Everything you need to know about azelaic acid The original version of this article was reviewed by: Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD, USA It's a mystery why there is so little focus on some ingredients in skincare when research has proven that they are worth the attention. Azelaic acid is such an ingredient. Studies have proven that azelaic acid can make a big difference when it comes to preventing and reducing breakouts. It helps to visibly fade red marks and discolourations after breakouts and helps to achieve a smoother, more even complexion. Azelaic acid is suitable for all skin types and can help to reduce skin sensitivity. In short, azelaic acid is an ingredient you should want to know more about! What is azelaic acid? Chemically, azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid. (Don't worry, this is a good kind of acid.) Azelaic acid is obtained from grains such as barley, wheat and rye. When used in skincare products, it is typically lab-engineered for maximum stability and effectiveness. What does azelaic acid do for skin? On the skin it has the same effect as a mild, leave-on exfoliant. It helps to unclog pores and refine the skin's surface. Azelaic acid is also a potent antioxidant and reduces the factors in the skin that cause sensitivity and bumps. Most research has been carried out on products that are only available on prescription, with a concentration between 15% and 20%, but even in lower concentrations, azelaic acid can make a big difference. Azelaic acid benefits Products with a concentration of azelaic acid of 10% or less are not easy to find, because very few brands have discovered the great benefits of this ingredient. In addition, it's not the easiest ingredient to formulate. When a product with azelaic acid is not properly formulated, the texture can become grainy, which may cause skin problems. If you are in doubt whether you need a cosmetic product with azelaic acid or a prescription product, know that products with 10% azelaic acid can make a big difference when it comes to visible improvements in skin structure and skin tone. For some stubborn skin concerns, it is advisable to use a prescription product with a higher concentration of azelaic acid. You can consult a dermatologist or skin therapist to see which product is most suitable for you and how to include it in your skincare routine. Once you have decided what kind of azelaic product is best for you, here are some of the benefits you can expect to see from this ingredient. Azelaic acid can diminish the appearance of blemishes such as post-breakout marks and other discolourations. It helps refine skin’s surface to reveal a more even skin tone. This ingredient also has skin-soothing benefits and can even reduce sensitivity that leads to redness. Azelaic acid skincare: the science behind it Researchers have a theory about how azelaic acid works. It is suspected that azelaic acid interrupts the progression of emerging skin concerns in the upper layers. Without this inhibiting benefit, they can progress to skin concerns such as pigmentation spots, redness, scars, a dull complexion and increased sensitivity. Azelaic acid 'tells' the cells in the upper skin layers how to behave, which results in a smoother and visibly healthier skin, regardless of your age, skin type or skin concerns. Continuous research on azelaic acid led to the development of our 10% Azelaic Acid Booster. The azelaic acid in this product tackles a wide range of skin concerns. It contains 0.5% salicylic acid that penetrates into the pores as well as a combination of plant extracts that soothe and brighten skin and skin restoring adenosine to reduce signs of ageing. How to use azelaic acid You can easily add the 10% Azelaic Acid Booster to your skincare routine. Apply it all over your face or just to the affected areas once or twice a day after cleansing, toning and exfoliating. You can apply it directly to the skin, but also mix it with your favourite serum or night cream. Always use a moisturiser with SPF 30 or higher during the day. This treatment has the texture of a cream-gel. This makes it suitable for all skin types and can be used in combination with all our other products, including our AHA and BHA exfoliants. When to use azelaic acid? Azelaic acid is particularly beneficial for those with blemished skin and/or those with uneven tone and bumpy texture. It can also be used to calm sensitivity. If you are dealing with any of these concerns, it may be time to give a product with azelaic acid a try. Our 10% Azelaic Acid Booster can be used up to twice daily as part of your morning and/or evening skincare routine. Who should use azelaic acid and who should not? Azelaic acid is a safe skincare ingredient that has widespread compatibility with all skin types, and is typically well-tolerated, even by those with sensitive skin. Who should stay away from azelaic acid? Adverse reactions and side effects to azelaic acid are not common, but as with any skincare ingredient, if you experience signs of irritation, stop use or experiment with applying less often (once every other day, for example). How does azelaic acid relate to alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA)? These three ingredients have similarities, but also a few interesting differences. Although azelaic acid, if properly formulated, has an exfoliating effect (just like AHAs and BHA, the pH value is important), it does not exfoliate in the same way and not as effectively as glycolic acid and lactic acid (AHAs) or salicylic acid (BHAs). In contrast, azelaic acid has an added value to AHAs and BHA when it comes to improving uneven skin tone and other skin concerns. There is no reason not to use an AHA or BHA exfoliant in addition to a product with azelaic acid. In fact, it can be the perfect combination for tackling different skin concerns, ranging from bumps to uneven skin tone and minimising the signs of ageing. Can I use vitamin C and azelaic acid together? Yes, you can use vitamin C and azelaic acid products together – these ingredients complement one another. Using them together may speed up the results for evening skin tone and fading marks by targeting the issue via multiple pathways. What should you not mix with azelaic acid? Azelaic acid products can be used alongside all kinds of skincare products, and there isn’t research showing it’s a problem to use alongside other powerhouse ingredients. Of course, if you’re using a prescription version, consult with your healthcare professional on how to work it into your skincare routine. References for this information: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2017, pages 35–42 The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology March 2017, pages 37–40 Advanced Biomedical Research, February 2017, ePublication Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, October 2016, pages 771–775 Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2016, issue 3, pages 269–282 Skin Therapy Letter, January 2016, issue 1, pages 1–7 Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, September 2015, pages 964-968"