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Everything You Need to Know About Azelaic Acid

When people hear the word ‘acid’ they immediately think of an ingredient that is going to tingle and resurface their skin, leaving it feeling smooth and a little sensitive. Azelaic Acid couldn’t be more different and is one of the few acids that is actually better for delicate, easily-inflamed complexions. As the active grows in popularity, here’s what you need to know about the newest addition to the acid family.

What is it?

Azelaic Acid is derived from grains such as barley and wheat, and is a white powder in its most natural form. For use in topical skin care, it is refined in a lab to ensure it remains stable and effective for as long as possible. Unlike AHAs and BHAs, Azelaic Acid is a Dicarboxylic Acid which makes it a great option for those with a lot of redness in their skin (more on this later) as it possesses very mild resurfacing properties – its real focus, however, is much more about keeping the skin balanced and bacteria-free.

What does it do?

Well, quite a lot, actually. Much-praised for its tolerance by sensitive skin types, Azelaic Acid has the ability to tackle three of the most troublesome skin concerns: acne, rosacea and hyperpigmentation. Yes, it exfoliates, but not in the same way or to the same extent as an acid like Glycolic Acid would. Instead, Azelaic Acid helps to reduce keratin production to prevent blocked pores and has antibacterial benefits that keep breakouts under control. For rosacea, it calms inflammation and is naturally rich in antioxidants which help to strengthen and protect delicate complexions. When it comes to uneven tone, it can inhibit melanin production to help curb the development of dark spots at the surface while brightening dull areas.

What if your skin isn’t affected by any of these conditions? You can still reap the rewards of using such a versatile ingredient. Experts believe that Azelaic Acid can actually slow down thedevelopment of imperfections before they reach the surface by essentially telling the cells in the upper layers of the skin how to behave. This ultimately leads to a smoother, clearer and more youthful-looking complexion.

Who needs it?

Everyone can use Azelaic Acid. It’s incredibly versatile and is safe to use with other active exfoliants in your routine such as AHAs and BHAs. In fact, pairing the ingredient with Salicylic Acid makes for one very effective anti-blemish treatment. In most over-the-counter skin care products, Azelaic Acid makes up a small percentage (usually less than 10% concentrations are used) but you can find stronger formulas via your doctor, with prescription-strength products containing between a 15-20% concentration of the ingredient.

Where can you find it?

It’s a popular ingredient in many cosmeceutical formulas and comes in many guises, from cleansers to creams. The Epionce Lytic TX uses the ingredient to decongest the pores, slough off dead cells and remove any harmful bacteria from the surface, while the Jan Marini RosaLieve Redness Reducing Complex pairs the ingredient with an anti-redness Peptide to help reduce the appearance of angry, flushed skin. You will also find Azelaic Acid in the Medik8 Blemish SOS, the Sesderma Azelac Moisturising Gel, and the Paula’s Choice CLEAR Daily Skin Clearing Treatment.

Image from iStockphoto

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