Azelaic acid is a saturated dicarboxylic acid that occurs naturally in barley, rye and other grains. It has demonstrated an extraordinary skillset when used alone and is shown to work in synergy with other physiologically active ingredients as well. The proven bactericidal and anti-inflammatory properties of azelaic acid are perfect for treating skin conditions such as acne vulgaris and rosacea. A tyrosinase inhibitor, azelaic acid helps regulate melanin production, which makes it effective in treating hyperpigmentation and discolouration caused by scarring, melasma and other skin conditions, and as a skin brightening ingredient.
Rosacea outbreaks can strike at any moment and symptoms include redness, spots and spider veins, primarily affecting the face. Until recently, they have been notoriously difficult to treat without pharmaceuticals, which may bear unwanted side effects. To date, azelaic acid is likely the only natural ingredient that has proven effective in treating rosacea without side effects.
Azelaic acid inhibits the formation of ROS in the neutrophil system to reduce the number of free radicals. Clinical studies show that azelaic acid can reduce the appearance of erythema and inflammatory lesions.
Studies show that treating acne with azelaic acid is associated with far less side effects than other anti-acne ingredients. Azelaic acid’s benefits on the effects of acne are threefold: first, as an anti-inflammatory, it minimises the overall appearance of existing acne by soothing irritation, swelling and redness; second, by normalising keratinisation, the process whereby the uppermost layers of the dermis shed dead cells and form new ones, it helps skin to heal and reduces the risk of scarring; and third, it prevents new blemishes from forming by helping keep pores clear of surface oils and impurities. Azelaic acid also targets hyperpigmentation caused by acne.
3. Skin brightening
Azelaic acid is a competitive inhibitor of tyrosinase, an enzyme which plays a key role in catalysing melanin synthesis. By downregulating tyrosinase, azelaic acid helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, including acne scarring and melasma, without side effects. Azelaic acid is also used to treat age spots and skin discolouration, resulting in a more even and illuminated complexion.
Azelaic acid is not associated with any adverse side effects. In fact, the European Union has placed no concentration restrictions on azelaic acid as a cosmetic ingredient. Azelaic acid is recommended for use on all skin types, including skin prone to acne, rosacea and hyperpigmentation.
Azelaic acid works well in combination with other key actives. When combined with niacinamide, in addition to its skin brightening effects, it has been demonstrated to reduce pore size and refine skin texture.
Azelaic acid is gentle enough for most people to use twice a day. If you have extremely sensitive skin, you may wish to start by applying once a day and then gradually increase your usage.