Can You Use Azelaic Acid With Retinol? A Skincare Routine Guide

If you’ve been exploring different ways to help even out your skin tone and combat breakouts, you’ve probably come across both Azelaic Acid and Retinol as potential solutions for your skincare goals. 

Let’s talk about how each ingredient works individually, and how exactly you can use them together to get the skin of your dreams!

What Is Retinol?

Derived from Vitamin A, Retinol is most commonly celebrated for its ability to help turn back the clock when it comes to your skin. 

Retinol is an over-the-counter ingredient that falls into the category of Retinoids, which includes heavy-duty products like tretinoin and other trans-retinoic acids. 

  • Retinoid products tend to be stronger than Retinols and must be prescribed by a primary care provider or dermatologist. 
  • Meanwhile, Retinol is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter anti-aging skincare products.

Retinol helps stimulate skin cell turnover, which is the process by which aging skin cells die off and replace themselves with younger, fresher cells. As we get older, this process tends to slow down. Whereas younger skin has a cell turnover rate of around 28 days, older skin can have a turnover rate of up to 70 days. 

Retinol is also a chemical exfoliant, so it helps you to shed dead skin cell buildup. When cells turnover, you can be left with a layer of dead skin cells that can glue themselves together on top of your facial skin. This layer of skin cells can prevent serums and moisturizers from properly absorbing. 

By polishing away dead skin cell buildup, Retinol can help your skin look brighter and more radiant.

At the same time, the amount of collagen and elastin our skin cells produce also decreases with age. This is what leads to many of the visible signs of aging as your skin loses elasticity. Many Retinol formulas help to support firmness to help compensate for less collagen, so that your skin can look younger for longer.

The same functions that make Retinol great for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and preventing fine lines from deepening also make Retinol great for evening out your skin tone and improving imperfections in your complexion. These imperfections can range from blemishes to uneven tone and discoloration.

However, similar to other strong skincare ingredients such as Alpha-Hydroxy Acids and Beta-Hydroxy Acids, Synthetic Retinol comes with side effects. Synthetic Retinol is widely known to cause dryness, irritation, redness, and flaking. 

So if you struggle with breakouts or inflammation, Synthetic Retinol may do more harm than good.

Luckily, Synthetic Retinol isn’t your only option. 

Studies have shown Phyto-Retinol to be just as effective as Synthetic Retinol. And since it’s derived from plants, it’s both potent and gentle for your skin. 

Plus, Synthetic Retinol can be complicated — how much can you use without irritating your skin? What skincare products does it react badly with? How often can you use it without messing up your skin texture? — using Phyto-Retinol gives you all of the benefits with none of the stress.

Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster is a more innovative and much gentler way to use Retinol

Our microbiome-minded Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster harnesses the innate intelligence of your skin to deliver powerful anti-aging benefits, without sensitizing side effects.

Our Phyto-Retinol uses perfectly dosed vegan capsules to deliver Provitamin A Carotenoids that your skin transforms into its own potent retinoic acid — which is one of the most biocompatible kind of retinoic acids — that it uses to fight signs of aging including wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin tone, delivering your most youthful-looking glow.

The Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster is microbiome-friendly, non-irritating, and

non-photo-sensitizing, so it can be used during the day and alongside other products that you typically have to avoid while using Synthetic Retinol, such as Vitamin C and exfoliators! Plus, this formula features Calendula Oil to deliver instant hydration to soothe sensitive skin. 

Your skin deserves the benefits of Retinol without the side effects, and that’s exactly why we formulated our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster. 

What Is Azelaic Acid?

If you’re a budding skintellectual, you’re probably already familiar with the idea of using acid products in your skincare routine. Based on its name, Azelaic Acid may seem similar to other ingredients you may be familiar with. However, Azelaic Acid isn’t an AHA or a BHA, although it does work well with both types of acid!

Azelaic Acid is a dicarboxylic acid, and similar to AHAs and BHAs, Azelaic Acid has exfoliating properties. This makes it ideal if you’re struggling with blemishes since Azelaic Acid can dig into pores to unclog and purify them

Azelaic Acid also isn’t as harsh on your skin as other acids and is generally fine for people of most skin types to use. In fact, Azelaic Acid is gentler than even the gentlest AHA! However, if you’re looking for something prescription strength, you’ll need to speak to your doctor or dermatologist.

So, Can You Use Azelaic Acid with Retinol?

Yes! It’s safe to use Azelaic Acid and Retinol at the same time, and there are many benefits to doing so. 

Azelaic Acid and Retinol share many qualities, and they don’t react badly to one another, which means using both to support your skin can accelerate your progress toward skin perfection. 

Both ingredients have natural soothing and clarifying properties, which means that together, they’re superheroes when it comes to reducing the appearance of redness and keeping your skin clear. This may also help if you struggle with redness.

Both Azelaic Acid and Retinol could be considered chemical exfoliants, which means they work wonders for brightening your complexion and cleansing away blemishes. Exfoliating can help reduce debris on your skin, which can help keep breakouts at bay. This is a great option if your skin has reacted negatively to ingredients meant to treat breakouts, such as Salicylic Acid.

How Do You Use Azelaic Acid With Retinol?

First of all, while you technically can ease your skin into Synthetic Retinol usage alongside an Azelaic Acid product, why go for the lesser Retinol? 

Stick with our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster instead for all the benefits without any of the sensitization. 

Choosing a Phyto-Retinol means you can jump into the usage of your new favorite product headfirst without having to worry about negative side effects. Because it doesn’t cause photosensitivity, you can even use our Phyto-Retinol twice a day for maximum benefit!

Here’s our number one skincare routine using Azelaic Acid and Phyto-Retinol to get your best skin yet:

1. Wash Your Face

If you wear makeup during the day, you’ll want to take extra care with this step to make sure any trace of cosmetics is well and truly gone before you move on to the rest of your routine. 

This is also the one step you should never skip — even if you’re coming home late and are totally exhausted, you should always wash your face

Our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm is perfect for removing everything and anything from your skin while still leaving it feeling hydrated. 

The wrong cleanser can do more harm than good, which is why we replaced harsh surfactants like sulfates with natural-biocompatible, makeup-melting Yucca Extract, and potential irritants and synthetic ingredients like fragrance and silicones, with skin-soothing Turmeric and Ginger Root Oil.

This cleanser smells like heaven in a jar thanks to a variety of delicious ingredients like Ginger Root, Mandarin, and Neroli Oils. 

Rather than stripping your skin with harsh surfactants, our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm removes stubborn mascara, dirt, impurities, and sunscreen while protecting your skin barrier and leaving your skin feeling nourished and hydratednot tight and dry. 

Plus, this formula includes Azelaic Acid, which means it also comes with the benefits of gentle exfoliation and brightening properties. What more could you want in a cleanser?

2. Prepare Your Skin

Toner is often overlooked in skincare lineups, but it’s a crucial step when it comes to keeping your skin balanced. 

It’s also effective in removing any leftover grime or buildup missed by your cleanser, so you can be sure you’re rolling into step three with the cleanest possible slate. Moreover, toner can help your skin better absorb nutrients and antioxidants, so if you want your Phyto-Retinol and Azelaic Acid to do the most, don’t skip this important step.

Our Clear Nutrient Toner utilizes a nutrient-dense ingredient cocktail that is carefully formulated with everything breakout-prone skin needs in order to thrive. 

While many conventional toners actually strip the skin of good bacteria and oils to “clean,” our Clear Nutrient Toner does the opposite!

Our formula features Black Willow Bark, aka nature’s salicylic acid, to combat breakouts without irritation. 

Meanwhile, Organic Kombucha and Raw Apple Cider Vinegar help to provide an ideal environment to keep your skin’s microbiome balanced. Sandalwood Hydrosol also provides essential hydration and calming properties to soothe irritated and red skin. 

3. Apply Your Serum

If you’re using Synthetic Retinol, you’ll want to use it exclusively at night and ease slowly into regular usage, so you don’t irritate your skin. Synthetic Retinol makes your skin photosensitive, so it’s important to be very careful about using it during the day.

Luckily, our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster is safe to use in the morning and evening — it’s gentle on your skin and doesn’t leave you vulnerable to sun damage. Our perfectly dosed vegan capsules transform into a potent retinoic acid when applied to your skin. This is one of the most biocompatible forms of Retinol, so you’ll get the anti-aging effects you want without the downsides!

4. Moisturize and Lock It In

Morning or evening, it’s important to keep your skin hydrated. Hydrated skin is better able to respond to daily environmental stressors and is less likely to age, so this is a skincare step you definitely don’t want to miss.

If anti-aging is your main goal, our Renew Pure Radiance Oil is the perfect daily hydrator. This moisturizing face oil combats fine lines and wrinkles while reversing dullness and helping your complexion rediscover its youthful glow. 

Our oil contains:

  • Chia Seeds and Kiwi Seed Oil to nourish your skin with Omega-3s
  • Passion Fruit Oil and Papaya Seed Oil to provide a youthful glow thanks to Omega-6s and Vitamins A and C
  • Algae Extract and Astaxanthin to reveal a supple and plump complexion

Our face oils are powerhouse moisturizers but feel light on your face. Most importantly, they won’t clog your pores. You’ll feel so good about the results you’ll never reach for your foundation again — you’ll just want to step out and show off your natural glow.

You can use our moisturizing face oil in the morning and evening, but if your skin could use an extra bit of moisture, try a thick, hydrating mask like our Moisture Lock Overnight Mask, featuring hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, nourishing Mango Butter, balancing Squalane, and soothing Aloe Vera.

Many of the top hydrating masks on the market are either wasteful sheet masks or full of pore-clogging waxes and harsh preservatives. You never want wax in your face mask because waxes can build up in your pores, which may cause congestion and prevent the absorption of other beneficial ingredients. 

However, our lightweight, clinically proven mask works like a night cream to dramatically boost skin’s hydration levels all while you sleep — and it does this without pore-clogging waxes. This moisture mask is hypoallergenic and perfect for all skin types.

In Conclusion

Azelaic Acid and Retinol are both effective ingredients for helping improve uneven skin tones and other blemishes on their own. However, they work even better together! 

Try working your future favorite skincare duo into your current skincare routine to see real improvements in your complexion.

Looking for more guidance on how you can support your skin with the right ingredients? Take our Skincare Quiz here!


Retinoids in the Treatment of Skin Aging: An Overview of Clinical Efficacy and Safety | US National Library of Medicine

Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin | The American Journal of Pathology

Efficacy and Safety of Azelaic Acid (AzA) GEl 15% in the Treatment of Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation and Acne: A 16-Week, Baseline-Controlled Study | National Library of Medicine

Azelaic Acid and Melaleuca Alternifolia Essential Oil Co-Loaded Vesicular Carrier for Combinational Therapy of Acne | Future Science

Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind Assessment of Topical Bakuchiol and Retinol for Facial Photoageing | National Library of Medicine

A Comprehensive Review on Tyrosinase Inhibitors | National Library of Medicine