Mandelic Acid Peel: The Ultimate Guide

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on June 9, 2023

Due to its gentle yet effective exfoliating properties, mandelic acid peel provides several benefits for your skin. Let’s explore how it works.

mandelic acid peel

Image source: Instagram @adamandevelaserandbeauty

Mandelic acid peel is a highly effective and very versatile skincare treatment. So, whether you’re looking to rejuvenate your skin, address specific skin issues, or simply improve your complexion – you can really benefit from using this ingredient.

Let’s see what it can do for you.

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What Is Mandelic Acid Chemical Peel?

Mandelic acid peel is a lesser-known AHA peel that is derived from bitter almonds.

Appropriately named after the German word for almond, mandel, this acid is known for its gentle effects on the skin.

The molecules of this ingredient are larger than those of glycolic or lactic acid, meaning it absorbs into the skin slower and more uniformly.

Since it stays on the surface of the skin longer, it’s less likely to cause skin irritation, making it safe even for sensitive skin and deeper skin tones.

Despite its larger molecules, mandelic peel is able to delve deeper into the skin than other AHAs because it’s oil-soluble (unlike other AHAs which are water-soluble).

Mandelic chemical peel gently exfoliates the outermost layer of the skin, removing dead skin cells and promoting cell turnover, resulting in a brighter and smoother complexion.

It’s a multitasking ingredient that is known for its ability to improve various skin concerns, including acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and uneven skin texture.

@almondclearskin Mandelic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that’s targeted to treat a bunch of different skin concerns, including stubborn fungal acne! #mandelicacid #fungalacne #folliculitis #acnetreatment #fungalacnetips ♬ original sound - Almond Clear

Mandelic Peel Intensity

Just because the mandelic acid peel is milder than other AHAs doesn’t mean it’s not effective. It has all the hallmarks of other alpha hydroxy acids but without the risk of redness and irritation.

Usually, this acid will be used either as a high-strength chemical peel in a clinical setting or as an at-home treatment.

Both professional and at-home versions are very effective and come in different formulations and strengths.

Usually, the strength of a professional mandelic peel varies between 25% and 40%.

Any at-home mandelic acid peel product obviously contains a much lower percentage of this active ingredient, but at-home products also have varying strengths.

Lower concentrations are great for beginners. Then, as you start developing tolerance to the mandelic skin peel, you can gradually increase the concentration over time.

We should note that because it’s gentle and a bit slower-acting, it’s often paired with other procedures like microneedling, or other chemical peeling acids like glycolic acid, to boost the effectiveness of both treatments.

Mandelic Acid Peel at Home

As mandelic acid becomes more popular, more products containing this AHA are being introduced to the market. These over-the-counter products are great options to use for regular exfoliation and relief of minor blemishes and discolorations.

You can find mandelic acid in day-to-day skincare products, in cleansers, toners, or serums – or as an at-home version of chemical peels.

At-home mandelic acid peels are stronger than serums. They provide quicker results but may also be more irritating due to higher mandelic acid concentration. You shouldn’t be using them too often, so be sure not to exceed the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.

To prevent any negative effects, start with small amounts at a low strength and gradually build up the dosage over a few weeks. Even with mandelic acid, which is normally gentle, jumping in with a high-percentage product or peel might cause skin irritation.

Here are our recommendations of the best mandelic acid peel products:


Adding a mandelic acid product along with another exfoliant or acne treatment, even over-the-counter ones, can cause excessive dryness and irritation.

Read the product’s instructions carefully and focus on what shouldn’t be used in combination with this almond acid peel.

Mandelic Peel Benefits

Due to its versatile nature, mandelic acid has a wide range of skin-enhancing properties. So, mandelic peel benefits include:

  • Suitable for all skin types and tones
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Unclogs skin pores and reduces oiliness
  • Instant rejuvenation
  • Brightens skin
  • Inhibits the production of melanin
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Accelerates cell turnover
  • Stimulates collagen production

Image source: Instagram @nakedfacespa

What Conditions Does the Mandelic Acid Peel Treat?

Mandelic skin peel results in improvements in many different skin conditions.

Due to its multiple beneficial properties, it can successfully be used for treating acne and acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles, different types of hyperpigmentation, as well as conditions like rosacea or eczema.

Let’s do a quick rundown of how this ingredient works for each specific skin issue:

Mandelic Peel for Acne & Acne Scars

Mandelic acid peel has antibacterial properties that can help combat acne. It works by unclogging pores, reducing sebum production, and inhibiting the growth of acne-causing bacteria.

Mandelic skin peel is also effective in reducing the appearance of post-acne scarring. Since it promotes collagen production and skin cell turnover, it can help fade and smooth out the texture of acne scars over time.

Image source: Instagram @houseofbelleame_karratha

Mandelic Acid Peel for Hyperpigmentation

Since it inhibits the production of melanin, which is a pigment responsible for skin coloration, mandelic peel results in a reduced appearance of dark spots. It helps even out skin tone and brightens the complexion.

Due to its ability to reduce hyperpigmentation, mandelic acid peel is used for treating all kinds of discoloration including melasma, sunspots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Image source: Instagram @drjaishreesharad

Mandelic Acid for Melasma

Melasma is a skin discoloration that often gets triggered by hormonal imbalances happening during pregnancy. Since this peeling is so gentle, it’s considered safe to use even during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The mandelic acid peel can address melasma by reducing the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone by exfoliating the damaged outer skin layer and replacing it with the healthier, more even-toned skin that’s hiding underneath the first layer.

Mandelic Acid for Rosacea

Mandelic acid peel is a gentle treatment, so it’s suitable for individuals with rosacea-prone skin. The peel helps reduce redness, inflammation and improves the overall appearance of rosacea-affected skin.

Mandelic Acid for Wrinkles and Fine Lines

Mandelic acid peel helps stimulate collagen production, which can help soften the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, resulting in a more vibrant, youthful appearance.

This treatment is great for aging skin, as it helps with skin dryness and long-term use can even help with skin firmness and elasticity.

Mandelic Acid for Stretch Marks

While chemical peels can, in theory, help with stretch marks, they aren’t really the first choice – especially for older stretch marks. They require deeper penetration with acids much more aggressive than a mandelic peel is.

Chemical peels are treatments that focus on removing the outer skin’s layer to get to the undamaged layer underneath. Doing so leads to visible improvements in skin texture which makes stretch marks a bit less visible.

They do boost collagen production, but much less than other, more aggressive treatments like lasers.

If you’re looking to improve the appearance of stretch marks, take a look at the alternative treatments that can help here.

What to Expect During the Mandelic Acid Peel Procedure?

The treatment starts off with the technician thoroughly cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser to remove any dirt, oil, or makeup residue.

Then they use astringent, which cleanses irritants from the skin and reduces the chances of inflammation.

The technician might also apply Vaseline or another thick ointment that will prevent acid from penetrating skin on most sensitive skin areas where the skin is thinner.

After that, the actual application process can begin.

Using a cotton pad, they’ll apply a thin layer of the mandelic acid peel solution to your face, avoiding the delicate eye and lip areas. The concentration, number of coats, and duration for which the acid is left on the face depends on the individual client.

After the appropriate amount of time, they’ll neutralize the peel and stop the acid’s action on your skin.

The final step is soothing and moisturizing the skin. The technician will finish the treatment off by applying a soothing, hydrating, and fragrance-free moisturizer or a post-peel balm to calm your skin and add a thicker coat of SPF on top.

@kirstynswartz_ Chemical peel time! 🤭 Mandelic Acid is naturally antibacterial which means its great for sensitived breakout prone skin! #esthetician #estheticianlife #estheticiantiktok #chemicalpeel #facialtreatment #skincaretips ♬ Sure Thing (sped up) - Miguel

What to Expect After the Mandelic Acid Peel?

After any chemical peeling procedure, it’s common to experience some redness, tenderness, and dryness. So, as with any AHA, there is a potential for mandelic acid to irritate your skin.

But the potential is extremely low.

Side effects are minimal, as long as you adhere to the aftercare instructions – especially wearing your SPF daily.

Any chemical peel makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, increasing its damaging effects and can lead to skin complications and very pronounced side effects like hyperpigmentation.

As long as you care for your skin as instructed, you can expect visible improvements in skin tone and texture, and slight improvement of the condition you were looking to treat.

It will, however, require multiple peeling sessions.

The recovery is fairly quick since this treatment is most often superficial. Still, if you want to know about what the full recovery process looks like, you can see day-by-day healing here.


You can increase the effects of this treatment by properly prepping your skin in the days leading up to the peel. The prep mainly consists of avoiding things like exfoliating products or treatments like retinoids. Also, limiting sun exposure is recommended.

How Safe Is Mandelic Acid Peel?

Mandelic acid peel is generally considered one of the safest chemical peels. Still, mandelic acid peel is after all a skin resurfacing treatment so it does entail some risks and side effects, mainly:

  • Itching and stinging sensations
  • Allergic reaction
  • Skin irritation and breakouts (due to over-exfoliation)
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Cold sores outbreak (if you are prone to cold sores contact your doctor to prescribe antiviral medications to prevent this.)

Make sure you schedule with a trained skincare professional or dermatologist to minimize the chances of something going wrong.

Is It Safe During Pregnancy?

Mandelic peel is considered to be safe even during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s superficial so it doesn’t pose any risks of entering the bloodstream and harming the fetus.

Plus it’s a multitasking ingredient that is great for fighting a lot of different skin conditions. Best of all, it’s a natural melanin inhibitor, making it ideal for fading hormonally-induced melasma.

You can learn everything you need to know about doing a chemical peel while pregnant here.

Is It Safe on Darker Skin Tones?

Yes, the mandelic acid chemical peel is safe for all skin types and tones – even darker and more sensitive ones.

Mandelic acid peel is actually also one of the best acids to use on darker complexions because it isn’t melanotoxic – that means it doesn’t kill melanocytes and won’t exacerbate discoloration.

Instead, it will decrease the appearance of dark spots, without the risks of triggering post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Image source: Instagram @faceofjules

Mandelic Chemical Peel Cost

On average, the cost of a single mandelic acid peel session can range from $100 to $300.

However, prices can be higher or lower depending on the factors like the location, the expertise of the skincare professional, or the exclusivity of the specific clinic.

Additionally, the cost may also depend on the concentration of mandelic acid used, the number of peel sessions, and any add-on services or products included in the treatment package.

It’s important to note that multiple sessions are often recommended to achieve optimal results, so it’s best to consult with your chosen skincare professional to get an accurate price estimate based on your specific needs and treatment plan.

Image source: Instagram @faceofjules

Mandelic Acid Peel – Main Takeaways

Mandelic acid peel is a versatile and effective skincare treatment that can address multiple skin concerns, including acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and uneven skin texture. Its gentle nature makes it suitable for sensitive skin types, providing a milder alternative to stronger AHAs.



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