The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA review

Haven you given up on exfoliating acids because they ALWAYS irritate your skin?

Would you like to jump on the glycolic acid bandwagon but are scared it’ll make your skin peel?

Do you have sensitive, acne-prone skin and don’t know what the heck to use to exfoliate it without inflaming it even more?

If you’ve answered yes to even just one of these questions, meet the new exfoliating acid on the block: mandelic acid.

Already popular in Asia, The Ordinary brought it on our Western shores. Needless to say, I had to put it to the test and see what all the fuss is about.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts on The Ordinary Madelic Acid 10% + HA (and why it’s particularly good for sensitive skin):

What’s In The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA?


Mandelic acid is a member of the Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) family. Yep, the same family as glycolic acid.

The main difference between mandelic and glycolic acids is their size: mandelic is twice as big as glycolic! As a rule, the smaller the size, the faster it penetrates into the skin. That makes it more effective but also more irritating.

Because it’s a giant, mandelic acid mostly stays on the surface of the skin, where it dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together without irritations. Seriously, if even this bothers your skin, use a washcloth.

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. This is a case where slow and steady wins the race.

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.

Imo, salicylic acid is better than mandelic for acne because it also exfoliates deep within the pores. But, if for some reason your skin isn’t reacting well to that, mandelic is a great alternative to try.

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

the ordinary mandelic acid 10 + HA


Hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet (in science lingo, that’s a humectant).

Put simply, hyaluronic acid attracts water from the air and drops it into your skin. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water.

All that water makes your skin very happy: it softens it up, plumps it up so your fine lines and wrinkles look smaller and gives it a lovely, as if lit-from-within glow.

Hyaluronic acid is a great way to hydrate oily skin without adding more oil and to quench dry skin’s thirst without irritations.

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine

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The Ordinary Skincare Routine - Where to start with The Ordinary skincare


The texture feels like an oily water, if that even makes sense. It’s slightly oily but very lightweight, sinks in quickly and, well.. it looks just like water.


It’s fragrance-free.

How To Use It

Two nights a week, after cleansing.

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Performance & Personal Opinion

I have resistant, combination skin that’s dry on my cheeks and oily on my t-zone. My nose is prone to blackheads too.

I use glycolic acid every other night and dab a few drops of salicylic acid on my nose whenever I see a hint of blackheads. So, I was really curios to find out how The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA would compare to my usual exfoliating routine.

The first time I used it, I didn’t see any improvement. It didn’t make my skin tingle. It didn’t irritate it. It didn’t peel it. That’s good but… it also makes it hard to see if it’s doing something!

Well, it’s been a month now and my skin is looking softer and smoother. It also has a healthy glow. The best part? I haven’t been plagued with blackheads in a while.

It works slowly than other acids so you won’t see results as quickly, but if you have sensitive skin, you’ll be find with that.

As for me, I think I’ll go back to my old exfoliating routine. I like what mandelic acid did for my skin and I’m glad I got a chance to try it, but salicylic is what works best for my skin type.

FYI, if you’re struggling to choose the best exfoliating acid for your skin type or you’re not 100% sure if you should give mandelic acid a go yet, check out my Complete Guide To The Ordinary Exfoliating Products.

Who Is This For?

Sensitive, acne-prone skin that can’t tolerate other acids.

Who Is This Not For?

If your skin can tolerate glycolic acid (dry skin) or salicylic acid (oily, acne-prone), go with those.


A see-through bottle with a practical dropper applicator.

Does The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA Live Up To Its Claims?

Mandelic Acid 10% + HA offers superficial dermal peeling that is gentler than other alpha hydroxy acids.True.
This larger size allows mandelic acid to penetrate the skin more slowly which in turn makes it very gentle and suitable for all skin types. True.

Price & Availability

£5.80 at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty

Do You Need It?

If you have sensitive, acne-prone skin that can’t tolerate other acids, this is a good option to consider.

Dupes & Alternatives


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.