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  • Writer's pictureSolomon Matzner

A Guide to Azelaic Acid in Skincare

With broad efficacy in key areas, research supported claims, suitability for sensitive skin and a natural origin, Azelaic Acid is a exceptional ingredient, compelling for skincare manufacturers and formulators and strongly aligned with consumer trends and dermatological findings.


Azelaic acid is particularly interesting for skincare manufacturers and their formulators due to several reasons that align well with current consumer trends and dermatological findings:


Broad Efficacy: Azelaic acid addresses multiple skin concerns with a single ingredient. It is effective against acne, rosacea, skin pigmentation issues, and inflammation. This multifunctionality allows manufacturers to market products with azelaic acid as a comprehensive solution for various skin problems, appealing to a wider audience.


Suitability for Sensitive Skin: Unlike other harsher skincare acids (such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid), azelaic acid is less likely to cause irritation. This makes it ideal for sensitive skin types, increasing its appeal in the "gentle skincare" market segment.


Well-supported by Research: The effectiveness and safety of azelaic acid are well-documented in dermatological research. This strong evidence base allows manufacturers to back their product claims with scientific research, enhancing credibility and consumer trust.


Natural Origin: Although commercially produced azelaic acid is typically synthesized, it can also be derived from natural sources (e.g., wheat, barley). This aspect can be highlighted to appeal to consumers looking for natural or nature-derived products.


Regulatory Approval: Azelaic acid has been approved by major health authorities, including the FDA, for treating acne and rosacea. Regulatory approval assists in the marketing of skincare products as it reassures consumers of the product’s legitimacy and safety.


Trend Alignment: With increasing consumer awareness and demand for products targeting specific issues like hyperpigmentation and adult acne, azelaic acid fits well into product lines designed to cater to these needs.


Combinatorial Flexibility: Azelaic acid can be formulated with other active ingredients without losing efficacy, allowing formulators to create complex skincare products that can tackle multiple issues simultaneously or enhance overall skin health and appearance.


These factors combine to make azelaic acid highly valued, for its versatility and for its ability to meet the needs of a diverse consumer base.


Efficacy of Azelaic Acid


Acne Treatment

Azelaic acid is particularly effective in treating acne due to several mechanisms:

  • Antibacterial: It has antimicrobial properties that target Cutibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne breakouts. By reducing bacterial growth, it helps decrease the number and severity of acne lesions.

  • Anti-inflammatory: Azelaic acid helps reduce inflammation associated with acne. This not only aids in treating existing acne but also helps prevent severe acne formations that can lead to scarring.

  • Comedolytic: It helps to dissolve the keratin buildup in pores that can otherwise lead to whiteheads and blackheads. This unblocking of pores is crucial for preventing acne.

  • Keratolytic Properties


Skin Pigmentation

Azelaic acid is effective in treating skin pigmentation issues due to its ability to inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme necessary for melanin production:

  • Melasma and Hyperpigmentation: By inhibiting tyrosinase, azelaic acid reduces the synthesis of excess melanin, which can help lighten hyperpigmented spots, leading to a more even skin tone.

  • Selective Action: Interestingly, azelaic acid tends to target hyperactive melanocytes (melanin-producing cells) while having less effect on normal skin, which makes it particularly effective and safe for correcting localized areas of hyperpigmentation.



The anti-inflammatory effects of azelaic acid are beneficial in conditions like rosacea:

  • Reducing Redness and Swelling: It helps to calm inflammation in the skin, which can reduce the redness and swelling associated with rosacea.

  • Long-term Management: Regular use of azelaic acid can help manage chronic inflammatory symptoms of rosacea, improving skin appearance and reducing flare-ups.


Keratolytic Properties

Azelaic acid promotes the turnover of skin cells and prevents the clogging of pores:

  • Normalization of Skin Cell Production: By normalizing the process of keratinization (the process by which skin cells migrate from the lower to the upper layers of the skin and then shed off), azelaic acid helps to keep pores clear of cellular debris.

  • Prevention of Comedones: Effective exfoliation provided by azelaic acid prevents the buildup of dead skin cells that can block pores and lead to acne, particularly comedones (blackheads and whiteheads).


Safe for Most Skin Types

Azelaic acid is known for its compatibility with many skin types, including sensitive skin:

  • Low Irritation Potential: Unlike other stronger acids, azelaic acid is less likely to cause skin irritation, making it a preferable option for people with sensitive skin or those who are unable to tolerate other more irritating acne treatments.

  • Versatile Use: It's suitable for use on oily, dry, or combination skin, and its gentle nature means it can be used in conjunction with other skincare treatments without causing excessive dryness or irritation.


Research Supported Claims

There is a substantial body of scientific research supporting the claims about azelaic acid's effectiveness in treating acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation, as well as its anti-inflammatory and keratolytic properties. Here are several references to studies and reviews from the scientific literature that elaborate on these aspects:

  • "A comparison of 15% azelaic acid gel and 0.75% metronidazole gel in the topical treatment of papulopustular rosacea." by Elewski B.E., Fleischer Jr A.B., Pariser D.M. (Published in the Archives of Dermatology, 2003). This study not only addresses rosacea but also discusses the effects of azelaic acid on acne-like lesions associated with this condition, demonstrating its effectiveness in reducing papules and pustules.

  • "The treatment of acne vulgaris with topical azelaic acid." by Gollnick H., Schramm M. (Published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 1990). This pivotal study focuses on azelaic acid used as a topical treatment for acne vulgaris, assessing its efficacy in reducing both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions over a period of several weeks.

  • "Azelaic acid as a new treatment for hyperpigmentation in melasma." by Katsambas A.D., Katoulis A.C., Stavropoulos P. (Published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 1998). This review highlights the role of azelaic acid in treating hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase.

  • "Azelaic acid in the treatment of papulopustular rosacea: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials." by Liu R.H., Smith M.K., Basta S.A., Farmer E.R. (Published in the Archives of Dermatology, 2006). This study underscores the anti-inflammatory effects of azelaic acid, particularly in the treatment of rosacea.

  • "Mechanisms of action of topical azelaic acid in dermatological applications." by Scheinfeld N., Berk T. (Published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 2010). This article details azelaic acid’s mechanism in promoting keratinocyte turnover and reducing keratin buildup.

  • "Safety and efficacy of azelaic acid (20% cream) in the treatment of acne vulgaris." by Graupe K., Cunliffe W.J., Gollnick H.P., Zaumseil R.P. (Published in the International Journal of Dermatology, 1996). This study evaluates the tolerability and safety profile of azelaic acid, demonstrating its suitability for sensitive skin and a variety of skin types.

These studies provide a robust foundation for the therapeutic claims associated with azelaic acid, illustrating its effectiveness through various mechanisms in skin treatment and care.

For more information about Azelaic Acid, or to request further documentation, pricing or samples, please visit the Azelaic Acid product page or contact us at


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