Skip to content

Azelaic Acid vs Retinol: A Skincare Battle Royale!

by Ella Goodman 06 Nov 2023

Hey, gorgeous!

Are you ready to dive deep into the skincare rumble of the century?

You've got two heavy hitters in the ring – Azelaic Acid and Retinol – and only one can be the true MVP of your beauty regimen.

So, let’s unpack the drama and science behind these buzzworthy contenders, and help you decide which one deserves the top spot on your vanity.

Let’s Cut to the Chase: Which Takes the Crown?

Imagine, if you will, the game of skincare as a high-stakes tournament, not unlike the regal courts where chess was the diversion du jour.

Each chess piece commands the board with strategic might, and just like those carved icons, Azelaic Acid and Retinol have their unique gambits and endgames.

Azelaic Acid

The queen, our beloved Azelaic Acid, glides across the board with an ease that belies her power.

She’s the multitasker, the radiant maven who can maneuver through the landscape of skincare woes without breaking a sweat.

Azelaic Acid is no one-trick pony; this acid has a pH level almost identical to human skin, which means it's not just sitting on your face like a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's working, it's fighting, and it's soothing.

From tackling the fire-breathing dragons of acne and rosacea to lightening the dark armor of hyperpigmentation, Azelaic Acid wields its sword with a finesse that’s gentle on the skin’s proverbial kingdom.


Then there’s the knight, our intrepid Retinol, a valiant crusader revered for its audacity to charge through the lines of age and sun damage.

Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is no novice on the battlefield of skin rejuvenation. It promotes cell turnover quicker than you can say “checkmate,” revealing an underlayer of skin that's as fresh as a daisy in the royal gardens.

The knight’s conquests are the stuff of legends, banishing the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven texture with a valor that's celebrated in skincare sonnets.

So, which takes the crown in this royal rumble?

As in any tournament, the victor is not merely determined by strength alone but by the strategy behind its deployment.

Azelaic Acid is your queen if you’re navigating the sensitive terrains of acne-prone or reactive skin. Its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties don’t storm the castle walls; they negotiate with the skin's natural flora, reducing inflammation and bacterial content without the cry of war (aka irritation).

But should your skin be a hardy fortress, weathered by the sieges of time and sun, the knight – Retinol – will lead your charge. It works its regenerative magic not just on the superficial layers where dead cells dwell but dives deeper, bolstering collagen production, and fortifying the very structure of your skin’s domain.

Quickfire FAQs: Azelaic Acid and Retinol

Can I mix Azelaic Acid with Retinol, or is it a skincare faux pas?

Mixing Azelaic Acid with Retinol might seem like trying to blend opera with electric guitar solos — an unlikely duo. However, it's not a complete no-go. Some skin virtuosos may tolerate the ensemble, while others prefer solo performances on alternate nights. Start with a patch test, much like a soundcheck before the main event, to ensure harmony on your skin.

If Azelaic Acid is so gentle, why do I need to follow with a moisturizer?

Even the gentlest of acts can leave the stage needing a bit of cleanup. Azelaic Acid, while kind, still works hard — and every hard worker deserves support. A moisturizer is like the stage crew that comes in after the show, ensuring everything is set back to a perfect calm, maintaining hydration and keeping the skin's barrier strong and resilient.

I have sensitive skin; can I still use Retinol?

Sensitive skin in the retinol fan club? It’s like having a delicate constitution but loving spicy food — proceed with caution. Consider lower concentrations and apply it less frequently. Think of it as turning down the volume while still enjoying the melody.

Will Azelaic Acid help with my acne scars, or is it just a temporary fix?

Azelaic Acid doesn't just conceal; it heals. It's the skilled artist that not only covers the graffiti but restores the wall to its original glory. It may take time, but with consistent use, it can help in reducing the appearance of acne scars, like slowly fading ink on parchment.

Is there anyone who should avoid Azelaic Acid or Retinol?

Just as not every tune is for every listener, Azelaic Acid and Retinol may not suit everyone. Pregnant or breastfeeding folks should steer clear of Retinol and opt for a melody of milder ingredients. As for Azelaic Acid, it's usually well-tolerated, but those with very sensitive skin conditions should consult with their dermatologist — like asking a music expert before jumping into an unfamiliar genre.

How long does it take to see results from Retinol or Azelaic Acid?

Instant gratification is a rare hit in the skincare charts. With Retinol and Azelaic Acid, patience is your VIP pass. Think of results like a slow-burning classic song that takes time to climb the charts, often anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Is Azelaic Acid or Retinol better for hyperpigmentation?

For the solo of hyperpigmentation, Azelaic Acid may take the lead vocal. It targets melanin production directly, offering a lightening effect that's like turning up the brightness on a dimmed stage. Retinol, however, isn't to be underestimated; it’s like the harmony that supports the main melody, helping overall skin tone by accelerating cell turnover.

Can I go out in the sun after applying Azelaic Acid or Retinol?

Stepping out into the sun after applying Retinol or Azelaic Acid without sunscreen is like a rockstar hitting the stage without their mic — unprepared. Always, and without fail, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin, the encore that guarantees your show goes on without a hitch.

Can I Replace Retinol With Azelaic Acid?

It’s decision time in the skin care saga—thinking about trading in your Retinol for Azelaic Acid?

It's like deciding whether to stick with your classic vintage band tee or switch it up for that sleek, modern jacket. Both speak to style, but they fit into your wardrobe—or in this case, your skincare arsenal—quite differently.

Azelaic Acid is like that all-rounder in your friend group. It plays nice with all skin types, gets along famously with other ingredients in your skincare routine, and doesn't step on any toes.

It’s the drama-free, go-with-the-flow pal who still knows how to throw a punch when it comes to battling a breakout or a bout of rosacea. This rockstar ingredient comes from grains like barley, wheat, and rye and has antibacterial properties that make it a maestro at keeping breakouts at bay.

If your skin has ever felt like it’s walking through a minefield when using Retinol, with redness and peeling lying in wait at every turn, then Azelaic Acid could be the gentle general you need.

It’s like having a personal skin therapist that calms inflammation, reduces hyperpigmentation, and doesn’t lead to an uprising (read: irritation).

Now, let's zoom into the lab for a hot sec.

Azelaic Acid works its magic by inhibiting the synthesis of tyrosinase, an enzyme that’s key in the production of pigment. In simpler terms, it tells your skin cells to cool it on the pigment production, which can help fade those stubborn dark spots.

But let's not forget about Retinol—the classic rock legend of skin care.

Retinol is like that one song that gets everyone on the dance floor. It’s the vitamin A derivative that has decades of research backing up its ability to transform skin texture, pump the brakes on premature aging, and turn up the volume on collagen production.

It’s the gold standard for a reason, but it requires a bit of a dance to get it right—start slow, ease into it, and maybe don’t whip it out at every party.

Making the switch from Retinol to Azelaic Acid doesn’t mean you're downgrading your act. You're just shifting genres.

If Retinol was your hardcore rock anthem, Azelaic Acid is your smooth indie vibe. It's the cool, collected sound that still gets your skin's rhythm in the groove—brightening, smoothing, and soothing.

But before you drop the mic on Retinol, consider this: it’s all about your skin’s narrative.

What chapters does it need? Are you at the beginning, dealing with acne and looking for a gentle introduction? Azelaic Acid could be your opening act.

Or are you deep into the plot, where fine lines are the main characters, and you need that Retinol encore to keep the story interesting?

If your skin's telling you it's time for a genre switch—listen.

Perhaps your new skincare playlist will feature Azelaic Acid on repeat with occasional guest appearances by Retinol. Because, let’s face it, sometimes the best albums are a mix of hits that keep you jamming all night long.

Can I Put Moisturizer Over Azelaic Acid?

When it comes to layering skincare, there’s an art to it, a rhythm if you will, akin to a maestro conducting an orchestra—every note, every pause, every crescendo has its place and time.

So when you ask about crowning Azelaic Acid with a moisturizer, we're not just saying yes, we're giving you a standing ovation for playing into skincare harmony.

Imagine Azelaic Acid as the opening act, taking the stage with its myriad of talents. It soothes, it smoothes, and it evens out your skin tone like a seasoned artist.

But what's a performance without the perfect encore?

That's where the moisturizer comes in, gliding over your skin like the smooth after-voice of a soulful serenade. It seals in the benefits of Azelaic Acid while ensuring your skin’s barrier stays fortified and plush.

Now, let’s delve deeper, because just saying "put a moisturizer over it" is like telling someone to just "add water" to their whisky without considering the blend and the palette.

The right moisturizer after Azelaic Acid should be like a perfectly tailored jacket—complementary, never overshadowing. If Azelaic Acid is the troubadour for your acne-prone and hyperpigmented areas, then your moisturizer should be the harmonizing background vocalist, enhancing the act with ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or collagen to bring hydration and skin-barrier support to the show.

But wait, it's not a slap-dash affair. Timing is everything.

Allow Azelaic Acid its solo. Give it a moment in the limelight to serenade your skin cells, typically around 15 to 20 minutes, before you smooth on your moisturizer. This pause is the intermission your skin needs to absorb the full suite of benefits without muddling the performance with a premature duet.

Consider also the texture and formula of your moisturizer.

Is it a heavy, luxurious cream, or is it a light, breathable lotion? Like choosing between a sultry jazz club and an open-air concert, the setting matters.

Heavier creams are perfect for dry skin types or nighttime routines, making sure the encore lasts until the morning light.

Lighter lotions or gels? They're the matinee performance—perfect for oilier skin types or for those days when your skin craves a lighter touch.

You’re not just layering products; you’re layering science, art, and a touch of personal preference.

This moisturizer-over-Azelaic-Acid business isn’t just a green light; it’s a full-on go-ahead for creating a skincare symphony.

And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the final bow—sunscreen in the AM. Just like the final note that hangs in the air, resonant and clear, sunscreen ensures the standing ovation for your skin’s performance against the grandest aggressor of all—UV rays.

Wrapping Up

Let’s be real – the quest for the perfect skincare regimen is a journey, not a sprint.

And this article is your road map to making an informed choice between Azelaic Acid and Retinol.

Whether you lean towards the gentle embrace of Azelaic Acid or the high-octane power of Retinol, remember that the true winner is the one that makes you feel like royalty in your skin.

So go ahead, experiment, and find your skincare soulmate – your mirror will thank you for it!

Prev Post
Next Post
Someone recently bought a
[time] ago, from [location]

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look

Choose Options

Recently Viewed

Edit Option
Back In Stock Notification
this is just a warning
Shopping Cart
0 items