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Azelaic Acid Before or After Glycolic Acid (Here’s the REAL Answer)

by Ella Goodman 25 Jan 2024

Hey there, skincare enthusiasts!

Ready to dive deep into a skincare showdown for the ages?

Yup, we’re about azelaic acid and glycolic acid.

And to be specific — which one you should use first in your skincare routine.

Trust me, by the end of this read, you'll be an absolute pro at navigating these skincare superstars.

Let's cut through the confusion and get your glow on with some seriously skin-savvy insights.

Which Goes First: Azelaic Acid or Glycolic Acid?

So, you’re armed with both azelaic acid and glycolic acid, standing in front of your mirror ready to wage war against skin woes.

But which one goes on your skin first?

Here’s the lowdown:

Azelaic Acid: The Zen Master of Skincare

First up in our skincare showdown, we've got azelaic acid.

Picture this as your skin's peacekeeper, the zen master that's all about bringing balance and harmony.

It's the unsung hero for calming inflammation and reducing redness, making it a go-to for those with rosacea or sensitive skin.

But that's not all – azelaic acid is also a blemish buster. It works by inhibiting the production of keratin, a protein that can block pores and lead to acne.

Plus, it’s a whiz at fading post-acne marks and hyperpigmentation by slowing down the production of melanin (there’s a good reason it’s made the grade in our signature Brightening Serum!).

But here's the thing: azelaic acid is kind of like a polite guest at a party. It doesn't barge in; it waits for an opening.

And that's where glycolic acid comes in.

Glycolic Acid: The Exfoliating Powerhouse

Enter glycolic acid, your skin's personal trainer.

This AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) means serious business.

With the smallest molecule size among its AHA peers, it penetrates the skin like a champ, breaking the bonds between dead cells and revealing the fresher, brighter skin beneath.

It's the ultimate exfoliator, sweeping away the dull and dead to make room for the new.

Plus, it’s a hydration hero, drawing moisture into the skin and giving you that plump, dewy look.

But here’s the kicker: while glycolic acid is a powerhouse, it’s also kind of like a prep squad for your skin. It doesn’t just exfoliate; it preps the skin to absorb other products more effectively.

This is crucial because, for azelaic acid to strut its stuff, it needs a clean, well-prepped canvas.

The Winning Order: Glycolic First, Then Azelaic

So, why does glycolic acid take the lead?

It’s all about maximizing effectiveness.

By applying glycolic acid first, you're essentially rolling out the red carpet for azelaic acid. The exfoliation action of glycolic acid removes dead skin cells and other barriers, allowing azelaic acid to penetrate more deeply and work more effectively.

Think of it as a tag team: glycolic acid starts the match, grappling with dead skin cells and surface impurities.

Once it’s tagged out, azelaic acid jumps into the ring, targeting deeper issues like inflammation and pigmentation with precision.

This tag-team approach ensures that each ingredient works at its full potential, without one overshadowing the other.

A Match Made in Skincare Heaven

Using glycolic acid and azelaic acid together is like having the best of both worlds – the intense, deep-cleaning action of an AHA coupled with the calming, reparative benefits of azelaic acid.

This dynamic duo works in tandem to not only treat existing skin issues but also to prevent new ones from cropping up.

How Do You Use Glycolic and Azelaic Acid Together?

Mixing skincare ingredients can feel like a chemistry experiment gone wild, right?

But fear not! Here’s how to team up glycolic and azelaic acid like a skincare maestro:

Start Slow: The Lowdown on Concentrations

First things first, let's talk concentrations.

Think of glycolic and azelaic acids as your skincare cocktails – it's all about the right mix. If you're a newbie to this dynamic duo, start with lower concentrations.

Why? Because your skin needs time to acclimate. It’s like dipping your toes in the pool before diving in.

Glycolic acid typically ranges from 5% to 30% in over-the-counter products.

Beginners, aim for the lower end of that spectrum. As for azelaic acid, products usually contain between 10% to 20%.

Again, start on the lower side. This gradual introduction helps mitigate potential irritation and allows you to gauge your skin's tolerance.

Glycolic First: Setting the Stage

Picture glycolic acid as the opening act in this skincare concert.

Post-cleansing, when you apply glycolic acid, it's busy breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells.

This exfoliating action is crucial because it clears the way for azelaic acid to penetrate more effectively. It's like clearing a clogged path so the main performer can waltz through without a hitch.

But here's where it gets interesting: glycolic acid isn’t just an exfoliator. It also hydrates and increases skin permeability.

This means when you apply azelaic acid afterward, it's not just reaching the surface; it’s going deeper, where it can really work its magic.

A Little Break: Timing is Everything

After applying glycolic acid, give your skin a breather. About 5-10 minutes should do the trick.

This pause is vital – it’s the intermission between acts, allowing your skin to absorb the glycolic acid fully. Plus, it minimizes the risk of any potential irritation that could occur from layering products too quickly.

Think of this as letting each ingredient have its moment in the spotlight. Rushing this process is like blending two songs together without a beat – it just doesn't work.

Enter Azelaic Acid: The Star of the Show

Now, for the grand entrance of azelaic acid.

This is where the magic happens.

Apply it evenly, letting it cover all the areas where glycolic acid has prepped the skin.

Azelaic acid works on so many levels – it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and a melanin inhibitor, which means it’s fighting acne, soothing redness, and tackling hyperpigmentation.

The beauty here is in the synergy. Glycolic acid has prepped your skin so well that azelaic acid can truly get down to business, reaching deeper skin layers, and being more effective.

Listen to Your Skin: Personalize Your Routine

Last but not least, listen to your skin. It’s your body's way of giving you feedback.

Some skin types can handle this power duo daily, while others might prefer a few times a week. Pay attention to any signs of irritation or dryness and adjust accordingly.

How Long Should I Wait to Apply Moisturizer After Azelaic Acid?

Timing is everything. And in skincare, it’s an art!

This isn't just a random pause in your routine; it's a strategic move that can make or break your skincare game.

Let's unwrap this mystery and turn you into a timing ninja!

The 10-15 Minute Rule: More Than Just a Waiting Game

So, you've just slathered on that azelaic acid, feeling like a skincare champ.

But hold your horses – it's not time for the moisturizer just yet. We’re talking a solid 10-15 minutes of waiting.

Why this specific time frame, you ask?

Science, my friends, science!

Azelaic acid, your skin's clarifying hero, needs time to penetrate the deeper layers of your skin to work its magic. This 10-15 minute window allows the acid to fully absorb, ensuring you get every bit of its blemish-busting, redness-reducing power.

If you jump the gun and apply moisturizer too soon, you risk diluting the azelaic acid, diminishing its effectiveness. It's like pouring water into a potent potion – you just don't do it.

The Role of Moisturizer: Locking in the Goodness

Now, let's talk about the role of moisturizer post-azelaic acid.

It's not just about adding hydration; it's about sealing the deal.

The right moisturizer acts like a protective barrier, locking in the azelaic acid and ensuring it stays where it needs to – in your skin, doing its thing.

But here's the catch – not all moisturizers are created equal. Your skin is unique, so your moisturizer should be too.

Look for keywords like 'non-comedogenic' (won’t clog pores), 'nourishing' (packed with skin-loving ingredients), and 'harmonious with your skin type' (because oily, dry, and combination skins have different needs).

It’s like picking a dance partner – you need someone who matches your rhythm.

Moisturizer Ingredients: The Good, The Bad, and The Glowy

When choosing your moisturizer, ingredients matter.

Hyaluronic acid is a hydration hero, drawing moisture into your skin for that plump, dewy look. Collagen peptides are another superstar, reinforcing your skin’s barrier and keeping the good stuff in.

But beware of certain ingredients that could clash with azelaic acid.

Heavy oils or overly occlusive ingredients might interfere with azelaic acid's absorption, making your well-timed routine less effective.

The Bigger Picture: Why This Matters

You might wonder, "Is timing really that crucial?"

In a word? Absolutely!

Skincare is more than slapping products on your face; it's understanding how and when they work best.

By mastering the wait time post-azelaic acid, you're optimizing your skincare routine for maximum efficiency.

This isn't just about looking good (though that's a fabulous bonus); it's about respecting the science behind these products and giving your skin the best possible care. It's a testament to the fact that in skincare, as in life, timing is indeed everything.

Is It OK to Use Glycolic Acid Every Day?

Now, you're probably wondering: Can I bask in the glow of glycolic acid every single day?

Before you make it a daily ritual, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how often this skincare superstar should take the spotlight on your skin.

Glycolic Acid: The Showstopper with a Side of Caution

Glycolic acid, the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) extraordinaire, is like the lead singer of your skincare band – it’s got the spotlight for a reason.

Its claim to fame is its small molecule size, allowing it to penetrate the skin deeply and effectively.

It’s a whiz at exfoliating, revealing brighter, younger-looking skin, and who doesn’t want that front and center?

But, like all showstoppers, it needs its downtime, or else it can lead to an encore of irritation and sensitivity.

The Golden Rule of Frequency: Less is More

Here’s the deal: using glycolic acid daily can be overkill for some skin types.

Imagine doing a hardcore workout every single day – your muscles would scream for a break! Similarly, daily glycolic acid can overwhelm your skin.

The golden rule? Start with a 2-3 times a week performance. It’s like a trial run to see how your skin reacts to this headliner.

This frequency allows your skin to gradually get used to the acid without overwhelming it. Plus, it’s a perfect way to gauge your skin's tolerance and adjust the frequency accordingly.

Listen to Your Skin: It's Talking to You

Now, if your skin is loving glycolic acid and craving more, feel free to slowly increase the frequency. It's like turning up the volume when your favorite song comes on.

But keep a close eye on how your skin responds. If it's sending you SOS signals – think redness, peeling, or a sensation that screams “too much” – it's your cue to dial it back.

Your skin communicates, and it's your job to listen and adapt.

Personalizing Your Glycolic Acid Journey

Skincare is not one-size-fits-all; it's as unique as you are.

Your skin's reaction to glycolic acid depends on various factors like skin type, other products in your routine, and even environmental factors.

You might have friends who can use glycolic acid daily with no issues, but if your skin is more sensitive, you might need to play it cool with less frequent use.

The Ultimate Takeaway

Navigating the world of azelaic and glycolic acids doesn’t have to be a skincare conundrum.

By understanding how these two interact and complement each other, you can create a skincare routine that’s as unique and fabulous as you are.

And hey, who doesn’t love a bit of personalized pampering?

As you experiment with these acids, remember to listen to your skin and adjust accordingly. It's all about finding that perfect harmony to get your skin glowing like the superstar it is.

So go ahead, mix and match, and watch as your skin thanks you with a radiant, healthy glow.

Happy skincare journeying!

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