated by virtually all skin types, including sensitive skin types such as rosacea. Mandelic acid is one of the few ingredients recommended for those with darker complexions, who might experience hyperpigmentation from similar ingredients such as hydroquinone. Because Mandelic acid is absorbed at a slower rate than many other ingredients, it does not disrupt the melanin in the skin. Mandelic acid is also one of the few ingredients prescribed for acne treatment that can be used on pimples and pustules as well as acne cysts.
What are the side effects of Mandelic acid?
The side effects of Mandelic acid are minimal, especially when compared to similar skin care ingredients such as glycolic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid) or hydroquinone (a skin lightening ingredient). However, because Mandelic acid is an exfoliant, it will expose new layers of skin to the sun. The newer skin will tend to be slightly more vulnerable to the sun. A sunscreen is recommended to help minimize occurrence of burning and irritation.