It’s a funny world when it comes to all thing’s skincare, there are some popular ingredients that reign supreme and have established themselves firmly into our daily skincare routine. One of the most popular or well-known being a member of the BHA family, salicylic acid. As effective as these powerhouse ingredients are, there is often some little to no focus on the lesser known, azelaic acid being one of them.
What is Azelaic Acid?
Azelaic acid is a mild exfoliant that is derived from wheat, barley, and rye. When used in skincare formulas however, a lab-generated form of the ingredient is preferred to ensure it is fully stable and effective.
Compared to other alpha hydroxy acids, also known as AHAs, you’ll find that azelaic acid is gentler on the skin and exfoliants the skin without causing too much irritation. You’ll find you’re left with a smoother, even complexion with signs of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and post acne scarring is drastically improved.
Unlike other exfoliating acids, you’ll find that azelaic acid does not cause the same level of increased sensitivity to UV light. This doesn’t mean you can start skipping your daily application of an SPF of 30 and above. For extra sun protection it’s important you use sunscreen every day to keep your skin healthy and happy.
Now you have a little refresher on what this clever ingredient does, we can move on to finding out how to incorporate it into your daily routine. So, with this is mind, we are going to dive in and investigate in more detail about whether you can use azelaic acid with BHA?
If you are sat there still wondering what azelaic acid is and how it works for the skin, you can check out the dedicated blog post about it over on The Beauty Insiders. And if you are also a little unsure of how to use salicylic acid in your skincare routine, you can check out our Skin School that explains how it works in more detail.
Can I use azelaic acid after BHA?
Yes, you can, but I would recommend you don’t. This is only because as effective as azelaic acid is on the skin, you’ll find that it is a difficult ingredient to use due to the lack of complete understanding of the full potential of this powerhouse ingredient. It is also quite tricky to work with and you’ll often find formulas rarely contain more than 10% of the active ingredient as this tends to lead to azelaic acid becoming grainy which can cause a flare-up in skin irritation.
Bearing this in mind may help explain my hesitation of using azelaic acid with BHA. This is because BHAs, such as salicylic acid, are highly potent and are known for penetrating deeply into the pores whilst sloughing away build-up of dead skin cells. By layering both ingredients on top of each other can result in a flare-up in unwanted skin irritation and dryness. It’s best avoid using them together but there is nothing preventing you from alternating which days you use each of them. We will go into more detail about this in the next section of the blog post.
Can salicylic acid and azelaic acid together?
Yes and no, by this I mean you can use both in your daily skincare routine but should avoid layering them on top of each other as this can become too much for the skin. To gain optimal results, it’s best to alternate when you apply each formulation containing these impressive skin ingredients.
With each of these ingredients exfoliating the top layer of the skin, ideally you should apply them during your evening routine. This will not only allow them to work on the skin uninterrupted whilst you sleep but will avoid any overexposure to UV light and other free radicals, such as pollution, harsh climates, and other environmental aggressors. Follow these in the morning with a SPF of 30 and above to protect the skin barrier ensuring it is fully functioning and able to look and feel its best.
The unique trait of azelaic acid compared to other chemical exfoliants, is the fact it is a tyrosinase inhibitor. This basically means it prevents hyperpigmentation developing as the anti-inflammatory and anti-pigment properties of the ingredient stops melanin from becoming overproduced on the skin surface. You will also find that other concerns such as spots, blocked follicles, and areas of uneven pigment to the complexion and treated. As I have already mentioned, azelaic acid does not increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun but applying a sunscreen daily.
Can I use BHA niacinamide and azelaic acid together?
Yes, you can, but preferably not altogether. You’ll often find that niacinamide is blended into formulas containing both BHAs and azelaic acid. This is because of the humectant traits of niacinamide ensuring moisture is absorbed into the skin and locked into place, keeping the complexion hydrated, glowing, and plumped.
To truly reap the rewards of these three potent ingredients, you can team niacinamide with whichever ingredient you are using that evening to counteract any dryness or irritation caused. I would still suggest you alternate when you use azelaic acid and BHA to prevent overloading the skin with a variety of different pH levels which is often the cause of unwanted side effects, such as rashes, redness, itchy patches of skin, and dryness. If you wanted to know more about using azelaic acid and niacinamide together, check out our dedicated blog post.
So, there you have a little refresher of the unsung skin hero that is azelaic acid and how it can be used with BHA, such as salicylic acid. Just a word of caution that if you find yourself with a skin type that is sensitive, dry, and prone to flare-up in skin irritation you must always before a patch test for 24 hours before applying any new product to your skin. Not forgetting of course, you should also consult with a doctor or dermatologist before trying anything new on the skin. If you have any skincare questions, you can come and follow us on Instagram for daily skin tips, exclusive giveaways, and other new product launches.