Azelaic Acid and Tretinoin Cream: OK to Use Together?

You must have heard these two skincare actives: azelaic acid and tretinoin. But do you understand what these two activities are about? And what are their benefits for the skin? Some actives can be too harsh on the skin used alone, let alone used together in the same routine.Therefore, what can possibly happen to your skin if you use it together in your skincare routine? In my previous post, I talked about my experience with tretinoin and how it helped with my acne. Let’s learn more about azelaic acid and tretinoin cream, and the use in skincare.

What is Azelaic Acid and Tretinoin?

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring chemical in the skin. According to research papers, Malassezia furfur, a type of fungus normally found on human skin, produces azelaic acid. Azelaic acid has an anti-inflammatory effect and it also is effective against acne by stopping the growth of acne-causing bacteria (P.acne). Other than being anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, an added bonus is its effect on pigmentation. It helps to reduce hyperpigmentation and therefore can be used to treat melasma as well as to even out skin tone for acne prone skin. Azelaic acid is also exfoliating, it promotes faster skin cell turnover.

Tretinoin is another skincare active that is popular as acne treatment as well as anti-aging solution. It is basically Vitamin A that you can apply topically on the skin. Tretinoin promotes cell turnover, helps to unclog pores hence prevent acne, and also boosts collagen production. 

Mixing Azelaic Acid with Tretinoin

Seeing those benefits laid out above, you might think that it’s a good idea to mix azelaic acid and tretinoin together. Both azelaic acid and tretinoin help with acne in different ways. So you will think using both will enhance the benefits for acne even more, right?

You might be right. However, you should do this with precaution. Both azelaic acid and tretinoin cream will increase the cell turnover of the skin. Therefore, a side effect of using both together in the same routine might be dryness, flakey skin or irritated skin. Simply put, both azelaic acid and tretinoin cream when used together can cause over exfoliation that leads to skin irritation. However, for skin that is already well accustomed to these actives, you may not face this irritation anymore. But please be careful when you start incorporating these actives in your routine, start slowly.

How to Use Azelaic Acid and Tretinoin Cream in Skincare Routine?

I am currently trying to use both actives in my skincare routine and let me tell you what works for me. Rather than using azelaic acid and tretinoin cream in the same routine (for e.g. night routine), I split the use of each in the morning and at night. 

In the morning, I use my hydrating toner, then Vitamin C serum before putting on Azelaic Acid. After that I put on moisturizer and lastly, sunscreen. It is important to always put sunscreen (and ample amount of them) on your skin if you use exfoliants in your skincare routine. In my case, I use azelaic acid and tretinoin cream in my routine, so sunscreen SPF 50 is imperative. 

At night, I use the same hydrating toner, hydrating serum, followed by thicker night time moisturizer. And then I carefully slug under eye areas, creases near the nose and corners of my mouth using Vaseline. Then I put my tretinoin cream on my skin. 

azelaic acid and tretinoin cream

Should You Use Azelaic Acid and Tretinoin Cream Together?

In summary, azelaic acid and tretinoin can be used together in your skincare routine. If your skin is not too sensitive and can handle it, you can layer the two in the same routine. However, if you are worried of over exfoliation or overly dry skin, you can use azelaic acid in the morning routine and tretinoin at night. The result that I have from using both actives has been incredible. My skin is so soft and supple, and you can really see the glow. And people actually commented that my skin looks very nice and healthy.

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