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Everything You Need to Know About Azelaic Acid

You’re going to start seeing azelaic acid everywhere in skincare.

With all the buzzy ingredients in the skincare world, it’s possible you haven’t heard about azelaic acid yet. But that’s about to change! One of the most-sought-after ingredients to hit beauty aisles lately, azelaic acid is a must for all skin types and skin tones. Here, we’re breaking down the ins and outs of azelaic acid, including the benefits it can provide for the skin and how to incorporate it into your morning and evening skincare routines. This article will also introduce you to SkinCeuticals’ Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment an exciting new lightweight moisturizer starring the key ingredient.

What is azelaic acid?

Azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. In addition to gently exfoliating, it provides antioxidant benefits and calms the skin.

Basically, it’s a safe bet for all different skin concerns. Azelaic acid is often recommended for acne- and oily-prone skin due to its ability to help unclog pores by increasing cell turnover. Another plus with azelaic acid is how gentle it is. While some pimple-fighting ingredients can dry out the skin or cause irritation, this must-try antioxidant is a great fit for sensitive skin as it’s not drying, even when it’s used daily—which is why azelaic acid products are gaining so much popularity amongst beauty lovers!

What are the benefits of using azelaic acid on the skin?

As we mentioned earlier, the benefits of azelaic acid are a-plenty. It ticks more than one box when it comes to tackling common skin concerns.

It exfoliates: Just like the beloved skin-peeling ingredients alpha-hydroxy acids (think glycolic acid) and beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid), which are commonly used in skincare for oily-prone skin, azelaic acid is a type of exfoliator. This means that when applied topically, it helps to encourage cell turnover to reveal fresh, glowing skin underneath and also works to unclog pores, which helps to minimize the formation of blemishes and blackheads.

It’s calming: While the thought of using an acid on sensitive skin might scare you, using a gentle one like azelaic acid is a great way to care for your skin without having to reach for harsher ingredients. Azelaic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, which is what makes its calming and acne-fighting skills—a rare combination in skincare—such a strong one-two punch.

It minimizes hyperpigmentation: When used on the skin, azelaic acid can inhibit tyrosinase, which is an enzyme in the skin that contributes to pigmentation. This means that regular use of azelaic acid products can help minimize dark spots, targeting both pigmentation that occurs due to sun damage and marks from acne scars.

How do you incorporate azelaic acid into a skincare routine?

Thankfully, adding this hero ingredient to a skincare routine is not complicated, but it can be dependent on the percentage of azelaic acid in the formula. Prescription skincare products with azelaic acid typically contain about 15% to 20% of the ingredient, whereas skincare you can purchase without a prescription can range anywhere between 2% and 10%. Using a higher percentage is not always the way to go—even products with lower doses of the acid have been proven to be very effective. SkinCeuticals Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment contains 3% azelaic acid to brighten, tighten and smooth the skin. At this percentage, and when it’s combined with other active ingredients in the formula such as alpha arbutin, it’s very gentle and can be used twice a day, in the morning and evening. Azelaic acid can be found in multiple types of products, from cleansers to serums to masks—there are even azelaic acid creams —making it easy to fit one into a pre-existing skincare routine. If you have highly sensitive skin and want to see if it’s the right ingredient for you, try applying it three times a week at first to see how your skin fares.

Which skincare products contain azelaic acid?

SkinCeuticals new Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment contains 3% azelaic acid and was formulated to be used on all skin types, from sensitive to oily and acne-prone. A lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that helps soothe skin that’s off-balance, it also brightens dull, tired skin thanks to its blend of alpha arbutin and phyto botanicals like cucumber, mulberry and thyme extracts. When used daily, it can help reduce excess oil production and redness while minimizing the appearance of pores to leave skin looking healthy and radiant.

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