Mandelic acid is now becoming a more popular alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) in skin care due to its multifunctionality. The name, mandelic, is from the German word "Mandel" which means "almond" of which it is derived. Because of its anti-bacterial properties, this naturally-derived acid has a variety of medical, pharmacological and skin care uses.
As with other AHA’s, mandelic acid increases skin cell turnover by breaking the bonds that hold skin cells together, allowing dead cells on the surface of the skin to be sloughed off to reveal healthier cells beneath. This increased rate of sloughing thins the stratum corneum; a thinner stratum corneum reflects light, allowing skin to be translucent, smoother and more youthful. Mandelic acid improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and skin texture. Simultaneously, it helps lighten areas that have pigmented in response to sun exposure, stress and hormone activity. Mandelic acid can also help boost collagen production in the dermis, giving the skin support and firmness.
One of the most commonly used AHA’s in skin care for mature skin is glycolic acid. Studies show mandelic acid is as effective as glycolic acid for treating fine lines and wrinkles and other signs of aging. In fact, mandelic acid has advantages over glycolic acid as it causes significantly less redness and irritation.
People with deeply pigmented skin often have problems using AHA’s due to the irritation they cause, that may result in hyperpigmentation. This irritation (inflammation)triggers the release of tyrosinase, that stimulates the melanocytes to produce more melanin. Due to the anti-inflammatory nature of mandelic acid, it is less likely to cause pigment issues. Consequently, mandelic acid is a better choice for darker skin, as well those with sensitive skin, who may experience excessive irritation with other alpha hydroxy acids.
Mandelic acid is used to target other skin problems including blemishes. Its decongesting, anti-bacterial activity and capacity to increase sloughing of dead skin cells makes it a beneficial ingredient for acne sufferers. Mandelic acid possesses some of the characteristics of a beta hydroxy acid, as it can aid in minimizing sebum production. Some manufacturers combine lactic acid and salicylic acid with mandelic acid to create a superficial peel for the treatment of blemished skin. Acne sufferers can also get results at home using products that contain mandelic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid at lower concentrations daily.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, mandelic acid is one of the only AHA’s used for treating rosacea, an inflammatory skin condition marked by facial redness and acne-like bumps. Most alpha hydroxy acids are too harsh for people with rosacea, mandelic acid is better tolerated since it works superficially, is milder and therefore less irritating.
Mandelic acid is an amazing gentle treatment causing far fewer side effects than other alpha hydroxy acids. It is an excellent choice for treating aging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, pigment problems, rosacea, enlarged pores and refining skin texture in all skin types promoting a more healthy, youthful appearance.