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A type of acid known as a dicarboxylic acid derived from grains that offers numerous benefits when applied to skin. For example, it’s a gentle leave-on exfoliant (working best at a pH of 4.9) which helps unclog pores and refine skin texture. Azelaic acid also significantly lessens factors in skin that lead to redness and bumps. Azelaic acid is also an antioxidant.
Research has shown azelaic acid can significantly diminish blemishes, help fade the appearance of post-acne red marks and other discolorations, and reduce the kind of skin sensitivity that leads to redness.
Although azelaic acid can be derived from grains like barley, wheat, and rye, its lab-engineered form is typically used in skincare products because of its stability and effectiveness. Because of this, azelaic acid is considered a synthetic ingredient, but this is a clear case where the synthetic version outperforms the natural version, with no research indicating a risk to skin.
Azelaic acid is available in strengths of 10% or less over-the-counter, and in topical prescription products at concentrations between 15-20%.
References for this information:
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2017, pages 35-42; and September 2016, issue 3, pages 269-282
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, March 2017, pages 37-40
Advanced Biomedical Research, February 2017, ePublication
Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, October 2016, pages 771-775
Skin Therapy Letter, January 2016, pages 1-7
Cutis, January 2016, pages E9-E11
Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, September 2015, pages 964-968
About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!