An expert shares the benefits of the skin and how it works

Putting acid on your skin seems like the sort of thing your high school chemistry teacher would strongly disapprove of. But when used in beauty products, we know that certain acids can actually help brighten and even out your skin tone. You are probably familiar with some of the most common: salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids. But there is another more discreet acid that you should consider adding to your beauty practice.

Azelaic acid is an “under-recognized” and “underrated” ingredient, Dr. Marisa Garshick, a certified dermatologist in New York, told Shop TODAY. It has a ton of benefits for the skin, including helping with hyperpigmentation and reducing inflammation.

So what exactly is the ingredient and how does it work? We asked Garshick to explain all the details to us.

What is Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid, also known as dicarboxylic acid, is naturally derived from yeast, but can also be found in grains like rye, wheat and barley, Garshick said.

It is anti-inflammatory, so it can be useful in the treatment of acne and rosacea. It also inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of pigment cells and melanin, which means it can prevent the buildup of pigmentation that leads to dark spots. “It can also help lighten the skin because it acts as a gentle exfoliant,” Garshick said.

“Because he has so many different mechanics and perks associated with him, he’s often seen as a jack-of-all-trades, master of nothing, in the sense that he can do a lot and he’s a really great guy. ingredient, but it’s not necessarily the most powerful ingredient we have out there, ”she added.

Because of this, it won’t necessarily be as quick a fix for your skin problems as other powerhouses, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. Dermatologists will generally recommend it in its prescription form, at a concentration of around 15 to 20 percent, Garshick said. But for those who don’t want to go the prescription route, you can also find it in over-the-counter products at a 10% strength. When you use them, it may take around three to four months for you to notice improvement. “You’ll usually start to see some degree of benefit sooner than that,” Garshick said, “It’s important to note that with this ingredient it’s worth sticking with it and waiting to see the benefits. benefits because sometimes it may take a while to see them, but they will come.

Who should use azelaic acid?

While it can be used by all skin types and can be easily incorporated into any routine, Garshick said it’s not uncommon to see redness or irritation when you’re just starting out. “It’s always best, even with this ingredient, to start a few times a week and work your way up slowly until you increase the frequency, just to ensure the best tolerance,” she said.

This is a good option for anyone with sensitive skin who might not respond well to more aggressive ingredients, especially those used to treat acne. “This is a good option for someone who is dealing with rashes that cannot tolerate, for example, benzoyl peroxide, retinol or salicylic acid,” Garshick said. It is also commonly recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women as an alternative to the above ingredients as they are generally considered prohibited for expectant mothers.

Here, Garshick has shared some of their recommendations for products that contain the ingredient, and we’re including a top-rated pick we’ve found.

Ordinary suspension of azelaic acid 10%

This cream from The Ordinary is affordable, so it’s an easy way to introduce the ingredient into your routine, Garshick said. It is free from fragrances, parabens and other unwanted additives.

Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex

This lightening cream combines azelaic acid and glycolic acid. “It works well for hyperpigmentation and discoloration,” Garshick said. “This is a great option for a pregnant woman because both of these ingredients, at this concentration, are safe during pregnancy.” It’s also a good choice for people with melasma, another type of hyperpigmentation, she said.

Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Gel-Cream

This booster gel is another choice from Garshick. It can be used on its own or added to your favorite moisturizer. In addition to azelaic acid, it contains licorice root and salicylic acid to help further reduce redness and improve skin texture.

Azelaic Acid 10% Facial Serum with Niacinamide

Garshick said that azelaic acid is generally combined with niacinamide, another ingredient useful for treating inflammation and hyperpigmentation. This serum, which contains both ingredients, has over 2,200 rave five-star reviews, with people claiming it has helped with a variety of issues, from acne to rosacea.

Tula Skin Care Clear It Up Anti-acne gel + complexion corrector

Packed with probiotics, skin superfoods, and salicylic and azelaic acids, this gel promises to help clear acne and prevent future breakouts.

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