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Why Azelaic Acid Is a Must for Acne-Prone Skin

Learn how azelaic acid effectively treats acne and prevents its formation.

No matter where you are on your skincare journey—whether you’re a total ingredient pro or a relative rookie when it comes to mixing and matching skincare potions—there are probably a few acids that are, at least to some degree, on your radar. Think of certain household names, like glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids. But there’s another, more under-the-radar acid that deserves some (okay, actually a lot of) attention. Enter azelaic acid.

So, what’s so great about this lesser-known ingredient that acts as a chemical exfoliant? Continue reading to learn all about azelaic acid, including what it is, how it’s different from other exfoliating skincare acids, how to use azelaic acid for acne, azelaic acid benefits for your skin overall and the best azelaic acid products.

What is azelaic acid?

Azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that naturally occurs in grains like rye, wheat and barley. As it relates to skincare, azelaic acid was initially identified for being anti-melanogenic, but it was later discovered to be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory as well—not to mention keratolytic (meaning it decreases keratin) and comedolytic (meaning it prevents comedones like blackheads and whiteheads) and it has antioxidant properties. Not bad for an under-the-radar acid!

What are some azelaic acid benefits?

Azelaic acid is a powerful skincare workhorse, thanks to its multitude of benefits. These include the treatment of existing blemishes, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and keratolytic benefits. That is, azelaic acid can exfoliate layers of skin to remove excess keratin deposits (a common type of clogged pore), refine the skin’s surface to reveal a more even skin tone, reduce irritation and the inflammatory appearance of acne blemishes, fight p. acnes (a bacteria that lives on the skin and is one of the main causes of acne) and go deep within the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess oil, both of which cause clogged pores. Because it targets acne-prone skin from so many different angles, it is also effective at preventing future breakouts, not just treating existing ones. Azelaic acid is also a popular choice for the treatment of rosacea, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and the fact that it’s gentle enough to be tolerated by those with sensitive, reactive and/or rosacea-prone skin.

What are the best azelaic acid products?

Azelaic acid cream moisturizers are the preferred form of azelaic acid products, as they can be applied morning and/or night and can safely be used with most other skincare products and ingredients. It’s also suitable for all skin types, making this a great option for anyone, whether you want to use azelaic acid for acne (treating and preventing!) or for one of its many other uses.

SkinCeuticals Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment is an excellent way to incorporate azelaic acid into your skincare routine. It’s a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer with a soothing gel-creme texture that has been formulated with 3% azelaic acid, 2% alpha arbutin and 5.75% phyto botanical blend. This unique blend targets key elements that cause dullness and imperfections, reducing the production of excess oil and visible redness while smoothing skin and minimizing the appearance of pores. The result? Enhanced clarity and brightness that you can see.

How to incorporate azelaic acid into your skincare routine

Since azelaic acid is so effective at treating acne-prone, oily skin, it’s best to pair SkinCeuticals Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment with a well-rounded routine featuring other products that are formulated to target acne-prone skin.

First, start by washing your face with SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel, featuring a powerful combination of lipo-hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, glycerine and sorbitol, to remove excess oils and makeup while simultaneously decongesting pores and brightening your complexion without leaving your skin feeling tight or dry.

Next, apply SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense, an oil-free serum that is formulated to target premature signs of aging, specifically in acne-prone skin. The first-of-its-kind serum features a unique blend of 2% dioic acid with an optimal alpha- and beta-hydroxy-acid formulation. This combination has been shown to reduce the formation of acne and clogged pores while also improving the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and uneven skin tone.

During your morning skincare regimen, follow with SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF, an oil-free vitamin C serum designed as an acne treatment for oily, acne-prone skin types. The groundbreaking formula combines 0.5% silymarin (milk thistle extract), 15% l-ascorbic acid, 0.5% ferulic acid and 0.5% salicylic acid to help prevent oil oxidation that can lead to breakouts and visible signs of aging.

Lastly, finish with SkinCeuticals Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment to add hydration to your complexion while leaning on azelaic acid to soothe and correct skin imbalances such as excess oil, clogged pores, irritation and redness.

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