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Azelaic acid and Retinol Together – Is it good for you?

Azelaic Acid & Retinol, both contribute a lot to our skin just in different ways, but can you use them together? Answer is YES! They are even stronger together.

First know the power of both the ingredients individually

Azelaic Acid & its benefits

  • It is an antioxidant naturally found in grains such as wheat, barley & rye.
  • Azelaic Acid is basically known to kill bacteria on the skin hence great for acne prone skin.
  • It helps improve brown skin discoloration & Melasma
  • It’s Anti -inflammatory properties makes it apt for people with Rosacea.
  • Azelaic Acid is very well tolerated by even sensitive skin types hence can be used every day.

Model applying azelaic acid

Azelaic Acid

How does Azelaic Acid work on the skin?

  • It decreases the production of excess Keratin, a natural substance which can lead to development of acne & kills acne causing bacteria.
  • It exfoliates the skin, promoting healthy new skin growth by stimulating cell turnover.
  • The antioxidant properties control all the free radicals making the complexion bright.

How to apply Azelaic Acid?

  1. Wash your face with a cleanser
  2. Take a pea sized amount or a few drops of Azelaic Acid
  3. Massage it evenly on the face & neck
  4. Layer it with a non-comedogenic moisturizer

How much Concentration of Azelaic acid should be used?

10-20% is well effective & tolerated

Are there any side effects of using Azelaic Acid?

Generally, it is well tolerated by even sensitive skin types but in rare cases few might face redness, drying or mild burning sensations. Stop using it for a while & either consult your Dermat or restart with a lower concentration.

When & how many times should you apply Azelaic Acid?

If it’s well tolerated by your skin then, twice a day is recommended, either morning-evening or morning-night, if not then once in the morning is good enough.

Who should not use Azelaic Acid?

If you have Asthma consult your doctor before using Azelaic acid

Can Pregnant/Nursing women use Azelaic Acid?

Yes, no studies have shown any problems with using Azelaic acid.

What other ingredients is Azelaic acid compatible with?

Lactic acid, Glycolic acid, Retinol, Niacinamide

How much time does it take to show results when using Azelaic Acid?

6-8 weeks

That was all about Azelaic Acid, moving on to the next star-Retinol.


Retinol is a bliss to the skin care industry for its multitasking skin power.

It’s a derivative of Vitamin A which is most of the time confused with Retinoids by general people. In the easiest way, Retinol is one of the 7 kinds of Retinoids hence also mild in compared to the strong Retinoids.

Image showing stages of curing Hyperpigmentation by Retinol

Stages of curing Hyperpigmentation by Retinol

Retinol Benefits

  • Boosts Collagen production by speeding cellular turnover.
  • Treats acne & acne scars.
  • Works wonders for fine lines, ageing & wrinkles & hyperpigmentation.
  • In short, it slows down ageing!!

How does Retinol work on the skin?

  • The reason it is so freaking popular is, it goes deep into the layers of the skin & exfoliates from within by eliminating dead cells & bacterial growth which ultimately leads to regeneration of fresh young cells & clean pores which helps ultimately in acne control.

Retinol usage stages of a woman month wise

Retinol usage stages

How to apply Retinol?

  1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser
  2. Pat your face dry completely
  3. Apply a pea sized amount or a few drops of Retinol evenly on the face & neck
  4. Massage gently
  5. Layer it with a non-comedogenic moisturizer
  6. Don’t forget your sunscreen the next day!

How much Concentration of Retinol should be used?

.025% – 0.1%, 2-3 times a week. Can go up to 1% gradually when your skin feels ready.

What other ingredients is Retinol compatible with?

Niacinamide, Azelaic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid

How much time does it take to show results when using Retinol?

8-12 weeks

When can you start using Retinol?

Early 20s is just fine with proper precautions

When should you apply Retinol?

Only at nighttime

Who should not use Retinol?

  1. Pregnant/Nursing women, Retinol is harmful for the baby throughout nursing
  2. If you have Rosacea or Eczema, unfortunately Retinoids are not a great choice for your skin.

The most important tips to take care of when applying Retinol

  1. Always apply sunblock when you’re out in the day. Using retinol makes your skin highly photosensitive which means skin is very sensitive towards UV light.
  2. Don’t mix Retinol with any other ingredient except the few I have mentioned above.
  3. Do not use it very close to your eyes, mouth, nose. Extra tip, apply a Vaseline on the corners of your mouth & around eyes before applying retinol for extra protection.
  4. Try & avoid using any other potential irritants like acids or chemical exfoliants when you’re just beginning your retinol journey. This can minimize your burns & excess flaking.
  5. Use the Sandwich method of ‘moisturizer-retinol moisturizer’, Means a layer of moisturizer then retinol then moisturizer again. This will prevent any possibilities of irritation.

What if you get Retinol Burn/Irritation?

This is an over peeled skin due to an exceeded application amount of retinol

Over peeled skin

Don’t Panic, your skin will be back to normal state within a few weeks.

Just take care of these points

  1. Take cold showers or ice your face (wrap in a in a thin cloth). Avoid hot showers at any cost.
  2. Avoid using scented cleansers or moisturizers.
  3. Use Thermal spring water to calm the skin (Try from La Roche Posay)
  4. Don’t use any exfoliating fancy gadgets to wash the face, simply hands.
  5. Give a lot of moisture & hydration to the skin for it to feel better. Apply moisturizers loaded on ceramides & Hyaluronic acid.
  6. Now, seal the skin with a light layer of Vaseline. It locks in all the goodies we’ve given & lets the skin heal faster.
  7. Stop using any other exfoliants, acids, AHA’s, BHA’s, peroxides, salicylic acid until you are completely healed.
  8. Glycerin & Aloe vera, both are great soothing & calming agents for the skin.
  9. Product suggestion- Try Avene- Cicalfate + restorative protective cream
  10. Apply sun block before stepping outside. Remember your skin is already in a vulnerable state. UV rays at this point can make it worse.

Now, what happens when you mix Azelaic acid & Retinol together?

  • You get a double dose of brightening! Azelaic acid prevents new melanin production by preventing the activity of tyrosinase enzyme while retinol works on the existing hyperpigmentation, together resulting in even bright skin.

  • They are also a solid acne fighting duo. Retinol clean pores by going in the deep layer of the skin killing the bacterial growth & controlling sebum production while azelaic acid’s antibacterial properties results in killing the bacteria on the surface. It’s a boon for the skin if it can tolerate them together.

Two models with age difference but both amazing skin due to combination of azelaic acid & retinol

Double dose of brightening

How do you apply Azelaic Acid and Retinol together?

So, the sequence doesn’t matter honestly, but if you ask my preference, I will go with the mild ingredient first hence Azelaic acid

  1. Wash your face with a cleanser
  2. Pat your face dry
  3. Apply Azelaic acid & massage it evenly & gently (pea sized amount)
  4. Apply Retinol, Massage it gently all over face & neck (pea sized amount)
  5. Layer it with moisturizer & that’s it
  6. Don’t forget to apply sun block the next day!

Hope you have healthy bright skin, Love~ Beauty Stroll

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