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When it comes to taking care of your skin, it’s important to understand the ingredients that can make a real difference.
Two such ingredients that have gained popularity are kojic acid and mandelic acid. Mandelic acid has gentle exfoliating properties, (1) while kojic acid has the ability to reduce hyperpigmentation and brighten the skin. (2)
This article will explore the power of kojic acid and mandelic acid and their effects on your skin to help you decide which one is for you.
|Factors||Kojic Acid||Mandelic Acid|
|Main purpose||Targets skin brightening and lightening||Targets exfoliation|
|Suitability to skin type||Suitable for all skin types but may irritate sensitive skin||Suitable for all skin types and better for acne-prone, oily, or sensitive skin|
|Mechanism of action||Reduces melanin production||Removes dead skin cells|
|Concentration||Best to use 1%. You can also use 2-4% on doctorâs advice||Safe to use 2%-4%|
|Potential side effects||Skin irritation||Generally well tolerated|
Keep in mind the following things when deciding which product is better for you.
Mandelic acid is often recommended for oily and acne-prone skin. (3) Kojic acid works well for various skin types but should be avoided in sensitive skin due to its potential to irritate the skin. (4)
If you’re concerned about dark spots and uneven skin tone, kojic acid can be a good option for you.
Kojic acid functions by hindering the action of an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is involved in melanin release. This helps reduce the formation of pigmented spots. (4)
In a recent study, researchers found that a special gel containing 2% kojic acid, 10% glycolic acid, and 2% hydroquinone was more effective for treating hyperpigmentation than using the same gel without kojic acid.
This means that adding kojic acid to your skin care routine can greatly enhance the results of the other ingredients, especially if you don’t see improvements with hydroquinone alone. (5)
Mandelic acid has emerged as a promising option for acne treatment due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
In a study comparing, both 45% mandelic acid peel and 30% salicylic acid peel showed similar effectiveness in improving mild-to-moderate facial acne with few adverse effects. (3)
Another study compared 35% glycolic acid (GA) peels with 20% salicylic-10% mandelic acid peels (SMPs) for active acne and post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation. SMPs showed higher efficacy for active acne lesions and hyperpigmentation with fewer side effects compared to GA peels. (6)
These findings suggest that for acne-prone skin or acne treatment, mandelic acid may be a better option than kojic acid.
Mandelic acid can be used more frequently due to its gentler nature. According to research, it is associated with none to minimal side effects. (3)
Kojic acid has a tendency to be irritating, so excessive use should be discouraged, as advised by experts. (4)
If you’re dealing with skin redness, mandelic acid is a better option to consider. It has shown effectiveness in treating superficial redness with minimal side effects and shorter downtime. (7)
If you’re struggling with a fungal illness of the skin, it’s important to seek advice from a healthcare professional.
However, studies have shown that kojic acid has some antifungal properties that may be beneficial in treating fungal infections.
It has been found to be effective against strains such as Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, which are responsible for fungal skin conditions such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, and candidiasis. (4)
If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to choose skin care ingredients that are gentle and less likely to cause irritation. Kojic acid has been known to potentially irritate the skin in some individuals. (4)
Mandelic acid is considered to be gentler and milder, making it a better option for sensitive skin.
Mandelic acid can be really good for aged or mature skin. Research has shown that 2% mandelic acid products such as creams and cleansers have the ability to reduce oiliness and shine, making your skin look less greasy.
When it comes to potential side effects, mandelic acid is generally well tolerated by most skin types. On the other hand, kojic acid may cause skin irritation as a side effect.
Note: It’s important to be aware that kojic acid should be used at a concentration not higher than 1% to ensure safety, as it can be harmful to skin cells. However, some scientific data suggest that concentrations of 2%-4% are also considered safe for use. It’s always a fair notion to talk with a skin care professional for the best advice. (4)(5)
Mandelic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from bitter almonds. It is known for its potential benefits in addressing common skin issues such as photoaging, pigmentation irregularities, and acne.
Mandelic acid is larger in size compared to other AHAs, and it has stronger antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help exfoliate the skin, enhance its texture, and facilitate the development of a very even complexion. (3)(9)
If you’re looking to reduce hyperpigmentation, kojic acid might be a good option for you. It’s a substance derived from certain fungi that can assist in lightening pigmented areas on the skin.
Kojic acid functions by blocking the presentation of an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is accountable for creating melanin, the pigment that provides color to your skin.
You can find kojic acid in various skin care products, usually in concentrations ranging from 1% to 4%. It has been widely studied for its skin-lightening properties and is often combined with other ingredients such as AHAs to address age spots and freckles. (5)
Can Kojic Acid and Mandelic Acid Be Used Together?
Yes, kojic acid and mandelic acid can be used together as they target different skin concerns. However, it’s crucial to start with a small concentration and watch your skin’s response to avoid any potential disturbance.
Which acid is more suitable for sensitive skin?
Mandelic acid is considered gentler and may be a promising choice for people with sensitive skin.
Which acid is better for oily skin?
Mandelic acid is often preferred for oily skin due to its ability to control sebum production.
Can these acids be used on all skin types?
Both acids can be used on different skin types, but it’s significant to evaluate your skin sensitivity.
Which acid is more suitable for dark spots?
Kojic acid is known for its skin-lightening action and may be more suitable.
Can these acids be used in the morning or evening?
These acids can be used either in the morning or evening.
Both mandelic acid and kojic acid offer extraordinary advantages for the skin.
Mandelic acid is famous for its exfoliating and antibacterial actions, making it useful for acne-prone skin. On the other hand, kojic acid is effective in reducing hyperpigmentation.
The right option out of the two depends on your skin problems.