If you are new to the skincare journey, by now, you have probably discovered the importance of chemical exfoliation. That said – it is easy to overdo it. One thing we preach is slow and steady, and it’s a marathon rather than a sprint.
Mandelic acid is one of those fly-under-the-radar ingredients with several notable skin benefits. It is not as popular as Glycolic or Lactic acid, but that doesn’t mean it is less effective. If your skin tends to get dry or irritated from Glycolic, Mandelic acid is a good alternative.
The low down on Alpha-Hydroxy acids
Mandelic acid is an Alpha-Hydroxy acid (AHA). Alpha-Hydroxy acids are naturally occurring and derived from sugar cane (Glycolic), milk (Lactic), and bitter almonds (Mandelic).
Unlike physical exfoliants that remove the dead skin cells from the surface, Alpha-Hydroxy acids penetrate deeper. They work on the base of the outermost layer of the Stratum Corneum. This particular layer consists out of dead skin cells that shed every couple of weeks. However, as we get older, this process slows down. It can result in dull skin, uneven texture, or, in some cases, congestions and spots.
Alpha-Hydroxy acids dissolve the “glue” that holds these dead skin cells together. They boost cell renewal and have a positive impact on the new cells being produced.
What makes Mandelic acid different from other Alpha-Hydroxy acids?
• Mandelic acid has a larger molecular weight than Glycolic acid. Because of it, it is slower to penetrate the skin and is less likely to irritate. It makes it more suitable for sensitive skin.
• Mandelic acid is also less likely to cause pigmentation issues for darker skin tones. In some cases, Glycolic acid can trigger pigmentation issues in darker skin.
• The pK value determines the strength of the acid (the lower the pK value, the stronger the acid). The pK value of Mandelic acid is 3.41. For comparison, the pK value of Glycolic acid is 3.83.
What does Mandelic acid treat?
• Unlike any other Alpha-Hydroxy acid, Mandelic acid has unique antibiotic properties. It also has antibacterial properties. Studies show that Mandelic acid can improve comedonal, papular, and inflammatory pustular acne. Furthermore, it can produce results in people who are resistant to antibiotics (topical or systemic).
• Mandelic acid also helps fade hyperpigmentation. It works on post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, and age spots (lentigines).
• Because it stimulates deep cell renewal and promotes collagen production, over time, Mandelic acid refines the skin texture and minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
How to use Mandelic acid?
Every skin requires different levels of exfoliation so bear that in mind. Adjust the frequency to your skin’s needs, as you want to promote consistent renewal without the peeling.
The first sign of peeling can look like a coarse, crinkly skin texture which can be mistaken for dryness. These are dead skin cells becoming loose (heavy lashings of moisturiser can cause congestion in this case). We recommend to stop using Mandelic acid products at the first sign of peeling and let your skin adjust.
Our award-winning Ultralase Cleanse combines 6% Mandelic and 6% Gluconic acid with a pH of 3.5 to gently exfoliate and reduce breakouts. Over time, it helps brighten the skin and fade hyperpigmentation.
If you are new to acid-based skincare, we recommend introducing Ultralase Cleanse once every other day for at least two weeks.
It is best suited for oily and combination adult skin prone to breakouts and congestion. It is also suitable for any skin type that wants the benefits of skin-rejuvenating acid exfoliation.
Our bestselling Ultralase 10 Mandelic acid serum has 10% Mandelic acid and a pH of 3.5. Our Mandelic acid serums also contain prebiotics to strengthen the skin, promote the healthy skin microbiome, and combat inflammation. Likewise, prebiotics hydrate the skin and keep it supple. Glycoin® (also known as Glyceryl Glucoside) is a stress-protection molecule. It boosts hydration and smoothness of the skin, improves cell function, and revitalises aged skin cells.
For people new to acid-based skincare, we recommend using Ultralase 10 twice per week in the evenings. If there are no signs of irritation or peeling after two weeks, you can up the frequency to every other evening. This level of frequency has proven effective in treating acne and melasma. However, since every skin requires different exfoliation levels, you can tweak the frequency to what works best for your skin.
If you have never used a Mandelic acid product and don’t want to commit to a full-size product, Ultralase 10 comes in a trial size.
Ultralase 15 has 15% Mandelic acid, a pH of 3.5, and it is the strongest Mandelic acid treatment we offer. If you never used an acid-based product, we recommend using it once a week in the evenings. If there are no signs of irritation or peeling, you can up the frequency to twice per week. Human-based trials showed effectiveness in treating acne and melasma at this frequency.
Ultralase 15 is best suited as an occasional treatment for people used to acid-based products. Ultralase 10 is the most effective strength for most skin types.
Ultralase 5 is a light moisturiser with 5% Mandelic acid with a pH of 3.5. It also contains skin-conditioning L-arginine and Squalane. It gently exfoliates, brightens, and hydrates the skin.
It is best suited for oily, combination, dull, and easily congested skin.