Does your sensitive skin struggle with using acids? Meet Mandelic Acid. Due to its larger molecule size, Mandelic acid is an AHA that’s great for sensitive skin and targeting hyperpigmentation. Using intense, high percentage acids is so overrated. Work slowly with something gentle to get great results you can maintain without irritating your skin. Mandelic acid makes the case for why less is more.
The Ordinary’s Mandelic Acid 10% + HA serum is one of the best direct acids they offer. Mandelic acid is a larger molecule, meaning it penetrates the skin at a slower rate than your typical AHA. It’s great for sensitive skin, exfoliating dead skin and targeting hyperpigmentation.
Mandelic acid is derived from bitter almonds. It is a gentle AHA because it’s a larger molecule that only penetrates the top layer of skin. It’s great for cell turnover, chemical exfoliation and removing dead skin cells. It promotes collagen production so while exfoliating, it’s helping to improve your skin tone.
Since mandelic acid is an AHA it targets skin texture, hyperpigmentation and fine lines. Some other common AHAs include glycolic acid and lactic acid. Compared to fellow AHA glycolic acid, mandelic acid has a much larger molecule, almost double the size. This means it cannot penetrate the skin as deeply making it much more gentle.
Mandelic acid is not a BHA so if you decide to incorporate it into your routine, you may want to use a BHA on alternating nights. BHAs are oil soluble targeting acne and clogged pores while AHA targets texture and hyperpigmentation. They should not be used on the same night but they’re great for the skin on alternating nights.
The Ordinary mandelic acid serum is a lightweight, almost oily texture. I have dry skin so this does not bother me but something to keep in mind if you have oily skin. Mandelic acid is great at targeting hyperpigmentation so if you struggle with that, this is something you want to look into.
It’s very gentle which I think is a good thing. For one, if you can’t use many acids, you may be able to use this without any irritation. And, you can use a serum like this more often during the week since it’s so gentle.
I did not experience any stinging or discomfort with this serum. I enjoyed this serum – it was lightweight, easy to use and I subtly noticed less texture on my skin. I used it a few times a week, typically not on back to back nights as I also use a BHA and retinol each one night a week. This is a product I will continue to use because I think it works and most importantly, it does not irritate my skin.
The Ordinary has a varied lineup of AHAs, ranging in different concentrations and molecules and this is one of their star products. Mandelic acid is hard to find alone in serums and it helps that this one is effective and madly affordable.
If you find yourself wanting a higher concentration, go for a lower dose of glycolic acid which will work similarly on the skin. The Ordinary offers a 7% Glycolic Acid Toner… this may be okay but a 2-5% glycolic acid would be better as the jump to 7% may irritate your skin. Unfortunately, The Ordinary does not make one of those..yet so we’re hopeful!
The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA Pros:
- Lightweight, easy to layer texture.
- This should not sting or burn the skin.
- Mandelic acid is a very gentle acid with a large molecule that does not penetrate the skin very deep.
- Great acid for those with sensitive skin or those who can’t tolerate acids. It’s also a great acid if you’re new to skincare.
- It’s hard to find Mandelic Acid serums on the market. Usually, they’re mixed with other ingredients.
- Cruelty-free and vegan formula.
- Ideally used in the PM routine.
- The water-based serum is very comfortable on the skin. It has a light oily consistency and it’s very lightweight.
- I find this scentless. It may depend on your batch but it should not have a strong scent.
- This does feel like a light oil texture but it is an oil-free and alcohol-free formula.
- This is a very affordable and effective acid serum!
- Mandelic acid targets fine lights, dullness, and hyperpigmentation.
- Targets texture and uneven skin tone.
- Leaves dull skin bright and glowing after a few uses.
The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA Cons:
- If your skin is more experienced with acids, you may find this one mild. Mandelic acid is one of the most gentle AHAs you can use.
- This has a light oily texture which some reviewers dislike.
- This is ideally used in the PM routine. You still need to wear SPF in the AM if you’re using this product or any acids! You should be wearing SPF in the AM regardless!
- May not be the best option for oily skin types. It has a light oil texture, though the formula is oil free. You also may want something a little stronger like the Glycolic Acid 7% Toner.
- Some reviewers said this did nothing for their skin. We know this is a very mild AHA so try out one of The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid serums or their Glycolic Acid toner.
Use this water based serum in your PM routine, before creams and oils. This does not need to be used daily. It pairs well with their Niacinamide serum. It conflicts with Direct Acids, Peptides, Retinoids, Vitamin C (LAA/ELAA), 100% Niacinamide Powder or EUK 134 0.1%
If you’re using this product, please make sure to wear SPF in your AM routine.
The Mandelic Acid serum is available at:
Mandelic acid is a gentle yet effective AHA that is a fantastic option for sensitive skin. It’s larger molecule size makes it effective yet gentle, exfoliating the skin at a much slower rate than other AHAs. Mandelic acid is something you want to use in your nighttime routine without any other actives. It’s a small but mighty ingredient – or large you could say but it’s a great option to include in your skincare routine!