Prosaic Azelaic Panegyric

The Skin-Ny

AZELAIC ACID. You know I love it. From my first exposure to The Magical Mystery Cure (via PocketDerm, now called Curology) to my forays into Skinoren (love) and Aziderm (love) and Gigi (great but heavily scented) and TheOrdinary’s offering (garbage for acne), I have come to account this stuff my #1 breakout battler. I said I’d quit Retin-A Micro before I quit azelaic, and you know what? I quit Retin-A Micro, but I’m still using azelaic. If you’re new here or just need a recap : azelaic acid kills acne bacteria (yay) and decreases the skin’s production of keratin aka pore-clogging acne-bacteria food (double yay). Unlike retinoids, it is not UV-sensitizing and doesn’t cause dryness or flaking; unlike keratolytics such as salicylic acid, it’s a preventative of clogged pores rather than an after-the-fact exfoliant; unlike benzoyl peroxide, it starts working immediately, is less likely to cause irritation, and it won’t make ugly bleached spots on your towels.

For the last couple years, I’ve been ordering my azelaic HGs from overseas : Skinoren from EclipsePharmacy in New Zealand (and a couple times I got lucky and found it on eBay from eastern Europe), Aziderm from AllDayChemist in India. I’ve had great results with all of them, and the prices for all those options has generally been about the same : usually 1oz of a good 20% azelaic cream is about $16 or so, and Eclipse and ADC both charge $15 for shipping. Thirty-ish bucks for something that’ll last me a few months and is super effective is not a bad deal! But then, a couple weeks ago I again did what I occasionally do because hope springs eternal: I went to Amazon and searched for “azelaic acid.” Usually the only thing that comes up is a way-overpriced listing for the Gigi cream, but THIS TIME, up popped MELAZAPAM. And y’all it was THIRTEEN DOLLARS for  a 1.7 oz tube (with Prime shipping!) and my joy knew no bounds but neither did my skepticism buuuuuut I ordered it anyway because of course I did.

WAIT WHAT, THIRTEEN BUCKS THAT IS SO CHEAP AND IT’S SO BIG

I knoooooooooow. My fave versions — Skinoren and Aziderm — are quite similar. They’re both medium-bodied white creams with a good bit of slip, and they don’t feel heavy or waxy or greasy. Melazapam’s formula is a little different from those, so I was hopeful but also pessimistic. Regardless, I ditched my current product (Aziderm 20%) and switched to using only this stuff for the last 2+ weeks.  How exactly is this one different?

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Azelaic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Mineral Oil, Propylene Glycol, Petrolatum, C12-C15 Alkyl Benzoate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Isopropyl Alcohol, L-Carnitine, Benzyl Alcohol Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Potassium Hydroxide. 

Okay mineral oil is demonstrably fine, usually even for those with oily skin or acne. There’s some debate, apparently, about its comedogenic potential, but my main issue with it is that it’s an occlusive that doesn’t absorb into the skin (which can be helpful in some cases, like if you have super dry skin and need a good “barrier” function happening on top of your humectants and emollients) … and I just don’t like its greasy feel. This stuff also has potentially-problematic-for-me cetearyl alcohol, petrolatum, and some stearic acid derivatives. SCARY!

WHAT’S IT LIKE

At first blorp, it looks and feels quite similar to my usual azelaics — it’s a medium-bodied thick-ish white cream, and doesn’t really have any kind of scent that I can detect.

However, where Skinoren and Aziderm disappear into the skin immediately, this one turns PASTY WHITE as you’re rubbing it into your face. :O  However, with continued rubbing, it will pretty much absorb and become invisible…or at least it seems so on my rather fair skin. I imagine the white-cast issue might be more intense and potentially annoying for someone with skin in the medium to deep range.

HOW DOES IT DO THO?

Earlier in the last couple of weeks, I DID had a couple of unusually large / stubborn cysts crop up … but I believe they should be attributed to my skin freaking out (actually returning to its “normal” turnover pace) after I quit the Retin-A Micro. Those have since cleared up, and my skin has been consistently REAL GOOD, and I’m REAL HAPPY about it. Do I still have an occasional pimple? Sure. Do I still have some “congestion”? Yep. Do I still need to exfoliate occasionally? Absolutely. But I’m pretty convinced that on the acne-preventing front, Melazepam is just as effective as Skinoren and Aziderm.

DO YOU NEED IT?

Are you already loving and using an azelaic product and would love a cheaper/easier-to-procure one? Then YES. Do you have mild to moderate acne, and have never tried an azelaic product? YES, GET IT RIGHT NOW. Do you loathe the feeling of mineral oil/petrolatum products on your face and/or you want to be able to use your azelaic product during the day, under your makeup? Ehhh, then maybe not. This definitely feels thicker and slightly greasier after a little while, so I wouldn’t want to do a full face of slap over it. But at night, it’s aces.

THE VERDICT : Oh hurrah it is FAB. And, again, thirteen bucks for almost twice as much product as I was paying thirty bucks for! As an added bonus, it’s got a convenient flip-open top instead of the annoying fiddly threaded cap. I do wish it weren’t so heavy on the petroleum byproducts, but on the whole, this is FANTASTIC. It’s effective, it’s the cheapest 20% azelaic cream I’ve found by a BIG margin, and you can get your grubby lil hands on it in a couple of days instead of a couple of weeks. Win win win.

TRIED IT? Gonna? Adore azelaic as much as I do? Discuuuuuuss. <3