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Azelaic Acid might just change your skincare game!

You might not know much about Azelaic acid but there are so many reasons that we can list down for why you must know about this star. Think of it as Priyanka or Rekha of skincare, it is just as versatile as they are. Some of us must have heard of it for treatment of acne but it does just so much more than that. We are not saying it, science is. Okay, now we are going to stop gushing about it and let you know all the deets that you need to know about our absolute favorite- Azelaic acid!

What is Azelaic Acid?

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Azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that can be obtained from wheat, barley, and rye. However, the one that we generally use in skincare is lab-synthesized since that makes for a more stable and effective formulation. While the idea of putting on dicarboxylic acid sounds scary, this ingredient actually delivers what it claimed to do with minimal side effects. It has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that help address acne, rosacea flare-up, and even melasma (over-production of melanin that occurs due to flux of hormones or sun damage), acne marks. 

In OTC skin care products, Azelaic acid could be found in concentrations below 10% in gel, serum, or cream form. Whatever form it is in, we say we’d take it!

What are the benefits of Azelaic Acid?

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Azelaic acid is known to address varied skin concerns and that is why it has become irreplaceable for those who have included it in their routine. Let’s look at a few benefits that have made it famous-

1. Reduce and prevent acne

Acne is mainly blocked pores. This can occur due to various reasons, one of which is excess oil mixed with keratinocytes (cells responsible to shed old skin cells and replace them with new ones). Azelaic acid is comedolytic which means it prevents the blocking of the pores.  A study where more than 280 individuals were tested, proved that Azelaic acid significantly reduced acne lesions in 6 months. Not only does it reduce acne but also prevents them from occurring. It has antibacterial properties which are effective at times when your scalp barrier is weak which leads to overgrowth of bacteria. To all those acne-prone skin type individuals, you obviously need an ingredient that can prevent acne!

    Read more about the ingredients that could help you manage acne.

    2. Address rosacea

    Research says, and so we agree, that Azelaic acid is a good treatment option while dealing with rosacea and rosacea flare-ups. Rosacea is a total pain to manage since it not just invites acne flare-ups but also shows redness due to inflammation. To calm your skin while ensuring you’re addressing the acne too, could be a task. Plus, with skin disease, you might want to take care that you’re not overwhelming your skin with multiple products. Azelaic acid ensures that it can address rosacea without the need to use multiple products.

    3. Address hyperpigmentation

    Azelaic acid inhibits an enzyme called tyrosinase which helps in the production of melanin. So when the cells are stimulated to overproduce melanin at a particular area of your body, Azelaic Acid will stop the process and ensure that you don’t get those annoying brown marks. Tall claims, right? A study has proven that Azelaic acid can fade hyperpigmentation caused by a skin condition called melasma and another study proved that individuals with PIH can use Azelaic acid as a treatment option. 

    4. Skin brightening

    Just how it lightens your marks, it uses the same mode of action to brighten your skin by mildly exfoliating and reviving your skin. So in the end, you will have bright and even-toned skin since it can exfoliate and inhibit melanin to reduce and prevent pigmentation.

    How and when to use Azelaic Acid?

    Azelaic acid can be used during the day or night at any concentration below 10% in OTC products. But we’d say to start with a lower concentration to be sure that your skin won’t be irritated by this new ingredient. Also, since Azelaic acid has mild exfoliating properties and is acidic in nature, you need to make sure that your skin is well protected from harmful sun rays. Use good sunscreen during the day if you’ve included Azelaic acid in your routine.

    Sublime recommends Qurez Mattifying SPF 50 Sunscreen With Vitamin E & Matcha Green Tea that has SPF 50 and PA +++ for UVA and UVB protection. It also has Green Tea Matcha and Vitamin E to nourish your skin.

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    Here’s how to read your sunscreen label!

    To use Azelaic acid, make sure you’ve cleaned your face. Pat dry and then apply Azelaic acid serum/lotion/gel. Follow it up with sunscreen during the day. If you’re of dry skin type, use a moisturiser too.

    Sublime recommends Shankara Balance Moisturiser. This is a light and active cream that is rich in Antioxidants to fight environmental stressors and helps you balance your skin barrier.

    This is an image of Shankara Balance Moisturiser on

    Which are the ingredients that you can pair it with?

    Azelaic acid can be paired with pretty much any ingredient. However, you should see your dermatologist before layering it with other acids, mostly BHAs. It can overwhelm your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. It is a mild exfoliator unlike other AHAs like Glycolic acid, Mandelic acid, etc. Azelaic acid does not deactivate or overpower any ingredient so they’re safe to be paired with any ingredient. However, for effective treatment, we’d recommend pairing Azelaic acid with Hyaluronic Acid or Niacinamide. Pairing it with Hyaluronic acid will help those with dry skin type and if you have stubborn acne marks then you can pair it with Niacinamide. 

    Sublime recommends Pulp Ex-Acne Anti Acne Serum that not just has Azelaic acid but also Cinnamon Bark Extract as a humectant with anti-bacterial properties and also Niacinamide to help you target acne marks and achieve even-toned skin.

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    Just make sure that the concoction is not of higher strength. Start with the mildest concentration possible. And as a general thumb rule, always patch test before using it in your routine.

    Who must use Azelaic Acid?

    Anybody with oily, combination, and normal skin type can use this ingredient and in fact, it will do wonders for them. However, if you have dry skin then you can use it with a moisturising ingredient like Hyaluronic acid, Honey, Panthenol, etc. This doesn’t mean that Azelaic acid is not meant for dry skin but just that you have to take of your moisture levels while using this ingredient.

    For those with dry skin type, we’d recommend Deconstruct Breakout Control Serum-3.3% Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate that has Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate which is a superior derivative of Azelaic acid. This works efficiently even at low concentration and is suitable for dry skin types. We do recommend patch testing though.

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    If you have sensitive or hypersensitive skin type then you must avoid this ingredient or use it only after consulting a dermatologist. This is just to be safe rather than sorry.

    If you’ve been using Azelaic acid for a while now, we’d recommend you Earth Rhythm Blemish Control Concentrate With 10% Azelaic Acid. It has liposomal Azelaic acid which makes it easier for your skin to absorb it and act on your blemishes. It also has natural humectants like Propanediol and Glycerin to nourish your skin while Azelaic acid does its job on your pigmentations.

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    Does Azelaic Acid have any side effects?

    Azelaic acid is acidic in nature and so you might experience tingling. However, it could even burn if you don’t use the right ingredient. One can even experience peeling of the skin, dryness, and tightness. Your skin might instantly be red if you use a higher concentration while introducing it to your skin. If this occurs, you must visit a dermatologist soon to ensure that there is minimal damage. We’d advise you to patch tests and start with mild concentration so that you can avoid these side effects. We’ve probably said this a gazillion times and we will repeat it that please don’t forget your sunscreen after this.


    Azelaic acid is acidic that helps you reduce inflammation, chances of acne, manage skin conditions like melasma, rosacea, PIH, and even acne scars. This ingredient can also help you even tone and brighten your skin. The cherry on top is that it can be used in AM and PM but you will just have to follow it up with sunscreen. We believe in this ingredient for its over-performance and we’d say it is definitely worth your bucks!

    -Divya Salvi

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