What is Azelaic Acid and can it be used for acne scars and dark spots?
This ingredient has been called the unsung hero of skin care when it comes to helping with acne, acne scars, and dark spots.
Let’s see why.
What is Azelaic Acid
On healthy skin, azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that is created naturally. However, it may also be created in a lab or found in cereals like barley, wheat, and rye.
Because of its durability and efficacy, the laboratory-created form is usually the best option for skin care and it is gluten-free.
Additionally, azelaic acid has keratolytic and antimicrobial components. It acts to unclog pores and clean your skin like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
It prevents the blocking of your pores and exfoliates the skin, making it keratolytic. This means that azelaic acid can clear clogged pores, get rid of whiteheads and blackheads, and stop breakouts from happening again.
Benefits of Azelaic Acid For The Skin
- limits bacterial growth
- brings down inflammation
- reduces irritability
- reduces the accumulation of dead skin cells
- lessens hyperpigmentation
- promotes antioxidant effects
- combats melasma and uneven skin tone
- increases cell renewal and the removal of dead skin cells
Can Azelaic Acid Help With Acne Scars
Yes. Azelaic Acid can improve acne scars when used the right way. But how well your acne scars improve will depend on the kind of scars that you have.
Over time, with repeated exposure to acne, especially the kinds that damage the skin’s integrity, people develop indented scars, raised scars, or hyperpigmented (dark) spots.
Azelaic Acid can treat these scars by:
- Preventing more acne from developing, making it less likely for the scarring to get worse
- Resurfacing the skin by increasing skin cell turnover and exfoliation
- Encouraging collagen production which repairs the skin’s texture and strength
- Inhibiting tyrosinase activity which lessens the amount of melanin (dark pigment) that is over-produced during scarring
What Concentration Of Azelaic Acid You Should Use For Acne Scars
Most dermatologists recommend that you use Azelaic Acid in strengths that range from 15% to 20%.
However, these strengths will require a prescription and should be used under the guidance of a professional.
On the other hand, Azelaic Acid is also available in smaller concentrations as creams, foams, or gels and can be purchased over the counter.
How Often You Should Use Azelaic Acid For Acne Scars
If your skin can tolerate it well enough, you can use Azelaic Acid every day to treat your acne scars.
The key is to start slowly and to correctly incorporate it into your daily skincare routine.
Because acne scars can go deeper than the surface of your skin, it can take a while for them to go away, so you will need to be consistent with your treatment.
However, pay attention to your skin for side effects and irritation to avoid making your acne and scarring worse.
How Long Will It Take For Azelaic Acid To Work For Acne Scars
The time it takes for azelaic acid to work might range from 6 to 8 weeks, depending on how bad your scars are, your skin’s reaction, the concentration you choose and how frequently you use it.
Remember that everyone’s skin is different, and acne scars will be of varying severity.
Some people may need stronger concentrations than others. Some may be more sensitive to azelaic acid than others. And some may require a longer time to see significant differences in their skin.
Be patient, pay attention to your skin, and stick to your routine.
Can Azelaic Acid Help Lighten Dark Spots
Yes, Azelaic Acid can be used to reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots on the skin.
Azelaic acid inhibits tyrosinase activity. Tyrosinase is the enzyme that regulates melanin production in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that makes the skin darker when it is over-produced.
By inhibiting tyrosinase activity, less melanin is produced, so the skin will not become darker than it already is.
To get rid of the melanin that is already in the skin, azelaic acid increases skin cell turnover, which means that the skin cells are shed and exfoliated faster than usual. This means that the dark cells will eventually be gotten rid of.
These two processes result in lighter, more even-toned skin cells over time.
What Concentration Of Azelaic Acid You Should Use For Hyperpigmentation
Most dermatologists recommend using 15%-20% Azelaic Acid products to help with hyperpigmentation.
However, keep in mind that these are high percentages. They will require a prescription and a consultation with your dermatologist.
Products with smaller concentrations can be purchased over the counter, but they will take longer to show results.
Additionally, how long Azelaic Acid will take to resolve your hyperpigmentation or show significant difference will depend on:
- How bad your hyperpigmentation is
- What is causing your hyperpigmentation
- Your skin’s reaction
- The concentration of Azelaic Acid you use
- How often you use it
How Often You Should Use Azelaic Acid For Hyperpigmentation
To treat hyperpigmentation, Azelaic Acid can be used on your skin daily, provided that the concentration is right for you.
Even though Azelaic Acid is less irritating than other acids, it is still an acid and can still cause side effects if used too much.
However, if your skin can tolerate it, and you have figured out what concentration works for you, using it once or twice daily can improve your hyperpigmentation.
Your best bet is to consult your dermatologist to discuss how severe your hyperpigmentation is and the cause. They will also help you to figure out what concentration you should start with and how often based on your skin’s condition.
Video: How To Use Azelaic Acid For Best Results || Demonstration | Dr Sam Bunting
Tips On How To Use Azelaic Acid
- Patch test Azelaic Acid on a small portion of your skin for three days before going ahead to add it to your daily routine.
- Most products direct you to use Azelaic Acid twice daily. However, you may start by using it once a day, a few times a week to see how your skin will tolerate it first.
- If you have sensitive skin, use Azelaic Acid every other day or less.
- Always make sure that your skin is clean before applying Azelaic Acid so that it can penetrate better.
- If you use a toner, use it after your cleanser, but before using Azelaic Acid.
- Azelaic Acid can be applied after your toner when your skin has dried.
- If you are using it as a spot treatment for specific scars, do not smear it all over the skin. This will prevent your skin from fading all over and just focus on the scars.
- If you are using it for widespread hyperpigmentation, spread it on the areas that are darkened.
- Wait 15 minutes for the product to absorb well enough before applying any other products to your skin.
- You may apply your moisturizer 15 minutes after Azelaic Acid.
- Always use sunscreen. This will prevent the breakdown of Azelaic Acid on your skin and sun damage.
- Wait until your skin has dried down or your products have been well absorbed and then apply makeup if you want to.
- Azelaic acid can become unstable and break down when exposed to too much light, so store it in a cool, dark place.
Recommended Azelaic Acid Products For Acne Scars & Dark Spots
Here are some great over-the-counter Azelaic Products that you can use for your acne scars and hyperpigmentation:
1- Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Cream Gel
This potent combination of azelaic acid and the minute amount of salicylic acid (0.5%), as well as brightening and calming components derived from plants, treats obstinate acne scars and dark spots at once.
The oil-free, lightweight texture is wonderful on its own or when combined with other treatments.
2- Naturium Azelaic Topical Acid 10%
With a high concentration of azelaic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, and coffee seed extract, this azelaic acid serum also works to reduce other visible skin flaws including congestion, dullness, and discoloration.
3- Urban Skin Rx® Even Tone Cleansing Bar
The advantages of kojic acid, azelaic acid, niacinamide, coconut oil, safflower seed oil, and licorice root are combined in this potent cleansing bar to offer you healthier and more radiant skin.
The six ingredients work together to address aging signs, irritation, and blemishes and decrease melanin formation.