Garden of Wisdom Mandelic Acid Serum


47 reviews

78% would repurchase

Package Quality: 3.6

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 3.6

Price: $$$


on 4/13/2015 1:12:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Very Oily, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brown, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Blue

I am using a sample size of the 5% No/No version. I have oily, sensitive skin that produces closed comedones all by itself if I slack on exfoliation. Until now I have mainly used PC's Pore Refining 2% BHA daily and 8% AHA Gel on occasion. While I like both of those, I had read that Mandelic acid may be better for clearing cc's so I certainly can't say no to that.

Despite using chemical exfoliants on and off for the past few years, I have found that this is requiring an adjustment period for me. Unlike PC's gel, which is glycolic, this serum does cause some very mild stinging a few moments after application, but it only lasts for a minute or two. I also noticed some warning signs of over-exfoliation/irritation when used two or more nights in a row, so I am cutting back to only using it once every two days and using BHA on off days. Despite that, I have seen some improvement within the first week of use, mainly in the form of mild whitehead purging (not irritation -- I am well-versed in their differences). Skin also feels smoother and PIH has begun to fade. That's already more progress than I have seen with my former combination, so I will definitely be ordering a full-size. Considering the efficacy of the 5% for my skin, I will be sticking with that until I'm fully adjusted and have maintained that status for a while. Even then it may be that I don't see a need to step up to the 10%.

One thing that I've found to be mildly annoying is the thin, water-like texture which makes application a bit tricky. Putting the desired amount in the palm of my hand and then using a q-tip to spread it on evenly has proven to be the easiest method for me.

All in all, this seems pretty promising thus far and I will be interested to see what the long-term effects will be. It is a bit expensive when compared to other Mandelic products -- MUAC's 5% Mandelic toner is only $5 for 1 oz while the 1 oz size of this in the same strength is $18.90. That's a pretty big difference, but GOW is my only option since I can't tolerate products containing alcohol and, on the upside, it will probably last a long time since I need very little to cover my entire face. I will update after a few months of use.

Works and works well
Short ingredient list void of irritants and clog-creators (YMMV)
Sample sizes and two different formulas to choose from
Nice texture on the skin (dries quickly and feels like nothing)

A little pricey for size and strength
Texture makes application a bit tricky

Neither pro nor con:
May require an adjustment period -- start out slowly and at a low % unless you have used Mandelic or other high % AHA products before.

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

on 10/11/2014 6:40:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Sensitive, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Green

I have the 5% no alcohol and no seaweed version. I purchased a small sample size that is .25 oz for $6.25.

My skin is oily but often looks as if it has a layer of dry skin. I cannot use a lot of exfoliaters as my skin is sensitive, but this I can use.

List of ingredients (GOW site)

List of Ingredients

Distilled Water
- hydrant
- solvent
Rooibos (red) Extract
- excellent anti-oxidant
Mandelic Acid
- improves skin texture
- refines pore size
- lightens hyper pigmentation
- improves skin tone
- excellent surface exfoliant
Lactic Acid
- gentle AHA exfoliant
- water binding
- moisturizing
- emollient
Sodium PCA
- natural moisturizer
- water binding to the skin
Panthenol B-5
- penetrating moisturizer
Sodium Lactate:
- pH adjuster
- moisturizer
Hyaluronic Acid
- hydrates skin
- can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water

Description frow GOW site:

Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that helps clear away dead skin cells that have built up on the skin's surface, and because of its smaller molecule size it can also work within the pore as well. Unlike glycolic acid, it cannot penetrate the skin's layers to enable deeper exfoliation, but it can help to refine pores. Mandelic acid has antibacterial properties.


Reasonable cost at $18.90 per one ounce
Sample size available
Does not irritate my sensitive skin, but gently exfoliates
Formula does not have a lot of fillers or items I do not want ie: perfume, silicone
I spread a few drops over skin. Moisturizer over it if required. Suggest wait time is 20 minutes.
PH 2.4


Only available from Garden of Wisdom online
Runny, thin formula. I need to be careful when applying.

I do plan on purchasing the full size with my GOW order.

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

on 5/25/2014 4:13:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I love Garden of Wisdom products and really wanted to like this mandelic acid, especially because it's the purest formulation out there that I could find. But this mandelic acid serum was just too watery for me. It was difficult to apply. The container was good for dispensing the product, but it was so watery it would just drip between my fingers before I could apply it to my face. It also didn't seem to work as well as other mandelic acid products I've used.

on 11/29/2013 5:29:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Green

It does a good job with unclogging pores and keeping them clear. I've been using 5% at first and then moved on to 10%. I recommend this to everyone I met :)

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I've been fighting blackheads & clogged pores since i was 10 and never really had a chance to say that any product worked for me. Blore pore strip has always been my weekly chore but it never really solved my problem. I am now started with 5% w/o alcohol / seaweed and I'm already seeing my blackheads disappearing and becoming smaller by the day. On alternate days I also apply GoW's AHA/BHA 4% Synergistic Exfo Tonic Gel. About just half a week of using, while I was washing my face, I noticed a whitish plug coming off from the corner of my nose. This particular clogged pore have been the hugest one I know and it never end, like a clogged bottomless pit. But this time the whole plug came loosen and I didn't even squeezed it. Now the empty pore is slowly closing up and I'm such a happy girl who has finally found her right product after godzillion products and years. On a side note, because of this product, I've to make sure that i always apply sunscreen b4 i step out of the house and I don't really like the heavy feeling. Nonetheless, my excitement has turned grateful~ thanks Gow!

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

on 6/2/2013 4:22:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

I tried the 10% without alcohol or seaweed because of the rave review of a MUAer who seemed to have the same skin issues I do, but I guess that ultimately we don't. This didn't do a darned thing for me except to cause breakouts--not the cystic kind, luckily, just small ones that could be dried up easily, and clogged pores. My skin was looking pretty good beforehand, though, so back to the old regimen of moisturizers, exfoliators, and a weekly masque.

on 4/23/2013 8:25:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Black, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

While this product isnt a miracle worker, I feel like it has really improved the quality of my skin. I use it every other day after I have cleansed.

I am plagued by tons of milia, which are tiny bumps with hardened gunk inside. There is no head so you can not pop them. This sloughs off the skin on top so that the gunk can escape without extractions. It is also good for keeping the skin smooth, shrinking pores, and making the skin less oily. I love how on days I use this, I don't get oily!

My only complaint is I get very dry after using this, and the PRICE. I wish there was a cheaper way to manufacture this.

UPDATE: I have now owned this product for over a year. Bought 1 refill, used it consistently for periods and sometimes not at all.
It definitely helps acne, but you have to be careful not to overuse it. On oily areas with texture problems, I have been using it every day at night.
I even use it as a spot treatment on large pimples 2x a day, and it prevents them from becoming full blown cysts.
I STILL have texture problems, but this has helped. You definitely need to use it consistently. I thought I wasn't seeing results, so I stopped using it for some time. Texture improved immediately after, but skin became bumpy after a month of not using it.
Increasing my rating to 5 stars because you actually see results with it.

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

on 9/30/2012 1:32:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

Like many of you - I've tried it all. After having been blessed with perfect skin my entire life - at the age of 55 I'm having to deal with issues I've never dealt with before ie: oily tzone, congested pores, blackheads, etc. After alot of research I decided to try GOW's mandelic acid - I'm currently using 5% no alcohol, no seaweed. My skin is pretty tolerant but I've learned from past mistakes that more is not always better so I started with the lowest percentage. For me - this is the magic bullet. I dampen a cotton pad, swipe the serum once over my face concentrating on the tzone - within one week my pores are noticeably clearer, blackheads are almost gone, skin is glowing and overall looks healthier. I did not have the purging that many speak of, perhaps I'm just lucky in that respect, but I found this product to do what it claims. Many of you are quoting a high cost of $40+ however I paid $18.50 for one ounce. I will be re-ording asap. I recently contacted GOW to ask them what adding the seaweed might add - am waiting for a response. Bottom line - if you have congested pores, blackheads, etc - try this - I can recommend it highly enough.

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Olive, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

Update #2 10/3/12: My skin has improved dramatically since beginning to use GoW products and cutting out all the traditional commercial products that I always knew were irritating my skin. I now have a full sized bottle of the 5% no alcohol no seaweed, and a sample sized bottle of the 10% no/no. This pared with their Beta-Hydroxy 2% gel, and a few other GoW odds and ends. My old hyperpigmentation marks are fading rapidly, if new ones form they are way less noticeable than they would have been, and my skin is smoother, more even toned, and has a better elasticity. At 24 that's not my main concern but it's a nice additional benefit.

Update 9/1/12: After a particularly bad stress related breakout that I, being stressed, picked at and made 100x worse the 5% no alcohol/no seaweed has cleared my face in record time. I still have some hyper-pigmentation marks but many, many others have disappeared completely or almost completely. My skin tone looks like it belongs on the same face, my pores are smaller, blackheads are easily removed, the open pores with gunk in them (not blackheads but not whiteheads...) can be cleaned out easily too. I have never ever had results like this. The only "downside" (not really a downside at all) is that this does make my skin purge a little bit when first using it. However, it's not all at once. More of a slow purge that takes time to get to the surface. I can handle that.

I like it so much I just ordered a 2 oz size of the 5% and a sample of the 10% to see if I can get my more prominent and stubborn hyper-pigmentation marks to hit the road. I'm also thinking the stronger 10% formulation would make a nice active acne spot treatment while using the more mild 5% on the rest of my skin to keep it clear, smooth, toned, to prevent fine lines, and just looking generally happy. I also ordered one of GoWs acid blends and a sample of a new 2% salicylic acid tonic serum (no alcohol). I'm looking forward to adding these into my skincare routine as it seems my skin has no idea how to properly shed skin cells, without a lot of help. Even though my skin is sensitive it responds well to regular exfoliation, even daily exfoliation if mild enough like the 5% Mandelic acid serum. End update.

I received a sample of the 5% no alcohol/no seaweed in my last order and have begun trying it out over the last month. I have acne prone sensitive skin and at first I over did it. My face got worse but I'm pretty sure it was my fault. After letting my skin recover I tried again. This time using it every other day or less. I use it at night before bed and in the morning my skin looks so much better. Any spots I have are smaller, less red, not as tender, just so much better. The rest of my skin has a more even tone, looks hydrated and firm, smoother and generally healthy. This makes extracting the gunk from my pores a breeze and helps to shed the dead skin from healing acne. It also reduces my hyper pigmentation marks, almost overnight. It's amazing stuff. I will say that it can have a mild *tingling* effect when first applied but it settles down shortly after it dries. I like the watery consistency. To give it a thicker appearance would require extra ingredients, and those ingredients would serve no purpose other than to thicken the product. For my skin, less is more. Fewer applications and fewer ingredients keep my skin happy and healthy. The smell... It's not an over the top perfumed concoction. It's no supposed to be. It's a fabulous facial treatment that does its job and happens to smells nice at the same time. I plan on ordering a full sized bottle soon.

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

on 6/22/2012 10:37:00 AM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Black, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

Love, love this product. I've been on the fence for quite a while and when I finally purchased it, I wished that I could turn back time! I had a big zit that showed up near one of my ears and I've been using three different products and while they are s..l..o..w..l..y chipping away at this HUGE thing on my face, Super Mandelic Serum shows up three days ago and this HUGE zit is history!! I have noticed - this is in three day! - that my pores are most definitely clog free. I've not seen this in a long time. Usually at the end of the day, my pores are clog and aching to be cleansed but last night, no clog pores. I have the 10% Yes Alcohol/Yes Seaweed. I did not have any tingling or negative reaction while waiting for the 20 minutes wait time.

I am going to purchase the full size but will be buying the 15%. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. Ladies, if you're on the fence, try it now - don't walk, run! I have three products that have been shelved and the cost of all three is over $80. This little size .25 oz cost a little over $10. It's pure magic.

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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