Can You Use Azelaic Acid with Retinoid?

Can You Use Azelaic Acid with Retinoid?

Even if skincare isn’t really your thing, chances are you’ve heard of the ingredient retinol, also known as retinoid. It has certainly gained quite the reputation for its effectiveness and impressive results, especially for those who are prone to acne or have concerns with the beginning signs of ageing.

As for azelaic acid, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you say you’ve never heard of this powerhouse before. It truly is an unsung hero, and it has recently had a lot of focus on it. If you are still sat there feeling a little puzzled, let’s have a quick refresher on what these ingredients are and how they work on the skin.

What is retinoid and how does it work on the skin?

  • A potent form of vitamin A, retinoid is known for its impressive anti-ageing and acne combatting properties.
  • It works by increasing the speed of the skin cell turnover that naturally takes 30 days. This shouldn’t be confused with exfoliation, as retinol works further down in the skin boosting the production of collagen and elastin.
  • Known for being highly potent, it can often cause the skin to become irritated, flaking, dry, and itchy, especially when you first introduce it into your skincare routine.
  • For optimal results, you should apply retinol during your evening routine as exposure to UV light will cause the ingredient to lose its potency rendering it completely useless.

If you wanted to know more about retinol/retinoid in more detail, check out our dedicated blog post about it. We also explain whether retinol and retinoid are the same, which you can check out here

What is azelaic acid and how does it work on the skin?

  • Derived from grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley, azelaic acid is packed with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Azelaic acid can work effectively at clearing the pores of bacteria build-up helping to combat spots and frequent breakouts in acne.
  • It also contains anti-inflammatory properties helping to combat redness, rashes, and other skin conditions such as rosacea.
  • Azelaic acid can work at gently exfoliating the dead skin cells off the surface of the skin, helping to revive the complexion and leave you with an all-over healthy glow.

To find out more about how azelaic acid can benefit the skin, check out our dedicated blog post. You will also find several other blog posts about this clever acid and the best ways of using it in your skincare routine.

Now, let’s dive in and find out whether you can use azelaic acid and retinoid together.

Can you use retinol and azelaic acid together?

Yes, you absolutely can use retinol and azelaic acid together. Both ingredients work in a similar way on the skin and are successful at combating certain skin concerns, such as acne and hyperpigmentation. Dark spots and melasma are two main problems that can be treated by teaming the powerhouses together.

This is because azelaic acid inhibits tyrosinase enzyme, which is responsible for the production of melanin, which is the pigment found in the skin and will often make areas of hyperpigmentation appear darker. Retinol helps the benefits of azelaic acid by increasing the cell turnover and making dark spots less noticeable.

What goes first azelaic acid or retinol?

This depends on the consistency of the products as the basic skincare rule is to apply formulas from thinnest to thickest. If they are both similar products with the same consistency, then the order of application doesn’t really matter.

The only thing you need to focus on is whether your skin has built a tolerance to both ingredients. Therefore, we suggest ensuring you introduce each ingredient slowly into your routine to begin with. Ideally you want to alternate them at night, one at a time to give your skin the boost it needs whilst avoiding any unwanted irritation or flare-up. Once your skin has become used to using both azelaic acid and retinol enriched products, you will be able to apply both during your routine. For optimal results, wait for about 30 minutes in between applications to allow the pH levels of the skin to rebalance.

How do you use azelaic acid retinol and vitamin C?

Using all three of these actives can take some time to allow the skin to become adjusted to the application. Once you have achieved this and the skin is showing no signs of irritation you can use all three in your daily routine. The most effective way of doing this is to start with a serum enriched in vitamin C during your morning routine. This will help to not only restore a luminous finish to the skin, but you will also provide added protection thanks to vitamin C containing high amounts of antioxidants. These can combat any exposure to free radicals, such as UV light, pollution, and other environmental aggressors.

You can then leave using azelaic acid and retinol during your evening routine, starting off with the formula that has the thinnest consistency.

This is the most effective way of applying these ingredients which will leave your skin healthy, glowing, with an all-over improved finish and complexion. Before using any of these ingredients, we do suggest you consult with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure your skin will be happy with all three ingredients being used in your daily routine.

What can you not mix with azelaic acid?

It’s thought best to avoid mixing azelaic acid with beta hydroxy acids, also known as BHAs, such as salicylic acid. This is because there would be too much exfoliation to the skin surface as well as both acids working on different layers will create an imbalance of the pH levels. If you are wanting to know more about what not to mix with azelaic acid, check out our dedicated blog post for more information.

I hope that today I have answered some of the questions you have had about using azelaic acid with retinol. Don’t forget, if you have any more questions, come, and find us on Instagram, you’ll find one of skincare experts in the direct messages!


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