As the acid craze keeps barreling along, I thought it about time I touch on another one of the powerhouse AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) on the market. I’ve tried glycolic acid products in the past and talked about the benefits of various AHAs, but if the slightly lesser known mandelic acid is new to you as it was to me, keep on reading for a breakdown of what it is and why you might need to try it out.
What the product claims
The Ordinary claims that their Mandelic Acid 10% + HA is an exfoliant or ‘superficial dermal peeling’ agent that is gentler than other AHAs. They don’t make many claims as to what it should do or the results to expect – that part is up to you and me!
So then what is The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA?
Luckily for us, the ordinary’s no-nonsense naming system makes it easy to figure out what this particular product actually is. This is an exfoliating serum product, and the two key ingredients are mandelic acid and hyaluronic acid. While they’re both acids, their functions are quite different.
This acid is collected from almonds – specifically from the amygdalin gathered from the kernel – so those with almond allergies beware! As an AHA, it will dissolve the bonds between the upper layer of skin cells to encourage newer, fresher skin to be revealed. It has a high molecular weight (i.e. big size) and thus cannot penetrate very easily or deeply, making it potentially the most gentle AHA of all. Mandelic acid has the ability to reduce acne marks and pigmentation, and reverse the loss of elasticity and firmness associated with skin ageing.
HA or hyaluronic acid is developed synthetically. Despite its name, it does not work to exfoliate like other acids. Instead it attracts and retains water molecules like a magnet. Think of it as a big drink of supercharged water for your skin – refreshing!
Why should I use it and what does it do?
The mandelic acid as an AHA works to dissolve the glue that holds dead skin cells on, speeding up the appearance of new skin from underneath. It also reduces pigmentation (be it freckles or PIH) and even fine lines. It is often recommended for use in people with acne prone skin.
Hyaluronic acid helps to counteract the potentially drying AHA by drawing water from the deeper layers of the skin to the drier outer layers.
So together, this product hydrates and exfoliates, and you can expect a smoother skin texture, with reduced acne and acne marks or scars, less pigmentation and more hydrated and bouncy skin. The combination of ingredients work together to balance to drying potential of many AHA formulations.
If you’re at a total loss for how to fit this product in your routine, you might want to check out my Strategic Skin guide. It’s an all-in-one resource designed to support you through creating your first proper skin care routine, form product recommendations to troubleshooting to worksheets and more!
Where to buy and the price of Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
The Ordinary’s products are sold through various online retailers, including the parent company Deciem as well as places like ASOS, but also via Amazon here for less. The price floats around $6-8USD which is incredibly affordable compared to other AHAs on the market. You can check the current price here.
What on the outside – packaging
As with all The Ordinary’s products, Mandelic Acid 10% + HA is packed in a small cardboard box when you first purchase it. Inside is a UV-protected dark glass bottle with dropper attachment with a minimalist black and white design. It’s heavy, luxury-feeling packaging, but unfortunately no good for travel due to the breakage risk.
What’s inside the bottle
According to The Ordinary’s website, Mandelic Acid 10% + HA contains:
Propanediol, Aqua (Water), Mandelic Acid, Glycerin, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.
As with most of their products, the list is short and sweet and very minimal. Propanediol, Pentylene Glycol and Caprylyl Glycol are common humectants (they attract water) and penetration enhancers. Glycerin and hyaluronic acids are humectants. Dimethyl Isosorbide is a solvent, presumably to allow the other ingredients to be dissolved in water. Polysorbate 20 is an emulsifier, used to mix ingredients together and keep them that way. Sodium Hydroxide is used to balance the pH to the perfect level for the skin. Ethylhexylglycerin is a preservative, as is 1,2-Hexanediol along with being yet another humectant – hydrating formunla!
There is an interesting pepper extract (Tasmannia Lanceolata) which at first seems unnecessary to the formula, however upon research it does contain anti-inflammatory rutin, antioxidant anthocyanins, and anti-pruritic (redness) capabilities which are a nice addition so I don’t think it’s purposeless or damaging.
The Mandelic Acid 10% + HA itself is a clear/slightly yellow liquid almost as runny as water, with no smell and minimal texture, that feels like a very lightweight oil or serum.
Upon application of the serum there is no sensation like stinging or warmth. The product does leave a slight residual ‘moist’ feeling behind. I simply apply after cleansing and before any moisturising products, and give it a few minutes to absorb and adjust to the pH of my skin.
Results using Mandelic Acid 10% + HA for a month
Since starting to use this product my skin has been behaving itself. For me, that means it’s been generally clear of acne and not even slightly irritated. I’m going to be keeping this in my skin care routine. The mandelic is definitely not the strongest acid I’ve ever used but it would be great for someone trying actives for the first time or who has suffered from dehydration and sensitivity or rosacea and is worried about aggravating their skin.
Note: you MUST wear sunscreen when using an AHA product and for two weeks after your last use. but also forever, because the sun is bad for you.
My overall opinion
My experience with this product has been nothing but positive. It does what it claims, is affordable and has no side effects. A fantastic beginner’s choice for a chemical exfoliant!
While you’re on a roll, check out my review of The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid too!