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Quick background on my skin (or reviews are redundant when deciding if these products are right for you); my skin can be described as normal, not oily and not dry. I struggle with thin skin, which is not to be confused with sensitive skin- I can tolerate moderate chemical exfoliation but anything that entails friction is a disaster. I rarely suffer from inflammatory acne but occasionally I develop congestion in the t-zone. I’ve always found that minimal routines suit me best.

Whenever I have both good and bad news, I insist on telling the bad news before the good- I feel like it leaves things on a better note. I also apply this juvenile tendency to blogging.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo

Skincare Rants and Raves

I bought this after reading this rave…and this rave, this one and here. People LOVE this stuff. I trialled the product, hoping it would deliver gentle chemical exfoliation (via Beta Hydroxy Acids) and treat localised redness (via Niacinamide, dubbed a cure-it-all ingredient).

EDIT: One should note that there are two formulations of this floating about; a French version and a US version. I am reviewing the French product.

La Roche Posay claims that “Effaclar Duo is a complete skincare product, Niacinamide and Piroctone Olamine to fight against bacterial proliferation and eliminate imperfections…The combination of LHA and Linoleic Acid unclogs pores…These active ingredients are combined with soothing, anti-irritant La Roche-Posay thermal spring water to reduce redness.”

Skincare Rants and Raves

A few tidbits about the product itself…
The product is housed in a tube so no hygiene issues. The consistency is gel-like and the texture rather siliconey- somewhat comparable to Avene Diacneal. It smells rather aquatic and dries down to a slightly tacky finish that appears to provide minor hydration (thumbs up). I applied this nightly for almost a month.

Performance wise…
In a sea of elated reviews, I am the dissenting squeak. Effaclar Duo illicits a resounding yuck, from me. Minor congestion I was hoping to treat was exacerbated, probably due to an ingredient in the base (which I have been unable to determine). It must have been doing something because my nose began to resemble sandpaper, my skin’s objection to over exfoliation. After a month of persisting to ensure I wasn’t experiencing ‘purging’, I gave up- I had stubborn clogged pores on my forehead and a nose that could sand timber.

I purchased this from FrenchCosmeticsForLess, a great option for all your French skincare needs (not affiliated).

Makeup Artist’s Choice Mandelic Acid 25% Treatment

Skincare Rants and Raves

Good ol’ Mandelic peel to the rescue. I’m on my second bottle of this stuff yet it always takes a skincare emergency for me to dig it out.

Makeup Artist’s choice claims that this peel will “…rapidly exfoliate dead skin cells and surface debris…. has antimicrobial/antibacterial properties… Less irritating than Glycolic or Lactic acids, due to it’s larger molecular structure.”

A lowdown on Mandelic 25%.
Looks and feels like water, the only giveaway is the scent which is reminiscent of ethanol. The bottle has a spout so minimal chance of cross contamination. Sensation wise, it stings a LOT less than Glycolic or Lactic on my skin, I wouldn’t even call it discomfort because I barely notice any feeling at all.

Initially, I would pour a few drops onto my fingers and pat onto desired areas but I’ve found that saturating a q-tip and then lightly rubbing it on the skin yields much better results (for reasons I cannot explain). After about 3 minutes, I cleanse thoroughly to remove the acid entirely from my skin (important step to avoid irritation). Sometimes I notice minor peeling after two or so days but frequently, not at all.

Performance and effect on my skin was nothing short of miraculous. I may or may not have over applied a bit to compensate for the horrors of the Effaclar Duo experiment, therefore I did experience quite a bit of peeling on the third day. Unveiled was perfectly smooth skin- void of cloggy forehead and sandpaper nose. Minimal irritation and maximum results are the reasons I prefer Mandelic over other Alpha Hydroxy Acids like Glycolic and Lactic.

Makeup Artist’s Choice recommends using this on a weekly basis but this would be overkill on my skin, I plan to use it every few weeks. I would recommend this to both oily and dry skintypes that respond well to chemical exfoliation. SD alcohol is listed third on the ingredient list- an unfortunate necessity to create the right environment for Mandelic to penetrate the skin. However, the contact period of alcohol on the skin is short so it hasn’t posed any issues for me (but be wary if you have strong sensitivities).

Skincare Rants and Raves

Mandelic peel, I promise to never throw you to the back of the drawer again.


Complete list of products mentioned

Effaclar Duo
Effaclar Duo
* Denotes products sent for consideration. I’m always honest with my reviews :)

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  1. I will avoid the Duo, then, especially since I haven’t liked any other LRP products I’ve tried.

    And I’m the dissenter on mandelic acid! Everyone raves about it. I tried it for a few months – I didn’t get any peeling (weird, right?) and also didn’t get much in the form of results from in. My skin was maybe a drop brighter. But their lactic acid peel, overall, does more for my skin in terms of red marks from acne. And while nothing seems to work on my sebaceous filaments, I think lactic makes my skin a *bit* smoother. (Combo sensitive skin here.)

    1. Skincare reviews are hard because it’s so personal, you know? The skin is such a complex organ and differs from person to person.
      Sad to hear you didn’t like Mandelic! It sounds like you you may have more resistant skin than I do, since I find lactic to be irritating in most concentrations. Do you also purchase from Makeup Artist’s Choice?

    2. Yes – I bought their 40% Lactic Acid Peel a while back and I enjoy it. I’ve never peeled from that, either. I don’t peel from things, apparently? Though I have been using some form of AHA/BHA for over 5 years, so maybe a year ago, when I first tried the MUAC products, I’d already built up a tolerance… I don’t know. Sometimes I think even dermatologists don’t know enough about skin. I just blunder along, trying things that get good reviews, and hoping they work.

      1. MUAC is a great store- shipping to Australia costs an arm and a leg but I couldn’t find a comparable product at that price, anyway. Peeling isn’t always an indicator of effectiveness in my opinion. Derms can be a bit clueless, I agree! xxkarima

  2. You may have been sensitive to benzoyl peroxide. My skin gets the same sand paper effect, however, it does handle light acne well. As far as congestion, if you mean blackheads and whiteheads, BP I think is ineffective. Any beta, alpha, malic acid would clear up congestion – just depends on strentgh and sensitivity of your skin.

    1. Hey there!
      Are you possibly talking about the alternate version of this product? I’m fairly sure I don’t see any Benzoyl Peroxide on the ingredient list.

  3. God knows I love LRP, particularly their hydrating products, but when it comes to fighting blemishes, it doesn’t work as good as Avene does for me.
    Their Effaclar M (mattfying moisturizer) used to be HG until they reformulated it and it became horribly drying. The Effaclar range is a bit of a miss for me.

    1. Interesting! I love LRP Lipikar Syndet (actually a mild body wash but I use it to cleanse my face) but this was so miss, for me :-/
      Thanks for your input!

  4. Karima! I’m so glad you love the Mandelic Acid because I was really on the fence about getting it. Now i’m gonna get the sample size to try it out, and hopefully get good results (amazing reviews on makeupalley!)! My skin is normal-combination, and lately I’ve been getting some blemishes and a couple small pimples and I have some dark spots from acne too. Hopefully this helps clear out my skin <3

  5. The Effaclar Duo didn’t work for me either! I think it’s a sensitivity to Benzoyl Peroxide, because a lot of things like the Persa-Gel10 are also kind of useless on my skin. I’d never heard of Mandelic oil before — I’m off to Google! Thanks for sharing!

    1. These responses are confusing me a bit, LOL. Did you have the American version of Effaclar Duo? Because I’m pretty sure the french version doesn’t have BP. The two formulations are different. Also, Mandelic acid, not oil πŸ˜‰

  6. I’ve been using the Mandelic Peel as well, though my skin is fine with using it once a week or even twice a week. I’m going to try the fade peel next – I have some marks on my chin that I would love to get rid of!

    Thanks for the reviews!

    1. Hey Emi!
      I tried using it again after a week and a half and I’m peeling LOL. I think once every three weeks may be all I can tolerate. Report back on fade peel!

  7. Hmmm Makeup Artist’s Choice Mandelic Acid 25% Treatment ingredient list being simple and straight forward is awfully tempting for me. Things like this usually give me better results though the alcohol does scare me a bit. Regardless, I think interest will trump fear in this one. I cannot wait to try it, thanks!

    1. Hi Nikole πŸ˜‰
      Yeah I like short ingredient lists, too. The alcohol is on your skin for three minutes so I think if you moisturise well afterwards, it should be okay. It’s also not entirely alcohol based, it looks like there is more water than alcohol in the solution. Let me know how it goes!

  8. I have used la Roche Posay effaclar products yeeeeeeaaars ago, and frankly found them useless. They were quite expensive and just didn’t help my breakouts at all. I had no adverse reaction (I don’t think I have particularly sensitive skin, just acne prone) but I had no positive reaction either, lol.

    1. Interesting, Elizabeth!
      The La Roche Posay Lipikar Syndet is my daily cleanser and I love it, but I haven’t had such good luck with their other products πŸ™

    1. Also Australian here, you can only buy from the MakeupArtistsChoice website. Sadly the shipping is pretty steep but I couldn’t find an alternative that worked out cheaper. xx

  9. Thanks for this review. So helpful!

    What benefits have You experience specifically from the mandelic acid peel? I had previous chronic eczema which has led to bad pigmentation and I also now get dark spots from acne (a bad side to darker skin tones! ) and wanted to use this for that really. Skin is so congested but with its sensitivity it can be so hard to treat. I have sensitive skin and can not tolerate glycolic acid without redness. Do you think mandelic would be okay? My skin is combination but sensitive.

    Thank you πŸ™‚

    1. Hey there! In general. Mandelic is considered to be the most gentle of the acids, and therefore best suited to sensitive skins. This peel in particular is geared towards fading hyper pigmentation and uneven skin tone, and has purported additional benefits wrt maintaining skin clarity. Do start by keeping it on only for the minimum recommended time and then gradually increasing.

    2. Hey Selina!
      Sorry for the late response, your comment somehow slipped through the cracks. Mel posted a comment below that is pretty much on point, Mandelic has larger molecules and doesn’t penetrate as deeply as Glycolic. If you want to try it, try leaving it on for 30 seconds and working you way to longer time periods, if you skin will tolerate it.
      That being said, I’m not sure peels are the best option for chronic eczema. Have you tried something like the REN Glycolactic Mask or the First Aid Beauty Exfoliating Pads? Both are more gentle that a full on peel, you might be able to tolerate chemical exfoliants in low concentrations.
      Hope this helps πŸ™‚ x

  10. I’m currently using Mandellic acid peel, and I think it works better with the Mandellic wash, toner and the 10% serum for night time. This peel works slower, but with the combination of the three products you will see results. Also invest in a good SPF moisturizer