Is Azelaic Acid An AHA, A BHA, or Something Else?

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Is Azelaic Acid An AHA

Azelaic acid, also known as dicarboxylic acid, is a form of medication that is used to treat acne, uneven tone, and bumpy texture on the skin. Azelaic acid works best on targeted areas and even works wonders to erase fading spots and dark spots when paired with Vitamin C. Many people ask, is Azelaic acid and AHA? 

In this article, we will talk about azelaic acid and AHA in general. We will also highlight their properties, usage, and how they differ from one another. Keep reading to know more. 

Is Azelaic Acid An AHA?

No, it is neither alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) nor beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid that is found on your skin’s surface. It can also be extracted from rye and barley, so it is most often extracted in labs, and the synthetic formula is used in skincare products. 

What Is Azelaic Acid?

azelaic acid cream

When it comes to skincare ingredients, Azelaic Acid is a potent source to counter skin problems such as breakouts, fading marks, acne, rosacea, PIH, and scars. This substance can be found on your skin’s texture as it is formed by a yeast known as Malassezia furfur. 

Azelaic acid is also used as a skincare ingredient in many beauty products. It is a dicarboxylic acid that can exfoliate skin cells and make them appear new. It works to terminate the dead skin cells and regenerate new ones in place. 

What Does Azelaic Acid Do to Your Skin?

azelaic acid Paulas Choice

When it comes to exfoliating properties, you may find it in AHA or BHA as well, but what Azelaic Acid does differently is that it works to reduce bacteria formation on the skin. This helps curb the existing breakouts and stops new ones from appearing. 

Azelaic acid can easily unclog pores on your skin and give you a cleaner, smoother look. It is also very effective in removing dead skin cells and provides benefits to acne-prone skin. The good thing about this substance is that it is suitable for all skin types, and even pregnant women can use it without side effects.  

What Is AHA And What Does It Do To Your Skin?

This is a water-soluble organic acid that is derived from sugary plants. It is generally used in beauty products due to its beneficial properties. AHA is used to treat different skin concerns. Most notably, it is suited to work on discolored skin or blemished skin and provide a cleaner look. 

It works by allowing the skin to shed dead cells and regenerate new skin. It functions to better the moisture retention ability of the skin and will also cut down appearing wrinkles and fine lines. 

Don’t get confused with AHA and BHA; they are completely different elements. One common thing is that they both exfoliate the skin. Examples of AHA are glycolic acid and lactic acid, and they help to boost cell turnover. On the contrary, BHA, such as salicylic acid, is known to have better germicidal powers.

Why Do People Think Azelaic Acid Is An AHA?

Both are similar when it comes to cleansing skin and peeling off dead skin. They are known to provide a healthy balance to the skin’s texture by generating healthy skin cells. Apart from that, they are somewhat different, and the next section will answer why.  

Azelaic acid is simply dicarboxylic acid that is extracted from grains, whereas AHA, known as α-Hydroxy acid, is derived from sugarcane, milk, and fruits. 

What Makes Them Different from One Another

What separates them is the additional antibacterial feature of the azelaic acid. It is a skincare ingredient that can lower and even eliminate bacteria formation on the skin’s surface. This allows to prevent breakouts and gives a cleaner skin. 

Azelaic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, can lower keratin production, and help unblock the pores, resulting in acne-free skin. Not to mention, azelaic acid is super efficient in tackling rosacea and fading scarring marks. 

What Does Skin Purging Look Like?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use AHA with Azelaic acid?

Dermatologists believe that AHA or BHA exfoliant is typically well tolerated when used with Azelaic acid. When combined in any skincare routine, they are known for evening skin tone and positively improving dull skin tone.

No matter the skin type, this combination should not cause any irritation.

Can you use Hyaluronic Acid with Azelaic Acid?

Yes, you can use hyaluronic acid as well as Niacinamide with Azelaic acid. This combination will give you more hydrated skin with a strong skin barrier.

Can You Use Niacinamide with Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C?

Can you use other acids with Azelaic Acid?

Yes, mixing other acids with azelaic can be beneficial in various skincare concerns. For example, take salicylic acid. When used in combination, it can make the breakouts in your skin less severe.

What is Azelaic Acid considered?

It is known as dicarboxylic acid, which is used topically to cure skin concerns and relieve skin sensitivity. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce acne with time.

They are derived from yeast and can also be extracted from barley and wheat. If you are looking for the prescription version, then you may want to look at Finacea or Azelex.

What type of product is Azelaic Acid?

It is a tyrosinase inhibitor that works on the skin to lighten up hyperpigmented areas. When teamed up with tretinoin, it is more vigorous in lightening the dark spots. 

There are tons of azelaic acid products you can find in the market. If you are seeking recommendations, check out products like FaceTheory Lumizela A15 serum or The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension Cream. 


Many people think that Azelaic acid falls within the category of alpha hydroxy acids. Is Azelaic Acid an AHA? The answer is no. They both are exfoliating agents that take out dead cells and revitalize new ones in place, giving you a fresh and clean look.

Azelaic acid is also known for its antioxidant properties, which can counter free radicals and provide you with healthier skin altogether. AHA, such as lactic acid, is pretty mild on the skin and can be used to reduce wrinkles, improve blood flow and brighten the skin.

Although Azelaic and AHA have some basics in common, they mustn’t be considered the same. Interestingly, they can be paired and applied to sensitive skin to reduce acne and unwanted spots. Are you ready to pair up these powerhouse ingredients?

Medical Disclaimer

Glow Zone’s content is for informational and educational purposes only. Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.