mandelic acid and lactic acid

The Science Behind It...
Overall clinical data on a specific ingredient(s) & how they function.

Mandelic Acid Vs Lactic Acid - Which Is Right For Your Skin?

When weighing your options between mandelic acid and lactic acid, assessing your skin type and which acid is best-suited for that type is key. While both mandelic and lactic acid can be helpful for supporting a brighter, smoother-looking complexion, you may find that one or the other better fits your skincare needs and goals.

What Type of Acid is Mandelic Acid?

Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), part of a diverse group of acids used in a wide range of skincare products. Mandelic acid is unique in that it is an aromatic AHA, meaning that it is more oil soluble and can therefore penetrate pores more easily. However, it also has comparatively large molecule size, which slows the speed at which it penetrates the skin.

What Type of Skin is Mandelic Acid Best For?

Mandelic acid can be safely and effectively used by individuals with all skin types, including those with sensitive and/or dry skin. Its molecule weight makes it one of the gentlest AHAs, so even individuals with highly reactive or easily irritated skin can consider adding it to their skincare routine.

Mandelic acid may be a beneficial addition to your skincare regimen if you are hoping to:

  • Enhance the appearance of luminous, radiant skin

  • Help reduce the appearance of discoloration, including scarring, sun damage, and dark spots

  • Support the visible signs of reduced skin congestion without reducing sebum production

  • Support the efficacy of the skin’s natural protective barrier

What Type of Acid is Lactic Acid?

Like mandelic acid, lactic acid is a member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family. Compared to glycolic acid, another commonly-used AHA, lactic acid has a large molecule weight, but smaller than that of mandelic acid. The salt form of lactic acid is sodium lactate which is a humectant and part of skin’s own Natural Moisturizing Factor, which binds water in the skin for a plumping effect.

What Type of Skin is Lactic Acid Best For?

For individuals with sensitive, moderately reactive skin types, as well as those with acne-prone skin, lactic acid can be a good option. Particularly for those who have experienced irritation with glycolic acid, lactic acid may be a suitable alternative with comparable benefits. It also works well for those with dry skin as it helps with ceramide production.

You may want to consider skincare products with lactic acid if your goals include:

  • Achieving a complexion that appears brighter and more radiant

  • Helping to clear congestion

  • Minimizing the visible signs of sun damage, scarring, and aging

  • Promoting a smoother-looking complexion

  • Supporting the natural protective barrier of the skin

Is Mandelic Acid or Lactic Acid Better for Acne?

Because mandelic acid and lactic acid seemingly have very similar properties, many people wonder: is mandelic acid better than lactic acid? Or, is lactic acid the best option? Specifically for individuals seeking smoother, clearer-looking skin, lactic acid vs. mandelic acid can be a confusing topic.

One of the primary differences between mandelic acid and lactic acid is their molecule size. The large molecular weight of mandelic acid makes it an extremely gentle AHA, while lactic acid is slightly smaller, penetrating the skin more rapidly. If you have extremely sensitive skin, you may want to try mandelic acid before lactic acid. Depending on your tolerance, as well as the progress made towards your goals, it may be possible to transition to lactic acid if desired.

DISCLAIMER: Lab Journals are intended to help educate on specific ingredients and skin care topics. Our articles are written to be informative and informational.
Please note any Naturium products with referenced ingredients are formulated for Cosmetic Use Only and NOT intended as replacements for physician pharmaceutical product recommendations.

Mandelic Topical Acid 12%


30 ML / 1.0 FL OZ Our skin perfecting mandelic serum is formulated with mandelic acid, natural fruit extracts and niacinamide to gently exfoliate ...

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