Mandelic Acid Vs Glycolic Acid

Mandelic acid vs glycolic acid is the first versus post I have done in months! I know you guys love these and I’m excited to be able to share this one with you, because you’ve been asking for this one for ages!

The basic structure for these posts are simple. We will look into what mandelic acid does for the skin, then glycolic acid. Then we will compare them.

The goal of this post is to give you enough information so you can decide which one is best for you.

Mandelic Acid

Mandelic acid is in the AHA family of chemical exfoliation. This is a characteristic it shares with glycolic acid. AHA’s are a class of chemical compounds that are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits.

It’s used in skincare to chemically exfoliate the skin. Therefore, it works primarily by dissolving the bonds between skin cells to allow the removal of dead cells and a subsequently smoother skin surface. 

The Ordinary’s Mandelic Acid

Glycolic Acid

As mentioned before, glycolic acid is also an AHA.

So, if it has the same function what makes them different and how do I decided which one is for me?

From the knowledge that glycolic acid is also an AHA, we can deduce it’s mechanism of function. It’s the same as mandelic acid because it too works by dissolving the bonds between skin cells to allow the removal of dead cell.

What makes them different is the size of the molecules.

Mandelic acid is actually one of the largest AHA molecules avaliable in skincare right not. Whereas, glycolic acid is the smallest.

This means glycolic acid is the most potent and can give the most dramatic results because it can penetrate the skin more deeply.

Conclusion

The decision of which acid you should use to chemically exfoliate your skin is based on one thing. Your skin’s sensitivity.

The size of the molecule is what defines both of these ingredients. Mandelic acid is the larger of the two and will therefore be less irritating on the skin. This acid is particularly good for PIH-prone skin and sensitive skin.

Glycolic acid is a smaller molecule and can therefore penetrate the skin more deeply. This means it will produce a more dramatic effect. However, it is more likely to cause redness, dryness and itchiness.

If you haven’t used any kind of chemical exfoliation before, it would be best to start with mandelic acid as a way to ease your skin into the treatment. Once your skin has become accustomed to chemical exfoliation you can move on to the stronger glycolic acid.

Photos via The Ordinary

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