5 Reasons Why We Love Azelaic Acid
A simple guide to the amazing skincare benefits of azelaic acid
It may feel like azelaic acid has recently burst onto the skincare scene, but in reality this ingredient has been around for a while and is one of the most well-researched on the market. So much so that it is actually available on prescription at 15% to treat rosacea, and 20% to treat acne (and the medical industry is the toughest to please, so you know the evidence is there). Non-prescription azelaic acid products, like the ones we recommend on Renude, typically have concentrations of 10% and are very effective in achieving results in the skin.
What is azelaic acid?
Azelaic acid is a yeast which occurs naturally in grains such as rye, wheat and barley. In skincare, it may be naturally derived or can also be produced synthetically. It has a whole host of skin benefits so actually most of us can benefit from its multi-tasting marvellousness.
What is azelaic acid good for?
This all-rounder ingredient is a great choice for treating acne, rosacea and hyperpigmentation, so we find ourselves working it into a lot of your routines. Here is a run down of it’s key properties and how they can help you reach your skin goals.
It has anti-inflammatory properties
It’s ability to reduce inflammation in the skin makes it a great choice for acne blemishes as well as rosacea, both of which are inflammatory conditions. It also reduces instances of PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) resulting from old acne marks, so this makes it a great option for blemish-prone skin that’s slow to heal or skin prone to PIH.
It acts as an antibacterial
Research has shown that azelaic acid exhibits antibacterial effects, and is capable of killing the strain of bacteria which causes acne, known as P.Acnes (or officially Propionibacterium Acnes). It is not fully understood how, but one theory is that azelaic acid is able to penetrate the bacterial cell wall, alter the pH and prevent the bacteria from reproducing.
It normalises keratinization
Another great mechanism for treating acne-prone or congested skin types. Azelaic acid has 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 from causing blackheads, whiteheads and other forms of acne.
It inhibits tyrosinase
Before hyperpigmentation becomes visible on the surface of the skin, there are a number of steps it goes through.
First, tyrosine is converted into melanin by the enzyme, tyrosinase. Once this melanin has been produced, it leaves the melanocyte and travels through to the skin cells at the base of the epidermis (upper layer of skin which is constantly renewing). The melanin travels up through the layers of skin cells to the top, where it becomes visible hyperpigmentation.
This process takes a while (it can take 10 years to see the effects of sun damage on your skin for example), but once the pigmentation has reached the surface, this entire pathway has been activated and the cycle continues. This makes it one of the more challenging skin conditions to treat - consistency and patience are key.
Azelaic acid’s ability to inhibit tyrosinase means that it blocks the tyrosine in the melanocyte from becoming melanin. If excess melanin cannot continue to be transferred to the skin cells, then the areas of hyperpigmentation will start to fade. It’s important to maintain the use of tyrosinase inhibitors even once pigmentation has gone, as without the tyrosinase suppression, it can return. This is also why marks tend to be more visible in the winter. UV exposure triggers a natural increase in melanin production, so it is harder to suppress this activity effectively.
It’s well tolerated
A lot of high performance skin care ingredients come with less desirable side effects to manage, but azelaic acid has great skin tolerability so can even be used for more sensitive types.
Unlike retinoids, azelaic acid is also suitable for use during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding, so is a great option to support the skin of new mums as well as mums-to-be. Added bonus: it’s multi-functional properties mean you can keep your routine streamlined while reaping many benefits - a sure plus for those with little time to themselves.
We hope you loved learning about this amazing skin ingredient. If you’d like to find out if azelaic acid is right for you, you can start your free online consultation here.