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Azelaic Acid Benefits for Acne, and Other Uses.

Updated: Jan 17

The skin care scene is populated with so many actives but now and then a few succeed to stand out and trend. That is the case of Azelaic acid skincare's new bad b**ch who seems to be a do-it-all. From acne to hyperpigmentation passing through reviving dull and textured skin azelaic acid just does her thing.

A dispenser with Azelaic Acid

Don't get me wrong I do not mean that azelaic acid is new skincare active but it has in recent years developed newfound popularity as skincare has become more active-driven. Every brand these days is releasing azelaic acid and I AM HERE FOR IT !!!

Oh if you didn't get it by my excessive use of capital letters, Azelaic acid is one of the skincare actives I am 100% in love with. In today's article, I will be telling you all about this incredible active and how to add it to your routine.

What is Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic acid is a natural acid that is derived from grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It also occurs naturally on the skin when synthesized by yeast. It is used in skincare to treat acne and has exfoliating properties. It equally has anti-inflammatory properties that make it a great treatment for conditions such as rosacea and perioral dermatitis.

Uses of Azelaic Acid

Acne Treatment

Azelaic acid has great antibacterial properties that help get rid of acne-causing bacteria present in the pores. It equally has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe inflammatory acne and other inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea and perioral dermatitis. If you are prone to developing dark spots using azelaic acid will help prevent scarring and fade old scars.


Although not classified as an exfoliant, azelaic acid can see cells turn over causing the skin to shed old dead skin cells faster to reveal brighter skin. This helps smoothen rough and textured as well as brighten the skin. It is gentler on the skin than AHAs like mandelic acid and BHAs like salicylic acid.

Hyperpigmentation Treatment

Azelaic acid also works as a tyrosinase inhibitor to decrease hyperpigmentation in the skin. I know y'all are going to ask me what tyrosinase inhibitors are. Basically, during the formation process of melanin, the enzyme tyrosinase reacts with another enzyme called tyrosine to trigger the formation of melanin. Azelaic acid inhibits the action of tyrosinase and prevents pigment formation. This results in brighter skin.

Rosacea Treatment

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that causes redness and swelling of blood vessels in certain areas of the skin but mostly on the face. thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, azelaic acid helps soothe and reduce swelling on rosacea-prone skin.

Acne Scar Treatment

Azelaic acid helps with fading scars by promoting a process called cell turnover. This is the process by which old, damaged skin cells on the surface of the skin are shed and replaced by new, healthy cells. By enhancing cell turnover, azelaic acid can gradually reduce the appearance of scars by essentially helping the skin to "heal" itself.

In addition, azelaic acid tyrosinase inhibiting properties mean it helps fade the dark marks that acne scars often leave behind.

It's important to note that while azelaic acid can help fade scars, the results may vary depending on the individual's skin type, the severity of the scars, and how consistently the product is used. As with all skincare products, it's always a good idea to consult a dermatologist before starting a new treatment regimen.

Possible Side Effects of Azelaic Acid

Although considered a very gentle treatment it is possible to experience side effects when trying out azelaic acid for the first time. Trust me I speak from experience. Common signs that azelaic acid is irritating your face include

  • burning or tingling

  • peeling skin at the site of application

  • skin dryness or redness

N.B on Azelaic Acid's Side Effects

These side effects will most be experienced if you use too much of the product at once, start off with a concentration too high, or if you have sensitive skin. If you experience any of these symptoms you might want to stop using the product until all the side effects are gone, then reintroduce it in small quantities. Also, make sure you moisturize your skin enough.

Less common side effects include:

  • Blisters or flaking skin

  • Irritation and swelling

  • Joint pains

  • Hives and itching

  • Fever

  • Difficulty breathing

If you experience these side effects discontinue use and see your doctor. You may be allergic to azelaic acid.

What Other Actives and Products Can Azelaic Acid Be Paired With?

Azelaic acid is one of the easiest acids to add to your routine as it works well with most actives to deliver better results. For example, you can use azelaic acid with AHAs, retinol, vitamin C, and salicylic acid.

Who Should Use Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic acid can be used as a targeted treatment for conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis, and hyperpigmentation. It is safe for all skin types including people with sensitive and mature skin. always do a patch test before use.

How to Use Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid usually comes in both prescription strength and over-the-counter cream or gel products with concentrations up to 20%. Whatever the concentration, you should apply it to your skin in small amounts. Just a thin layer of the product to clean, dry skin twice a day, morning and night is enough.

For those with sensitive skin, you will want to apply once a day every other day.

The Best Azelaic Acid Products

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension of 10%

If this is your first go with azelaic acid, this suspension is ideal. It is a gentle formula on the creamy side that can be applied after all water-based serum in your routine.

Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster is a fusion of azelaic acid with the exfoliating prowess of salicylic acid and is enriched with additional elements such as the skin-brightening licorice root extract and moisture-boosting glycerin.

Naturium Azelaic Topical Acid 10%

Naturium, a beauty brand with Asian roots, is renowned for its scientifically supported, efficacy-oriented skincare products that are easy on the pocket. The Azelaic Topical Acid 10% stands out as it melds with vitamin C, aiding in skin tone enhancement, and is further blended with multifaceted ingredients such as niacinamide and glycerin. The outcome is a luminous, harmonized, and uniform complexion.


Can Azelaic Acid Alone Clear Hyperpigmentation?

Azelaic acid will work best for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation i.e. HP caused by acne (acne scars dark spots, blackheads). For UV-induced HP like sunburns and melasma, it is better to pair it up with other tyrosinase inhibitors.

Can I Use Azelaic Acid Every Day?

Yes, you can. Azelaic acid can be used morning and night in the same routine.

What Skin Type is Azelaic Acid Best For?

Azelaic acid is recommended for you if you have acne-prone skin. However, if you're dealing with hyperpigmentation or rough skin irrespective of your skin type you can use azelaic acid. Just be careful if you have sensitive skin.

What Should You Not Mix With Azelaic Acid?

The beauty of azelaic acid is that it pairs well with most actives. It works particularly well with other hyperpigmentation treatments like retinol, kojic acid, arbutin, tranexamic acid, etc.

How Long Does it Take For Azelaic Acid to Work?

The results will depend on the severity of your condition. For mild forms of acne, you can count on a minimum of 2 weeks to see significant results. For hyperpigmentation, you will need to wait for at least 2 months to notice changes. As for improving the skin's texture in my case, my skin became less flaky after two weeks of daily use.


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