by Brett Aaron Marlow, he/him
When it comes to exfoliating acids, there may not be more of a gentle, yet powerful giant than mandelic acid.
Synthetically made or derived from bitter almonds, this alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) is a superstar for all skin types and a multitude of skin goals from dullness, texture, and fine lines to congestion, and hyperpigmentation.
"Mandelic acid's main job is a chemical exfoliator," says Laura Cline, Senior Director of Education + Product Development at Youth To The People. "It helps your skin let go of dull, dead cells clinging to its surface, immediately smoothing skin texture. Over time, it works to equalize and brighten skin tone, reducing the look of dark spots, wrinkles, and other visible signs of photoaging."
If you have sensitive skin or have been unable to tolerate other AHAs before, you'll be excited to hear this: mandelic acid has a bigger molecular structure than its homies glycolic, lactic, malic, citric, and tartaric acids, making it less harsh, and a great alternative way to reap all the benefits AHAs offer for skin health.
“Mandelic acid’s larger molecular structure allows it to penetrate the skin's surface and deeper layers more steadily, gently yet effectively accelerating cell turnover without the risk of irritation, redness, or dryness,” says Cline. “Its slower absorption rate also makes it especially great for those with darker skin tones, as it doesn't inhibit melanin or trigger excess pigmentation."
In addition to its already impressive list of abilities, mandelic acid also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, making it an ideal acid for acne and breakout-prone skin types. In fact, recent research from just last year showed mandelic acid can also control excess sebum production and banish shine.Like any exfoliating acid, mandelic acid can increase sun sensitivity, so it’s always best to add a broad-spectrum SPF into the mix. When exposed to light, its effectiveness can also diminish. Don't worry, it—and its other acid amigos in our new Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant— are properly housed in an opaque glass bottle to maintain optimal stability and performance while working together to address a bevy of your skin goals in one solution.