When it comes to cosmetics, words like “magical”, “revolutionary”, “game-changing” are known to be thrown around. However, azelaic acid deserves to be on the “magical list” of ingredients for reasons we are about to explain.
What is it?
Azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid like alpha and beta hydroxy acids, but it is a gentler exfoliator that also acts to repair and smoothen skin tone. It can be naturally derived from wheat, rye, and barley, but it is often synthetically produced to meet clinical demands for stability and efficacy.
Who should use azelaic acid?
Azelaic acid’s gentle exfoliation and skin repairing nature makes it useful for those with oily and combination skin types. Azelaic acid should be used by anyone that suffers from rosacea, blackheads, whiteheads, skin bumps, discoloration, and any other inflammatory skin condition.
What concentration is effective?
Clinical trials have found 15%-20% azelaic acid to be effective for prescription-based ointments. However, cosmetic preparations with 10% azelaic acid mixed with other skin repairing and anti-inflammatory ingredients is also ideal. It takes about 6-8 weeks of daily application for results to become apparent and requires wearing a sunscreen to prevent sun-damage.
Here are a few benefits of Azelaic Acid.
1. Antimicrobial and Anti-inflammatory
Azelaic acid promotes production of antimicrobial skin peptide LL-37 that kills P. acnes bacteria on our skin, which is a leading cause of acne. This bacterium can clog pores and can be the underlying cause of major skin problems and inflammation. Azelaic acid further decreases the production of keratin which also causes the growth of acne bacteria. The anti-inflammatory properties of azelaic acid are beneficial to reduce the symptoms of rosacea and post-acne hyperpigmentation.
2. Unclogs Pores
Azelaic acid increases the turnover rate of cell and removes dead skin cells that clog pores and cause infections. Having clean pores can not only prevent future whiteheads and blackheads from forming but can also help in healing scars and blemishes caused by acne.
3. Stops Skin Discoloration
As a tyrosinase inhibitor, azelaic acid prevents the production of melanin which can cause discolored patches on skin. These acne scars cause your skin to have uneven skin tone and blemishes. Azelaic acid reworks skin’s surface through its antimicrobial, gentle skin exfoliation and anti-inflammatory properties to give you a smoother, younger-looking, undamaged skin.
4. Fights Hair Loss
Another magical discovery of azelaic acid is its ability to fight hair loss. Much like prescription-based drugs that prevent hair loss, such as dutasteride and finasteride, Azelaic acid is a 5α-Reductase inhibitor that is known to prevent hair loss.
No wonder it is used in various cosmetic formulations as a “secret” ingredient.