Mandelic acid is a relatively new alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from bitter almonds that has shown to have tremendous benefits for the skin.
Mandelic acid has a long, safe history of use in medicine as an oral antibiotic, but has only recently become popular in skincare for acne, wrinkles and more. Its use in skincare was pioneered by Dr Fulton, one of the researchers who developed Retin-A. In his view mandelic acid is the best skin active to come along since Retin-A.
Mandelic Acid is a gentler alternative to popular AHAs such as glycolic and lactic acids, because it penetrates the skin at a much slower rate due to its larger molecular structure. Unlike conventional acne treatments that have a potential to irritate the skin, it is great for people with sensitive skin.
Mandelic acid has a larger molecular structure than glycolic acid. Despite being less irritatiing, mandelic acid is in fact stronger than glycolic acid, having a pK of 3.41. In comparison, glycolic acid has a pK of 3.83 (the lower the pK value, the stronger the acid). Mandelic acid belongs to a sub-group of AHAs known as aromatic alpha hydroxy acids, and is the smallest aromatic AHA.
After continued use mandelic acid was shown to offer excellent benefits to the skin including:
- Acne: Mandelic acid was found to be a powerful antibacterial for acne sufferers. With its use, many people are for the first time able to control their acne without traditional antibiotics or topical acne products that can excessively irritate their skin. It works in the same manner as salicylic acid, except it cannot penetrate as deep into the pore as salicylic acid. Thus, it increases cell turnover within the pore, causing the release of comedones.
- Fine Lines and Wrinkles: As with glycolic acid treatment, fine lines and wrinkles improve dramatically with mandelic acid, but more importantly, without the irritation or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation often seen with glycolic acid and other alpha hydroxy acids. Skin texture improves rapidly and the effect is sustained over months and years of treatment, gradually minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.
- Pigmentation: In addition to visibly improving the look and texture of aged skin, mandelic acid also quickly reduces pigmentation, including brown spots and large freckles.
- Renewal: As well as being antibacterial, mandelic acid works by breaking up the bond between dead skin cells, leading to an increased rate of cellular turnover. This is beneficial because it purges the skin of damaged skin cells, which can lead to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne, among other conditions. The result is skin that is more flexible, smoother, and more even in tone.
The best products with mandelic acid that I've found are the Garden of Wisdom (GoW) mandelic line. They have natural ingredients and come highly recommended. There are also plenty of products with mandelic acid on Amazon here. Some people like the Nucelle line. Find one that works for you.
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