the ordinary mandelic acid vs stratia soft touch dupes

Have you heard of mandelic acid?

It’s the newest exfoliating acid on the skincare block. It shot to fame in Asia thanks to its gentle touch. Word on the street has it, even sensitive skin can use it without risking irritation.

You’ll find it in both Stratia Soft Touch AHA and The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA. At first sight, the two are so similar, you could call them dupes. But when you dig deeper, one definitely has the edge. So, which one is better?

Mandelic Acid

Mandelic acid belongs to the same family as glycolic acid, AHAs. But it’s twice its size. Literally. Mandelic is 152.1 daltons while glycolic 76.

Size matters: because mandelic acid is so big, it penetrates skin more slowly and not as deeply as glycolic acid. That means it can dissolve the “glue” that holds skin cells together without irritation.

Once those dead cells are off your face, your skin is smoother, softer and brighter. It’s just that mandelic takes a little longer than glycolic to work so don’t be surprised if you don’t see results immediately.

Mandelic acid isn’t good just for sensitive skin. This acid also has antibacterial properties that help you get rid of P. Acnes, the bacteria that’s making you life so miserable.

I personally prefer glycolic and salicylic to mandelic acid. They’re smaller molecules so they work that little bit better. But if your skin’s so sensitive, it can’t tolerate them, mandelic acid makes for a fine alternative.

P.S. Both Stratia Soft Touch AHA and The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA use 10% mandelic acid.

Related: AHAs VS BHA: Which One Should You Use?

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet. Literally. Its job is to draw water from the air into the skin and bind it there. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!

But what if there’s not enough moisture in the skin? Then, hyaluronic acid takes moisture from the deeper layers of your skin all the way up to the superficial layers.

It’s not as drying as you think. Your skin is made up of 64% water. Hyaluronic acid just redistributes it. Once the superficial layers have this extra moisture, it plumps up so fine lines looks smaller and takes on a dewy glow.

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine, No Matter Your Skin Type

What Else Do You Need To Know?

Both The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA and Stratia Soft Touch AHA have anti-inflammatory ingredients that soothe redness and irritation. The Ordinary uses Tasmanian pepperberry while Stratia opted for plain old chamomile.

I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. I just think it’s great both companies added something to offset any potential irritation (even though the risk with mandelic acid is low to begin with).

The main difference is in the preservative system. Stratia uses Diazolidinyl Urea, a preservatives that work by releasing formaldehyde. That’s super effective at killing germs and bacteria.

FYI, it’s NOT toxic. It releases too little formaldehyde to give humans cancer. But that little can still irritate sensitive skin.

The Ordinary opted for Caprylyl Glycol, a preservative that’s way gentler for sensitive skin. Its antimicrobial activity isn’t as strong, but it’ll still help to keep your exfoliant safer for longer.

Lesson learned: when the main actives are the same, it’s those little ingredients no one pays much attention to that can make the difference.

Related: Parabens Alternatives: Which Ones Are Safe And Effective?

Which Of The Two Should You Go For?

Both Stratia Soft Touch AHA and The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA are good mandelic acid exfoliants. You can expect the same results from both.

But if your skin is sensitive and easily irritated, The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% is a gentler option. It’s cheaper, too.

Related: The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA Full Review


Stratia Soft Touch AHA ($14.00): available at Stratia

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA ($6.70): available at Asos, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Escentual

Is The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA A Dupe For Stratia Soft Touch AHA?

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA and Stratia Soft Touch AHA aren’t exact dupes, but they do the same thing: they gently exfoliate sensitive skin, leaving it softer, smoother and brighter. But The Ordinary is a little gentler.

Do you think The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA is a dupe for Stratia Soft Touch AHA? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Stratia Soft Touch AHA Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Mandelic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Panthenol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Matricaria Recutita (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Sodium Hydroxide, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA Ingredients: Propanediol, Aqua (Water), Mandelic Acid, Glycerin, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.