What is it?
Found in the natural world in grains – think wheat, rye, and barley – azelaic acid is an increasingly popular ingredient in skincare.
Want to know a little more science behind it?
It’s produced by a yeast that is naturally made by your skin. And if you’re more familiar with names such as tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide, it can be just as effective for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
But it's not just pigmentation resulting from acne that azelaic acid can help with. Other forms of hyperpigmentation can also be remedied by this ingredient, because it stands in the way of a process called melanin synthesis: the ability of your skin to produce pigments that can vary your skin’s tone. Areas of skin that have become patchy or blotchy as a result of any process might be helped with the use of azelaic acid, too, and our best advice is to start applying it as soon as possible after damage occurs. Remember you're technically preventing rather than curing pigmentation by stopping the production of what causes it.
How does it help your skin?
The acid has numerous positive effects on the skin, and can be an incredible aid if you battle with acne. First of all, it's great at clearing blocked pores bacteria that can cause breakouts, and it also reduces inflammation that means that even in the case of clogged pores or small pimples, the skin won't appear terribly red, irritated, and inflamed. Then, there are its abilities to fight scarring, because it stimulates cell turnover. Azelaic acid can help your skin to heal more quickly when a bout of acne tries to leave its mark. Essentially, it's combating the cause and effect of acne scars at the same time, so your skin has a brighter future to look forward to, faster.
Azelaic acid is milder than lots of the acids used in the treatment of acne – including alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid. But, as in the case of most ingredients and acids in particular, it's worth proceeding with caution. Don't use lots of azelaic acid if you have very sensitive skin and remember to dial up the SPF whenever you're using an acid to treat your skin.
WHERE ITS FOUND: Barley, wheat and rye
BENEFITS: This multifunctional ingredient is anti-inflammatory and helps to zap away bacteria and fungi. It targets skin concerns related to breakouts, like acne and rosacea, by slowing the growth of bacteria and acting as a mild exfoliator that unclogs pores.
SHOP PRODUCT: Alpha Arbutin Serum contains azelaic acid