1 May 2018

Review: Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18%

Actually I should review this like 6 months ago, but I have so many other things to review and I still have more than half left in the bottle hence the delay.

I started using Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18% about 8 months ago. I started with the 18% version as I am worried that the 8% one is too mild for my normal to dry skin. My mom uses the 8% version.

Basically, this mandelic acid serum is a chemical exfoliant made of alpha hydroxyl acid derived from almond. Its main function is to refine the skin texture, diminish fine lines, even out skin tone, and accelerate cellular turnover of the skin. It works like SK-II FTE or any other treatment essence, but at a much faster rate and is less pricey compared to those.

Let's look at the effect it has on mine and my mom's skin after 60 days of use!

Mandelic acid is not as common as glycolic acid or lactic acid in America. It is more popular in Asia than America. Many big brands like Dr. Hsieh are coming out with mandelic acid but I chose the Dr. Wu one because it is said to be milder and gentler than other mandelic acid serum out there.

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18% is a clear and runny liquid that comes in a dropper form. It has a sour scent to it as well. You are required to use it right after cleansing and before toner. I think this will avoid having the pH or the ingredients in the toner interfering in the efficacy of this serum. You are not supposed to use this everyday, only every two or three times in a week. And you must wear sunscreen everyday after using as it will make your skin more vulnerable to sun damages!



Main ingredient used here is mandelic acid, accompanied by soothing and moisturizing agents like beta glucan, ruscus aculeatus root extract, centella asiatica, panthenol, sodium hyaluronate, calendula flower extract, licorice root extract and so on.

Mandelic acid is a great alternative to glycolic acid as it has larger molecules hence is less irritating on the skin. It doesn't give me the tingling effect glycolic acid normally does. It is also oil soluble so people with oily skin can use this too. It will clear out blackheads due to its oil solubility properties. Mandelic acid works like all other AHA to target aging-related problems. It can diminish the appearance of fine lines and remove aged epidermis. By doing so, you will get a smoother, clearer and younger looking skin!

Other ingredients like beta glucan, centella asiatica panthenol, calendula flower extract are all soothing ingredients to calm and heal the damages and any irritation caused by this serum.


I was not in the mood of photo-taking when I started using this so I didnt keep my before and after pictures. I did notice that it helps to remove zits and bumps on my skin. There is also a soft glow on my skin when I started to use this. But I dont think it helps to fade my freckles.

My mom, however, got a better results. She sent me her pictures almost everyday just to rave about how this makes her skin a lot brighter and younger, her pore sizes smaller and her dark spots fading.


I think it is kinda exciting to find a gentle AHA that will work so well on my mom skin since she is reaching her 50s. I was less excited because I have a lot of chemical exfoliant and it is hard for me to see a big difference as I know how to make my skin happy and healthy. I also prefer yeast essence like SK-II, Missha and Naruko, which are watery and less irritating as AHA serum. AHA serum is a blessing in disguise because you must use a lot of sunscreen after AHA treatment to avoid exposing your skin to the sun too much. Your newer skin cells that just surface is not as resilient as your older skin cells hence cannot handle too much UV lights.

Anyhow, if I were to recommend a AHA serum, this will be the one. It is by far the gentlest and most effective one that I have tried. I also love Krave Beauty Kale-lalu-yAHA but that one is more like a AHA toner, and Krave uses the stronger glycolic acid which always gives me a slight tingling effect. Dr. Wu doesn't have that at all so you know it can tackle sensitive skin too.

I am not sure if I will repurchase, but I know my mom is on her 3rd bottle now since this has made her a different person altogether. Her skin is now a bit younger, smoother, baby-soft, less dull, and of course also brighter. She suffers from lesser acne and blackheads issues too! Double thumbs-up from her!

- gentle and effective formula
- convenient dropper design

- pricey (unless if you buy it in Taiwan)
- AHA serum is quite a hassle to use

Extended Reading:

Exfoliation 201: Chemical Exfoliation, AHA and BHA

Overall impression: ★★★★☆
You can get this from: Watsons | SASA
[Disclaimer] Product is purchased with my own money. All copyright of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.


  1. Thanks for the review and pictures attached. Does your mum wear it everyday? And I would assume you should wear it only at night instead of morning?

  2. May I know how you recommend to use this? I've seen some apply it on a cotton pad then gently swipe on the face while there are others who directly apply it on their skin. Which one did you (and your Mom) do?


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