So in a previous blog post, we looked at some of the different types of chemical exfoliating acids like AHAs, BHAs and PHAs. You can check it out here, if you want to refresh your mind!

Today, we’re going to focus on just one acid – Mandelic Acid, as I have a product review coming in the next few days which contains this acid!

So let’s dive in to The Complete Guide To Mandelic Acid…⬇️

What Is Mandelic Acid & What Does It Do?

Mandelic acid is an AHA which is derived from bitter almonds

AHA stands for Alpha-hydroxy acid. A group of acids that are water soluble and have an effect on the surface of your skin. They work to ‘unglue’ dead skin cells, dissolve them and stimulate cell regeneration. This is referred to as chemical exfoliation.

Other AHAs include glycolic, lactic and malic acid. Mandelic acid has a slightly larger structure compared to the other AHAs. So, it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply which makes it significantly gentler on the skin. 

Benefits Of Mandelic Acid?

  • It exfoliates the skin by accelerating the turnover of skin cells which smooths the appearance of rough skin.
  • Over the long term, the increased cell turnover can improve the appearance of pigmentation, sun damage and acne scarring.
  • It works itself deep into pores to clear them and so is often used on blemish-prone skin.
  • Naturally moisturising so hydrates skin making wrinkles appear less visible.
  • Can improve skin’s elasticity .
  • Brightens your skin, giving you that glow! ✨

Who Can Use Mandelic Acid?

Generally, mandelic acid is perfect for those with skin that is:

  • Sensitive – due to the molecular size of the acid, It doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply as other AHAs such as glycolic acid and so is gentler on the skin.
  • Acne-prone – a study showed that mandelic acid was the better acid at treating inflammatory acne when compared with salicylic acid*. So ensure you know what type of acne you commonly tend to get before considering this acid as you may find salicylic acid would work better for the type of acne you get!

*Inflammatory acne = spots that are red and swollen eg. papules, pustules, nodules and cysts (better suited to MANDELIC ACID).
*Non-inflammatory acne = blackheads and whiteheads (better suited to SALICYLIC ACID).


Another thing to mention is that I have a severe nut allergy to all nuts. So, I assumed I couldn’t use mandelic acid because it comes from bitter almonds. However, I spoke to a dermatologist and they told me that because of the way the acid is made, it doesn’t actually contain the nut protein (which is what people like me are allergic to). And so, I have managed to use mandelic acid without any allergic reactions!

However, you should always consult your own doctor before trying it yourself, if you have a nut allergy. It is worth mentioning, I also did a thorough patch test over a couple of days before trying it out on my face!

How Should I Start Using Mandelic Acid?

Test Patch

Like with any new product, start by conducting a patch test! I’ve touched on this before but generally what I will do is the minute I get the new product, I will apply some in the crook of my elbow and on my wrist and leave it for ideally 24 hours. Then if all is ok I will progress to applying the product on my chin once I’ve cleansed my face in the evening. I then make sure that I don’t apply anything else other than moisturiser over my chin.

If all is ok with those patch tests, I will then begin incorporating the product into my routine properly.

Now, I know patch tests are boring! However, they are so necessary as you just don’t know what your skin may not like! Doing a patch test has saved me from many bad reactions that I would never have thought would happen!

Introduce To Your Skin Slowly

If you’re new to chemical exfoliating or a bit worried about causing irritation, I would start using the mandelic acid product once a week for the first 2 weeks. If after 2 weeks, you find your skin is not irritated or sensitive then try increasing to twice a week for another 2 weeks. After doing that with no issues, you’re probably fine to start using it 3 times a week.

However, I would say that you don’t need to use it anymore 3X per week and if you get any signs of irritation or sensitivity then reduce back down to 2 days for a while longer!

Can I Use Mandelic Acid Every Day?

Generally, most skin types don’t need to use a chemical exfoliator every single day! You risk over-exfoliating and damaging the skin barrier which can lead to a whole host of problems, including breakouts, irritation, sensitivity and dehydration.

More so, mandelic acid is often formulated in higher concentrations to be effective and so, using it every day would more than likely cause your skin some irritation.

It’s best to go steady and build up to using this acid to a maximum of 3 times a week. 

Can I Use Mandelic Acid With Other Acids?

The short answer is no! 

When choosing to use a chemically exfoliating acid in your skincare routine, you should pick one most suited to your skin concerns and stick to it, without dabbling with other acids. Using different acids at the same time in your routine may lead to skin irritation!

However, there are products out there that contain a mixture of acids in one product (e.g. mandelic acid and salicylic acid). This is fine to use because these products would have been specially formulated in a lab to work together on your skin! 

Can Mandelic Acid Cause Breakouts?

Yes, this acid can cause you to break out! That is either because it is working and causing you to purge or because it doesn’t agree/work with your skin.

Any exfoliating acid can cause you to purge and that is where the acid is causing increased cell turnover. So, any spots that are under the surface planning to pop out over the next couple of weeks, are forced to the surface of your skin at a faster rate than usual. This can last for a period of 6-8 weeks but don’t panic, keep consistent with your routine and the purging should stop after this time! 

If you find after 8-10 weeks you are still breaking out, you may want to consider that either the mandelic acid or something else in the product is not agreeing with your skin!

What Can I Not Use Mandelic Acid With?

We’ve already covered that it’s not advisable to use mandelic acid with other chemically exfoliating acids, unless the product has been formulated that way! 

Lots of people will also say not to use acids such as mandelic acid with retinoids. However, they work to accelerate skin turnover in different ways, retinoids work at a cellular level whereas acids like mandelic acid work on the surface of your skin! So, really it’s not a problem to use the two in the same routine! However, if you’re worried or would rather not then simply use the acid one night and the retinoid product the next night and so on.

Recommended Mandelic Acid Products

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA  (contains 10% mandelic acid and hyaluronic acid)

The Ordinary, Mandelic Acid

Facetheory Mandelibright Serum (10% mandelic acid and niacinamide)

Facetheory, Mandelic Acid

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum (11% mandelic, lactic and salicylic acid)

Allies of Skin, Mandelic Acid

Next up, I’ll be reviewing the Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum. So keep your eyes peeled for that one! If you don’t want to miss it, subscribe here to receive an email once the blog has gone live!

Love & Knowledge,



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