Azelaic Acid Before or After Moisturizer? What To Know

If you’re into skincare, products formulated with Salicylic Acid, Retinol, and even Alpha Hydroxy Acids are likely already in your lineup. But one ingredient, despite its efficacy and wide range of helpful benefits, remains largely under-utilized – Azelaic Acid.

What is Azelaic Acid, and how can you incorporate it into your skincare routine? We’re here to help expand your skintellectual expertise.

How Should I Work Azelaic Acid Into Your Routine?

The million-dollar question: does your Azelaic Acid product come before or after your moisturizer? 

The answer, unfortunately, isn’t a straightforward yes or no. It depends on what Azelaic Acid product you’re using.

For the most part, your Azelaic Acid will usually come before your moisturizer, whether you use a cream moisturizer or moisturizing face oil. 

That’s because your skincare routine should follow the basic rule of applying your thinnest product first and working toward your thickest.

(The only slight exception is moisturizing face oils, which may appear thinner than a cream or gel, but are more impenetrable because they’re occlusives.)

So if your Azelaic Acid is part of your serum, you’ll apply that after cleansing and toning. If it’s formulated within another product, you’ll want to apply that product as normal.

If you’re ready to introduce Azelaic Acid into your skincare routine, we’re ready to help. Let’s walk through an ideal skincare routine that uses this super helpful and multi-talented ingredient, as well as many others.


Start, as always, with cleansing. It’s crucial to start your skincare routine with a clean slate. In this case, we like to start strong with our Azelaic Acid-enriched Calm Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm.

Our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm effectively removes makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and impurities without stripping your skin of necessary moisture. 

Because the wrong cleanser can do more harm than good by stripping your skin with harsh surfactants like sulfates, our cleanser uses ingredients that are kind to your skin, like natural, biocompatible, makeup-meltingYucca Extract. 

Instead of potentially irritating synthetic ingredients like fragrances and silicones, our cleansing balm uses skin-soothing Turmeric and Ginger Root Oil. And because it uses these natural, plant-based ingredients and fragrant Neroli Oils, our Calm Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm smells like heaven in a jar.

This nourishing cleanser also makes use of Azelaic Acid to deliver gentle exfoliation, soothe redness and promote an even and smooth skin tone. By using Azelaic Acid as part of your cleansing step, you don’t need to worry about where to place it in your routine — it’ll naturally always come first! 

It’s the perfect way to start your day and get your skin glowing right off the bat.


The next step in your routine is to apply a serum. Although we’ve recommended using a cleanser enriched with Azelaic Acid, you could also use a serum or gel formulated with Azelaic Acid at this point in your routine — personally, we reach for our Chebula Active Serum, not because it contains Azelaic Acid, but because it’s a great partner to it. 

After sunscreen, the most important way to fight and prevent signs of aging is with antioxidants. And because Azelaic Acid is often used to address skincare concerns caused by sun damage, it’s a great partner to your Azelaic Acid products because Chebula is a particularly resilient antioxidant. And it’s a whopping 60% bioactive, whereas most natural fruit sources are only around 10% bioactive!

This means that our Chebula Active Serum is able to fight more signs of aging with more potency than any other serum — and our research backs it up! Chebula Active Serum is clinically proven to reduce wrinkles by 22% after just six weeks.*

Additionally, 97% of women who used Chebula Active Serum found that it reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles within a single month!* Our serum is clinically proven to outperform two leading serums on the market for wrinkle reduction and evening out your skin tone.*


If you’re using Azelaic Acid to improve the appearance of dryness, redness, or other issues with irritation or sensitized skin, our Renew Pure Radiance Oil is the best way to finish off your skincare routine. This moisturizing face oil is specifically formulated to target signs of aging while nourishing and hydrating skin.

Chia Seeds and Kiwi Seeds offer omega-3s to nourish skin and combat the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while Watermelonand Raspberry Seed Oil help the skin retain moisture for that glowy, plump look. 

Thanks to its rich, hydrating seed and fruit oils, it’s top of the line when it comes to hydration.

A moisturizing face oil can help lock hydration and nutrients into your skin and keep your complexion perfectly hydrated to get you glowing from the moment you start using it.

For added moisture, we recommend using your moisturizing oil after a cream moisturizer like our Chebula Extreme Cream. This is an anti-aging moisturizer that 100% of subjects agreed made their skin look and feel smoother, softer, more glowy and deeply hydrated.

This luxurious formula is packed with the highest quality, most transformative ingredients — including an exclusive Hydra-Cocktail of protein rejuvenators, humectants, emollients, and breathable occlusives that locks moisture in and supports the skin barrier.

It also features Chebula, a cascading antioxidant that targets five signs of aging and offers broad-spectrumprotection, as well as other potent plant actives like Chebula, Hyaluronic Acid and Acerola Cherry, which work to hydrate skin and dramatically improve moisture levels.

A Deeper Dive Into Azelaic Acid and Its Benefits

Azelaic Acid naturally comes from grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, although most skincare products utilize a synthetic form of Azelaic Acid. Applied to your skin, Azelaic Acid has a range of benefits.

Smoothes Skin Texture

This skincare ingredient features soothing properties that can help to address symptoms of concerns such as acne. Even on normal skin, Azelaic Acid is known for calming redness and soothing irritation.

Promotes Even Skin Tone

Azelaic Acid may also help reduce the appearance of dark spots, such as sun spots. 

While this is natural, not everyone enjoys their dark spots. Azelaic Acid can support a more even-looking skin tone by working to minimize the look of dark spots and support an overall radiant, youthful-looking complexion. 

Azelaic Acid is also a great choice if you find yourself with dark marks that linger after pimples or other minor blemishes that seem to leave shadows behind on your skin.

Exfoliates and Brightens

Additionally, Azelaic Acid offers exfoliating properties. It isn’t as harsh as other chemical exfoliants like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), so if your skin is sensitive or hasn’t done well with AHAs in the past, Azelaic Acid can be a gentler alternative.

Unlike other active skincare ingredients, Azelaic Acid has the added benefit of not making your skin photosensitive. That’s why we’ve included it as a crucial ingredient in our Wrinkle Warriors Best Sellers Set, which includes our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster as well as our Chebula Extreme Cream. 

No sensitization, no interactions — just award-winning cult favorites to replenish dry summer skin and a youthful-looking glow!

(That doesn’t mean you should get lax about your sunscreen application, but it’s good to know you’ll have backup when you’re at the beach!)

How Long Does Azelaic Acid Take To Work?

Like many ingredients, Azelaic Acid can take a while to show just how effective it can be, so consistency and patience are key. Like Retinol products, it may take a couple of months to see a real difference with Azelaic Acid – particularly if you’re looking to improve a deeper-seated issue like dark spots.

While Azelaic Acid may help improve the appearance of dark spots caused by environmental factors like sun damage and smoking, you’ll want to be strict about your SPF protection. 

Are There Any Side Effects?

On its own, Azelaic Acid is pretty gentleand is safe to use on most skin types. That said, people with extra-sensitive skin can sometimes experience minor side effects such as stinging, burning, and, rarely, dark spots. 

It’s important to do a patch test before using Azelaic Acid, especially if your skin is particularly sensitive or sensitized. It’s also important to avoid areas of your face with thinner skin, like around your mouth or eyes. 

When in doubt, always check with your doctor or dermatologist first.

Azelaic Acid is particularly efficacious if you have oily or combination skin and haven’t found your complexion to be particularly sensitive in the past. 

Additionally, Azelaic Acid is considered safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding — although you’ll always want to clear active ingredients with your OBGYN. That makes it perfect if you need to rotate ingredients that aren’t pregnancy safe out of your routine and are looking for a way to address common pregnancy-related skincare concerns like dark spots.

Our Azelaic-Acid Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm is just one of our collection of natural, MADE SAFE® certified, pregnancy-safe skincare

In Conclusion

Although you may be eager to make use of the amazing benefits Azelaic Acid has to offer, it can be difficult to know exactly how you should work a new ingredient into your routine.

Luckily, there are a wide variety of ways to make use of Azelaic Acid, and it’s an easy and gentle ingredient to introduce to your skincare routine. 

If you’re still not sure where to start, take our quick skin quiz for a personalized set of recommendations for your unique skin needs!

Disclaimer: As always, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor before starting the use of any new product, as they know your history best. 

*Clinical Results Disclaimer: Based on a 6-week single blind comparative clinical study of 30 women aged 35-65 with twice daily use.


Azelaic Acid Topical | Medline Plus

Melanin Hyperpigmentation of Skin: Melasma, Topic Treatment with Azelaic Acid, and Other Therapies | National Library of Medicine

A Comprehensive Review on Tyrosinase Inhibitors | Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry

Is any acne treatment safe to use during pregnancy | American Association of Dermatology