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Should You Use Azelaic Acid in the Morning or at Night?

by Ella Goodman 05 Feb 2024

So, you’ve got azelaic acid in your skincare arsenal, and you’re ready to unleash its magic on your skin. 

But wait a minute—when’s the best time to slather this wonder ingredient on your face? 

Morning or night? 

Or maybe... both? 

Let’s demystify this once and for all. 

What Time of Day Should I Apply Azelaic Acid?

Good news: Azelaic acid is not a diva about timing. 

You can invite it into your morning routine, your nighttime ritual, or both—depending on what your skin can handle and what other products you’re using.

But to truly master this ingredient's versatility, let's dive deeper into its AM and PM personas.

Morning Glory

Imagine starting your day with a guardian angel for your skin. 

Azelaic acid in the morning isn't just about preemptive care; it's about setting a tone of defense and brilliance for your skin throughout the day. 

Its knack for calming inflammation and reducing redness means you're not just treating existing concerns but also preventing new ones from crashing your skin party. And since azelaic acid isn't photosensitive, it won't throw a tantrum when exposed to sunlight—making it the perfect daytime companion.

But here's where it gets even better: azelaic acid's compatibility with sunscreen and makeup means it slots into your morning routine like the missing piece of a puzzle. 

It lays down a smooth, non-greasy canvas, enhancing makeup application and, more importantly, bolstering the effectiveness of your SPF. 

By reducing inflammation and hyperpigmentation, azelaic acid works hand in hand with your sunscreen to combat UV damage and prevent the dark spots and texture issues that can arise from sun exposure.

Night Moves

As the world quiets down and you begin your nighttime unwinding routine, azelaic acid shifts gears to support your skin's natural repair mode. 

Nighttime is when your skin is most receptive to renewal and healing, making it the perfect backdrop for azelaic acid to work its magic. 

It targets hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and uneven texture with precision, leveraging your body's restorative state to accelerate the healing process.

This silent warrior works in the shadows, orchestrating a delicate balance of exfoliation and rejuvenation. 

By inhibiting melanin production, it steadily fades dark spots and prevents the formation of new ones, ensuring you wake up to a complexion that's not only clearer but also more radiant. 

Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory action soothes active flare-ups and reduces overall redness, allowing you to rise with skin that feels as calm and rested as you do.

Integrating Azelaic Acid: A Tailored Approach

Whether you choose to deploy azelaic acid as your morning shield or your nighttime healer (or both), the key is to listen to your skin's needs and respond accordingly. 

Start with a lower concentration if you're new to the ingredient or have particularly sensitive skin, and consider pairing it with hydrating and soothing products to enhance its benefits without overwhelming your skin.

For those embarking on a twice-daily azelaic acid journey, pay close attention to how your skin reacts. It's all about finding that sweet spot where your skin reaps the maximum benefits without any signs of irritation.

Should I Use Azelaic Acid Twice a Day?

Can you use azelaic acid twice a day? Absolutely! But, start slow. 

The Art of Azelaic Acid Doubling

Embracing azelaic acid twice a day is like giving your skin an all-access pass to clarity, brightness, and calm. 

This skincare maestro doesn't just play well at any time; it harmonizes with your skin's needs, addressing concerns from stubborn acne to the ghostly shadows of hyperpigmentation. 

But as with any powerful act, the key is in the buildup.

Starting Slow: The Skin's Symphony

Picture your skin as a finely tuned instrument in an orchestra. 

Azelaic acid is the conductor, guiding the performance, but too much too soon and you risk overwhelming the melody. 

Starting your azelaic acid journey with a once-daily application is like the first rehearsal, allowing your skin to acclimate to its new leader.

Observe how your skin responds during this initial phase. 

Does it hit the high notes with ease, or is there a hint of discord in the form of irritation? Your skin's feedback is invaluable, guiding you on whether to maintain your current cadence or to step up the tempo to twice daily.

The Harmony of Twice Daily Use

If your skin echoes back with resilience and positive results, introducing a morning and evening application of azelaic acid could elevate your skincare composition to a masterpiece. 

This twice-daily ritual allows azelaic acid to work in continuous harmony with your skin's natural cycles—protecting and healing by day, rejuvenating and repairing by night.

Morning applications set the stage for defense, arming your skin against environmental aggressors and preparing it for the day ahead. 

By night, azelaic acid shifts focus to repair, working in concert with your skin's regenerative processes to undo the day's damage and refine the skin's texture and tone.

Listening to Your Skin: The Ultimate Cue

Your skin's reaction is the ultimate cue in determining the right frequency for azelaic acid in your routine. 

If you notice any signs of irritation, such as redness, dryness, or sensitivity, it's a signal to dial back. This isn't a setback but a recalibration, ensuring the skincare symphony plays on without a hitch.

Can You Use Retinol at Night and Azelaic Acid in the Morning?

Pairing retinol and azelaic acid is like creating a dream team for your skin. 

There are a couple of reasons for that. 

Retinol: The Nighttime Warrior

Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is the quintessential nighttime fighter, renowned for its prowess in accelerating cell renewal, combating fine lines, and diving deep into the skin to wage war on breakouts and uneven skin texture. 

Its work is best done under the cover of darkness, not just metaphorically but literally, as retinol is sensitive to sunlight which can degrade its superhero powers.

Using retinol at night aligns with your skin's natural rhythm of repair and regeneration, giving it the undisturbed time it needs to work its magic. 

Imagine retinol as the diligent builder, reconstructing the foundation of your skin as you dream, ensuring you wake up to a stronger, smoother, and more youthful visage.

Azelaic Acid: The Daylight Defender

Come morning, azelaic acid steps into the spotlight. 

This multitasking marvel, known for its ability to brighten, reduce inflammation, and target hyperpigmentation, is your skin's daytime shield. 

Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it a formidable foe against acne, rosacea, and the dark marks they leave behind, while its ability to inhibit melanin production helps to prevent future discoloration.

Applying azelaic acid in the morning (followed, naturally, by a good moisturizer) complements your nighttime retinol routine by addressing the issues retinol has brought to the surface. 

It's like having a cleanup crew that comes in after a night of renovation work, polishing and perfecting the skin, readying it to face the day with confidence.

The Importance of Sun Protection

When creating a skincare routine that features both retinol and azelaic acid, never underestimate the power of a good sunscreen. 

Retinol's propensity to increase photosensitivity means your skin is more vulnerable to the sun's rays, making a broad-spectrum SPF your non-negotiable daytime companion. 

Following your morning application of azelaic acid with a generous layer of sunscreen ensures that your skin is not only protected from potential damage but also benefits from the corrective and preventive actions of both ingredients without compromise.

Can You Wear Azelaic Acid in the Sun?

Sun's out, azelaic acid's out? You bet! 

Azelaic acid is like that chill friend who gets along with everyone and doesn’t cause drama when the sun comes out to play. 

It’s a rare gem in the skincare world, especially when you’re navigating the do's and don’ts of acids and their relationship with sunlight.

But let's dial up the details and dive into why you can confidently wear azelaic acid under the golden glow of the sun, and why layering up on sunscreen is still your golden rule.

Azelaic Acid: The Sun-Friendly Acid

Azelaic acid stands out for its indifference to sunlight, making it an exceptional candidate for daytime use. 

Its stability in the face of UV rays means its effectiveness and integrity remain uncompromised, whether you’re catching rays on a beach day or simply running errands. 

This is a stark contrast to some skincare ingredients that can degrade or become less effective when exposed to sunlight, potentially leaving your skin vulnerable.

The Science Behind the Sunshine

Unlike photo-sensitive ingredients that can cause irritation or increase sensitivity to UV rays, azelaic acid maintains its cool. 

It works diligently to target hyperpigmentation, soothe inflammation, and tackle acne without the side effect of increased sun sensitivity. 

This makes azelaic acid a versatile player in your skincare lineup, ready to defend and improve your skin regardless of the UV index.

SPF: Your Daily Armor

Now, just because azelaic acid can stand up to the sun doesn’t mean you can ditch the SPF.

Sunscreen is the unsung hero of skincare, the defender of your complexion’s future. 

It protects against the real villains of the skincare saga: UVA and UVB rays that accelerate aging, promote hyperpigmentation, and, more seriously, increase the risk of skin cancer. 

Incorporating a broad-spectrum SPF into your daily routine, especially when using actives like azelaic acid, is akin to putting a protective bubble around your skin. It ensures that the benefits of your skincare efforts are preserved and that your skin is shielded from external aggressors.

Making Sunscreen and Azelaic Acid Besties

Here’s how to make these two get along like besties in your morning routine:

  1. Start with a Clean Slate: Begin with a gentle cleanser to prepare your skin.

  2. Apply Azelaic Acid: Once your face is dry, apply your azelaic acid product. If it’s a serum, let it absorb fully into your skin.

  3. Moisturize: Follow up with a moisturizer to lock in hydration.

  4. Finish with Sunscreen: Apply a generous amount of broad-spectrum SPF. Remember, sunscreen should be the last step in your skincare routine before makeup.

Embracing the Sun, Wisely

Incorporating azelaic acid into your daytime routine doesn’t just mean you’re fighting blemishes, redness, and pigmentation; it means you’re doing so with the full understanding that good skin health is a holistic approach. 

It’s about using the right ingredients at the right time, all while not forgetting that sunscreen is your ultimate ally against the effects of sun exposure.

In the world of skincare, azelaic acid is like the cool, adaptable friend we all wish we had—ready to hang out at any time of day, plays well with others, and even protects you (from blemishes, that is). 

Whether you’re team AM, PM, or both, incorporating azelaic acid into your routine is like giving your skin a high-five. 

Just remember, like any good friendship, it’s all about finding the right balance. 

And, never forget—come rain or shine, sunscreen is your ride or die!


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