So you've probably heard of Glycolic and Lactic Acids, they are wildly popular AHA's in use in cosmetics these days. Mandelic acid is far less well known, partially because up until recently it wasn't studied much for effectiveness. In 1999 The Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser center published their conclusion. It wasn't a double blind controlled study (the gold standard) but it was conducted over the course of 3 years with a myriad of patients.
The reason they decided to study Mandelic Acid in the first place was not just because of it's AHA action, but also because it's been shown to be very aggressive toward gram negative bacteria (which includes p.acnes, the bane of my personal existence). So I can definitely see how they went into it expecting the best, because other AHA's have been shown to be excellent exfoliating, collagen creating and moisturizing agents. When combined with an natibacterial property, well you have an ingredient that rivals Retinol in it's treatment of a broad scope of conditions.
What they found was the following:
-It improved fine lines in the face much like Glycolic acid does, but with less irritation and peeling
-Used as an in office Chemical Peel it again produced similar results to Glycolic acid with less irritation, crusting and peeling. The onset of it's effectiveness was more gradual (read, slower) and therefore more predictable
-It improved abnormal pigmentation as much as 50% (as a 10% solution in a simple algae gel) and hastened the resluts of traditional bleaching agents like Kojic Acid and Hydroquinone with less irritation
-The biggest deal was that they had found remarkable results with patients of darker skin tones, for whom other bleaching agents had failed or caused adverse effects. Mandelic acid proved helpful in alleviating their pigmentation issues without causing additional issues.
-Acne was markedly relieved as long as it was inflammatory pustular, comedonal and papular acne (which includes the regular pizza face zits, little underbumps that feel like ingrowns and for that matter ingrowns and inflamed whiteheads, does not include cystic acne, small whiteheads or blackheads).
-Patients who were resistant to topical and oral antibiotics showed a good response to Mandelic acid and many patients responded extremely well to using Mandelic Acid products alone (so they got great results without Salicylic or Benzoyl).
-It also helped prevent infections in post Laser Resurfacing patients and aided in gentle cleansing procedures.
So what is this wonderful stuff? It's an extract of Bitter Almonds that has also been shown to interfere with melanin transfer, oil production and buildup of dead skin cells. So who is the lucky ideal candidate for this stuff. Well it would make the biggest difference in a mildly sensitive, darker skin toned woman who suffers from mild acne and signs of aging. If this is you find yourself some Mandelic Acid and report back with the results.
The only products I've found with Mandelic are the following, and only available on the web:
Nucelle available from Dermstore.ca
Vivant 15% serum available from Diannayvonne.com
MaMa (malic and mandelic) available from Skincarerx.com
Image courtesy of vivantskincare.com