Amygdalic Acid



Amygdalic Acid at a glance

  • Also known as mandelic acid
  • An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that can exfoliate skin
  • Generally more tolerable for those with sensitive skin
  • Must be in opaque packaging to maintain its effectiveness

Amygdalic Acid description

Amygdalic acid, also known as mandelic acid, is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). There’s some research showing mandelic acid is an effective exfoliant, although it’s not as effective as glycolic acid due to its larger size (it’s twice as big as glycolic acid) and slower penetration into skin; however, these traits can also make mandelic acid more tolerable for those with sensitive skin. Unlike glycolic acid, mandelic acid is light-sensitive and must be packaged in an opaque container to remain effective. It may be synthetic or derived from almonds. Like other AHAs, mandelic acid is most effective in leave-on products that are within a 3-4 pH range.A couple studies have shown that mandelic acid and salicylic acid worked well together in a higher-strength peel for use on darker skin tones struggling with discolourations, including post-blemish marks. However, what we don’t know is how well mandelic acid would’ve worked on its own - it’s possible the results were more from salicylic acid than the combination of the two acids. Other research has shown mandelic acid can increase sebum (oil) production, which isn’t great for oily skin but would be a benefit for dry skin.

Amygdalic Acid references

  • Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, December 2020, Volume 83, Issue 6 and September 2018, pages 503-518
  • Dermatologic Surgery, March 2016, pages 384-391; and January 2009, pages 59-65
  • Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, June 2013, pages 140-145

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not Rated