All about Azelaic Acid


All about Azelaic Acid

10 July 2023

What is it?

Azelaic acid is a skincare ingredient that is is used to treat acne and rosacea and to brighten the skin. It is actually a naturally occurring by-product of a yeast that lives on the skin (Malassezia furfur)!

What does it do?

Azelaic acid has several beneficial effects:

  • It has antibacterial properties – studies show that it reduces the growth of the acne causing bacterium, Cutibacterium acne.
  • It prevents the formation of blackheads and whitehead by inhibiting the disordered growth of the top layers of the skin, the keratinocytes. If the keratinocytes keep shedding in an unregulated way, it can lead to clogged pores and the formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads).
  • It is anti-inflammatory – it has antioxidant activity and reduces inflammation which can lead to redness and inflamed spots.
  • It inhibits the production of melanin, the substance responsible for pigmentation in the skin.

What does azelaic acid treat?

Acne (including blackheads, whiteheads, congestion and inflamed spots)




How should I use it?

Azelaic acid comes in a variety of products and concentrations. It is considered a prescription grade ingredient at certain concentrations (generally above 15%). We asked dermatology doctor, Dr Emma, about azelaic acid application tips; ‘The concentration that is right for you is dependent on your skin goals and how sensitive your skin is. Generally, we recommend applying azelaic acid at night. Wear an SpF during the day as it can make skin more sensitive to the sun. Sometimes the higher concentrations of azelaic acid can sting a bit when you first start using them- try applying it every other day and listen to your skin – often it adapts and will build up tolerance so go slow and give it time to work!’

How long will it take for me to see effects?

It depends on your skin and what we are trying to treat. Some people see an improvement in oiliness, congestion, mild blemishes and brightness in a couple of weeks. If you are using it to treat more severe acne, you need to wait a couple of months or so, and significant improvement can take up to 6 months. Be patient!

So in summary…

Azelaic acid is a great all rounder. A favourite amongst dermatologists, it has a good evidence base and is also considered safe to use in pregnant and breastfeeding women!


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