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The Ordinary's Azelaic Acid Has My Late-20s Skin Feeling Reborn

The affordable skin cream has helped brighten my dull complexion, while calming zit flareups due to my existential meltdowns.
Review: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid is God’s Gift to Good Skin
Composite by Vice Staff

As I’m slowly approaching my late 20s—god help me—my skin is becoming noticeably more… dull. The sirens are going off in my head, and it’s definitely time to do some damage control. I already religiously wear sunscreen, because I want to avoid wrinkles like the plague, but I need something a little more powerful now that 30 is on the not-too-distant horizon. (BRB while I have a nervous breakdown.)

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Maybe it’s my night owl habits, my weekend clubbing ritual, or the fact that I’m just so hopelessly lazy when it comes to skincare. In fact, it’s a good thing I only wear makeup a couple times a week, because otherwise my pores would be screaming, since I’m guilty of sleeping in my makeup literally every time I wear it. 

Recently, I realized that I need to undo my skin sins somehow—without going to confession—and luckily, I found my secret weapon: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension Brightening Cream

$16.49 at Amazon
$10 at Sephora
$16.49 at Amazon
$10 at Sephora

Full disclosure, I had absolute zero idea what this product was when I saw it sitting pretty on Sephora’s shelf. But, it had the word “brightening” in the name, so I hoped it would work the kind of magic I was looking for—a potion to restore the youthful radiance that I worry could be slipping away with time. The high concentration of azelaic acid did make me a little nervous since I have sensitive skin, but I was already a huge fan of the brand’s niacinamide serum—which I and several of my colleagues adore for problem skin—so I had high hopes when adding this new cream into my skincare routine. 

As it turned out, I found a holy grail of skincare products; I didn’t know much about azelaic acid before this purchase, but I came to find that it is truly doing god’s work when it comes to brightening up a dull complexion. Azelaic acid is found in grains, and also happens to be produced naturally by the ambient yeast that lives on skin. Besides brightening skin tone, it also acts as an antioxidant, helps improve skin texture, and reduces the look of blemishes, which is a saving grace if you have any acne scarring or hyperpigmentation. It acts as a gentle exfoliant by sweeping away dead skin cells—without abrasive scrubbing. My skin is very sensitive and can handle this magic potion, but it’s always a good idea to do a patch test on your skin first. “My skin finally feels like it's healing and brightening for what feels like the first time in years,” one reviewer writes on Sephora’s website. “This product is definitely one of the key factors, as I do notice a difference if I skip this step.” Pretty impressive for something that only costs 10 bucks. 

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I’ve been using this immaculate substance since last winter, when my skin’s dullness was at an all-time high. My skin has been calm and less inflamed whenever I use it, and I doubt that’s a coincidence. All you have to do is take a pea-sized amount of the cream for each area and rub it into your skin, like you would with serum. (Just make sure you moisturize prior to application, otherwise it can dry and peel off.) 

TL;DR: After about six months of use, my skin really does look more alive, and my usual blemishes that arise during that oh-so-special time of the month have halted, for the most part. I’m a total stickler when it comes to my skin and never like to try anything out of fear it’ll cause a breakout, but this product not only assuaged my anxiety; it made me feel like my complexion is actually getting better with time. My skin feels like I just left the spa after every application, and looks bright, alive, and (nearly) blemish-free. And they said there’s no fountain of youth—ha! 

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension is available for purchase on Sephora.


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