Recently, I stumbled upon a product that was quite similar to The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA 2%: Stratia Soft Touch AHA. Both products are formulated with 10 percent mandelic acid, and include hyaluronic acid. I asked my dad to compare and contrast the two ingredient lists to see if he thought they were comparable, or if one was superior to the other. Spoiler alert: He strongly preferred one of them for people with sensitive skin!
Mandelic acid messaging
As a copywriter in a past life, I thought it was quite interesting to see the similarities between the way these two product descriptions conveyed the benefits of mandelic acid.
Stratia Soft Touch AHA product description:
Many AHAs can also cause significant irritation and redness, especially to those with sensitive skin. Mandelic acid is the exception: it is a much larger molecule than glycolic acid, so it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply and therefore causes significantly less irritation.
The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA product description:
Mandelic Acid 10% + HA offers superficial dermal peeling that is gentler than other alpha hydroxy acids. The molecular weight of mandelic acid is 152.1 daltons which is larger than other alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid is 76.0 daltons, for example). 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 including the most sensitive skin.
They’re very similar, right? The Ordinary’s description is much more scientific, though. Another slightly different thing is that Stratia makes it sound like mandelic acid is gentler, but not quite as effective (since “it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply”). Meanwhile, The Ordinary makes it sound like mandelic acid still penetrates the skin just as much as other AHAs, except “more slowly,” which makes it a gentler option for those with sensitive skin.
Now let’s compare the ingredients and pricing of these two products.
Stratia Soft Touch AHA Ingredients
Price: $14.00 for 50 mL (~1.7 oz.) from Stratia
Per-oz. price: $8.23
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 (30 mL) ingredients
Price: $6.79 for 30 mL (~1 oz.) from DECIEM
Per-oz. price: $6.79
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
My dad the chemist’s take on Stratia Soft Touch AHA vs. The Ordinary Mandelic Acid
These two ingredient lists do have some ingredients in common:
- mandelic acid (10%)
- sodium hyaluronate
- sodium hydroxide
This led me to believe, how different could they really be? I decided to run these ingredients by my dad to see what he thought. I sent Stratia Soft Touch AHA labeled as “Product 1,” and The Ordinary Mandelic Acid labeled as “Product 2.”
I would choose Product 2 over Product 1, because 2 uses better solvent and better preservative(s) than 1, so 2 is better and less Irritating. propylene glycol is a synthetic chemical solvent while proopanediol is made from corn fermentation.
Caprylyl Glycol in 2 is a safer preservative than Diazolidinyl Urea and Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate in 1.
However, cost wise, 2 may be slightly higher, but for people with highly sensitive skin, definitely should choose 2.
My dad strongly preferred The Ordinary Mandelic Acid over Stratia Soft Touch AHA, especially for people with sensitive skin. Here were the main takeaways:
- Choice of solvent: Stratia uses propylene glycol (a synthetic solvent), while The Ordinary uses propanediol (a solvent made from corn fermentation).
- Choice of preservatives: Stratia uses diazolidinyl urea and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate as its preservatives, while The Ordinary uses caprylyl glycol. Carpylyl glycol is considered to be a safer preservative for sensitive skin.
My dad suspected that Product 2 (The Ordinary) would cost more than Product 1, but the opposite is actually true. The Ordinary Mandelic Acid costs $6.79 per ounce while Stratia Soft Touch AHA costs $8.23 per ounce.
It just goes to show that sometimes those unrecognizable ingredients matter. Even if the star ingredient is included at the same concentration in two products, it’s important to consider that different supporting actors (the solvents and preservatives) could end up irritating your skin. If you have sensitive skin, opt for The Ordinary Mandelic Acid over Stratia Soft Touch AHA.