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Azelaic Acid

August 19, 2020

Azelaic Acid - the benefits and uses

Azelaic acid is one of the more under the radar skincare ingredients but it has been scientifically proven to have a range of skincare benefits. Commonly prescribed by dermatologists, over the counter azelaic acid treatments are becoming more popular. Azelaic acid can help to reduce the appearance of red marks, breakouts and more! 

But what actually is azelaic acid, and how could it benefit your skin?

What is azelaic acid?

Azelaic acid is a saturated dicarboxylic acid that occurs naturally in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. It also occurs naturally as a byproduct of the yeast that lives on our skin. It has demonstrated an extraordinary skillset when used alone and is shown to work in synergy with other physiologically active ingredients also.

So, why is azelaic acid so good for the skin?

The proven bactericidal and anti-inflammatory properties of azelaic acid are perfect for treating skin conditions such as acne vulgaris and rosacea. It is suitable for a wide range of skin types and conditions, proven to brighten skin, help to cleanse pores and prevent future breakouts.

5 azelaic acid skin benefits

1. Soothes inflamed or red skin

Rosacea outbreaks can strike at any moment and symptoms include redness, spots and spider veins, primarily affecting the face. Until recently, they have been notoriously difficult to treat without pharmaceuticals, which may bear unwanted side effects. To date, azelaic acid is the only natural ingredient that has proven effective in treating rosacea without side effects.

Azelaic acid inhibits the formation of ROS in the neutrophil system to reduce the number of free radicals. Clinical studies show that using azelaic acid on the skin can reduce the appearance of erythema and inflammatory lesions.

2. Fights acne causing bacteria

Studies show that azelaic acid is an effective treatment against acne. It is also associated with far less side effects than other anti-acne ingredients. 

It has anti-inflammatory properties that work to minimise the overall appearance of existing acne by soothing irritation, swelling and redness. Azelaic acid has also been shown to normalise keratinisation, the process whereby the uppermost layers of the dermis shed dead cells and form new ones. This helps the skin to heal and reduces the risk of scarring. Azelaic acid also inhibits tyrosinase production, reducing tendency for the skin to develop pigmentation that may also lead to scarring.

3. Prevents future acne flare-ups

Not only does azelaic acid help to treat acne, it also helps to prevent further breakouts. With antibacterial properties, azelaic acid is regonised as a noncomedogenic ingredient that works to cleanse the pores and reduce the risk of clogging. In addition to this, it acts as a mild exfoliant for the skin, preventing dead skin cells from building up and clogging pores. 

4. Brightens and diminishes skin discolouration

Azelaic acid is a competitive inhibitor of tyrosinasean enzyme that plays a key role in catalysing melanin synthesis. By downregulating tyrosinase, azelaic acid helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, including acne scarring and melasma, without side effects. Azelaic acid is also used to treat age spots and skin discolouration, resulting in a more even and illuminated complexion.

5. Refines skin texture

Azelaic acid has a mild exfoliating effect on the skin. It helps to clear blemishes and reduce hyperpigmentation to leave you with a brighter, more refined-looking complexion. With antioxidant properties azelaic acid can also help to reduce the appearance and development of bumps and other skin sensitivities.

How to use azelaic acid for the skin?

Azelaic acid is an effective skin treatment when used alone, but can also be incorporated into your skincare routine and used alongside other ingredients such as niacinamide, AHAs and antioxidants such as vitamin C

Azelaic acid should be applied at night, leaving time to allow it absorb before putting anything else on your face (that includes your pillow). Previously azelaic acid was predominantly used in prescription products however, in recent years, it has been more commonly used in over the counter treatments. These usually take the form of serums.


Serums contain potent formulations of active ingredients for maximum efficacy. Azelaic acid serums are no different. They should be applied after cleansing and followed with your favourite facetheory moisturiser.

Azelaic acid skincare products

Here at facetheory, we only use scientifcally proven ingredients for the best results possible. We offer a range of ingredients utilising azelaic acid to help you reap the benefits!

Lumizela Azelaic Acid Serum A15

Combining 10% azelaic acid, green tea and colloidal oatmeal, this soothing formulation works to reduce inflammation, redness and irritation. It evens the skin tone and prevents breakouts, with a 100% vegan formula.

Porebright Serum N20 Pro

The Porebright Serum N20 Pro utilisied azelaic acid and niacinamide to target sun damage and hyperpigmentation to reduce the appearance of acne scars, age spots and melasma, for an even complexion.

When to use azelaic acid

Azelaic acid is suitable for a wide range of skin types. It is especially useful for those who suffer from rosacea, acne and skin scarring. When used as a serum, it should be applied to the skin cleansing and followed with moisturiser. If using as a standalone, prescribed treatment, you may want to use it as the last step in your skincare routine before bed.


Due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties, azelaic acid is particularly useful for those with rosacea. It soothes the skin to reduce redness and irritation.


An antibacterial ingredient, azelaic acid clears the pores of debris and dead skin to prevent future breakouts and reduce the risk of acne scars.


Azelaic acid acts as a mild exfoliant and tyrosinase inhibitor. This helps to prevent the production of melanin that can lead to hyperpigmentation therefore reducing the appearance of scars.



Is azelaic acid suitable for my skin type?

Azelaic acid is not associated with any adverse side effects. In fact, the European Union has placed no concentration restrictions on azelaic acid as a cosmetic ingredient. Azelaic acid is recommended for use on all skin types, including skin prone to acne, rosacea and hyperpigmentation.

Can azelaic acid be used alongside other products?

Azelaic acid works well in combination with other key actives. When combined with niacinamide, in addition to its skin brightening effects, it has been demonstrated to reduce pore size and refine skin texture.

How often should I apply azelaic acid?

Azelaic acid is gentle enough for most people to use twice a day. If you have extremely sensitive skin, you may wish to start by applying once a day and then gradually increase your usage.