Skincare Stacy

Skincare Stacy
Mandelic Acid vs Glycolic Acid

Mandelic Acid vs Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is a much stronger alpha hydroxy acid than mandelic, but both are effective to treat dark spots and signs of aging.

Mandelic acid molecules are larger and therefore more gentle. Additionally, while both acids have antibacterial properties, mandelic acid also has anti fungal properties.

Further, both acids can help brighten dull skin and reduce skin texture.

While glycolic acid is more suitable for people with resilient or mature skin, mandelic acid is more suitable for people with sensitive skin.

This article will explain everything you need to know about mandelic acid, glycolic acid, and the difference between them.

What’s mandelic acid?

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Derived from bitter almonds, mandelic acid is a chemical exfoliant also known as an alpha hydroxy acid.

It has benefits like:

  • Brightening dull skin

  • Reducing dark spots

  • Fighting acne prone skin

Because it has a relatively larger molecular size compared to glycolic and lactic acid, mandelic is considered to be more suitable for people with sensitive skin.

What’s glycolic acid?

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Known for boosting collagen production and fighting hyperpigmentation, glycolic acid is a popular alpha hydroxy acid.

Because of its relatively small molecular size, glycolic acid is one of the strongest alpha hydroxy acids.

It’s useful to:

  • Improve skin texture

  • Unclog pores

  • Treat acne breakouts

  • Stimulate collagen production

At the same time, glycolic acid may be too strong for people with sensitive skin.

Glycolic Acid vs Mandelic Acid

Youth to the People Mandelic Acid Superfood Unity Exfoliant

Both glycolic acid and mandelic acid are alpha hydroxy acids. While they have similar functions and benefits, they also have some differences that impact which one is right for you.


Both mandelic and glycolic acids have incredible benefits for use in your skincare routine.

They can:

  • Remove dead skin cells

  • Clear up uneven skin tone

  • Reduce skin texture

  • Fight signs of aging

Additionally, both glycolic and mandelic acids can help with acne scars and leave you with beautiful, radiant skin.


Glycolic acid molecules are much smaller than mandelic.

Therefore, they’re able to penetrate much deeper into your skin for more effective results.

This strength also makes glycolic acid more likely to cause side effects like irritation.

Side Effects

Both mandelic acid and glycolic have the potential to cause skin irritation.

However, glycolic acid is much stronger than mandelic. Therefore, it is more likely to cause skin concerns like redness, flaking, and dryness.

In general, you can reduce your chances of irritation by using skincare products at frequency reasonable for your skin type and moisturizing.

Additionally, glycolic acid is more likely to cause sensitivity to sun exposure than mandelic acid.

Skin Types

Both alpha hydroxy acids are suitable for people with dry and oily skin.

At the same time, mandelic acid will be more gentle and suitable for people with sensitive skin.

Glycolic vs Mandelic Acid: which one should you use?

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% Serum

If you have particularly sensitive skin or fungal acne, you may benefit more from using mandelic acid product.

On the other hand, if you have mature skin or moderate acne, you may benefit more from using glycolic acid.

Generally, if you’re new to exfoliating acids altogether, you should stick to the most gentle option while your skin adjusts: mandelic acid!

Can I use glycolic acid and mandelic acid together?

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No, you should not layer glycolic and mandelic acids on top of each other.

However, if you want to use both acids in your skincare routine, you can consider using them on different nights.

Just be sure to patch test first and monitor your skin for any signs of irritation. If you develop side effects like redness or itchiness, reduce the frequency with which you use chemical exfoliants.

Summary: Mandelic vs Glycolic Acid

Naturium Mandelic Topical Acid 12%

Both mandelic and glycolic acids are effective alpha hydroxy acids commonly found in skincare products like chemical exfoliants and toners.

Mandelic acid products more gentle and suitable for people with sensitive skin.

On the other hand, glycolic acid products are stronger and better suited for people with mature or resilient skin that can tolerate higher acid concentrations.

Both acids are great for people with acne prone skin as they can help with texture and clogged pores.

Overall, these ingredients can make great additions to your skincare routine!

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