What Does Azelaic Acid Do? 5 Reasons To Add This To Your Skincare Routine

In the wide, wonderful world of skincare products, it’s sometimes difficult to determine which ingredient will be worthy of gracing your bathroom countertop. There’s a lot of trial and error involved in developing the best skincare routine for you, and what works for you might not work for the next person.

One ingredient worth getting to know before you try it on for size is Azelaic Acid. While it does have “Acid” in its name, it isn’t an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or even a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). But then, what is Azelaic Acid, and why should you consider adding it to your skincare lineup?

What Is Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic Acid is an acid that occurs naturally in the world. It’s found mostly in grains, such as wheat or rye. While it’s not an AHA or a BHA, it’s known as a Dicarboxylic Acid. Because it’s an acid, it has an impact similar to the AHAs and BHAs you might be more familiar with in that it can be used as an exfoliant. Similar to Lactic Acid, Azelaic Acid gently exfoliates your skin so that it looks smooth and brightened.

After countless formula iterations and obsessive testing, we’ve found our dream formula when it comes to removing makeup and impurities while leaving your skin feeling hydrated. Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm also offers a delectable scent due to ingredients like Ginger Root, Mandarin, and Neroli Oils. So, not only will it help nourish and brighten your complexion with Azelaic Acid and the added benefits of a wide variety of plant extracts and oil, but it can bring that sense of relaxation to mind, too.

Like other superhero skincare ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Azelaic Acid is available in a wide range of strengths. It can be purchased in over-the-counter products in weaker solutions, or a doctor or dermatologist can prescribe Azelaic Acid products with strengths as high as 20%, depending on your skincare needs and plan of attack.

Why Should You Use Azelaic Acid?

As with any ingredient, whether or not you should consider adding Azelaic Acid to your skincare routine depends on what problems you’re trying to improve! So let’s discuss some of the many benefits to using products like our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm formulated with Azelaic Acid.

1. It’s Naturally Cleansing 

Azelaic Acid is a gift when it comes to fighting the effects of breakouts and helping to keep your skin clear and smooth. While your mileage may vary depending on the severity and type of breakouts you suffer from, Azelaic Acid is known to be super effective when it comes to clearing out your pores.

Not only does it make sure your pores don’t get clogged with any debris, but it also fends off any grime or impurities that might keep those breakouts coming back.

While Azelaic Acid won’t bubble up like soap, it does have natural cleansing properties. Often, our breakouts are not just caused by dirt or dead surface skin cells, but by environmental toxins that accumulate on our faces throughout the day. Especially if you live in a big city or anywhere prone to high levels of pollution, your skin is picking all of that up as you go about your day.

Using an ingredient with natural cleansing properties can be helpful in ensuring that any unwelcome molecules that may try to hitchhike on your skin or take hold in your pores are stopped short, which can go a long way toward improving your skin overall. In fact, some studies have shown that Azelaic Acid gets results that are so good they’re nearly indistinguishable from the results experienced with synthetic retinoids like Tretinoin. 

2. It’s Naturally Soothing 

Naturally soothing ingredients are key if you’re prone to red or irritated skin. Your skin can become sensitive or sensitized due to breakouts, but there are other things that can leave your skin looking raw and angry. Sunburn, windburn, and excessively dry skin, among other skin concerns can all lead to patchy red skin that’s too irritated to be covered up with even a little concealer. 

Working a soothing ingredient into your skincare routine like Azelaic Acid can help even out your skin tone and reduce any redness you may be experiencing. 

While the first port of call for improving stubborn redness and irritation should always be a doctor or dermatologist, Azelaic Acid can be a great option when it comes to reducing the appearance of that redness. 

If you’re trying to cool off red, uncomfortable skin, add our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm into your skincare routine. Formulated with Azelaic Acid, this cleansing balm will feel gentle on your skin and leave it feeling hydrated, while working to calm and soothe angry skin. 

3. It Can Help With Uneven Skin Tone

Azelaic Acid can also be an effective way to help with uneven skin tone and dark spots. If dark spots and blemishes are an area of concern for you, you’ve probably tried just about everything under the sun to try to even out your skin tone, from Vitamin A to Vitamin C. And while many other products can be effective in improving the appearance of these uneven spots, Azelaic Acid has some qualities that make it particularly potent.

Azelaic Acid is particularly effective against discoloration when used in conjunction with other products, like our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster. Where Azelaic Acid may help in the deepest layers of your skin, our phyto-retinol or AHAs will resurface your skin to help even out your complexion on the surface. You’ll basically be attacking patchiness from above and below.

4. It Works as an Exfoliant

If you aren’t tired of hearing all of the great benefits of using Azelaic Acid yet, you’ll be happy to hear that on top of everything else, Azelaic Acid can also help you fulfill your exfoliation quota for the week. 

Like other chemical exfoliants, Azelaic Acid can help to clear off dead surface skin cells, dirt, and other irritants from your face. This will allow newer surface skin cells their time in the sun (protected by SPF, of course) and help your complexion to look brighter and clearer overall. 

If you already use an AHA product like our Resurfacing Moisture Mask and aren’t sure you want to move on to a new product, you don’t have to worry! Not only does Azelaic Acid play well with our phyto-retinol, but it also works well when paired with other chemical exfoliants like Alpha Hydroxy Acids without being too much. So, if you like your exfoliator, but wouldn’t mind giving your skin an extra boost to help it break through a dull phase, adding Azelaic Acid might be just what you need.

5. It’s Gentle On Your Skin 

Another benefit of Azelaic Acid as opposed to other ingredients that address similar concerns is that it tends to be a bit gentler on your skin. Using Azelaic Acid can result in a mild tingling or stinging sensation, but in general, it plays well with even the most sensitive skin types. 

Overall, Azelaic Acid isn’t going to have the same abrasive effect on your skin as, say, an AHA. That’s not to say that AHAs aren’t effective or to warn you off of them — but if you want the effects of one, yet worry about your sensitive skin, Azelaic Acid may be the alternative you’re looking for. 

Our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm particularly is ideal for sensitized skin, because unlike other cleansers, it isn’t packed with harsh surfactants or made up of pointless fillers. Instead, it’s packed to the brim with ingredients like Turmeric, Ginger Root and Cucumber Seed Oil, all of which help all the goodness in our cleansing balm absorb into your skin, all while calming down any redness or irritation to help make your complexion more radiant overall.

Are There Any Drawbacks To Using Azelaic Acid?

Although we pointed out that Azelaic Acid tends to be gentler on your skin than many other comparable products, you might be wondering if there’s something you’re missing. 

When you’re adding any ingredient to your skincare routine, patch testing the product on your wrist is a good habit to get into, even if you’re confident that the product will be gentle on your skin. Even though Azelaic Acid is gentler on your skin than many other products, even ones that you’re already using, you’ll want to work it into your routine a few days a week to start, and build up your usage from there as long as your skin remains happy and even.

If you notice any swelling, hives, or other unusual reactions immediately after you start using Azelaic Acid, discontinue use immediately, and check in with your doctor or dermatologist. But as long as your skin tolerates Azelaic Acid, you should be good to go.

You might also wonder if you need to take extra steps to avoid exposing your skin to the sun when using Azelaic Acid. Luckily, Azelaic Acid doesn’t make your skin photosensitive. That doesn’t, of course, mean that you should forgo your SPF routine, but it does mean you don’t have to carry any additional concerns when using Azelaic Acid.

It’s also worth mentioning that, like many skincare products, while using Azelaic Acid can have all of these benefits, it’s only with consistent, long-term use that you’ll really see them. One application of Azelaic Acid isn’t going to change your life. But if you make it a habit, it can absolutely change your skin.

In Conclusion

Azelaic Acid isn’t the first acid most of us consider when thinking about our skincare routines. Lactic Acid is everyone’s go-to exfoliant and Salicylic Acid has long had center stage when it comes to fighting breakouts, but there are other ingredients waiting in the wings to be given their due, and Azelaic Acid is one of them.

In addition to a long list of ways in which Azelaic Acid can improve your complexion, from battling the effects of breakouts to brightening your skin overall, it’s also relatively gentle on your skin. Partly because it tends to be gentler than other options, it’s also safe to use with many other ingredients that can be difficult to combine otherwise.

Whether you want to make Azelaic Acid a feature of your skincare routine, or are just looking for ways to amp up the effects of your other favorites, we have no doubt that Azelaic Acid and Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm is going to earn its coveted place amongst your skincare products.


Alpha Hydroxy Acids | Food and Drug Administration

Beta Hydroxy Acids | Food and Drug Administration

Azelaic Acid | Pub Chem

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

Acne Therapy with Topical Benzoyl Peroxide, Antibiotics and Azelaic Acid | National Library of Medicine

Topical Azelaic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Nicotinamide, Sulphur, Zing and Fruit Acid (Alpha-Hydroxy Acid) for  Acne | Cochrane Library