Is Azelaic Acid 14% Too Strong? Let the Dermatologists Weigh In


When you’re deciding which products to use in your skincare routine, you probably notice the wide range of concentrations listed on bottles and packaging. With azelaic acid, over-the-counter products typically contain 10% or less of the active ingredient. So is azelaic acid 14% too strong or just the right amount? Here’s what dermatologists have to say.

Evaluate Your Skin Type & Treatment Goals

After conducting studies on skincare products containing 10%, 14%, and 20% azelaic acid, researchers found that all three concentrations effectively treat acne. However, 10% azelaic acid products are not as effective at treating hyperpigmentation, lightening acne scars, and improving skin texture. Additionally, the lower concentration of azelaic acid is best for people with mild to moderate acne, but if you have more severe acne, you will see better results with a stronger product.

Products that contain 15-20% azelaic acid are only available with a prescription. Researchers also noted that some people using 20% azelaic acid experienced dryness and skin irritation due to the high concentration. So if you have sensitive or dry skin, you may experience these issues when using products with 20% azelaic acid.

So why 14% azelaic acid? Increasing the concentration of azelaic acid is the best way to make it more effective at treating skin conditions such as rosacea and hyperpigmentation. You can get products with 14% azelaic acid without a prescription, and this concentration also minimizes side effects such as stinging, drying, and redness. When you use a product with 14% azelaic acid, you will likely see the benefits within two to three months.

Azelaic Acid vs Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is commonly used to treat skin conditions, and you may wonder how azelaic acid for acne compares. Researchers have found that azelaic acid is just as good at clearing up acne as benzoyl peroxide. Both ingredients fight bacteria, which helps minimize new acne flare-ups. Benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid are also effective at exfoliating skin and relieving inflammation.

Despite these similarities, there are key differences you should be aware of. Benzoyl peroxide makes your skin more sensitive to the sun and can damage your skin if you use it for a long time. It can also make your skin peel because it is a strong exfoliating ingredient.

Azelaic acid is comparably much more gentle than benzoyl peroxide. It doesn’t make you more prone to sunburn and won’t cause excess dryness and peeling. If you have sensitive or dry skin and acne, rosacea, or hyperpigmentation, azelaic acid is a good alternative to benzoyl peroxide.

How To Start Using Azelaic Acid 14% Cream

Use azelaic acid cream as the final step in your skincare routine but before sunscreen. Apply a pea-sized amount over your entire face once or twice a day. For the first few weeks, use the product every other day to avoid irritation.

Always protect your skin with a product that contains at least SPF 30. Retinol, BHAs, AHAs, glycolic acid, and lactic acid do not pair well with azelaic acid, but you should continue to use supporting ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide.

You deserve to feel comfortable and confident in your skin. Explore the top supplements for pigmentation to address your concerns and embrace your complexion today.