Mandelic acid is an aromatic alpha hydroxy acid extracted from bitter almonds. It has anti-bacterial properties so is helpful for treating acne and the visible signs of aging. It’s also used as an oral antibiotic for treating urinary tract infections. Used as a peeling agent, mandelic acid stimulates cell turnover, reducing fine lines, evening out skin tone, and quelling inflammation. Here are 7 reasons to do a mandelic acid peel.
How many alpha hydroxy acids are there anyway? The various terms can get confusing. There’s glycolic acid that that comes from sugarcane, lactic acid that comes from sour milk, and citric acid that comes from citrus fruits. Mandelic acid, the star for this post, comes from almonds and wild cherry.
Malic acid (derived from apples), and tartaric acid (found in grapes), are also part of the alpha hydroxy crowd, though they are less well-known. Salicylic acid, which most acne sufferers have used, is a beta hydroxy acid that comes from willow bark. Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are water soluble, whereas beta hydroxy acids are lipid soluble, which is why salicylic acid is good for oily complexions.
What Is Mandelic Acid?
Now that you know a little about the different types of acids, let’s get into the specifics of mandelic acid, an AHA that’s good for treating blackheads, sagging skin, discoloration, and loss of elasticity. Mandelic acid is particularly good for people with sensitive skin and dark complexions because it doesn’t initiate an inflammatory response post treatment.
This is due to its large molecular size, and the fact that it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply as other AHAs. Mandelic acid is becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient in the cosmetic and skincare industries. It’s a great choice for those who haven’t yet done a chemical peel because it’s less irritating than other AHAs, including glycolic acid. Mandelic acid is both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial so is beneficial for treating skin conditions, such as acne and rosacea.
Mandelic acid is even more efficacious when used in conjunction with the lipid-soluble salicylic acid, which is used to exfoliate, dissolve excess oil, and unclog pores. Malic acid, one of the gentler AHAs used for detoxifying and firming the skin, is often combined with mandelic acid in beauty care products.
Here’s a gentle 3-in-1 toner for rejuvenating and brightening the skin.
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Why Mandelic Acid For Peels?
Mandelic acid adheres to the surface of the skin to gently exfoliate old skin cells, stimulate new growth and reduce inflammation. After several peels, you’ll start to see age spots and hyperpigmentation fade. And because mandelic acid is safe to use on sensitive skin, peels can be used repeatedly without damaging the skin. Skin care spas and clinics do mandelic acid peels, but you can also do one at home, just be extra cautious when doing any kind of chemical peel by yourself.
[Read More: How Often Should You Exfoliate?]
I’ve done mandelic acid peels at home, and they’re much less intense than glycolic acid peels. The acid is applied directly to clean skin, and left on for no longer than 15 minutes. If your skin is super sensitive, I would advise leaving the peel on for five minutes to begin with to see how your skin reacts. Subsequent peels can be left on longer if there are no negative reactions. Strengths of around 25%-40% mandelic acid are used for peels.
1. Treats non-cystic acne
2. Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
3. Stimulates collagen synthesis
4. Firm, brightens, and tightens skin
5. Exfoliates and evens out skin tone
6. Gradually fades age spots
7. Decreases blackheads and unclogs pores
A mandelic acid peel is good for reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, and because of its keratolytic properties, is effective in treating psoriasis, corns, and warts. The acid softens the keratin, the outermost structural protein in the skin, while holding in moisture to counteract dryness.
Mandelic acid also inhibits melanogenesis, the production of excess melanin, which causes darkening of the skin. Melanin is the natural pigment in skin, hair and eyes. Dark-skinned people have more melanin than those with fair skin.
Possible Side Effects
Mandelic acid peels aren’t painful, although you will feel a warm, tingly sensation, which is normal. How your skin reacts to the peel will depend on your skin type and level of sensitivity.
You may notice some redness temporarily for a couple of days following a peel, but as your skin heals, you’ll start to see positive improvements.
Peels using mandelic acid are gentle enough that side effects are minimal, though peeling and flaking will most likely occur. The side effects you experience will depend on how much inflammation is present in your skin.
Those with acne may have increased stinging and itching – this usually only lasts two or three days before subsiding. These reactions are completely normal following a chemical peel and should be expected. Fortunately, no down time is required when using mandelic acid.
The more peels you do, the more improvements you’ll notice. Plan on doing anywhere from three to six peels, and keep in mind that the effects are cumulative. How many peels you’ll need will depend on the nature of the condition you’re trying to treat. Peels are generally performed every two weeks, but if your skin reacts favorably, you could do them more often. I like mandelic acid peels because they’re effective, yet not irritating. Make them a regular part of your skin care routine.
Mandelic acid is a gentle alpha hydroxy acid used for chemical peels. It won’t irritate sensitive skin, is less intense than other AHAs, and can therefore be used more often.
Peels are easy to do at home, however you will need to do several peels in order to experience the full range of positive benefits.
What chemical peels have you tried? Hit reply and let me know:)