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Azelaic Acid - The Secret Exfoliant

Azelaic Acid - The Secret Exfoliant

Fast Facts

Type of Ingredient: exfoliant

Main Benefits: fights acne, lightens pigmentations, and treats rosacea

Who Should Use It: in general, anyone with acne-prone skin or rosacea-prone skin

Ideal For These Concerns: those with acne, pigmentations within their skin, rosacea

How Often Can You Use It: safe to use twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening)

Works well with:Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), and retinol

What is Azelaic Acid? 

Azelaic Acid is a dicarboxylic acid that helps to exfoliate the skin and it is synthesized naturally by yeast. Your skin naturally produces yeast which then naturally produces azelaic acid. Its main job is to exfoliate deep in your pores and it can also be made through unconventional manners in laboratories and infused into skin products. It decreases keratin, is anti-inflammatory, and has antioxidant properties to it.

The Benefits of Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid mainly targets breakouts due to inflammation. First, it exfoliates deep within your pores and removes your dead skin leaving your skin looking even and bright. It fights acne and reduces inflammation by soothing irritation deep within your pores. Azelaic acid evens your skin tone because it contains tyrosinase which helps to inhibit hyperpigmentation on the skin. According to Cathy Beaupain, founder of LeCerre Skincare, “15% Azelaic acid has been used successfully to treat mild to moderate papulopustular rosacea under the brand name Finacea Gel (Bayer).” She continues, “with over 17 years in use, azelaic acid has also been shown to inhibit pigment production and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Azelaic acid is classified as a pregnancy category B risk, putting it in the same category as prenatal vitamins and acetaminophen.” Cathy states, “I prefer using azelaic acid in her formulation to address hyperpigmentation. It has minimal side effects and is safe to use during pregnancy, unlike hydroquinone, which is not recommended for use during pregnancy and may be carcinogenic.”

Azelaic Acid’s Skin care Power Duo. 

Azelaic Acid works great with Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), and retinol. If you want more aggressive treatment for acne or exfoliation, it is important to combine azelaic acid with AHA which can make your skin sensitive to the sun. If you use this combination, it is vital that you also use SPF to protect your skin.

How To Use It.  

After washing your face, directly apply 1-2 pumps of the serum on your hands. Then rub this serum directly onto your face and neck. Apply to the entire face and neck for the most effective skin brightening. Do this process once in the morning and once in the evening. Follow with whatever moisturizers or serums you prefer. However, if you have sensitive skin, doctors recommend that you use it once every other day.

Our Top 3 Products

Product #1:

Finacea Foam


Finacea Foam is a topical prescription medicine which is used to treat the inflammatory papules or raised spots and pimple-like bumps on top of your skin as well as moderate rosacea.

The serum contains about 15% azelaic acid and it is easy, safe, and gentle to use on top of your skin. It is the first and only prescription foam approved by the FDA for the treatment of rosacea. It is not alcohol-based and it is fragrance-free. It is recommended that you use this serum continuously for 12 weeks for the most effective results.

There are no reviews or ratings online.

Pros: The only prescription foam approved by the FDA for the treatment of rosacea

Cons: Prescription only, you can’t purchase this serum in stores

Product #2:

LeCerre Rapid Brightening Serum

The Rapid Brightening Serum is a skin brightener aimed to diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation, melasma, and acne marks.

The serum is specifically formulated for dark skin tones with Fitzpatrick Skin Type III-VI and the formula combines clinically proven active ingredients at the optimal concentration to reduce the production of melanin and improve skin texture. The serum is dermatologist tested, non-comedogenic, no harmful chemicals, no parabens, no sulfates, no synthetic fragrance, and cruelty-free. One of the key ingredients in the serum is azelaic acid at 4%, which is clinically proven to address hyperpigmentation yet low enough to minimize any irritation. Azelaic acid combined with the other ingredients in the serum gives is the power to fade dark spots.

The product has a 5 star rating on LeCerre, based on 4 reviews.

“This has been the best product for me and my olive skin tone! I have numerous acne scars around my chin and cheeks, some sun spots as well, and this has been the only product I’ve actually seen results with” writes one LeCerre customer.

Pros: Addresses the skin concerns of dark spots and melasma and is designed for women with ethnic skin tones.

Cons: Takes a couple weeks to see results.

Product #3

PCA Skin Pigment Bar

The PCA Skin Pigment Bar is a purifying face bar for unevenly pigmented skin. 

The PCA Skin Pigment Bar is designed to enhance and refine your complexion by making your skin look clear, even, and bright. It contains azelaic acid which is used to exfoliate underneath the pores to make your skin looking younger than ever. The serum is clean, sulfate-free, dermatologist approved, paraben-free, and fragrance-free.

The product has 5 star ratings, based on 77 reviews.

I have purchased about 3 pigment bars in the past. I can say your skin is left feeling very clean BUT; I didn't notice it clearing up my hyperpigmentation. For the price of this product I feel it should target the discoloration. I am not sure what it is missing but it is something.

Pros: on the cheaper side

Cons: reviews said that it made their skin dry and discolored after the first couple uses