Azelaic acid, a powerhouse skincare ingredient, is gaining popularity for its numerous benefits, including addressing dark spots, melasma, acne, rosacea, and more. As a media pharmacist and skincare expert, I’m here to share my insights on how to achieve the best results with azelaic acid, especially in targeting those pesky dark spots that many of you have been asking me about. In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind azelaic acid, its properties, how to use it effectively, and my favorite azelaic acid product.
Understanding Azelaic Acid:
Azelaic acid is known for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, making it a versatile ingredient for addressing a wide range of skin concerns. It acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor, which means it can prevent hyperpigmentation by interfering with melanin production, the compound responsible for darker complexion. In addition, azelaic acid promotes cell turnover, exfoliates the skin, and encourages healthy skin growth. It also has antioxidant properties that help remove free radicals, leading to a naturally brighter complexion.
Prescription Strength vs. Over-the-Counter Products:
Many studies on azelaic acid focus on prescription-strength formulas, which typically contain 15% to 20% concentration. However, over-the-counter products with 10% concentration are also available and can be effective when combined with other skincare ingredients. It’s common to find azelaic acid paired with licorice, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and more, in order to enhance its effects. So, if you’re using an over-the-counter product, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. It may take time, and consistency is key.
Time is of the Essence:
One important factor to keep in mind when using azelaic acid is time. Prescription-strength formulas typically require a minimum of 2 months before results are seen, while over-the-counter products may show results after 3 to 4 months of consistent use. So, don’t give up too soon! Also, certain factors such as not wearing sunscreen, smoking, and making mistakes with melasma triggers can delay the results. It’s important to be patient and address any underlying causes that may affect the effectiveness of azelaic acid.
Application and Sun Protection:
Azelaic acid comes in various forms such as gel, foam, or cream, and is typically applied twice a day, in the morning and evening. It’s important to use it at around the same times every day to establish a routine. One great advantage of azelaic acid is that it does not make the skin sensitive to the sun, unlike some other acids. However, this doesn’t mean you can skip sunscreen. Even low levels of UV light can promote pigmentation and undo the effects of azelaic acid. So, always wear sunscreen to protect your skin and ensure the best results.
Pairing with Other Skincare Ingredients:
Azelaic acid can be used alone or paired with other soothing and brightening ingredients, such as niacinamide, hydroxy acids, or antioxidants. Its stability as a molecule allows for effective combinations with other skincare products. However, it’s important to avoid using astringents or “deep-cleansing” cleansers while using azelaic acid, especially if you have rosacea-prone skin. Instead, opt for a gentle cleanser and moisturizer to complement the use of azelaic acid.
To make the most out of azelaic acid, start by using it as the final step in your skincare routine to prevent it from smearing. Use it as a spot treatment on dark spots or areas of concern, or apply a thin layer all over the face, depending on the product’s instructions and your skin’s tolerance. Remember to be gentle and avoid rubbing or tugging on the skin during application.
If you’re new to azelaic acid or have sensitive skin, start with a lower concentration and gradually increase it over time to allow your skin to acclimate. It’s also recommended to do a patch test before applying it all over your face to check for any adverse reactions.
Consistency is key with azelaic acid. It’s important to use it regularly and consistently to see the best results. Incorporate it into your skincare routine and be patient, as it may take time to see improvements in dark spots or other skin concerns.
My Favorite Azelaic Acid Product:
As a skincare expert, one of my favorite azelaic acid products is the “Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%” by The Ordinary. This over-the-counter product contains 10% azelaic acid, which is a good starting point for those new to azelaic acid or have sensitive skin. It also has a lightweight cream-gel texture that is easy to apply and absorbs quickly into the skin. I love that it’s formulated without any added fragrance, parabens, or sulfates, making it suitable for various skin types, including sensitive skin.
In conclusion, azelaic acid is a skincare superstar with a wide range of benefits for the skin, including addressing dark spots, melasma, acne, rosacea, and more. Whether you’re using a prescription-strength formula or an over-the-counter product, consistency and patience are key to seeing results. Remember to always wear sunscreen, follow the instructions on the product, and be gentle with your skin during application. If you’re new to azelaic acid, start with a lower concentration and gradually increase it over time. My favorite azelaic acid product is The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, which is a great option for those looking to incorporate azelaic acid into their skincare routine. With proper use and patience, azelaic acid can help you achieve gorgeous skin and unleash the power of this skincare superstar.