Azelaic acid serum - a rising star in skincare

Azelaic acid is an entirely natural product. Amongst many other skincare products, it gains attention because of its versatility and positive effects on the skin.

Azelaic acid serum - a rising star in skincare
Viktor Simunović, Viktor Simunović
19 Jan 2024.

Skin is the biggest organ in the human body and the most visible one. It is the first thing people see when they meet us. Taking care of it is very important. There are many different skincare products on the market, each with its benefits.

The azelaic acid serum has emerged as a noteworthy contender in the skincare world, celebrated for its versatility and effectiveness in addressing various skin conditions.

What is azelaic acid?

Azelaic acid naturally occurs in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It belongs to a class of medications known as saturated dicarboxylic acids and comes as a white powder.

What is azelaic acid serum?

The azelaic acid serum is a skincare product formulated primarily with azelaic acid. It varies in composition based on the brand and specific formulation. Typically, it includes a range of compounds such as:

  • Humectants such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid. These ingredients help to draw moisture into the skin.
  • Emollients and occlusives like squalane or dimethicone. They help moisturize the skin and create a protective barrier to lock in hydration.
  • Antioxidants: Vitamin C, E, or ferulic acid might be included to provide additional skin benefits such as protection against environmental damage and support in evening out skin tone.
  • Skin soothers like allantoin, bisabolol, or niacinamide may be added to reduce irritation and calm the skin, which is especially important since azelaic acid can be potent.
  • pH Adjusters: azelaic acid works best at a certain pH, so adjusters like sodium hydroxide or citric acid might be used to maintain the product's efficacy.

Azelaic acid serum benefits

  • Acne treatment: azelaic acid is effective in treating acne due to its antibacterial properties. It reduces the growth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin by decreasing keratin production, and keratin promotes the growth of acne bacteria.
  • Reduces inflammation: it has anti-inflammatory properties, which make it beneficial for reducing the redness and inflammation associated with acne and rosacea when used as a topical gel. It also clears the bumps and swelling caused by rosacea.
  • Treats hyperpigmentation: Azelaic acid inhibits melanin production, which can help fade dark spots, melasma, and other forms of hyperpigmentation.
  • Improves skin texture: by promoting cell turnover and reducing the buildup of dead skin cells, azelaic acid can help smooth the skin's surface.
  • Comedolytic properties: unclogging pores prevents the formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads).
  • Antioxidant effects: it has antioxidant properties, which help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals and environmental stressors.

Azelaic acid serum in hair treatment

Although it is not as well-established or widely recognized, azelaic acid shows potential in hair treatment.

Some studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that azelaic acid may help treat hair loss. It's thought to inhibit an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone that contributes to pattern hair loss in both men and women.

Also, its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal effects can benefit scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis or reduce dandruff and folliculitis.

How to use azelaic acid serum?

Before widely using azelaic acid serum, perform a patch test to check for adverse reactions. Apply a small amount of the serum to a discreet area of skin, like your inner forearm, and wait 24 hours to see if there's any redness, itching, or other irritation.

Start with a gentle cleanser to remove impurities and excess oil from your skin. This prepares your skin to absorb the azelaic acid serum more effectively. After cleansing, pat your skin dry. Applying azelaic acid to damp skin can increase the risk of irritation.

Apply the serum evenly across your skin, avoiding sensitive areas like the eyes and mouth. If you have specific target areas (like spots of hyperpigmentation or acne), you might focus more on those areas. Typically, a pea-sized amount of serum is sufficient for the entire face. Using more doesn't necessarily improve results and can increase irritation.

Wait a few minutes to allow the serum to absorb into your skin entirely. Follow up with a moisturizer to hydrate your skin and lock in the serum. This can also help reduce potential irritation.

Azelaic acid can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily to protect your skin.

Optimal concentrations of azelaic acid in serums for effective skincare

Over-the-counter products typically contain azelaic acid in concentrations ranging from 5% to 10%. These concentrations are generally safe and effective for most users, offering benefits without significant irritation.

However, higher concentrations of azelaic acid, like 15% to 20%, are available in prescription products. You can get a prescription from your doctor or via a telehealth platform. These are usually recommended for more severe skin conditions and should be used under the guidance of a dermatologist.

Is azelaic acid anti-aging?

Azelaic acid serum offers some benefits that can be considered anti-aging.

It can help smoothen the skin's texture and reduce the appearance of blemishes, leading to a more even skin tone. Antioxidant properties can help neutralize free radicals in the skin. Free radicals contribute to skin aging by breaking collagen and causing oxidative stress.

Finally, it works as a mild exfoliant, helping to remove dead skin cells and promote the regeneration of new skin cells. Regular exfoliation is vital in maintaining youthful skin as it helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and keeps the skin looking fresh.

Can I use azelaic acid serum every day?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to use azelaic acid serum every day. Most people don't experience any reaction if they use the serum daily. However, the frequency of azelaic acid serum use can vary depending on your skin type, the concentration of the product, and your specific skin concerns.

It is essential to pay close attention to how skin reacts. If excessive dryness, redness, or irritation appears, reduce the frequency of use. You can gradually increase the frequency if your skin tolerates the serum well.

Some formulations of azelaic acid, especially those with lower concentrations, can be used twice daily.

What not to mix with azelaic acid?

While azelaic acid is generally compatible with many ingredients, some should be avoided by combining directly, like strong acids (high-concentration AHAs/BHAs), vitamin C, retinoids, alcohol, and other irritating substances.

While there's no strong evidence that azelaic acid negatively interacts with these ingredients, the combination can irritate sensitive skin. If you use both, consider applying them at different times or on alternate days.

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