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Ingredient Highlight: Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a superstar ingredient that offers many skin benefits. Keep reading to learn more about its properties, its use in skincare and who it’s good for.


You’ve probably heard about Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). These ingredients are well known exfoliants in the skincare world. Today, we’re going to talk about another acid that deserves some attention: azelaic acid. 

What it is: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, exfoliant, skin brightener

You can find it in: Face Foam

*These descriptions reflect the quality of the raw ingredient.

What is azelaic acid?

Azelaic acid is a chemical compound produced naturally by a yeast that lives on the skin.(1) For use in skincare products, azelaic acid is derived from some grains including barley, wheat and rye. If you have a gluten allergy, this may be concerning; however, azelaic acid is gluten-free. 

It’s available in over the counter skincare products and as a prescription. Studies supporting the benefits of azelaic acid generally focus on concentrations of 15%–20%, but even lower doses of this superstar ingredient are still a beneficial addition to your skincare routine. 

Three reasons azelaic acid is a wonderful skincare ingredient

Azelaic acid is a true multitasker. It offers multiple skin benefits and combats specific skin concerns in multiple ways. Let’s dive right in and discuss the top three ways azelaic acid benefits the skin.

Graydon Skincare Face Foam bottles with product smear in the background

Reason 1: Helps to reduce blemishes

When it comes to fighting acne, azelaic acid takes a multi-prong approach. 

First, it provides very gentle chemical exfoliation,(2) helping remove dead skin cells that can lead to clogged pores. To be clear, azelaic acid doesn’t offer the exfoliation power of AHAs or BHAs, but it’s a great choice for those with sensitive skin. 

Next, Azelaic acid has amazing antibacterial properties. It fights against multiple types of bad bacteria that can wreak havoc on your skin, including the acne-causing P. acnes bacteria.(1) 

Finally, studies show that azelaic acid helps to control overactive sebaceous glands(3) that can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. 

Together, these three factors (exfoliation, antibacterial properties and reduced sebum) help to decrease breakouts. In fact, dermatologists sometimes prescribe a 15% or 20% concentration of azelaic acid as an acne treatment. 

Reason 2: Has anti-inflammatory properties

Azelaic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties.(1) Not only does this help with inflammatory acne, studies show that the anti-inflammatory properties of azelaic acid can also help with rosacea.(4)

Dermatologists may prescribe individuals with rosacea a 15% azelaic acid formulation as a means to regulate inflammation association with rosacea.(4)

It’s believed that azelaic acid helps reduce inflammation associated with rosacea by reducing reactive oxygen species.(5) Reactive oxygen species are molecules that play a key role in inflammation.(6) By reducing reactive oxygen species, inflammation associated with rosacea is also reduced.

Reason 3: Evens the complexion

Another reason that azelaic acid is such a fantastic skincare ingredient is its ability to reduce hyperpigmentation.(7)

Azelaic acid is effective against post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can occur as a result of acne. You know, those red spots that are left behind after your breakout has cleared.

It also helps with melasma, a skin condition that causes brown and/or blue-gray patches or freckle-like spots. Melasma is a result of an overproduction of melanin. Azelaic acid helps with this condition by suppressing tyrosinase (the enzyme that controls the production of melanin).(8)

Studies suggest that a 20% concentration of azelaic acid has the same effect as a 4% concentration of hydroquinone on the appearance of melasma; however, the azelaic acid does not cause side effects associated with hydroquinone.(9)

Who is azelaic acid good for?

Azelaic acid is a wonderful choice for those with sensitive skin who are looking for an ingredient that provides gentle exfoliation. 

It’s also perfect for anyone with acne-prone skin since it takes a multi-pronged approach to combating breakouts. 

Individuals who are prone to skin redness and/or hyperpigmentation can also benefit from adding azelaic acid to their skincare routine. 

Azelaic acid in Graydon Skincare products

The skin benefits of azelaic acid are undeniable, so obviously we had to include this superstar ingredient in the Graydon Skincare product lineup!

Our Face Foam is a fragrance-free cleanser that’s perfect for combination skin. In addition to azelaic acid, this gentle cleanser contains silica-rich bamboo extract to help smooth the appearance of wrinkles and apple cider vinegar to help balance the skin’s pH level. Face Foam removes dirt, sweat and excess sebum without stripping your skin.  

If you’re prone to breakouts and redness, start your skincare routine by cleansing with Face Foam to harness the powers of azelaic acid.


Even though Aloe Milk Cleanser doesn’t lather, it still effectively cleanses the skin of impurities. Click here to learn how it does this!

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