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Does Azelaic Acid Help With Acne? (The CORRECT Answer)

by Ella Goodman 15 Apr 2024

Hey there, seeker of skincare wisdom! 

So, you've landed here with a burning question on your mind: "Does azelaic acid help with acne?

Whether you're navigating the turbulent seas of teenage acne or you're (shudder) battling the dreaded zombie acne, you've most likely tried an array of products. 

Sometimes without so much as a hint of success. 

Well, fear not! 

Our detailed guide is here to fuel your skincare journey with science-backed facts, tailored tips and a hint of sass, all for that coveted glow!

Does azelaic acid reduce acne?

It's getting scientific in here, skincare enthusiasts, so let's get started.

With that, let's get the million-dollar question out of the way right at the beginning: 

Yes, azelaic acid does reduce acne. 

There's no beating about the bush on this one.

But how, you ask? 

On a molecular level, azelaic acid exhibits antibacterial properties. It's like a professional bouncer for your skin, keeping the unwanted bacteria - the ones that cause inflammation and acne - from sauntering into the skin club.

And it doesn't stop there. Noticing any pesky, persistent dead skin cells clogging up your complexion? 

Azelaic acid, always ready for the challenge, also works as a keratolytic. This scientific jargon simply means it’s superb at eliminating excess dead skin cells and promoting fresh cellular turnover.  

It's the equivalent of replacing that worn-out welcome mat with a vibrant, brand new one, and who wouldn't want that? The end result is smoother, clearer skin. And don't we all strive for that?

Now, about the application. Typically found in creams and serums, azelaic acid is right at home in your nighttime skincare routine. Apply it post-cleansing, accompanying it with a nourishing moisturizer to avoid any potential dryness.

One might think, "Wait, if it's that powerful, won't it strip my skin?" 

Fret not, gentle readers. While azelaic acid does pack a punch, it's actually a rather gentle ingredient suitable for most skin types, including those of you with sensitive skin.

The only catch? Give it time. Azelaic acid is like a fine wine; it gets better with time. You might not see immediate results. But with consistent use, usually over weeks, or months, better skin days are within reach, my friends.

So, to circle back to that all-important query - does azelaic acid reduce acne? 

We end with the resounding answer: Yes, it most certainly does! We're calling it - azelaic acid is an unsung hero in the battle against acne. And now, you're armed with all the details.  

How long does it take for azelaic acid to work on acne?

Oh, the eternal question; how much time before your skin throws a 'Thank You' party for the miracle worker that's azelaic acid? 

Let's dive right in.

The short (and not so sweet) answer is, there's no instant fix. Even the blockbuster Hollywood stuff could use a primer, eh? 

But with azelaic acid, we're talking weeks, not months.

The chief objective here is managing expectations. Consistency is king when it comes to skincare.

Science is pretty straightforward. Azelaic acid words by unclogging pores and reducing inflammation. It's sort of like a Roto-Rooter for your acne-prone skin. Persistent, not flashy. 

First up, it's the level of severity of your acne situation that counts. 

Is it as rebellious as a gorilla in a unicorn-themed kiddie park? Or merely a squeaker like a hamster on a wheel? Basically, is it Mount Vesuvius or a teeny-weeny molehill? 

Depending upon the severity, you can witness the azelaic acid's first heroic deeds within two to four weeks. Think less reddened bumps, expulsion of those annoying blackheads, or a general deflation of breakouts.

Score one for azelaic acid.

But full-on results, like a completely clean, acne-free slate, might take a bit more time. 

We're talking about 10 to 12 weeks here. That's when azelaic acid's more nuanced actions start kicking in. It's when those broad daylight blemishes begin their retreat into obscurity.

Slow and steady like a tranquil turtle, not a frantic hare. It gives a whole new vibe to "good things come to those who wait".

Also, the skincare routine you pair azelaic acid with matters too. Start with a good cleanser, an appropriate moisturizer, and a sunblock for your skin type. 

Sure, azelaic acid is the superhero here, but even superheroes need a solid support team, right? 

Remember, azelaic acid can be complicated. It's not exactly plug-and-play. Just as you wouldn't sprint with new running shoes, you shouldn't dive into heavy-duty azelaic acid application. 

Start small, a lower percentage formula, maybe? Make it easy for your skin to become pals with this potent potion before going full-tilt.

And don't' forget, it's no 'one-size-fits-all' capsule. 

Certain individuals might see notable differences within the first month itself while for others, it might be a slow burn. To boot, some folks may experience a purging phase. 

A sudden peak on the acne graph, anyone? Fret not, it's just the acid doing its job - promising a clear complexion after the storm. 

That said, remember to consult with a dermatologist if any symptoms persist or worsen.

Finally, don't let frustration creep in. Post-acne redness commonly takes its own sweet time to bid adieu. Cue in our hero, azelaic acid, reducing such inflamed blemishes.

Patience, my friend.

The bottom line remains; it's a cocktail of time, patience, consistency, and care. A journey, not a pit stop. 

So, buckle up, sip on that herbal tea, binge-watch your favorite series, and let azelaic acid do its thing. 

Can you put azelaic acid on your face everyday?

Why certainly, folks! 

Azelaic acid, this fantastically feisty and versatile skincare ingredient, is, in fact, something you can make part of your daily skincare wizardry. 

But as with any potent potion, it's not just about frequency, but also about balance, tolerance, and how your skin decides to play ball. 

Let’s get into the fascinating specifics.

First, it's important to acknowledge azelaic acid as a true skincare multitasker. It’s quite the expert in aiding and abetting the process of cellular turnover, reducing inflammation, and evening out your skin tone. 

It's a whack-a-mole champion against acne, melasma, and rosacea. Truly a rockstar in our skincare band!

But hey, even rockstars have to face the music of moderation. 

Dermatologists generally give the green-light for daily azelaic acid use, but they're quick to ad-lib in parentheses about kick-starting the journey by using it every alternate day, then gradually escalating its use as your skin gets comfortable.

Ah, comfort! That's a pivotal keyword in the azelaic acid lexicon. Comfort implies acclimatization. It's like slowly settling into a hot tub - sure, the high temperature can be a bit daunting at first, but give it some time, and it'll feel like a warm, loving hug.

For some skin types, azelaic acid—though typically well-tolerated—might initially cause a bit of an uproar in the form of dryness or mild peeling. 

Don't fret! This is your skin's way of adapting to this new power player on the chessboard. Indeed, it's host to an impromptu welcome party for the new serum in town.

Now, if you sense a fiery rebellion from your skin with persistent redness, swelling, or discomfort, it's probably your cue to pump the brakes. It could be the skincare siren suggesting that maybe daily usage isn't the best match for your skin's biologic blueprint. 

It's a classic ‘you're great but I need some space’ situation - nothing personal!

The key, as always, lies in paying attention to feedback from your very own skin tower control. 

Monitor, assess, and adjust your skincare regimen accordingly. It's all part of a balancing act where azelaic acid can play a beautiful daily melody, as long as you're in tune with your skin’s reactions and the rhythm it's most comfortable dancing to.

It's also worth noting that azelaic acid is a bit of a day-night owl. You can choir it up with other products in your AM or PM routine. Layering it after your moisturizer could help to curb any potential irritation.

You should, however, play a careful game of hide-and-seek if you're also using other exfoliating heavyweights like retinoids or AHAs. Too much exfoliation can make your skin shout 'exfoli-Yikes!' Balance is our mantra here.

So, can you put azelaic acid on your face every day? Absolutely! Just ensure you're listening to your skin and making decisions based on its feedback.

What should you not mix with azelaic acid?

Navigating the complex world of skincare can be a minefield, and azelaic acid is no exception. 

This silent hero of your skincare regimen has mega powers, but doesn't always play nice in the sandbox. 

You've got the cool kids of your skincare line-up, the active ingredients like retinoids and vitamin C, but sometimes, they just can't all party together.

The main issue? 


Strong, active ingredients, such as azelaic acid and retinoids, aren't best buddies. 

Mix these together and you might invite skin stress, leading to possible irritation and potential barrier damage. Think of it as a superhero clash in the DC or Marvel universe. Explosive and incredibly powerful, but not exactly everyday casual.

Vitamin C is another popular player in skincare. No doubt, it's an antioxidant powerhouse that loves to brighten and tighten your skin, but it resists getting chummy with azelaic acid. 

Why? Well, azelaic acid thrives in an environment with a lower pH, while vitamin C favors a higher pH. 

Like oil and water, these two ingredients struggle to mix properly.

The solution?


Break up the party, and invite them to your skincare routine at different times. Consider using azelaic acid as part of your AM routine, and save the opposing actives, “the other crew”, for your PM routine. 

Simple, right? This allows your skin the chance to benefit from all these ingredients without the social tension. 

They're all your skin’s mates after all, but they don't always have to catch up together!

Azelaic acid bonus: say goodbye to melasma

Little did you know, the saga of azelaic acid isn't limited to taming acne and rosacea but also stretches to combating melasma. 

Yep, it turns out azelaic acid is a total ninja when it comes to fading those pesky dark spots. But that’s another story… 

Skincare crash course complete!

As we sign off from this chapter of your skincare journey, always remember that your skin tells your unique story. It's beautiful, radiant, and yours. 

And azelaic acid? Well, it's just the guide to help you narrate that story even more confidently. 

Stay tuned for more as we continue to explore the astonishing world of skincare!

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