One of my all-time favorite products is The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%.

It’s the skincare product that helps me erase acne scars – quickly and effectively.

However, there are a lot of people who use azelaic acid without giving much thought to what it truly is, what it does, and how it should be used to get the best results.

So to save you some trouble and help you make the most of this product, I’m here to shed some light on one of the most frequently asked questions – should you use The Ordinary Azelaic Acid before or after a moisturizer?

The Ordinary says that their azelaic acid suspension should be used before a moisturizer, and after water-based serums. However, I recommend that you use it as the last step in your skincare routine.

You’ll see why.

What is The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%?

The Оrdinary’s product is an azelaic acid suspension of 10% in the form of thick cream. It’s great for any skin type, including normal, acne-prone, oily, combination, and dry skin. It aims to correct skin dullness, even out the skin tone, remove textural imperfections, and give antioxidant support.

Its core abilities include eliminating redness and brightening the skin. Regular use is associated with the reduction of whiteheads and skin congestion.

If you’re struggling with skin irritation or discomfort, this cream can soothe and calm down your skin.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% is commonly used as a treatment for hyperpigmentation or sun damage. It’s also effective in diminishing acne scars.

In a nutshell, azelaic acid:

  • Calms down irritated skin;
  • Brightens the skin tone;
  • Helps clear out post-acne hyperpigmentation;
  • Refines the skin texture;
  • Unclogs pores;
  • Gently exfoliates;
  • Has antioxidant properties.

The Ordinary’s azelaic acid has a pH of 4-5 and doesn’t cause any irritation.

Did you know: azelaic acid isn’t an AHA or a BHA. It’s a carboxylic acid, a distant relative to AHA and BHA, and can be found in wheat, barley, and rye. And another fun fact – azelaic acid is actually naturally produced by the yeast that inhabits healthy skin.

Azelaic Acid skin benefits

Who is this product for

I already mentioned that The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% is suitable for all skin types. Although it can be used by anyone, it’s mostly recommended for:

  • Oily skin – due to its gentle exfoliation properties and non-irritating nature, it’s a perfect choice for people who produce excessive amounts of sebum and struggle with oily skin.
  • Acne-prone skin – the azelaic acid’s ability to unclog pores is extremely useful for acne-prone skin. It helps reduce post-acne scars and evens out the skin tone.
  • Pregnant women dealing with skin issues – azelaic acid is safe during pregnancy and is one of the best ingredients to treat melasma as a result of your pregnancy.

When in a routine should you apply azelaic acid?

So let’s slowly get to the key question in this article – should you use azelaic acid before or after moisturizer?

In addition, when it comes to the “when”, it’s also important to address Vitamin C and other active treatments.

Should you apply azelaic acid before or after serums? Should you use azelaic acid before or after Vitamin C? Every question will be covered.

In a nutshell, the recommendation is to use it after your cleansing products and after your toners and water-based serums. However, the sequence in which you apply your skincare products depends on the texture of the product. The general rule is to apply products from thinnest to thickest.

If you use water-free serums, definitely make sure to use azelaic acid after. The idea is to minimize the layers that you have between the cleansing phase and the application of azelaic acid. This will allow the ingredient to penetrate into the skin better and for you to experience better results.

Another suggestion is to use azelaic acid in the evening or before bedtime.


Because, after all, it’s an acid that can sensitize the skin to UV light, potentially causing redness and irritation during the day.

If you do decide to use it in the morning or during the day, make sure to protect the skin with a reliable broad-spectrum SPF product.

When it comes to The Ordinary’s AA specifically, it has a very weird texture. It doesn’t absorb but rather remains on the surface of the skin. This makes it inappropriate for use during the day as it makes the skin too mattified and it can pill.

Personally, I recommend using TO’s AA in your evening routine as an overnight face mask – I’ve seen the best results with this way of using it.

How do you use The Ordinary azelaic acid suspension?

What about the actual process of using The Ordinary Azelaic Acid suspension? There are some specific tips you should know about how to use The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid.

Previously, I noted that The Ordinary recommends applying it after toners and serums, and before moisturizers. But I’d also like to draw your attention to scenarios of using it during the different seasons.


During the winter, the skin benefits from all the moisture it can get. Even oily skin tends to become drier during the cold months. Before using azelaic acid, gently clean the face using your cleanser, apply a hydrating serum and finish off the routine with azelaic acid. You can preface the azelaic acid application with a light gel moisturizer that is oil-free.


On hot days, start with a facial cleanser, apply a moisturizing face mist or your favorite toner/hydrating serum, and carry on to the azelaic acid application. Make sure that the toner or mist is well absorbed into the skin before applying the azelaic acid. Depending on your skin type, you can entirely skip moisturizer or apply a light, oil-free one before the azelaic acid.

Furthermore, when using topical azelaic acid, here are some basic tips to follow:

  • Don’t consume orally;
  • Make sure to apply the product with clean hands to avoid infections;
  • Don’t apply to sunburned skin;
  • Don’t apply to chapped skin;
  • Don’t apply to irritated skin;
  • Don’t cover the treated area with a bandage or other coverage.

How often should you use TO’s azelaic acid?

As with any other skincare product, overuse is not recommended. Even the best ingredients and products can cause trouble if you overdo them.

The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid should not be used more than twice a day at most, depending on what other exfoliators you’re using.

Overusing the ingredient can cause skin dryness, and over-exfoliation, which could lead to stripping the skin of its valuable oils and damaging the skin barrier.

In addition, if you’re using products with direct acids in your skincare routine, it’s not recommended to use azelaic acid in the same routine. I’ll talk about this in more detail in the following sections.

What can you layer with azelaic acid?

Most people don’t just use a single product for their skincare routine, and that’s normal.

There are a ton of ingredients in your skincare products and some of them are perfectly okay to layer with azelaic acid. For example, you’re safe to use azelaic acid together with:

  • Niacinamide;
  • Hyaluronic acid;
  • Antioxidant-based products;
  • Salicylic acid or BHA alternatives
  • Kojic acid;
  • Retinoids.

Do you experience azelaic acid pilling? Do this:

Keep in mind that you can experience azelaic acid pilling. This can be a result of improper layering or other reasons. With The Ordinary’s azelaic acid, piling is guaranteed because of the product’s texture.

If you notice this effect, I have a few useful tips for you.

Reduce the amount of product you’re using. In addition, try giving some extra time for the rest of your products to soak into your skin before applying TO’s azelaic acid.

It can also help to make your skincare routine a bit more simple and minimalistic. Rather than using a ton of products, keep the essential ones and reduce the overall number of things that you apply to your face.

My next tip is to change the way you’re applying the product. If you’ve been rubbing it on the skin, try patting it on instead.

The pilling can also be a result of the wrong choice of products that you apply before or after azelaic acid.

Test out changing the skincare you use and try out different formulas until you find the one that works and doesn’t cause pilling.

For The Ordinary’s azelaic acid, it’s best to use it like a mask rather than a cream, I found. I apply it generously as a final step of my evening skincare routine to avoid any annoying piling and get the maximum benefits. Besides, I do use makeup during the daytime, and this makes it harder to use azelaic acid alongside.

What NOT to use alongside TO’s azelaic acid

What not to use with Azelaic Acid

It’s equally as important to know what ingredients and skincare are not to be mixed with the azelaic acid by The Ordinary:

  • Copper Peptides;
  • EUK 134 0.1%;
  • Peptides;
  • 100% Niacinamide Powder.

You can still keep products like other direct acids, pure/ethylated vitamin C, and retinoids from The Ordinary, but make sure that they’re applied on different routines, even days if you’re sensitive. This will prevent side effects like irritation, dryness, and skin peeling.

FAQs about The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to address other frequently asked questions about The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid.

Are there any side effects of using azelaic acid?

Although TO’s Azelaic Acid is generally considered a safe product, there are still some side effects that some users can experience. Whether or not these will affect you ultimately comes down to your skin type and your skincare regimen.

Some of the possible side effects of using azelaic acid include:

  • Pain;
  • Burning;
  • Stinging;
  • Tingling;
  • Skin dryness;
  • Irritation and itching;
  • Purging.

Does The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid work?

Most studies suggest that azelaic acid works best in higher concentrations, like 15% and 20%.
However, I and other people who have tried The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% also share positive feedback about the achieved results. From personal experience, I can confirm that it works brilliantly in eliminating acne scars and reducing the redness associated with blemishes.

Other studies have compared 10% azelaic gels with hydro-alcoholic and alcohol-free bases against mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris to discover that in users with oily skin types, the 10% azelaic acid with hydro-alcoholic base worked better than the alcohol-free based medication.

Put otherwise, it’s safe to say that The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid works.

How long until you see results with azelaic acid?

The amount of time it takes to see the results from using The Ordinary Azelaic Acid depends on what your skin type and expectations are, as well as how often you use the product.

For example, for people who are looking to treat acne or specific conditions, like rosacea, the results could take up to three or four months.

However, for results like an even skin tone, skin brightening, and calming, you can see changes immediately after use – I see redness dissipate overnight!

Can I mix azelaic acid with a moisturizer?

Yes, you can combine azelaic acid with a moisturizer of choice, but you will reduce the effectiveness of the azelaic acid treatment.

It all comes down to the product’s formula.

Mixing the azelaic acid with moisturizer or applying a hydrating cream, lotion, or even a serum dilutes the ingredient and doesn’t allow the skin to fully benefit from it.

Should you put azelaic acid on damp skin?

No, avoid applying azelaic acid on wet skin as it can lead to irritation.

I wouldn’t recommend applying The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid or any other AA product to damp skin. Make sure the skin is dry. If you’ve applied any other moisture-providing products before the acid, make sure they’re fully absorbed and the skin feels dry and clean.

Should you apply azelaic acid before or after serum?

It’s best to apply water-based serums before the azelaic acid, and water-free serums – after azelaic acid. This will ensure that the azelaic acid can penetrate your skin and that you’ll get the most benefits from this amazing skincare ingredient.

Should you apply azelaic acid before or after vitamin C?

If you have Vitamin C in your skincare routine, make sure to apply it on alternating days or at different times of the day instead of using it in the same routine with azelaic acid.

Ideally, apply The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid in the evening or as part of your nightly routine and Vitamin C in the morning, before you apply your SPF products and moisturizers. This is because Vitamin C can protect the skin against free radicals, keeping the skin shielded throughout the whole day – it boosts your sunblock!

I hope all of this information on azelaic acid by The Ordinary comes in handy. Have you used the product yourself? If you have, I’d love to learn more about your experience with it, so do share!
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