History and Use of Mandelic Acid

Over the past several years, mandelic acid has been steadily gaining in popularity.  Why is mandelic acid such an effective treatment for acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines & wrinkles?  Why should you consider incorporating mandelic acid into your skincare regimen?  Let’s take a brief look at the history & science behind this all-star A.H.A.

Mandelic acid was originally discovered by J. W. Walker and V. K. Krieble a little over a century ago in 1909.  Extracted from bitter almonds (the name comes from the German word “mandel”, which means “almond”), mandelic acid is actually the strongest A.H.A. that exists in nature.  For decades, it has been used in the medical community as an antimicrobial agent, typically after laser skin treatments.  Mandelic acid is now commonly used as a stand-alone chemical peel treatment (or in combination with other acids), and has also been incorporated into several specialty skincare formulations.  However, only less concentrated formulations can be used daily, as higher concentrated formulations can remove multiple layers of the epidermis.  Lower concentrated formulations can promote healthy cellular turnover by penetrating, breaking up, and removing dead skin cells, while also eliminating bacteria from the surface of the skin with great efficiency.

Compared to A.H.A’s like glycolic acid, mandelic acid is a much larger molecule.  Many skincare experts consider this disadvantageous, however this actually allows it to absorb into the skin more slowly and evenly.  This property of mandelic acid surely contributes to the fact that most users report less irritation and discomfort during treatment (as compared to treatments using other A.H.A.’s).  Mandelic acid also has a natural affinity to skin, which is part of the reason why it is such an amazingly effective keratolytic agent.

Due to its antibacterial properties, mandelic acid helps to clear acne (even cystic acne) and control sebum production to help prevent additional outbreaks.  Mandelic acid products are also effective to minimize hyperpigmentation (more specifically Melasma) of skin, most commonly on the facial area.  It does this by breaking up the dark areas to create a more even skin tone or complexion.  Although all skin tones have shown great results using mandelic acid, we tend to see the most dramatic results on more pigmented skin tones, due to the factors mentioned above.

Mandelic acid accelerates the rate of cellular turnover of the skin, due to its alpha hydroxy properties.  This process rids the skin of dead cells, minimizing the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles.  Mandelic Acid also is known to strengthen the collagen of skin, which improves results as well due to a potential reduction in healing time.  The exfoliation of dead skin cells and flushing out of impacted pores drastically improves overall skin texture & coloration.

For a more technical read on mandelic acid, check out its listing on PubChem: http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/summary/summary.cgi?cid=11914

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