If you’re over age 35, your skin likely shows some signs of aging. For most people, fine lines and sagging skin start to become evident in their mid-30s and increases from there on out. Sun-damaged skin and smile lines can be signs of a fun life well-lived, but if you’re bothered by your skin’s appearance, there is good news. Mandelic acid can help you!
Mandelic acid (MA) is a versatile alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that’s derived from bitter almonds. Alpha hydroxy acids, including mandelic, help to improve a variety of skin concerns, including visibly reducing the signs of aging!
How does it work?
Mandelic acid works by dissolving the lipid bonds that hold dead skin cells together, and this allows buildups of dead skin cells to be removed from the surface of the skin. Accumulations of dead skin cells make the skin appear dull and create an uneven, bumpy texture. With the outer, dead layer of skin removed, plump new cells can rise to the surface, and these cells appear radiant and healthy and are smooth to the touch.
Mandelic acid also stimulates collagen and elastin production. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why this happens, but it likely has to do with the increased rate of cell turnover. Collagen and elastin are responsible for keeping skin firm and taut, so an increase in these proteins improves fine lines, wrinkles, and the general tone and tautness of the skin.
The mandelic advantage
There are other alpha hydroxy acids that also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Glycolic acid is the most common AHA used for aging skin, and it can be very effective, especially for people with non-sensitive skin. Mandelic is different because it has a large molecule size, while glycolic has a very small molecular size. Glycolic penetrates quickly, whereas mandelic is absorbed slowly. This slow absorption rate makes it less irritating than other AHAs, so even people with sensitive skin can use mandelic. Mandelic acid also helps to fade sun spots and uneven pigmentation. Furthermore, because it’s gentle and non-irritating, it’s an ideal choice for people with darker skin tones who are concerned about harsh products that can cause skin darkening.
While mandelic acid is truly a skin care superstar, there is one big reality check that must be mentioned: While MA can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, mildly sagging skin, and uneven pigmentation, it will do nothing for deep wrinkles. There are no topical products that can reduce deep wrinkles. If you are looking for treatment for more advanced wrinkles, then you’ll need to talk with a dermatologist about more invasive options such as Botox injections or laser treatments.
So when’s a good time to start using mandelic acid? If you’re age 30 and up, then the answer is NOW! In your 30s, regular application of MA can stop fine lines from forming and turning into deeper wrinkles. It’s better to start your anti-aging skincare routine early to prevent serious damage from occurring. If you’re in your 40s and up, MA can help to reduce existing fine lines, improve the skin texture, tone, and elasticity, and fade dark spots. Most people start to notice results after about a month of consistent application, with better results building over six months and beyond. Most people find that a serum with a concentration of mandelic acid between 8 and 10% works best for the face.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Mandelic acid, like all AHAs, increases sensitivity to the sun and risk of sunburn, so it’s incredibly important to wear sunscreen. All of the positive effects of MA application can easily be undone by sun damage, so when using these products be extra sure to apply sunscreen daily!