Azelaic Acid vs. Niacinamide: Understanding 2 Powerhouse Skincare Ingredients

Azelaic Acid vs. Niacinamide: Understanding 2 Powerhouse Skincare Ingredients

With all of the skincare options out there, it can be difficult to tell which ingredients are passing trends and which provide real, proven benefits. Azelaic acid for redness has been a popular chemical exfoliant for decades. It’s found in anti-aging creams, spot-fading creams and acne treatments alike. Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, is a nourishing ingredient that can help your skin build more protein. Here’s how the two differ and why they’re the perfect skincare duo.

Targeted Benefits

The best skincare ingredients have scientifically proven and specific benefits. Look for evidence that proves an ingredient has a real purpose beyond “clear acne” or “reduce fine lines.”

Azelaic acid has many of these benefits. First, it kills bacteria on the skin that can lead to acne. Unlike other antibacterial agents, azelaic acid is also a tyrosinase inhibitor. This means that it bonds to a skin enzyme, tyrosinase, and stops it from working. The tyrosinase enzyme is part of the process that causes hyperpigmentation in the skin, and it also causes fruit to go brown.

Niacinamide is a key ingredient your skin needs to make collagen. Having more of it on hand boosts collagen production, which gives skin a smoother appearance. It also acts as a moisturizer and a barrier between your skin and the environment.

Anti-Aging Properties

Azelaic acid and niacinamide’s unique effects on skin chemistry can both help reduce signs of aging. Azelaic acid stimulates cell turnover, pushing older skin cells out of the way faster. Niacinamide helps the skin produce more collagen.

Skin naturally produces less collagen as it ages, leading to a less taut texture and wrinkles. While some creams contain collagen, the collagen molecule itself is actually too large to pass through the skin. Using niacinamide, instead, helps the body produce its own collagen where it’s needed — within the skin.

Key Differences

When considering azelaic acid vs niacinamide, there are a few key differences between these ingredients to keep in mind. Azelaic acid, being an acid and exfoliant, is naturally a slightly harsher ingredient than niacinamide. Think of azelaic acid as good, slightly-rough washcloth and niacinamide as a plush and restorative towel.

Those with naturally dry or irritated skin may want to use azelaic acid as a cleanser, rather than as a serum or lotion. This way, the azelaic acid doesn’t sit on the skin, because while azelaic acid does reduce redness, it can also have drying effects. Niacinamide is a gentler ingredient that is ideal as the last step of a skincare routine because of its barrier-forming properties.

Benefits of Using Both

If you’re wondering whether it’s better to use azelaic acid or niacinamide, the good news is that they work brilliantly together. Azelaic acid encourages cell turnover, and niacinamide helps the skin build more collagen for strength and evenness. Niacinamide also helps close pores after azelaic acid cleans them out.

Use proven agents together to get brighter, younger-looking skin the healthy way. Pairing azelaic acid and niacinamide with a vitamin C facial cream gives maximum redness-fighting and collagen-boosting effects.