In the not-so-distant past, speaking about the use of acids for facial care would probably sound pretty odd. Luckily, nowadays, we all know acids, like glycolic, lactic, salicylic, and their benefits! Hence the hunt for new acids is ongoing. Yes, we all want beautiful and even skin. And rumors have it that azelaic can help with that. That is why we set ourselves the goal of finding out all about it. Let’s check if this ingredient is worthy of adding to your skincare collection?
So, what is azelaic acid?
Lovers of natural cosmetics will be glad to hear that azelaic is naturally found in barley, rye, and grain. Yet, there is a form of it developed in the laboratory due to its stability and efficiency. Also, azelaic acid doesn’t belong to either AHA or BHA family, but it has an exfoliant effect. Actually, that is not the only effect, but we’ll leave that for later.
What about proper azelaic acid concentration?
“If necessary, dermatologists could give prescriptions for concentrations of 15% and 20%. But in free sale, concentration is lower, usually 10%. Azelaic acid can be used in different forms depending on the body region. For facial care, there are gels and creams. And for larger areas such as the back, there is foam,” beautician Maya Perra explained.
How is it different from other skincare acids?
Skincare junkies or not, we’re all turned to a liquid exfoliator. Now, think of azelaic as a more mindful member of the acid family. It does the same as other skincare acids but with minimal irritation. So, your skin will be less sun-sensitive, but that doesn’t mean you should skip sunscreen!
What azelaic acid does to my skin?
Have you ever (or still are) struggling with acne? Well, I did too, and I’m sorry I didn’t know about azelaic back then! Let’s take, for example, a study in which 580 people were given either 15% azelaic acid, or 5% benzoyl peroxide, or 1% clindamycin (antibiotic). They were supposed to apply it each day for four months. The results? Clindamycin is pointless. And azelaic acid is just as effective as benzoyl peroxide. On average, it reduced acne by 70% without the side effects that benzoyl peroxide has. Don’t get me wrong, I know that this ingredient has helped many, but it can become irritating over time.
Another study shows that 15% of azelaic acid can control rosacea over six months. Yup, it significantly reduces inflammatory lesions and redness. How is that possible? Scientists have explained that too! Efficacy is associated with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of this acid. Besides, it has antibacterial activity. Still not convinced it is good? Have you ever heard of chicken skin? Those terrible bumps on the backs of your arm? Good news! Azelaic acid is keratolytic, which means it can help by reducing it.
What about hair?
A combination of zinc sulfate and azelaic acid blocks DHT (dihydrotestosterone) receptors. Further, it helps against hair loss. However, this is something that has yet to find its application in cosmetic products. So far works only when this hormone is the cause of the problem. Until then, you can try to look for scalp skin creams with azelaic acid.
Who should use it?
As you can guess, it is for anyone who is facing acne problems, pimples, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation. And it is all regardless of skin type! “Due to its rare side effects, it is suitable for all skin types. Also, it is one of the few acids suitable for pregnant women with problematic skin. But, of course, in the case of pregnancy, medical advice is mandatory,” Maya said.
What are the side effects of using azelaic acid?
As it is with any cosmetics, following some steps is a must! You need to wash your face before applying a thin layer of cream or gel. Bear in mind that if you plan to put on make-up, it’s fine. Just wait for the treatment to dry well on your skin. Also, wear SPF! “Side effects are undoubtedly rare. Skin dryness, itching, peeling, or redness may occur. Also, while using it, microcomedones may become acne more quickly, which can lead to breakouts. Or as it is called – purging,” Maya stated.
Is there something azelaic can’t do?
Unfortunately yes. As good as it is, it’s not magical! It can lighten the skin up to two tones. Don’t get desperate already! You can use it in combination with other ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acid or retinoids. Then you would get better results! Also, these two tones refer to gained, not natural skin pigmentation. Plus, it’s not practical for age spots either.
How should we incorporate it into our skincare routine?
“If you are new to using it, I’d recommend you start applying it every other night to see if it will cause any irritation. But generally, it’s safe to use in the morning and evening. This ingredient doesn’t need extreme attention, and it works well in combination with almost any product. But for example, if you already use retinol in your beauty routine, try applying azelaic acid another day or just in the morning,” Maya concluded.