When it comes to teaming chemical exfoliants together, I have explained how it can often feel overwhelming, and like acting like a mad scientist. The thing is, if you are still having difficulty figuring out what each of these acids can do, and their unique benefits they provide, chances are you may apply them incorrectly to the skin. As mild or low concentrate some of these skincare formulas claim to be, you are still dealing with acids, and ensuring you focus on keeping the skin protected from overexposure to the sun, and other environmental aggressors is a vital part of keeping your skin healthy and happy.
Let’s now draw our attention to today’s blog post, which is can you use glycolic acid and mandelic acid together? This is a question that has reappeared a few times recently, so we figured it was time to explore things further and find out whether teaming these exfoliating powerhouses together is the secret combo your skin’s been waiting for? Or a recipe for disaster!
This next part is for those of you who need a refresher in each of these ingredients. If you wanted to skip to the part about using them together, that’s fine with us, we promise there won’t be a quiz at the end.
What is Glycolic Acid
- Derived from sugar cane and found in an array of skincare formulas, from exfoliating toners, serums, and moisturisers.
- Is a member of the alpha hydroxy acid family (AHA) and is the commonly used acid from the selection.
- Has a small sized molecule ensuring it can penetrate through the lower layers of the skin.
- Can work deep in the pores and clear them of excess sebum build-up, dirt, bacteria, debris, and impurities.
- It will slough away the top layer of dead skin cells preventing a development of blackheads, breakouts, and other blemishes.
- Can help combat the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles leaving you with a plumped, vibrant, and youthful complexion.
- By removing the layer of dead skin cells, the skin becomes more absorbent allowing other actives to penetrate rapidly.
- Due to its smaller molecular size, it can become irritating to some skin types so always check with a dermatologist before introducing this acid into your routine.
- Suitable to use for those with a skin type that is not overly dry, or prone to sensitivity.
- Can be applied to the skin twice a day once you have built a tolerance for the acid.
- Works effectively on its own or teamed with complimentary ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.
- Find out more about glycolic acid in our dedicated blog post.
What is Mandelic Acid?
- One of the lesser-known alpha hydroxy acids but still used in a professional peel and found in skincare formulations.
- Derived from bitter almonds and can be used in medical grade and over the counter formulas.
- Compared to glycolic acid, the molecular size of mandelic acid is very large making it one of the gentler acids in the AHA family.
- With its slower absorption rate madelic acid is suitable for all skin types to use, even those prone to sensitivity and redness.
- Still provides exfoliation to the outer surface of the skin ensuring it can absorb other active ingredients quickly.
- Helps to unclog pores and combat breakouts without being too harsh to the skin.
- Reduces areas of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, post-acne scarring, and other areas of uneven skin tone.
- Although thought to be gentle, skin tolerance is still advised so introduce mandelic acid gradually into your routine.
- If you wanted to know more about mandelic acid and how it can benefit the skin, check out our blogs on The Beauty Insiders.
Now that we are all fully up to date about these potent acids, let’s find out more about using them together, and figure out how they can benefit the complexion.
Can I use both mandelic acid and glycolic acid?
Yes, you can, but not at the same time. This is because the acid both work in a similar way on the skin surface and layering these actives together will result in the following.
- Soreness to touch
- Increased sensitivity to UV exposure
To reap the rewards of using both acids, here are options that many have found to be the most effective way of working on the skin.
Option 1- Alternate which formula you use each day. This will avoid the skin from becoming overstimulated. Using these in your evening routine will ensure they work undisturbed from any exposure to free radicals whilst you sleep.
Option 2- Ensuring you have built your skin’s tolerance to the acids, and you apply a daily SPF of 50 every day. You can decide to use one acid in your morning routine, and the other in the evening.
You can also help your skin by teaming each of these acids with a hydrating ingredient, such as hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. Both of which help maintain the water levels in the skin barrier keeping it strengthened and protected from exposure to free radical damage, such as UV rays, pollution, cigarette smoke, central heating, and other environmental aggressors.
Is mandelic acid stronger than glycolic acid?
Both acids work in similar ways on the skin, but technically speaking, glycolic acid is known for being the stronger of the two due to its small molecule size. This results in glycolic acid working in each layer of the skin, passed the dermis which is something mandelic acid is unable to do. You will also find that mandelic acid is tolerated by a lot more skin types than glycolic acid.
Having said that, it is the percentage of the acid that will also determine its strength. The easiest way you can tell how strong an active is in the formula is by looking at where on the list of ingredients the acid is. If it features in the top 5 this ensures it is an active percentage in the formulation.
There you have a little more details about using mandelic acid and glycolic acid together. If you find yourself with any further questions, come, and find us on Instagram.