Best skincare products with mandelic acid (2023)

Best skincare products with mandelic acid (1)

You don’t need to stay up to date with the latest buzz in beauty ingredients to notice the meteoric rise in acid-based skincare.

There’s a new generation of products that have been brought to market to coincide with our ever-growing knowledge and interest in what details each and every ingredient list. The emerging skintellectuals have led to transparency in the industry where skin-damaging components that dominated the pre-active offering have been pushed aside in favour of technical, efficacious and science-led line-ups with acids at the heart.

From hyaluronic to azelaic acid, it can feel like there’s a hi-tech name to know each week, which makes it daunting to know where to start. But if you’re just beginning to up the ante of your skincare routine, there is one powerhouse acid you need to have on your radar.

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

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

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

What does mandelic acid do?

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

What should you use mandelic acid for?

“Alpha hydroxy acids such as mandelic acid are able to exfoliate the skin and remove older skin cells. Due to this, they can help to exfoliate old skin cells that are congesting the pores which makes it great for breakouts and acne. But it can also help to remove areas of hyperpigmented skin for those wanting a more even skin tone.”

(Video) HOW TO USE MANDELIC ACID | The Ordinary, WISHTREND, & MORE | Dr Dray

What skin type does mandelic acid work well for?

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

What ingredients does mandelic acid work well with?

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

What type of products does mandelic acid work best in?

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

Shop the best products with mandelic acid below

The INKEY List Mandelic Acid Treatment

Best skincare products with mandelic acid (2)

Stripping back long ingredient lists to include just the essentials, The INKEY List puts mandelic acid front and centre in this gentle but potent treatment. It has been created to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and acne scarring using the winning combination of mandelic acid and retinol. The latter is included in the small percentage of 0.1 to ensure that it won’t cause irritation but instead is designed to smooth out skin with continual use.

The texture is extremely lightweight and due to the addition of the vitamin A derivative, it also has a sebum regulating and fine line-busting effect. Apply to cleansed skin and follow with moisturiser.

Buy now £9.99, Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA

Best skincare products with mandelic acid (3)

(Video) Best Skincare for Acne Prone Skin- Face Reality

When breakouts leave behind an unwanted sourvenir, call in mandelic acid to lighten, smooth and kiss goodbye to the scarring remnants. This topical treatment from The Ordinary gets to work offering a 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 lightweight texture is quickly absorbed and leaves a healthy glow.

Buy now £6.90, Space NK

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Serum

Best skincare products with mandelic acid (4)

This serum from Allies of Skin is best applied at night and left to work its magic as you slumber. It is targeted specifically to treat stubborn hyperpigmentation, large pores, breakouts, and uneven texture, turning your concerns on their head to leave you with luminous glass-skin.

As you sleep, it strengthens skin’s natural barrier through the combination of mandelic acid with other powerhouse ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, bakuchiol, peptides and organic rosehip. These work in tandem to achieve noticeable improvements in the skin - evening out texture, firming, boosting elasticity and calming redness. A little goes a long way. Use nightly.

Buy now £89.00, Space NK

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

Best skincare products with mandelic acid (5)

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Tackling dullness, uneven tone and textured skin in one fell swoop, Paula’s Choice has launched this combination of acids. The brand is beloved for its Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant and this follows in the same vein but as well as blemish-busting, it adds skin smoothing, brightening and fine line fighting to its list of accomplishments. This differs from some of the other formulas on this list as it’s a rinse-off peel that is 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) provide the resurfacing. Throw in the calming effects of allantoin, butterfly pea flower extract and the likes and you get an impressive, effective treatment that is kind to the skin at the same.

Buy now £39.00, Paula’s Choice

Youth To The People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant

Best skincare products with mandelic acid (6)

While the Youth To The People Exfoliant is smoothing and decongesting pores, it will also leave you with hydrated, supple and glowy skin. Powered by antioxidant-rich plant extracts, it’s a water-like liquid that includes mandelic acid within the formula to remove dead skin cells, and minimise the appearance of hyperpigmentation. There’s also spot-fighting salicylic acid and gluconolactone known for its hydrating effects. Even so, it can feel quite drying on the complexion so follow application with a nourishing moisturiser. Bonus points for the herbaceous fragrance.

Buy now £32.00, Cult Beauty

Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth BHA+AHA Salicylic Serum

The Strawberry Smooth serum from K-beauty label Glow Recipe is a cult product for a reason. In order to achieve that coveted glass skin complexion - a trend that began in South Korea and has since gained global momentum - this formula is on hand to shift dull surface skin cells and leave you glowing 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 is fast acting and effective but fear not, there will be no downtime as thanks to hyaluronic acid, strawberry water, leaf extract, and enzymes, it hydrates at the same time. What’s more, it smells fruity, absorbs quickly and creates a smooth canvas for the makeup application that follows.

Buy now £36.00, Cult Beauty

Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Peel Pads

Best skincare products with mandelic acid (8)

Whisk the dark marks away with a swipe of this wipe. The pad has been created by dermatologist led label Dr Dennis Gross to act as a professional-level treatment that you can achieve at home. As such, it isn’t as harsh to the skin as you will find in clinic and has been created so that it can be used on a daily basis if needed. The peel is made up of a two step process.

You begin with the first pad - infused with AHAs lactric, mandelic, glycolic and BHA salicylic - that you glide across the face in a circular motion, wait for it to dry and repeat with the pad labelled ‘two’ that spotlights retinol, reservatrol and ascrobic acid among more anti-ageing powerhouse ingredients. The peel pads will leave your complexion luminous with sun spots appearing much lighter, while uneven tone has been smoothed out.

Buy now £89.00, Space NK

VOTARY Radiance Reveal Mask

Best skincare products with mandelic acid (9)

(Video) Best of The Ordinary | DOCTORLY Favorites

VOTARY harnesses the power of natural ingredients to pack your skin with all the nutrients that it deserves. Each of the products are created in small batches in the UK and hand-blended so they are kind to the planet as well as your complexion. The Radiance Reveal Mask does what it says on the tin.

Mandelic acid plays a key role within the formulation, placed alongside lactic to gently resurface the skin and result in a glowy look. Use twice a week - say Wednesday and Sunday for example - and you’ll notice the reduction in fine lines, the lightening of hyperpigmentation and even less frequent breakouts.

Buy now £55.00, Cult Beauty


What is mandelic acid best for? ›

Mandelic acid is a type of gentle alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It may help reduce acne, fine lines, and wrinkles and improve the appearance of uneven skin. As a person ages, skin renewal slows down, causing the skin to lose elasticity, discolor, and develop fine lines and wrinkles.

Can I use mandelic acid everyday? ›

Can mandelic acid be used daily? Yes, you can, but only if your skin is happy for you applying it. As gentle as mandelic acid for the skin, everyone is different and it really is dependent on how your skin reacts to AHAs, and other exfoliating skin ingredients.

What should you not use after mandelic acid? ›

It is best to avoid using mandelic acid with other potent ingredient such as, retinol, salicylic acid, and other exfoliating acids. This is because mixing these powerhouses together will be too much for the skin and will result in redness, breakouts, irritation, dry patches of skin and general discomfort.

Is mandelic acid better than retinol? ›

To give you one more example, if you want a good exfoliator you might consider retinol but if your skin can't handle it, you'll need Mandelic Acid. As a general rule remember retinol is best for anti-aging and Mandelic Acid is best for acne and hyperpigmentation.

Is mandelic acid better than salicylic? ›

Research suggests that mandelic acid and salicylic acid are equally as good at treating acne but salicylic acid has an advantage when it comes to non-inflammatory acne (whiteheads, blackheads) while mandelic acid was better at treating inflammatory acne (papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts).

How often should I use mandelic acid? ›

Recommended for use only 2-3 times a week, this serum is an easy addition into your routine. Apply it after cleansing and leave for twenty minutes or so to allow for proper penetration before moisturising.

How long does it take mandelic acid to work? ›

How long does it take for mandelic acid to work? Increased cell turnover, decongestion of pores, reduced inflammation, and a fresher, brighter appearance happen almost immediately. Acne will begin to clear and subside within one to two weeks. It can take four to six weeks to see a reduction of pigment.

What products have mandelic acid? ›

9 mandelic acid skin-care products perfect for combination skin
  • Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth BHA + AHA Salicylic Acid Serum — $40.00. ...
  • NeoStrata Mandelic Clarifying Cleanser — $32.00. ...
  • Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel — $88.00. ...
  • Allies of Skin Multi Hyaluronic Antioxidant Hydration Serum — $95.00.
9 Jun 2022

Do you put moisturizer after mandelic acid? ›

Should You Moisturize After Mandelic Acid? You should always moisturize after using chemical exfoliants and the same goes for mandelic acid.

Can mandelic acid cause breakouts? ›

Does mandelic acid cause breakouts? Yes, it can during the initial stages of introducing it to your routine. These breakouts are also known as purging, which is a common result of using a chemical exfoliant, especially if you've not used it on the skin previously.

Which is better mandelic acid or lactic acid? ›

Mandelic acid and lactic acid are both chemical exfoliants that can help improve skin texture, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines and wrinkles.. Mandelic acid tends to be gentler than lactic acid and is suitable for sensitive skin but lactic acid tends to be more hydrating and better suited to drier skin.

What can be paired with mandelic acid? ›

Yes, mandelic acid and vitamin C can be used together in the same routine. The combination of these two actives can help tackle skin discoloration concerns. Together they can help you get firmer and youthful skin.

Can I use retinol with mandelic acid? ›

You may have heard that you shouldn't mix acids and retinol. The truth is, acids and retinol are made for each other. The keratolytic effect of the acid enhances the penetration of the vitamin A to optimize results. And because of mandelic acid's unique properties, it's an especially good match for vitamin A.

Can I use niacinamide and mandelic acid together? ›

Yes, mandelic acid and niacinamide can be used together, including by those with sensitive skin for exfoliating benefits and improved topical skin texture and tone.

Is mandelic acid exfoliating? ›

Mandelic acid accelerates cell turnover and functions as a powerful exfoliate to remove dead skin cells. For this reason, mandelic acid is found in some chemical peels.

Is mandelic acid good for acne? ›

Although it's not used alone to treat acne, it can be incorporated into an acne treatment routine to help clear pores and reduce comedones. Mandelic acid has antibacterial effects, so it can be especially helpful in reducing inflammatory acne. It can also help fade dark marks left by pimples.

Can I use glycolic acid and mandelic acid together? ›

Can I use both mandelic acid and glycolic acid? Yes, you can, but not at the same time. This is because the acid both work in a similar way on the skin surface and layering these actives together will result in the following.

Does mandelic acid brighten skin? ›

Melasma and hyperpigmentation: Mandelic acid can lighten and brighten skin, fade unwanted sun spots, banish acne scars, and minimize age spots. With continued use, you'll see damage from aging and sun exposure slowly reverse. Mandelic acid also reduces brown spots from melasma by as much as 50% in only four weeks!

How often should you use mandelic acid? ›

Mandelic Acid is a water-based product and should be used as one of the first layers in your routine, followed by your oils or creams. Mandelic Acid can be applied once per day, ideally in the PM. It can be diluted with other treatments (check conflicts) to reduce strength until the skin develops tolerance.

How long does it take mandelic acid to work? ›

How long does it take for mandelic acid to work? Increased cell turnover, decongestion of pores, reduced inflammation, and a fresher, brighter appearance happen almost immediately. Acne will begin to clear and subside within one to two weeks. It can take four to six weeks to see a reduction of pigment.

Is mandelic acid good for dark spots? ›

Mandelic acid may also have some lightening properties for dark spots, such as those seen in melasma. Research from 1999 shows that mandelic acid may reduce hyperpigmentation in melasma by as much as 50 percent in about 4 weeks.


1. The Inkey List: 8 Best Acne Products For Breakout Prone Skin
(Cassandra Bankson)
2. Doctor V - Best & Worst Acids For Skin Of Colour | Brown Or Black Skin
(Dr. Vanita Rattan )
3. Which Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) Is Best For Your Skin? Glycolic Acid vs Lactic Acid vs Mandelic Acid
(Abbey Yung)
4. The 14 Best Products For Texture & Acne
(Cassandra Bankson)
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6. THE ORDINARY SKIN TRANSFORMATION | I Used Mandelic Acid for 1 Month & My Acne is Gone! | xoreni
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