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Table of Contents
- What Is Azelaic Acid?
- What Is Salicylic Acid?
- Can Azelaic Acid And Salicylic Acid Be Used Together?
- How To Use Azelaic Acid And Salicylic Acid Together.
- Azelaic Acid Vs Salicylic Acid – Which Is Better For Treating Acne?
- In Conclusion.
- Possible Questions & Answers.
If you’re on this page, then you must have probably been surfing the internet on the compatibility of azelaic acid and salicylic acid together. I must commend your research-effort on the synergy of these two actives. As one needs to make research before paring two actives (or acids) together as not all ingredients teams together.
Therefore, this article will definitely satisfy your taste of curiosity on the compatibility of azelaic acid and salicylic acid together, but before we plunge into that, let’s know what these ingredients really are and what they do for the skin, shall we?
What Is Azelaic Acid?
Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. It’s rich in anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties which makes it an effective treatment for acne and rosacea. Similar to retinol, azelaic acid puts a stop to future outbreaks and cleanses bacteria from your pores that causes acne. It also mildly exfoliates the skin, curtails redness and reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Main Skin Benefits Of Azelaic Acid.
- Gently and effectively exfoliate the skin by deeply unclogging skin pores without causing irritation.
- Reduces inflammation and soothes any flare ups caused by rosacea and breakouts.
- Fights acne and other breakouts by combating the troublesome spot causing P.acnes bacteria.
- Fades patchy or blotchy areas of the skin (including melasma and acne scars) due to the fact it contains an enzyme that can prevent post breakout hyperpigmentation.
What Is Salicylic Acid?
Salicylic acid is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid), it is derived from White willow (salix alba). Not only does it help the skin shed dead skin cells from the top layer and decrease redness and swelling (inflammation), but also treats acne as it unclog the hair follicles (pores) of dead skin cells and other pore-clogging impurities and nasties.
Unlike AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) which are water-soluble and ideal for surface exfoliation, salicylic acid is oil-soluble, due to that, it penetrates deeply into the skin and cuts through oil/sebum to deliver its potentials by deeply exfoliating and decongesting the pores of grime and gunk.
Main Skin Benefits Of Salicylic Acid.
- Helps Exfoliate Dead Skin Cells.
- Gently decongest the pores of pore-clogging impurities.
- Gets rid of acne, whiteheads & blackheads.
- Helps regulate excess oil (sebum).
- Reduces Inflammation and helps calm down redness.
- Helps treat psoriasis and other dry, scaly skin conditions.
- Helps treat warts due to its acidic and exfoliating nature.
Can Azelaic Acid And Salicylic Acid Be Used Together?
If you’ve been puzzled about the compatibility status of azelaic acid and salicylic acid together, then know that both actives are synergistic together and of course can be used together. A 2019 study shows that using both azelaic acid and salicylic acid together is effective in treating inflammatory acne.
How To Use Azelaic Acid And Salicylic Acid Together.
The intent of using these acids together may give you faster results, but it may also increase the risk of dryness and irritation, therefore
It’s best recommended to use in alternate or at separate times to limit the chances of incurring inflammatory-irritation as using both acids together at the same time (in a skincare routine) can be too much for the skin to handle.
That’s to say, instead of using both acids at the same time, use them apart or at separate times. By this I mean, use azelaic acid in the morning, while you use salicylic acid at night.
This is the approach I use. I apply The Ordinary 10% azelaic acid in the morning (sometimes I use the Ezanic 20% azelaic acid gel formula). While at night, I use my ZapZyt Acne Wash Cleanser which contains 2% salicylic acid. I love my salicylic acid more in cleansers.
You can as well go down the route of using each acid per day. Example: one day for azelaic acid and another day for salicylic acid. This also helps skin reap the potentials of both ingredients while minimizing the risk of irritation.
You can also go for products containing both actives, as to further help minimize irritation. A good recommendation is the Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster, as these ingredients are compatibly-formulated to work effectively together in the product. You can read my comparison review between The Ordinary vs Paula’s Choice Azelaic Acid.
Also while pairing azelaic acid and salicylic acid together, it’s best recommended to ease your way into these acids as skin can easily get irritated if not moderately used. Therefore, aside from using both acids at separate times, also start from lower concentration. Example: azelaic acid 10% and salicylic acid 0.5% or 1%, while you also start by using them twice or thrice weekly, as your skin builds tolerance (or if there is no sign of irritation), you can work your way up to applying them every-other-day.
Aside from starting out with lower acid concentration and using them twice or thrice weekly till skin acclimatize with them, I strongly advise stopping at applying both acids at separate times, “every-other-day” and not “everyday” (never go further to applying them at separate times “everyday”). Example: apply them at separate times (azelaic acid in the morning, salicylic acid at night) every-other-day – that’s on Monday, skip Tuesday, and apply again on Wednesday, just like that, as this will help curtail chances of sustaining irritation which is associated with acid use.
But if you prefer to use each acid per day. Example: one day for azelaic acid and another day for salicylic acid, then there’s no need for every-other-day application. As this spacing out technique is enough to curtail irritation. But if in a rare case you should experience dryness and redness with this spacing-out application technique, you can employ the every-other-day application technique. Example: one day for azelaic acid, another day for salicylic acid, skip the next day, and continue with the other days. Keep the routine this way.
While using these bioactive, endeavor to invest in a moisture-rich moisturizer as your skin needs all the moisture and hydration it deserves while on acids this will further help protect and strengthen skin barrier from compromisation.
Also ensure to perform a patch test of both actives prior to commencing application, as to test for allergies. And don’t forget to always apply your sunscreen to protect skin from UV rays exposure as azelaic acid and salicylic acid are exfoliants, therefore when the skin isn’t well protected (by using a sunscreen) it becomes vulnerable to sun rays which can be detrimental to the skin. You can read how to properly apply sunscreen.
Azelaic Acid Vs Salicylic Acid – Which Is Better For Treating Acne?
Azelaic acid being a multifunctional and mild exfoliating ingredient (which makes it suitable for sensitive skin) helps unclog pores, refine the skin’s surface and kills acne causing bacteria, all thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied on the skin, it gently unclog congested pores, while decreasing bacteria by killing Propionibacterium acnes – the bacteria that are responsible for inflamed acne breakouts. This helps treat acne.
Not only that, azelaic acid also extends its potentials to fading hyperpigmentation such as melasma and post-acne marks, all thanks to its skin depigmenting potentials. Azelaic acid is often combined with retinoids as a milder alternative to hydroquinone.
Salicylic acid on the other hand is an exfoliant, being classified under beta hydroxy acids. It helps unclog pores as it penetrates deeper into the skin, cuts through oil (sebum) to decongest the pores of pore-clogging impurities. Once the pores are unclogged, bacteria releases, and this puts an end to acne breakouts.
Salicylic acid is best recommended for individuals with oily skin, due to its oil-soluble nature, which enables it to work effectively in sebum-laden environments. Unlike AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) which are water-soluble and ideal for surface exfoliation, salicylic acid is oil-soluble, due to that, it penetrates deeply into the skin and cuts through oil/sebum to deliver its potentials by deeply exfoliating and decongesting the pores of grime and gunk.
In summary, both ingredients are effective in treating acne with salicylic acid being most effective of both, as salicylic acid being a very potent exfoliant, works best in sebum-laden environment, cuts through oil and decongest clogged pores of pore-clogging impurities which releases the congestions and bacterias trapped in the pores. But with the combination of azelaic acid works even better, as salicylic acid unclogs the pores, azelaic acid enters and kills acne causing bacteria. But keep in mind that these acids should be used at separate times to limit occurrence of inflammatory-irritation.
But If your skin is very resistant, you may also be able to use them together. Look for a formula that combines the acids together at lower percentages or go for individual products that contains each acid at a lower concentration. Example: azelaic acid 10% and salicylic acid 0.5% or 1%.
Both azelaic acid and salicylic acid are great options for treating acne. Azelaic acid is better for sensitive skin or anyone dealing with hyperpigmentation such as dark spots and melasma. While salicylic acid, on the other hand, works better for oily skin.
If you have a very resistant skin, you can go ahead and use both azelaic acid and salicylic acid together but at a very low concentration. Look for a formula that combines the acids together at lower percentages or go for individual products that contain each acid at a lower concentration too. Example: azelaic acid 10% and salicylic acid 0.5% or 1%. But if you have sensitive skin, do well to use both acids in alternate or at separate times.
Possible Questions & Answers.
Q: Can pregnant or breastfeeding women use azelaic acid and salicylic acid together?
A: While azelaic acid is pregnancy and breastfeeding-safe, due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and classified under category B for pregnancy, salicylic acid is also pregnancy and breastfeeding-safe but to some extent.
Oral salicylic acid is considered category C for pregnancy by the FDA, as it’s unsafe during pregnancy when taken orally. Studies suggest that taking oral salicylic acid during late pregnancy may increase the risk for intracranial bleeding in the fetus.
Topical salicylic acid on the other hand is safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding to some extent. Meaning that, using high concentration or prescription strength of salicylic acid could also absorb into the bloodstream which is unsafe for a growing fetus. It’s best to stay away from prescription or high strength of salicylic acid or stay off it entirely. But you can use salicylic acid at lower concentrations (recommended: 0.5 -1%).
To further limit the absorption of salicylic acid into the bloodstream or breast milk, use a cleanser containing salicylic acid rather than a leave-on treatment. Cleansers don’t stay long on the skin, unlike overnight or leave-on treatments. The lesser time salicylic is on the skin, the lower the chances of it absorbing into the bloodstream.
But ensure to talk with your certificate healthcare practitioner before plunging to using salicylic acid or any skincare products when pregnant or breastfeeding. When pregnant, do well to read carefully through your product ingredients list before purchasing, and also stay cognizant of pregnancy-unsafe skincare ingredients. You as well read our best pregnancy-Safe skincare routine to keep your skin flawless while pregnant.