The 5 Best Mandelic Acid Peels (2020 Update)


Today, I’m going to discuss the best mandelic acid peels (spoiler: my top pick is Platinum Skin Care Mandelic Peel 22-40+).

Mandelic acid is a very gentle peel due to its large molecule size and provides a mild level of uniform penetration into the epidermis (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).

This makes mandelic acid perfect for sensitive skin that cannot tolerate normal chemical peels.

With regular use, a mandelic acid peel can improve the appearance of dark spots, uneven tone, inflammatory acne and blemishes, rosacea, and (to a lesser extent) wrinkles and fine lines.

ⓘ Let’s help you find the right lactic acid peel for your skin concern and budget!


What Are The Best Mandelic Acid Peels?

Here are my top picks for the best mandelic acid peels:

  1. Best Overall Peel: Platinum Skin Care Mandelic + Azelaic Peel 22-40+
  2. Best Starter Kit: Platinum Skin Care Mandelic Boxed Kit
  3. Best Budget Peel: The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
  4. Best for Clearer Skin: Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads
  5. Best for Hyperpigmentation: Exuviance Performance Peel AP25
Best Mandelic Acid Peel - Pinterest
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1. Best Overall Peel: Platinum Skin Care Mandelic Peel 22-40+

Summary: Platinum Skin Care is my #1 pick for an effective and affordable mandelic acid peel.

Best For: Dark Spots, Uneven Tone, Hyperpigmentation, Sensitive Skin, Inflammatory Acne, and Rosacea

Key Ingredients:
Your Choice of Mandelic Acid
(20% or 40%+)

Get It @ Platinum Skin Care

Platinum Skin Care Mandelic Peel 22-40+
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Platinum Skin Care is my top pick and offers two high-quality mandelic acid peels:

  • Mandelic + Azelaic Pro Peel 22% (for sensitive skin and rosacea – a very light peel)
  • Mandelic Pro Peel 40%+ (for stronger results – but still considered a light peel)

The first peel is actually 20% mandelic acid plus 2% azelaic acid (a helpful skin brightening agent) and is best suited for sensitive skin, but also for teens and pre-teens to control acne breakouts.

If you’ve had a glycolic acid peel in the past, you should have no problems with 40% mandelic acid as the depth of overall skin penetration is very limited in comparison.

To help illustrate this difference, the diagram below shows the depth of mandelic acid penetration on the left (in yellow arrows) while glycolic acid penetration is shown on the right (in purple arrows):

A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels - Figure 2
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(image courtesy: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018)

As you can see, mandelic acid penetrates only the epidermis (the topmost layer of your skin) while glycolic acid penetrates through the epidermis and into the upper dermis layers.

Finally, if you’re a busy person, or need to look your best all the time, mandelic acid is a great option as there’s hardly any peeling, flaking, or redness, to speak of at all. 🙂

My Verdict: Platinum Skin Care offers two high-quality mandelic acid peels. Start with the 22% if you have sensitive skin or you’re struggling with rosacea or teenage acne. Otherwise, you should be fine with 40% mandelic acid, especially if you’re had glycolic peels in the past.

2. Best Starter Kit: Platinum Skin Care Mandelic Boxed Kit

Summary: Platinum Skin Care has put together a convenient starter kit for a mandelic acid peel.

Best For: Beginners, Convenience (also makes a great gift idea 🎁)

Each Set Contains:
-Your Choice of Mandelic Acid Peel (22% or 40%+)
-Peel Prep Solution
-Post-Peel Neutralizer
-Fan Brush or Gauze Strips

Get It @ Platinum Skin Care

Platinum Skin Care Mandelic Boxed Kit
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Platinum Skin Care also sells a starter kit that includes the same mandelic acid peel from before, but with additional items to help you perform an effective at-home peel:

  • 2.0 oz Peel Prep Solution – an alcohol-based toner to prepare your skin for a chemical peel. This helps remove any surface oils and debris to allow the mandelic acid to work effectively.
  • 4.5 oz Post-Peel Neutralizer – a baking soda solution with Panthenol and Tea Tree Oil. Use the neutralizer after 2-5 minutes to stop the chemical peel from penetrating too deeply.
  • Your choice of Fan Brush or Gauze Pads – my personal preference is gauze pads as I find it’s hard to get an even application using a fan brush.

Since mandelic acid is very gentle, you can even skip the neutralizing step if you want, and jump to applying a recovery cream or moisturizer (I recommend La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5).

This starter kit should last you about 4-6 months, assuming weekly application, since you get a large 2.0 oz bottle of mandelic acid (compared to the normal size of 1.0 oz).

My Verdict: For the ultimate convenience, Platinum Skin Care’s Mandelic Boxed Kit has everything you need to start peeling at home for healthier, smoother, and more radiant-looking skin. 👍

3. Best Budget Peel: The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA

Summary: The Ordinary is my favorite (Canadian 🍁) brand with a gentle mandelic acid peel for beginners and sensitive skin.

Best For: Sensitive Skin

Key Ingredients:
10% Mandelic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid

Get It @ Ulta Beauty, Sephora

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA
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I’ve been a big fan of The Ordinary for many years and have also visited their physical stores.

It’s by far my favorite Canadian brand and thousands of loyal customers agree. Effective formulas, minimalist design, and super low prices are the key factors behind The Ordinary’s success.

Here, I recommend the Mandelic Acid 10% + HA, a budget-friendly mandelic acid peel at only C$6.70 or U$6.80 for 1.0 oz (talk about affordable! 🤑).

This is a super gentle peel on the low-end of mandelic acid concentration that helps renew skin, smooth out rough texture, reduce oily skin, clear up acne, and fade hyperpigmentation.

It’s a great starting point for beginners to chemical peels and for those with sensitive skin. That’s because mandelic acid has a larger molecule size (152 daltons) compared to other AHAs like glycolic acid (76 daltons) which means it penetrates your skin very slowly (source: The Ordinary).

At this level of mandelic acid, it’s safe to use daily (I recommend at night) and without a neutralizer. Just remember to apply sunscreen because AHAs will increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

My Verdict: The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA is the perfect budget peel for sensitive skin.

4. Best for Clearer Skin: Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads

Summary: The Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads use multiple acids to clear up breakouts and reduce congestion.

Best For: Clear Skin, Smooth Skin, Inflammatory Acne, Congestion

Key Ingredients:
Salicylic Acid
Mandelic Acid
Azelaic Acid

Get It @ Perfect Image

Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads
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While mandelic acid is a great option on its own, it’s even better when combined with other ingredients like Salicylic Acid (a beta hydroxy acid that penetrates into oily skin to unclog pores) and Azelaic Acid (a dicarboxylic acid that exfoliates and reduces uneven skin tone).

The combination of chemical peeling agents provides multiple levels of exfoliation, since each one only penetrates your skin to a particular depth. This, in turn, helps improve deeper skin issues such as acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles and fine lines.

The Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads are an excellent choice for clearing up acne breakouts, unclogging blocked pores, fading post-acne marks, and smoothing out your skin texture.

Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads Ad
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This product includes the aforementioned trio of Mandelic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Azelaic Acid, along with Botanical Extracts that provide antioxidant, skin brightening, and soothing properties.

These include:

  • Ylang-Ylang (essential oil, aromatic)
  • Rooibos (red herbal tea, antioxidant)
  • Yarrow (soothing, healing)
  • Willow Bark (a natural source of salicylic acid)
  • Green Tea (soothing, antioxidant)
  • Cucumber (nourishing, hydrating)
  • Chamomile (soothing, anti-inflammatory)
  • Comfrey (soothing, anti-inflammatory)

Finally, all Perfect Image products are gluten-free, cruelty-free, and made in the USA.

Exclusive Discount: Perfect Image is offering my readers a 15% discount on all orders with the coupon code DERM15 and shipping is free on orders over $20. 🤑

My Verdict: Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads help clear out blemishes with Salicylic Acid, provide gentle exfoliation with Mandelic Acid, and restore even skin tone with Azelaic Acid, while calming inflammatory acne with a blend of soothing botanical extracts.

5. Best for Hyperpigmentation: Exuviance Performance Peel AP25

Summary: The award-winning Performance Peel AP25 provides powerful exfoliation to treat stubborn hyperpigmentation. 💪

Best For: Melasma, Age Spots

Key Ingredients: 25% AHAs & PHAs

Get It @ Exuviance, Ulta Beauty

Exuviance Performance Peel AP25
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For stubborn hyperpigmentation like melasma, Exuviance’s award-winning Performance Peel AP25 might be just the solution for you (as seen in Harper’s Bazaar: 150 Beauty Must-Have’s).

The individually wrapped 2-step peel pads are infused with a powerful blend of 25% Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, and Gluconolactone (a gentle acid molecule known as a polyhydroxy acid).

This combination of AHAs and PHAs provides a superior level of exfoliation across multiple skin layers to improve the appearance of dark spots, uneven tone, melasma, and acne scars.

Given the strong concentration of this product, Exuviance recommends using it only twice a week.

Make sure to do a patch test to ensure no irritation or discomfort occurs within the first 24 hours (this is included in the 13 treatments per box, so you have 12 remaining sets for a total of 6 weeks).

Many customers reported faded signs of melasma, more even skin tone, softer wrinkles & fine lines, smoother skin texture, and smaller pore sizes.

My Verdict: For stubborn forms of hyperpigmentation like melasma, the Performance Peel AP25 offers a powerful solution with 25% AHAs & PHAs, strong clinical results, and outstanding reviews. 🤗

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