Should you use azelaic acid? Here’s what dermatologists say
In the beauty world largely dominated by cult favorites like retinol, hyaluronic acid, AHAs, and salicylic acid, azelaic acid is quickly emerging as the skin care underdog who deserves its fair share of spotlights.
Here, three board-certified dermatologists take a look at this underrated skin care savior:
First of all, what is azelaic acid?
Azelaic acid, also known as dicarboxylic acid, is an organic compound that can be found in grains such as barley, wheat and rye, says Dr. Heidi Goodarzi, a certified dermatologist with the board of directors and founder of Juvive female and pediatric dermatology.
The versatile ingredient is well regarded by dermatologists for the multitude of skin care benefits it offers. Azelaic acid is effective in the treatment of comedonal and inflammatory acne as well as rosacea thanks to its antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, explains Dr. Goodarzi. In addition, “azelaic acid is also used to treat skin pigmentation problems, including melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), especially in patients with darker skin”, notes the specialist in skin care.
Additionally, “azelaic acid acts as a gentle exfoliant which can be a good option for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Marisa Garshick, Dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Cornell University, based in New York. Additionally, “because it is believed to act selectively on abnormal pigment cells while sparing normal pigment cells, it can be used safely all over the face – not just the darkest areas – if it is used to treat hyperpigmentation, ”says Dr. Garshick. . As if all this were not enough, due to the keratolytic effects of azelaic acid, it can also be used alone or in combination with other exfoliating acids to treat keratosis pilaris, adds the dermatologist.
Who should use azelaic acid?
While many people can benefit from using azelaic acid, it’s especially good for those who suffer from rosacea and pigmentation (like melasma), says Dr. Garshick.
It’s also great for treating acne, especially in those with more sensitive skin that cannot tolerate other active anti-zit ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or retinoids, notes the dermatologist. “I especially like it for those who develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from their acne as it can help both acne and discoloration,” she adds.
Plus, azelaic acid is considered safe to use even if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, says Dr. Garshick.
“That said, as with any medication, it’s always a good idea to check with your OB-GYN first to confirm if you can use it,” she adds.
Azelaic Acid 101: Everything You Need To Know Before You Start Using It
Although it is a gentle skin care ingredient, azelaic acid can cause mild irritation or sensitivity, especially if you use a higher concentration, says Dr. Garshick. “This can lead to redness, dryness or peeling of the skin. The condition usually improves within a few weeks of use,” says the skin care expert.
Dr. Garshick recommends doing a patch test before applying the product to your face. “If you experience dryness or tenderness, start by using it two to three times a week or skip a few days if necessary,” she suggests.
It is also important to choose a skin care product that contains 15% to 20% azelaic acid. “Over-the-counter formulations of 10% or less may or may not be effective,” says Dr. Goodarzi.
And once you’ve incorporated it into your skincare routine, be consistent. It can usually take four to six weeks before you notice desirable results, so patience is key, says Dr Caren Campbell, Certified dermatologist in the Bay Area. “I would use it with a good moisturizer, a mild cleanser, and a sulfur wash (if you’re dealing with acne or rosacea),” the skin care specialist explains. Also, avoid combining it with other acids like AHA / BHA as it can increase the chances of dryness and irritation, suggests Dr. Campbell.
Finally, adopt healthy skin care habits as well. “No single ingredient can do it all, so it’s important to take care of your skin in all areas and not overlook other key factors like sun protection, hydration, etc.,” adds Dr. Goodarzi.
The Best Azelaic Acid Infused Skincare Products For You
So, are you ready to experience the benefits of azelaic acid for yourself? Fresh! Here are six RN dermis approved skin care products to try:
All three dermatologists are fans of this light, exfoliating face cream enriched with azelaic acid and glycolic acid to help improve the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. “It helps improve both tone and texture and leaves skin looking brighter and more radiant,” says Dr. Garshick. “Because azelaic acid and glycolic acid are considered safe during pregnancy at the concentrations included in this product, it is also a good option for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, although it is always best to see your doctor first, ”she says. .
This pocket option is another dermis favorite. Its light gel-cream formula works on your skin to reduce discoloration, boost radiance and improve skin texture and tone. Plus, “it’s gentle enough to be used twice a day,” says Dr. Garshick.
This fragrance-free gel contains a powerful cocktail of salicylic acid, azelaic acid and niacinamide to fight rashes and improve the appearance of acne scars. Its formula also contains probiotics extracted from chicory root to help brighten and even out skin tone.
“This bar is a great option for those with hyperpigmentation because it combines azelaic acid with kojic acid and niacinamide, which helps reduce discoloration and improve skin tone,” says Dr. Garshick. Plus, it’s gentle enough for everyday use and safe for all skin types, she adds.
Dr. Goodarzi recommends this gel-cream that combines the benefits of azelaic acid and salicylic acid to soothe redness, improve the appearance of blemishes and smooth uneven skin texture. Its light, oil-free formula makes it an ideal option for combination or oily skin.
“I often recommend this 15% Azelaic Acid formulation to my patients because the foam is lightweight, easy to apply, and helps reduce rashes and blemishes,” says Dr. Garshick. The foam-based formula spreads easily, making it easy to use on the face, chest or back, adds the skincare expert.