Here is your simple guide on how to use azelaic acid to treat acne, dark spots, and rosacea to get the glowing skin that you deserve.
When it comes to skincare, many of us want to reap maximum benefits with the bare minimum amount of products. This is why multitasking azelaic acid like retinoids has become one of many people’s favourite skincare ingredients.
From helping alleviate adult acne, redness, and rosacea, to brightening and evening out the skin tone of people with hyperpigmentation issues, the highly effective active has seduced a strong fan base over the years, who have chosen never to look back (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4). Azelaic acid-containing beauty products have become staples in their skincare routine.
So, when choosing to incorporate azelaic acid into your skincare rituals for the first time, there are definitely some mistakes that you will need to avoid in order to get maximum benefits with minimum irritation. This is particularly true in the beginning if you’re just introducing azelaic acid into your routine. So let’s look at how to use azelaic acid for best results to get you that baby soft skin you’re dreaming about!
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Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster – PCA Skin Pigment Bar – Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA and Azelaic Acid Acne Spot Treatment – Dermatica Clarifying Azelaic Acid 15-20% Cream – The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% – Epionce Lytic Plus Tx – Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + AHA Cleanser – SkinCeuticals Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment Lightweight Moisturizer
Consistent Use of Azelaic Acid is Paramount
The first thing that you need to know is that consistent use is key when it comes to introducing azelaic acid into your skincare routine. Yes, you can definitely use azelaic acid every day, provided you choose the right product for your skincare concerns. Moreover, it needs to be paired with the right ingredients to deliver great outcomes for your skin. Consistency in how you use azelaic acid is important, because it truly takes quite a lot of time to see visibly noticeable results from this potent ingredient.
Azelaic acid is not your quick beauty fix like when applying your makeup to temporarily mask skin imperfections; this is your long-term solution to healthy beautiful skin. For example for acne or rosacea, consistent use of azelaic acid for six to eight weeks is what it is going to take to see noticeable improvement in your skin health and texture. I particularly like Epionce Lytic Plus Tx that works wonders on inflammatory concerns associated with acne, rosacea, dermatitis and psoriasis.
If you are dealing with hyperpigmentation concerns, it actually takes a lot longer, about 12 weeks of consistent use or more, before you can observe tangible results in your dark spot areas. With its 3% azelaic acid content, SkinCeuticals Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment Lightweight Moisturizer is a great product worth considering if you intend to see these visibly noticeable results you are seeking to achieve over time. So, remember that you are playing the long haul game here for long-lasting positive results.
An awful lot of beauty products that are quick fixes for your skin tend to come with irritation and a resurgence or aggravation of the skincare issues you were seeking to address in the first place. Yes, you want to clear your skin, but we also want to keep our skin clear. So, azelaic acid is going to help you do that in a gentle and gradual way.
Apply Azelaic Acid on the Entire Face
Whilst many people tend to use azelaic acid as a spot treatment, which might lead to less effective results, the best approach is to apply the skincare treatment on the entire affected area that you are seeking to heal.
When you go to your dermatologist, sh/e might probably focus on treating your entire face to get the best results, as a little goes a long way with azelaic acid. Consider picking an azelaic acid containing product that you can use every day to maximise its positive effects on your skin
Build Up your Skin Tolerance to Azelaic Acid
In the very beginning of introducing azelaic acid into your routine, it is perfectly acceptable to start slowly to build up your skin tolerance to the active ingredient. You may want to consider using your azelaic acid containing product before applying your moisturiser once or twice a week within a month, and then gradually increase the number of days you use it until you are comfortable enough using it every single day.
That way round you minimise skin irritation and the burning sensation that may come with the use of the active ingredient when you initially start adding it into your skincare routine.
When you first introduce an azelaic acid containing product into your skincare routine, you may initially experience a little bit of tingling on the skin for about 15 to 30 seconds, or even more depending on your sensitivity. This, however, does subside with time and it is very normal with this active ingredient.
The reason behind it relates to the fact that azelaic acid, like retinoids, works through a process known as keratinization, a mechanism that helps decrease the thickness of the skin’s surface to ease the shedding of dead skin cells, leading to a smoother skin texture (Source: 5).
In the case of azelaic acid, this enables the active ingredient to unclog pores and treat skin disorders such as acne or rosacea. Through this process, the skin may potentially go through a bit of a purge, hence the temporary irritation that disappears over time.
Pair and Layer Azelaic Acid with the Right Ingredients
Azelaic acid actually pairs beautifully with most skincare ingredients, but you still need to be careful about the way you integrate it with other products into your beauty regimen, especially in the beginning. Layering too many different active ingredients together can lead to skin dryness, irritation or sensitivity.
When you start introducing azelaic acid into your skincare routine, it may be wise to first use the active ingredient by itself with a moisturiser to ensure your skin is going to tolerate it. Then when your skin has adapted to the way you use azelaic acid, consider introducing other beauty products gradually.
Avoid using both physical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants such as AHA, BHA, and PHA at the same time that you are using azelaic acid to reduce the risk of dryness and irritation and sensitivity on the skin. For example, use your azelaic acid containing product in your morning skincare regimen and your retinoids in your evening skincare routine.
High Performing Azelaic Acid Products
Now, the tricky part about azelaic acid is that it is hard to formulate in beauty products. It can get a little bit crusty and crunchy, and it often feels gritty or grainy on the skin.
So, for people who are trying to apply an over-the-counter product containing azelaic acid underneath makeup, it can be a bit of a struggle to find the right product to pick.
This is why I have curated a list of some of the best azelaic acid containing products that both deliver great results and are reasonably great to apply on the skin.
1. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% offers great value for money if you’re looking to play around with a high concentration of azelaic acid before going into prescription territory. This powerful fragrance-free formula works well for rosacea, acne prone skin, and dark marks, and it is great if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. As a dimethicone-based formula, it has the texture of a makeup primer and it reasonably applies well on the skin.
The only downside is that it feels a little bit chalky on the skin. So, if you choose to wear it under makeup, it can peel off a little bit here and there. But, apart from that, this is a stellar high performing azelaic acid containing product to have in your beauty arsenal.
2. Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA and Azelaic Acid Acne Spot Treatment
If you are struggling with rosacea or blemishes and you’re looking for something that can just help you work on specific affected areas of your skin, Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA and Azelaic Acid Acne Spot Treatment can be what you’ve been looking for. A combination of 10% azelaic acid, 2% salicylic acid as well as 10% kaolin clay makes it a very powerful treatment that you can either apply all over your face for optimum results or on very defined areas as you see fit.
The fragrance-free formula blends well into the skin and it is easier to use under makeup. It is a great rinse off product rather than a leave on. Feel free to apply under your other skincare products or your sunscreen as you go throughout the day.
3. Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster
Consider the Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster as your skin saviour, if you suffer from the onsets of adult acne and rosacea with an awful lot of pimples. This highly potent and stable formula comes out of its tube as a white paste that beautifully blends into all skin tones, leaving no chalky or strange residue behind.
Enriched with salicylic acid and licorice extracts, this little wonder is especially great if you are seeking to treat dark dark spots or hyperpigmentation on your skin. It is very cosmetically elegant and easy to blend with other beauty products. Give a little boost to your daily moisturiser by adding a few drops of this product into your lotion and cream and voila!
4. Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + AHA Cleanser
Skinfix Acne+ 2% BHA + Azelaic Acid + AHA Cleanser is wonderful for daily use if you are battling with fungal acne or rosacea. The beautiful pink wash with its creamy texture easily glides onto the skin to gently lift away debris and impurities. The careful combination of azelaic acid together with AHA, BHA chemical exfoliants make it a great cleanser to use in your shower or when you are simply doing your daytime or nighttime skincare routine.
This product is a great way to introduce azelaic acid for the first time into your skincare routine. It is definitely going to have a milder impact on your skin as a wash-off skincare product, meaning you won’t have to wear it all day long. For people who are just starting out, this is definitely the right path to explore to give time to your skin to adjust to this new active ingredient. On top of it, there is absolutely no crunchy feel associated with this formula.
5. PCA SKIN Pigment Bar
Say hello to a brighter, smoother and more even skin tone and texture with the PCA Skin Pigment Bar. This cleansing bar expertly blends skin brightening ingredients azelaic acid, kojic acid, and niacinamide to help you fight inflammation and inhibit hyperpigmentation, leading to a brighter complexion.
As a wash-off product, this is also a great introductory product for fading dark spots on your face. It works well both for your morning and evening skincare routine. The formula contains rosewood wood oil that lends a woody fragrance to the overall product. So, if you are looking for a fragrance-free option, this one is definitely not going to fit the bill. Apart from that, you can see noticeable improvements to your skin within a month of regular use.
6. Azelaic Acid Prescriptions
If you are looking for a prescription-strength Azelaic Acid 15 % or Azelaic Acid 20 %, consider telemedicine to access a dermatologist consultation in the first place before receiving the right prescription for your skincare needs.
Apostrophe and Dermatica offer some of the best custom-based formulas that you can receive based on your unique concerns. The azelaic acid containing products that you will receive over time may vary in strength to evolve with your skincare needs.
This blog post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice in any form or shape. Content provided on this platform is strictly for informational purposes only. This is based on my own research and reading of clinical studies in the beauty industry, keeping updated about new changes in the cosmetics market, and my personal journey of battling for over 25 years with severe skin disorders such as acne, eczema, and hyperpigmentation. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health-related diagnosis or treatment options you might have. Information on this platform should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this video are not to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.