Does Azelaic Acid Cause Purging

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Does Azelaic Acid Cause Purging ⋆ Beautymone
Published by Simone de Vlaming on October 26, 2023

If you’re someone who is looking to improve your skin, you may have heard of azelaic acid. This skincare ingredient has been growing in popularity for its ability to reduce acne, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation. 

However, there is a common concern that azelaic acid may cause purging. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what azelaic acid is, what purging is, and whether azelaic acid actually causes purging.

One of the reasons why azelaic acid is so popular is because it can be used by people with all skin types, including sensitive skin.

But, as with any new skincare ingredient, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. One of these is purging. With that in mind, let’s explore whether azelaic acid causes purging.

Key Takeaways

  • Azelaic acid is a natural compound that can treat a variety of skin concerns.
  • Purging is a temporary breakout that happens when you start using a new skincare product.
  • Azelaic acid may cause purging, but it’s not guaranteed; if it happens, there are ways to manage it.

Does Azelaic Acid Cause Purging

One ingredient that has been gaining popularity lately is azelaic acid. But, before you start using it, you might be wondering if it causes purging.

Purging is a process where your skin experiences a temporary breakout (or temporary worsening of acne symptoms) when you start using a new skincare product. This happens because the product is increasing the skin cell turnover rate, which can bring impurities to the surface.

It’s important to note that purging is not the same as a regular breakout. In a regular breakout, the pimple forms because of clogged pores. In purging, the pimple forms because the product is speeding up the skin’s natural exfoliation process. Purging is a sign that the product is working and your skin is purging the impurities already there.

When it comes to azelaic acid, some people do experience purging, while others don’t. It really depends on your skin type and how your skin reacts to the ingredients. We’ll first dive deeper into understanding azelaic acid, what it does, and what the benefits are.

Purging Vs Breakout | Does Azelaic Acid Cause Purging?

What Is Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is an organic compound, also known as dicarboxylic acid[1], that is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its many benefits for the skin.

Azelaic acid is a multitasking ingredient that can help with a range of skin concerns, including acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and more.

It works by decreasing the production of keratin, which can clog pores and cause acne. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce redness and swelling associated with acne and rosacea.

One of the reasons azelaic acid is so popular is that it is gentle on the skin. Unlike other acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or BHA (like salicylic acid) and alpha-hydroxy acid or AHA (like glycolic acid), azelaic acid does not cause dryness or irritation. It is also safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Azelaic acid is available in a variety of skincare products, including serums, creams, and gels. It is important to note that not all azelaic acid products are created equal.

Some products contain a higher concentration of azelaic acid than others, so choosing a product appropriate for your skin type and concerns is important. It’s generally best to opt for a 15%-20% concentration[2][3].

How Does Azelaic Acid Work

Azelaic acid works in two primary ways:

  1. It speeds up your rate of skin cell turnover. This helps to remove dead skin cells, preventing them from clogging up your pores and leading to breakouts.
  2. It’s got anti-inflammatory properties. If you’ve got acne, you know inflammation is a big part of the problem. Azelaic acid can help reduce this.

If you’re considering using azelaic acid, it’s important to be patient and give your skin time to adjust. If you do experience purging, don’t worry – it’s a sign that the product is working, and your skin will thank you in the end. 

Azelaic acid works well for people struggling with acne, rosacea, or hyperpigmentation. 

While azelaic acid is generally well-tolerated, it can cause common side effects. Some people may experience slight stinging, tingling, or redness when they first start using it. This is typically temporary and should decrease as your skin gets used to the product.

Azelaic Acid Benefits

Azelaic Acid is a versatile skincare ingredient that offers a wide range of benefits for your skin. Let’s delve deeper into each of these benefits and explore the compounds within azelaic acid responsible for achieving them[4]:

Reduces Pigmentation

Azelaic acid is effective at reducing hyperpigmentation and melasma. This benefit is primarily attributed to its ability to inhibit the enzyme tyrosinase, which is involved in melanin production.

By slowing down the production of melanin, azelaic acid can gradually lighten areas of hyperpigmentation, leading to a more even skin tone. 

Rosacea Relief

Azelaic acid’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a valuable treatment for individuals with rosacea. The compound reduces redness and inflammation associated with this skin condition.

It works by inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators and improving the overall appearance and comfort of the skin for those with rosacea.

Smooths Skin Texture

The exfoliating properties of azelaic acid are essential in promoting smoother skin texture. It gently removes dead skin cells, leading to an improvement in skin texture and a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and rough patches.

This exfoliation is achieved through the acid’s keratolytic action, which aids in shedding the outer layer of the skin.

Fights Free Radicals

Azelaic acid is not only a skin-brightening agent but also a potent antioxidant. It helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. The compound neutralizes free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can harm skin cells and accelerate the aging process.

By providing this protection, azelaic acid assists in maintaining the skin’s youthful appearance and overall health. 

Tip: If you use azelaic acid in your skincare routine, be sure to apply sunscreen, as your skin can be more sensitive to the sun. 

Can Azelaic Acid Cause Purging

Azelaic acid is not commonly associated with causing purging. While it promotes faster shedding of skin cells, it’s also gentle on the skin and doesn’t typically trigger the same purge reaction as other actives like retinoids. However, everyone’s skin is different, and reactions can vary.

It’s possible to prevent purging by allowing your skin to adjust and adapt to azelaic acid. Keep on reading to see our tips! 

How Long Does Azelaic Acid Purge Last

Typically, purging can last anywhere from four to six weeks. This time frame aligns with the life cycle of skin cells. After four to six weeks (sometimes even sooner), you’ll start seeing improvements in your skin: the purging stops, and you’ll slowly see a healthy, happy skin peek through. 

If you notice prolonged breakouts or any other negative reactions, it’s always a good idea to consult a dermatologist.

Don’t pick at your skin: It can be tempting to pick at your skin when you’re experiencing purging, but this can lead to acne scars and further irritation. Try to resist the urge to pick at your skin.

How To Avoid Skin Purging

How To Avoid Skin Purging

In your journey to healthier skin, it’s crucial to understand your own skin type. Not every product works for everyone, and using the wrong skincare products can lead to problems like irritation or, yes, purging. 

Here are five handy tips to help you minimize the chances of skin purging and maximize your skincare journey:

Start Slow

To steer clear of the potential purging pitfalls, it’s smart to take it slow when introducing new products to your skincare routine. Rather than diving headfirst into daily application of azelaic acid, kick things off by using it just a few times a week. 

Gradually increase the frequency over time. This gentle approach allows your skin to acclimate to the new addition and reduces the risk of any sudden skin reactions. 

Use A Gentle Cleanser

Before you even think about applying azelaic acid, show your skin some love by cleansing it with a gentle, skin-friendly cleanser. This step clears away any lingering excess oils and dirt, creating a pristine canvas for the azelaic acid to work its magic. A clean slate is a happy place for your skincare products to do their thing.

Monitor Your Skin 

Your skin is a great communicator. Listen to it. If you spot signs of excessive dryness, redness, or irritation, consider it your skin’s way of sending you a message. 

It could mean you’re using the product too frequently or that it’s a tad too potent for your skin. Adjust your usage based on your skin’s feedback. It’s a partnership, after all.

Stay Hydrated 

The importance of hydration can’t be stressed enough. Well-hydrated skin is happy skin. By keeping your skin adequately hydrated, you can soothe any irritation and reduce the likelihood of experiencing common side effects like dryness and flaking. Drink plenty of water and use a good moisturizer to maintain your skin’s moisture balance.

Besides adding a moisturizer, you may want to consider adding a hyaluronic acid serum to your routine for additional hydration. If you have acne-prone skin, you may be wondering, “Is hyaluronic acid good for acne?” Yes – even your skin needs moisture!

Synergize Azelaic Acid with Vitamin C 

Azelaic acid and vitamin C are like a power duo for your skin. These two ingredients can work wonders when used together. We already found out that azelaic acid brightens and evens out your skin tone, but vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect your skin from free radical damage and boosts collagen production.

You can use them at different times of the day or on alternate days. For instance, apply azelaic acid in the morning and vitamin C in the evening. However, if you have sensitive skin, you might want to use them on separate days to minimize the risk of irritation.

Just be sure to follow the “Start Slow” tip mentioned earlier and gradually introduce these ingredients to your routine. 

Final Thoughts On Does Azelaic Acid Cause Purging

You’ve made it to the end of this exploration into skin purging and azelaic acid. It’s clear that skin purging can occur when you start new skincare products, and azelaic acid isn’t an exception. But remember, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s your skin doing its job and clearing out the gunk.

Azelaic acid, with its acne-fighting properties, can potentially lead to a purging phase. But don’t let that scare you away. It’s a sign that your skin is adjusting to the product and working to give you a clearer complexion in the long run.

So, if you’re considering azelaic acid as part of your skincare routine, don’t be put off by the possibility of purging. Just be patient, keep your skin clean, and remember that the outcome will be worth it!

Frequently Asked Questions

To fully benefit from azelaic acid, wait 10 to 20 minutes after application before applying moisturizer, allowing enough time to absorb into the skin.

Azelaic acid is a popular ingredient in acne treatments because it has antibacterial properties that can help reduce the number of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. It also helps to unclog pores and reduce inflammation, which can help to prevent new breakouts from forming.

No, azelaic acid is an ingredient that works over time with consistent application. If you’re looking for something quick and intense, consult an esthetician for a peeling treatment. Ask them which one is best for your skin: a glycolic acid vs salicylic acid peel. 

Azelaic acid can cause a mild burning or tingling sensation when first applied to the skin, but this usually subsides within a few minutes. If you experience severe burning, itching, or discomfort, you should stop using the product and consult with a dermatologist.

Some individuals may experience a temporary increase in breakouts (you may see whiteheads and blackheads pop up) when first using azelaic acid. This is known as purging and is a normal part of the skin’s natural renewal process.

Beautymone takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

[1] Wikipedia contributors. (2023, October 14). Azelaic acid. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 09:19, October 27, 2023.

[2] Sieber MA, Hegel JK (November 2013). “Azelaic acid: Properties and mode of action.” Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (Review). 27 Suppl 1 (Supplement 1): 9–17. doi:10.1159/000354888PMID 24280644S2CID 8848543.

[3] National Center for Biotechnology Information (2023). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 2266, Azelaic Acid. Retrieved October 27, 2023 from

[4] Zena Al-Ani, The University of Auckland, New Zealand (2022), Reviewing dermatologist: Dr Ian Coulson. Azelaic acid, November 2022.

How we reviewed this article

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Beautymone takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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