Azelaic Acid Peel: The Ultimate Guide

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on May 13, 2024

Azelaic acid is a well-liked skincare ingredient. So let’s see what benefits it brings as a chemical peeling agent.

azelaic acid peel

Image source: Instagram @dolcevitabeautycentre

Azelaic acid has gained tremendous popularity in the realm of skincare due to its brightening and anti-inflammatory properties. You can find this ingredient in many creams, toners, and exfoliants – but, what is azelaic acid chemical peel like?

Let’s do a quick overview of the azelaic peel and talk about its benefits and limitations, as well as which skin conditions it’s most suitable for.

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What Is an Azelaic Acid Peel?

Azelaic acid is a derivative of naturally occurring acid found in grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. This acid is multifaceted, which makes it a versatile and effective solution for acne, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, and more.

Azelaic acid peel offers a gentle exfoliation that helps to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. And, just like any other chemical peel, it promotes cell turnover, revealing fresher and brighter skin.

But unlike more aggressive peels, the azelaic peel is also suitable for sensitive skin types, minimizing the risk of irritation or excessive peeling.


Image source: Freepik

The Intensity of Azelaic Acid Peel

Since azelaic acid is a relatively mild acid peeling agent (especially when compared to other stronger options like glycolic acid or salicylic acid), it has a limited depth of penetration.

This makes it safer and less likely to cause adverse effects, however, it may also limit its effectiveness in treating certain skin concerns that require deeper exfoliation.

Since it’s not as intense, the concentration of azelaic acid peel can go up to 30%, and be left on the skin for up to 10 minutes. This, however, strictly depends on your skin type, sensitivity, and condition you’re looking to resolve.

But – there’s also a moderation of azelaic acid peel called azelan peel. The Azelan peel is a combination of 20% azelaic and 20% salicylic acid, which makes it very effective in treating different types of acne and conditions alike. It has anti-fungal and comedolytic properties, along with other combined benefits of these two acids.

Azelaic Peel Benefits

Other than the benefits of all chemical peels like smoothing out skin texture, evening out skin tone, boosting collagen production, and more, the azelaic acid peel also has the following beneficial characteristics:

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Melanin inhibitor
  • It’s suitable even for sensitive skin

What Conditions Does the Azelaic Acid Peel Treat?

Since this peeling agent is so versatile, it can help treat many different skin conditions – both on the face and the body.

Azelaic Acid for Face

The azelaic acid peel revitalizes your skin, giving it a radiant and healthy appearance by improving skin texture and promoting collagen production. But let’s see which particular skin issues this treatment helps resolve:

Azelaic Acid for Blackheads

Chemical peels reach the sebaceous follicles where blackheads form. Then, the solution dissolves build-up sebum and debris, effectively cleansing the pores and reducing the appearance of blackheads.


Image source: Instagram @natalixaaa_kosmetologia

Azelaic Acid for Closed Comedones (aka Whiteheads)

Closed comedones develop when hair follicles become clogged with a combination of sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria. This congestion leads to the formation of small, flesh-colored, or white bumps on the skin.

Therefore, similar to how azelaic acid peel is addressing blackheads, it can serve as an effective treatment for whiteheads too.

Azelaic Acid for Acne

Using azelaic acid for acne has proven to be very effective. Thanks to its antibacterial properties, azelaic acid peel kills bacteria responsible for acne formation.

By inhibiting bacterial growth, it helps reduce inflammation and breakouts. On top of that, it also helps control sebum production, helping prevent new acne from forming.

Azelaic Acid for Acne Scars

Azelaic acid peel has the ability to fade hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars. This can help even out the skin tone and reduce the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

This peeling agent also has anti-inflammatory properties, which help mitigate inflammation, promote the healing process, and improve the appearance of scars.

Azelaic Acid for Hyperpigmentation

Since azelaic acid peel also serves as a melanin (the pigment responsible for skin color) inhibitor, it can aid in addressing pretty much any hyperpigmentation concerns.

Whether caused by sun damage, hormonal changes, or post-inflammatory pigmentation, the azelaic acid peel can help fade dark spots and promote a more uniform complexion. So you can use azelaic acid for melasma, acne scars, or any other type of dark spots.

Azelaic Acid for Sensitive Skin

Azelaic acid is generally well-tolerated by sensitive skin types, making it a suitable option for individuals who are prone to skin irritation. It’s gentle yet effective for achieving brighter, smoother, more even skin tone.

Just make sure to do a patch test first to check for any adverse reactions or sensitivity. This step is essential, especially if you have extremely sensitive skin or a history of allergic reactions.


Image source: Instagram @madamekatrina_clinicaestetica

Azelaic Acid for Rosacea

Individuals with rosacea often struggle with redness, flushing, and sensitive skin.

The azelaic acid peel possesses anti-inflammatory properties, reducing redness and swelling. It can help calm and soothe the skin, providing relief to people with reactive skin or skin conditions like rosacea.

Azelaic Acid for Redness

After skin inflammation or injury, for example, acne breakouts, redness may persist even after the initial inflammation subsides. Azelaic acid can assist in reducing post-inflammatory redness, by fading the red marks and restoring a more balanced skin tone.

Azelaic Acid for Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a skin condition characterized by abnormal skin cell turnover, leading to the accumulation of dead skin cells and the formation of red, inflamed, and bumpy rashes around the mouth area.

Since azelaic acid peel helps regulate cell turnover, promoting a more balanced and healthier skin barrier, it can be a good way to manage this condition. You need to consult with your doctor first to ensure this is a good treatment option for you.

Azelaic Acid for Dark Circles

While Azelaic acid is not primarily used for treating dark circles, it can indirectly help improve their appearance in certain cases.

For example, If the dark circles are caused by increased melanin production in the under-eye area, azelaic acid’s ability to inhibit melanin synthesis can help fade pigmentation and promote a more even skin tone.

It is important to note that dark circles can be caused by a number of different factors – including genetics – so in some cases azelaic acid peel isn’t the best treatment option.

Azelaic Acid for Wrinkles

The azelaic acid peel possesses antioxidant properties, which can help protect the skin against damage caused by free radicals, a major contributor to skin aging.

Plus, chemical peels stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. By boosting collagen production, the azelaic peel can improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Azelaic Acid for Body

Since azelaic skin peeling is quite mild, body peeling treatments will probably require a high concentration of this chemical. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may even need a more aggressive peeling agent, like salicylic or lactic acid.

But that’s not to say azelaic acid for body isn’t effective – it’s especially great for treating more sensitive body areas without causing irritation.

Azelaic Acid for Underarms

Although it’s not made for underarm use, azelaic acid peel helps lighten and brighten the skin, evening out skin tone, and fading hyperpigmentation – so it can help address certain concerns related to the underarm area.

Azelaic Acid for Ingrown Hairs

Azelaic acid can be an effective treatment option for ingrown hairs. It offers several benefits that can help reduce inflammation and prevent clogged pores.

As an agent that promotes the shedding of dead skin cells, it can help prevent the accumulation of debris and sebum that contribute to ingrown hairs.

Azelaic Acid for Back Acne

Similarly to how it can be used to treat facial acne, the azelaic acid peel can also help with bacne.

By providing gentle exfoliation and removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores, this treatment can reduce the occurrence of back acne. Plus, its antibacterial properties will inhibit bacterial growth and prevent future acne from forming.

Azelaic Acid for Scars

As already mentioned, azelaic acid peel can be beneficial for reducing the appearance of certain types of scars, particularly those caused by acne or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

It not only stimulates collagen production, which smooths out the skin’s texture, but it also has skin-brightening effects, which help lighten dark spots leftover from breakouts.

What to Expect During the Azelaic Acid Peel Procedure?

The procedure is short and includes 3 steps: prep, application, and neutralization.

It begins with a skin professional using a pre-peel solution to ensure your skin is properly cleaned and ready for the peel. After all dirt, oil, and impurities have been removed, the application process can begin.

The proper intensity of azelaic acid chemical peel is applied and left on for an appropriate amount of time that’s determined according to your skin type and needs. During this time the skin care professional will monitor your skin’s response closely.

Then, after enough time has passed, the azelaic peel is neutralized. The neutralizing solution stops the chemical reaction and marks the end of the treatment.

Additional steps may include moisturizing the skin after the peel and applying SPF.


Image source: Freepik

What to Expect After the Azelaic Acid Peel Procedure?

After the procedure, you may experience redness, tightness, and possibly even stinging. All of this is normal – as long as it’s not painful!

Differentiating between what’s normal and what’s not is extremely important when getting any kind of chemical peel, so read what counts as a sign that something is wrong here.

For example, a tingling sensation on the skin, dryness, itchiness, and skin peeling after azelaic acid are all to be expected as a part of the post-chemical peeling healing process.

The recovery period might take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The guide through day-by-day recovery from chemical peels can be found here.

Until the healing is complete, make sure you’re gentle to your skin and keep it moisturized and protected – especially from the sun!

@lwin.skinbeauty | PEELING | Le traitement Azelan est une cure de 5 séances de peeling qui vient traiter l’acné principalement! C’est une association de deux peelings Association d’acide azelaïque et d’acide salicylique, il se caractérise par des propriétés de régulation de la pigmentation Acide azélaïque contribue à réduire la flore bactérienne cutanée, en réduisant la formation d’acides gras libres des lipides de la peau Acide salicylique contribue à augmenter la production de collagène ______________________________________ Pour plus d’informations ou une prise de rendez-vous, contactez nous au +32 0470 98 39 52 (via appel ou whatsapp) Contre-indications: - Femme enceinte/allaitement - Psoriasis - Eczéma - Herpès #peeling#modifiedjessener#mesopeel#peel#peau#skin#traitement#traitementvisage ♬ Ooh Ahh (My Life Be Like) [feat. Tobymac] - Grits

Azelaic Acid Purging

Azelaic acid purging refers to the skin purging phenomenon in which upon starting to use this ingredient, some impurities may emerge on the skin’s surface.

But, skin purging after an azelaic acid chemical peel (or after introducing this ingredient in your skincare routine) is totally normal.

It occurs due to azelaic acid’s acceleration of the skin cell turnover rate. Plus its antibacterial and antioxidant properties contribute as well.

This increased exfoliation process can lead to the expulsion of existing impurities deep within the skin, including trapped sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells. As a result, these impurities cause a temporary flare-up of breakouts or skin congestion.

How Safe Is Azelaic Acid Peel?

Azelaic acid peels, when performed by a licensed and trained skin care professional, are considered safe.

But there are some risks and contraindications of the procedure, so see what they include:

  • Prolonged burning or stinging sensations
  • Blistering, burning
  • Severe redness, soreness, or swelling of the skin
  • Temporary change in skin color in the treated areas
  • Allergic reactions

You can lower these risks by following a pre-treatment & post-treatment care routine.

Azelaic Acid Peel Cost

Most chemical peel prices range around $100-$150.

The price range can be quite wide, sometimes going up to a few hundred dollars for a single session. So you also need to take into account that you’ll probably need multiple treatments to resolve the skin condition completely.

Azelaic Acid Peel At Home

Although not as effective as a professionally done azelaic acid chemical peel, this treatment can be done at home, as long as appropriate non-professional product variations are used.

But, since azelaic acid is milder than most other chemical peeling acids, it’s mostly formulated in products like moisturizers, serums, etc. than as a stand-alone peeling solution. This makes it very safe for use as it provides the benefits without the risks.

Here are some azelaic acid peel at home product recommendations:

How Long Does It Take for Azelaic Acid to Clear Skin?

Generally, it may take several weeks to a few months to see noticeable improvements in the skin when using azelaic acid at home.

But the time it takes for azelaic acid to clear the skin can vary depending on several factors including the individual’s skin type, the severity of the skin condition being treated, and the concentration and formulation of the azelaic acid in a specific product.

Can I Use Azelaic Acid After Chemical Peel?

If you’re liking the results (or simply the idea) of azelaic acid chemical peel, you might be thinking about including this ingredient as part of your skincare routine, regardless of the chemical peeling treatment. But, the timing of introducing (or reintroducing it) is crucial.

If you’ve already had a peel, it’s best to wait until your skin is healed. The precise timing will depend on the specific instructions provided by your skincare professional.

Azelaic Acid Peel – Main Takeaways

An azelaic acid chemical peel is a highly effective skincare treatment that addresses various concerns, but it’s most suitable for treating acne, hyperpigmentation, and redness.

Its brightening effects can benefit even those with sensitive skin types, as the azelaic acid peel is gentler than other chemical peeling agents.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CHEMICAL PEEL

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