Lab notes  /  Ingredients  /  What is Azelaic Acid and what are the benefits?

What is Azelaic Acid and what are the benefits?

Everything you need to know about Azelaic acid - benefits, uses, routine and pregnancy!

Amelia CranstounContent Editor
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What is Azelaic Acid and what are the benefits?
Written byAmelia CranstounContent Editor
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In the vast realm of skincare ingredients, azelaic acid has carved out a special place for itself. Its remarkable versatility and efficacy have made it a favourite among skincare enthusiasts. This comprehensive guide will provide you with an in-depth understanding of azelaic acid, covering what it is, the benefits, potential side effects, and expert advice on how to integrate it into your skincare routine. We'll also explore the unique advantages it offers to pregnant women and how it can safely replace other ingredients typically off-limits during pregnancy.

What is Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, but it can also be synthesised for skincare products. Renowned for its versatility, azelaic acid is available both over the counter and as a prescription-strength treatment. Let's dive deep into the science behind this ingredient powerhouse.

How does Azelaic Acid work?

  • Anti-Inflammatory Action: Azelaic acid exhibits potent anti-inflammatory properties, making it an effective solution for calming and soothing irritated skin. Conditions such as rosacea and acne often involve redness and discomfort, which azelaic acid can alleviate.

  • Targets Acne: This ingredient doesn't just target the visible signs of acne but goes deeper by combating the bacteria responsible for breakouts. 

  • Blackheads be gone: It’s also been shown to reduce the production of keratin, which can lead to blocked pores. Reducing keratin production decreases the chance of pores becoming blocked and in turn causing blackheads, whiteheads and other forms of acne. 

  • Gentle Exfoliation: Azelaic acid gently exfoliates the top layer of your skin, encouraging natural cell turnover. This results in a more even skin tone and a smoother texture, making it particularly beneficial for those dealing with hyperpigmentation and rough skin.

  • Brightening Properties: Azelaic acid actively works to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, leading to an improvement in overall skin tone and a radiant complexion.

The benefits of Azelaic Acid

  • Acne Management: For those grappling with acne, azelaic acid is a game-changer. It not only helps clear existing breakouts but also serves as a barrier against new ones.

  • Rosacea Relief: If redness and inflammation are your primary concerns, azelaic acid is a lifesaver. It provides substantial relief for individuals with rosacea, often resulting in a calmer complexion.

  • Hyperpigmentation Healer: Whether you're dealing with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or melasma, azelaic acid can help lighten those stubborn dark spots.

  • Textural Transformation: With regular use, azelaic acid can deliver smoother, softer skin. This makes it an excellent choice for those struggling with uneven skin texture.

  • Non-Comedogenic Champion: Azelaic acid is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog your pores, making it suitable for all skin types.

Are there any downsides to using Azelaic Acid? 

While azelaic acid is generally well-tolerated, here are some key points to bear in mind:

  • Skin Sensitivity: Some individuals with very sensitive skin may experience mild tingling or stinging upon application. It's advisable to perform a patch test before making it a regular part of your routine.

  • Sun Sensitivity: Azelaic acid can heighten your skin's sensitivity to the sun. Consequently, it's crucial to use sunscreen every day to safeguard your skin (you should be doing this anyway!) 

  • Combination with Other Actives: Avoid using azelaic acid alongside other potent acids or retinoids, as this can lead to irritation. If you wish to incorporate these ingredients, consider using them on separate days or at different times of the day.

How to incorporate Azelaic Acid into your skincare routine 

You might be asking how to incorporate azelaic acid into your skincare routine - which step should it be, how do I layer between other skincare, especially other actives?

Bilqiss, a Cosmetic Formulation Chemist and Aesthetician explains… 

Introducing Azelaic Acid into your skincare routine 

“Azelaic acid (AzA) is a gentle active. While it has mild exfoliating properties, most people tolerate it quite well. It can be used daily, but I recommend beginning with 2-3x weekly and increasing frequency whilst monitoring personal tolerance.”

Can you use Azelaic Acid and Retinol together? 

“Azelaic acid can also be used with other actives. I do not recommend using AzA in the same routine as the other actives, and instead recommend that AzA is used in the AM and the other active (retinol, AHAs, BHA etc) used in the PM. 

“Frequency of use for both actives will vary by individual and I will again stress the importance of monitoring and maintaining barrier health whilst using any skincare actives. And as always, this should be followed by use of sun protection (at least SPF 30).”

The benefits of Azelaic Acid for pregnant women

Azelaic acid is a safe choice for pregnant women, serving as an excellent alternative to other skincare ingredients like retinoids and hydroquinone, which are typically advised against during pregnancy. It's especially beneficial for managing pregnancy-induced acne and melasma, providing relief without compromising the safety of the baby.

Which Azelaic Acid product is right for me? 

If you feel overwhelmed by the choice of Azelaic Acid out there (they confusingly all come at different strengths and prices!) then Renude can help. We provide unbiased advice on what your skincare routine should look like based on the uniqueness of your skin. We can suggest azelaic acid options for your budget and give support on how to incorporate the ingredient into your routine so it works together with your other products. 94% of our members see an improvement in their skin within 6 weeks. Start the quiz today and be matched with a Renude aesthetician who’ll recommend a personalised skincare routine to achieve your best skin. 


Amelia CranstounContent Editor
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