Skincare, Exfoliation, Reviews, Serums

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With 18% Mandelic – That AHA Moment!

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18 Review

written by Mia Peterson

updated on

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I started using Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18% about eight 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.

About a month before purchasing this serum, my friend and I discussed how our complexion had greatly improved by incorporating acids into our daily skincare routine. She then mentioned how she briefly came across the term “mandelic acid” but did not bother doing much research into it.

Being a naturally nosy person, I thought I should maybe educate myself on this new acid lest I miss out on a star ingredient that could give me flawless skin … wishful thinking, but hey, what is life without hope amirite?

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Mandelic Serum, at a Glance:

Where to Buy the Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid?

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18 unboxing
Mia Peterson for Garden of Muses. *Affiliate links below.

In the US, it’s available on Amazon* and comes in a one fl. oz. / 30ml bottle.

You can also shop for Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid on YesStyle* and StyleVana*.

Also, here’s our editor’s guide for safe shopping for Korean skincare.

Related Story

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by Diana Brown for Garden of Muses

The Dr. Wu Brand

Several sparkling reviews have popped up on this serum produced by the Taiwanese brand – Dr. Wu. This company claims to be Taiwan’s No.1 Clinical Skincare. As a skincare enthusiast, I knew I had to try this serum.

On their website, this father and son company (interestingly known as the ‘Godfather of Cosmetic Medicine’ in Taiwan) claims to allow their customers to “enjoy skincare just like having a doctor perform medical treatments at home.”

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18
Mia Peterson for Garden of Muses. *Affiliate links below.

Serum’s Claims

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18% is a revolutionary home spa facial treatment using several patented technologies and ingredients to refine skin texture, diminish fine lines, and improve skin elasticity and firmness. It contains 18% mandelic acid, used in chemical peeling procedures to effectively lessen the appearance of fine lines and stimulate the desquamation process to achieve smoother and brighter skin. It even improves skin tone by resurfacing the epidermis and removing aged layers.

  • Cell metabolism by gently boosting skin metabolic cycles.
  • Pore cleansing by decongesting blocked pores.
  • Blackhead removal
  • Whitening & Brightening
  • Anti-wrinkle Lifting and tightening by improving fine lines and wrinkles

*Affiliate links below.

Who Is this Serum For?

Please note that Dr. Wu produces two types of mandelic acid serums. The Mandelic serum* is designed for oily and combination skin types.

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18% Ingredients

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18% Ingredients List (last checked 2024)

Aqua, Propylene Glycol, Mandelic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Beta-Glucan, Ruscus Aculeatus Root Extract, Panthenol, Centella Asiatica Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein, Disodium EDTA, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Allantoin, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Aesculus Hippocastanum Extract.

Ingredients referred from INCIDecoder.

Humectant/Moisturizing Active Herbs Brightening

Key Ingredients Explained

Mandelic acid

Mandelic acid is derived from bitter almonds and is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It is most suitable for hypersensitive skin types, and being gentler, it would be perfect for those dipping their toe in the AHA/BHA pool for the first time. It targets three main skin concerns: wrinkles / fine lines, hyperpigmentation, discoloration, and acne.

This miracle acid strengthens collagen and sloughs off the outermost layer of the skin, allowing it to reflect light better, thus making the skin look more youthful. It also excels at correcting skin tones, and because it is so gentle, it can be used by those with rosacea.

This serum contains 18% mandelic acid, but do not be put off by this high concentration as it is, in reality, very gentle.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of mandelic acid for the skin, here is Alyssa‘s Guide:

Mandelic Acid Is the Acne-Fighting Ingredient Your Skin Needs
By Alyssa Tan for Garden of Muses

Other ingredients like Beta-Glucan, Centella Asiatica, Panthenol, Calendula Flower Extract, and Allantoin are all soothing ingredients to calm and heal the damage and irritation potentially caused by the chemical exfoliation.

Ingredients not included in Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18%: alcohol, fragrance, and essential oil free.

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18 box
Mia Peterson for Garden of Muses. *Affiliate links below.


The product comes in a brown glass bottle, which protects the contents from excessive light. Labeling is minimalistic, as with most cosmeceutical products, where the product speaks for itself and does not need to rely on fancy-schmancy labeling.

It has a rubber tip, which works well to pick up a good amount of the product with a squeeze. A tiny complaint I have is that the bottle does not close properly. It is just a standard screw cap bottle, but it will pop open again if you apply pressure and try to tighten the cap when closing (I like to ensure all my products have their covers screwed on tightly).

I am not sure if it is my bottle that may be a little defective or if that is the case with all bottles. We shall see when my second bottle arrives. Yes, I love it so much I can see this becoming a staple in my routine.

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18 dropper
Mia Peterson for Garden of Muses. *Affiliate links below.


It smells faintly of almonds, and each time I use it, it evokes a memory of when I was growing up in Malaysia and how I used to love the hot almond milk tea from a particular street vendor. Not only did it have a comforting smell of almonds, but it also tasted divine. Yum….

After a bit, the smell disappears, so do not worry about those who dislike fragrances in their products.

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18 texture
Mia Peterson for Garden of Muses. *Affiliate links below.


Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18% is a clear and runny liquid that comes in a dropper form.

I find the serum a bit oilier than what I am used to, maybe because the other serums I use, in comparison, dry up relatively quickly on my skin.

My Skin and My Mom’s Skin After 60 Days

I should have reviewed this six 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 was not paid for this review or received it as a gift.

The main ingredient, Mandelic acid, is an excellent alternative to glycolic acid as it has larger molecules and is less irritating to the skin. It doesn’t give me the tingling effect glycolic acid typically 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 AHAs to target aging-related problems. It can diminish the appearance of fine lines and remove the aged epidermis. Doing so will give you smoother, clearer, younger-looking skin!

The first time I applied this serum to my skin, I wasn’t too fond of it. The serum is a bit oily and has a chemical scent. But, after applying this serum, my skin feels softer and plumper. Maybe it is a combination of the serum and the mini face massage I give myself. It absorbs well into the skin, and here is where I am thankful for the slightly oilier consistency, as my skin does not tighten and dry out while I wait 15 minutes before continuing with the next step. During that waiting period, my skin feels nicely moisturized and hydrated.

The nostalgic smell and the plumper feeling of skin is an excellent tri-weekly skin booster, and my skin thanks me for it. I cannot provide concrete reviews on its anti-aging properties as I do not yet have many wrinkles or fine lines, but I think this serum helps slow aging.

As for blackhead removals and pore cleansing, my nose strips testify that gunk still lurks in my pores. My complexion is brighter regarding brightening properties, and the blemish marks around my chin slowly fade. As with most good things, do not expect instantaneous results because it takes time.

This would be the one if I were to recommend an AHA serum. It is the gentlest and most effective one I have tried. I also love The Ordinary Glycolic Acid toner*, but that one is more like an AHA toner, and TO uses a more potent acid (glycolic), which always gives me a slight tingling effect. Dr. Wu doesn’t have that, so you know it can tackle sensitive skin, too.

Also, my mom had excellent results. Finding a gentle AHA that works so well on my mom’s skin is exciting since she is reaching her 50s.

How to Use Dr. Wu’s Serum?

You may be wondering where something like this fits into your routine.

At night:

  1. Cleanse;
  2. I drop about five drops of the serum on my face and give it a good massage for a few minutes. I avoid the lip and eye area.
  3. Please wait 15 minutes for the product to absorb before continuing with my toner. This will impede the pH or the toner’s ingredients from interfering with this serum’s efficacy.
  4. Follow up with Vitamin C serum (preferably in the AM, optional);
  5. Follow up with your first treatment essence (optional);
  6. Rest of your toner(s) and serum(s);
  7. Moisturizer
  8. SPF or sleeping mask.

I use this product thrice a week. You must wear sunscreen daily after using it as it will make your skin more vulnerable to sun damage!

Should You Exfoliate Before or After Toner? Not sure which skincare step is best to exfoliate? Read Emma‘s article: Should You Exfoliate Before or After Toner?

Do You Use Toner Before or After Exfoliating
What Goes First? Toner or Exfoliant? by Emma Wilson for Garden of Muses

Photos Before and After

When I started using this, I was not in the mood for selfies, so I didn’t keep any before and after pictures. I noticed that it helps remove zits and bumps on my skin. There was also a soft glow on my skin when I started to use this. But it doesn’t help fade my freckles.

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

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18 before and after
Mia Peterson‘s mom for Garden of Muses. *Affiliate links below.

I know she is on her 3rd bottle since this has made her a different person altogether. Her skin is now a bit younger, smoother, baby-soft, less dull, and brighter. She suffers from lesser acne and blackhead issues, too! Double thumbs-up from her!


  • a gentle and effective formula
  • convenient dropper design


  • pricey (unless you buy it in Taiwan)
  • AHA serum is quite a hassle to use
Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18 bottle
Mia Peterson for Garden of Muses. *Affiliate links below.


This mandelic acid serum is a chemical exfoliant that refined my skin texture. It works like SK-II Facial Treatment Essence* or any other treatment essence but at a much faster rate and is less pricey than those.

I would say I like it.

Will I Repurchase Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18%?

Sometimes, I think there are so many excellent skincare products out there, and repurchasing a particular product is so lame when there are so many options left to try, which might be even more impressive. However, this serum suits me so well. I only use it thrice a week and am happily willing to incorporate it into my routine.

Rating: 4/5

Shop for Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid

Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With Mandelic Acid 18%
Alyssa-Tan for Garden of Muses. *Affiliate links below.

Lastly, I was not paid for this review or received it as a gift.

As always, you do you; be kind to your skin and yourself! Remember that every person’s skin and skin type is different, so what might work for me might not work for you, and vice versa. So, before adding a new product to your skincare routine, it pays to do a little research first.

Before adding the Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With 18% Mandelic to your skincare regimen, ensure you are not allergic to it or its ingredients. You should also consult your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any medical conditions or medications that may interact with the Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With 18% Mandelic. Always do a patch test before applying the Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum With 18% Mandelic on your skin to avoid adverse reactions.

I am not a dermatologist or licensed aesthetician, but I have sufficient experience and knowledge I gained by testing multiple products and self-exploration. Unsure? Best to consult your dermatologist.

Happy shopping, and don’t forget the sunscreen! Here’s to great skin in 2024!

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