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Ingredient Spotlight: Everything You Need to Know About Azelaic Acid

If there’s one skincare ingredient we consider criminally underappreciated, it’s azelaic acid. If you’ve never heard of this wonder ingredient, buckle in: we’re covering everything you need to know about azelaic acid and why it absolutely deserves to be in your skincare routine. Found in our Absolute Purity Toner and Complexion Savior, it does everything from treating acne to rosacea. Honestly, we have no clue why people aren’t talking about this miracle ingredient more.


So first of all—what is azelaic acid? Azelaic acid is an acid found in whole grains and is also produced naturally by our skin’s microbiome. So even if it doesn’t sound botanical, it’s a natural ingredient. The azelaic acid found in our Absolute Purity Toner and Complexion Savior is actually a salt of azelaic acid (potassium azeloyl diglycinate) which requires a lower concentration to be effective and has been shown to be even gentler than traditional azelaic acid. But what does it actually do? Pretty much everything.


Azelaic acid is extremely effective for treating acne

Azelaic acid is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-keratinizing—as in, it helps prevent keratin build-up, which clogs pores. It also helps loosen dead skin cells so that they don’t clog pores and contribute to acne. Compared to harsh treatments like benzoyl peroxide and Tretinoin, azelaic acid is extremely gentle and well tolerated, yet has been found in numerous studies to be just as effective. It’s also been found to be especially effective for adult acne. If you’ve been dealing with tight, dry, irritated skin with other acne treatments, it’s time to try azelaic acid.


Our Absolute Purity Toner goes a step further to prevent acne by also including antibacterial witch hazel water, a natural astringent that balances skin. And unlike most witch hazel toners, it doesn’t contain alcohol, which dries and damages your skin long term.


Azelaic acid has been shown to help treat rosacea

Yes, the same ingredient that can clear acne can also calm rosacea. In fact, it’s FDA-approved as a primary treatment for rosacea. Scientists theorize that the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of azelaic acid are what make it effective as a rosacea treatment.


We recommend using the azelaic acid-containing Complexion Savior as a 15-minute or overnight mask to immediately calm the redness that comes with rosacea. Not only does it calm inflammation, it also leaves your skin hydrated, soft, and glowing.


Azelaic acid reduces hyperpigmentation and treats melasma

Even if you don’t struggle with acne or rosacea, azelaic acid is beneficial for your skin because it helps even skin tone and reduce dark spots over time. Azelaic acid targets hyperactive melanocytes, cells that cause dark spots and has been shown to perform just as well as controversial ingredient hydroquinone, which has been banned in countries like Japan and Australia. Who doesn’t want more even skin tone sans unwanted side effects?!


For treating hyperpigmentation and melasma, we recommend using the azelaic acid-containing Absolute Purity toner daily and also supplementing it with the Enzyme Exfoliant as a mask twice a week.


Azelaic acid can be used to treat psoriasis

A 2010 study found azelaic acid to be effective in treating psoriasis lesions as well as reducing scaling and flaking. Dryness and mild stinging might occur when you first start using azelaic acid, but this should fade after the first few weeks. Of course, it’s important to patch test since allergic reactions are possible (though extremely rare).


The takeaway: azelaic acid is a multi-tasking hero ingredient that absolutely should be part of your skincare routine.