8 best azelaic acid products for acne, rosacea, and redness 2020

Azelaic acid – have you heard of it? In all honesty, before I started using a Curology custom prescription skin care cream a few months ago, I had never used azelaic acid before. But now that my breakouts, blackheads, and pigmentation are looking shockingly good, I feel the need to tell everyone about this superhero ingredient. And if you’re not someone with perfect, porous skin (I’m happy for you … really …) I bet you can benefit from adding azelaic acid to your routine too.

To explain all of the reasons – and even WTF azelaic acid is– I reached out to Certified Dermatologist Dina Strachan, MD, Director of Aglow Dermatology for all the information. Read on to find out everything you always wanted to know about this skin treating MVP.

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What does azelaic acid do to your skin?

Here, let’s dive into the basics for a second and take a closer look at what azelaic acid actually is and how it works. Azelaic acid occurs naturally in both wheat and the yeast on our skin (although it can also be made in a laboratory) It has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

What are the benefits of azelaic acid?

To get into the coarse-grained azelaic acid accelerates cell production (smoothes bumpy skin), slows melanin production (soothes hyperpigmentation and melasma) and prevents it from spreading P. acnes (which slows down outbreaks), and reduce redness and swelling (which relieve inflammatory skin conditions such as keratosis pilaris and rosacea).

Even though Azelaic acid was only used technical FDA Approved to Address Two Medical Problems – Acne and Rosacea –it also has beneficial side effect of blocking excessive pigment production to lighten the skin. “Azelaic acid is especially helpful for people with darker skin types who are prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. Stachan. If your face likes to get dark spots after a breakout or a day in the sun, azelaic acid might be your new best friend.

Save money and your skin with these 4 affordable azelaic acid products

Bliss Green Tea Wonder overnight clarifying gel mask with azelaic acid

The ordinary azelaic acid suspension 10%

Urban Skin Rx cleaning bar for even tones

Urban Skin Rx Even cleaning bar

Typology Mattifying Serum 10% azelaic acid

Typology Mattifying Serum 10% azelaic acid

And if you’re a Reddit skin care enthusiast, you might have read about this ingredient used to treat keratosis pilaris too. Dr. Strachan says because azelaic acid is keratolytic (which means it helps break down excess keratin in your skin, which is what KP bumps are made of). and Helps with hyperpigmentation and can be helpful in treating your rough red or brown bumps over time.

Azelaic acid vs. Salicylic acid:

You don’t have to be familiar with skin care products to hear about salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. If you’ve had a pimple on your face, like isChances are you’ve tried a spot treatment that contains either ingredient. But as effective as they are, many people are allergic to benzoyl peroxide or may experience dryness and irritation from using it. Enter: azelaic acid. Dr. Strachan describes this acne alternative ingredient as being gentler and less irritating, yet still effective in treating acne– At least when using a prescription strength formula.

Can You Get Azelaic Acid Over The Counter?

While you can find azelaic acid in over-the-counter strengths that can be helpful for brightening and smoothing the skin, Dr. Strachan says you would likely need a prescription strength (usually 15 or 20 percent). if you are using it to treat acne or rosacea. While an over-the-counter formulation isn’t as effective as a prescription, it can still help – it just depends on how severe your acne is.

4 over-the-counter azelaic acid products worth trying

Paula's Choice 10% Azelainsäure-Booster

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelainsäure-Booster

Tula Hautpflege Akne Clear It Up Akne Clearing + Korrekturgel

Tula Hautpflege Akne Clear It Up Akne Clearing + Korrekturgel

Dermadoctor KP Duty
Versed Weekend Glow Daily lightening solution

Versed Weekend Glow Daily lightening solution

If you want to try a prescription product, you should definitely make an appointment with a specialist dermatologist. But in case you just can’t get to see yours, try a Telederm appointment or check the curology (which I did during quarantine and was prescribed azelaic acid). If you’re dealing with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, Dr. Strachan’s an over-the-counter product with a mixture of brighteners will be helpful.

Can I put moisturizer on top of azelaic acid?

If you experience any kind of stinging or itching from the ingredient – or if you have sensitive skin –DR. Strachan recommends applying your moisturizer first, especially if you’re using a more prescription-only product. Although the FDA-approved formulas are safe to use every day, you should be careful when mixing your azelaic acid with other exfoliators or retinoids that may cause irritation.

Dr. Strachan says that azelaic acid is generally well tolerated and is rated as relatively low risk (Category B, FYI) even during pregnancy, which is crucial for those suffering from melasma (aka a pregnancy mask) during this time. However, before applying any new ingredients to your face, always test them for patches in case of an allergic reaction.

Do you have all this ?! Okay cool. Now go ahead and give it a try – it might be exactly what your skin has been looking for all along.

Brooke Shunatona
Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.

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