Friday, December 21, 2018

Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by iHerb. All opinions, nevertheless, are my own.

iHerb has an interesting line of azelaic acid products available from their brand Azelique, and when they saw how much I’d liked incorporating azelaic acid into my routine in the past, they asked me if I’d like to try their line and write a review. I said yes. Of course.

I hadn’t ever ordered from iHerb before, though I’d heard of it. They’re an online store based in California that has some specific things that set them apart: for one, they operate internationally (i.e. not US only like so many other retailers I write about here). They also offer what they call a Triple Guarantee to make sure customers are 100% satisfied. So first, there’s the value guarantee (that you will get the best overall value—in the world—for the 30,000+ brand name products they sell). Second is the quality guarantee. They guarantee that the products they sell are authentic; they’re committed to quality assurance; and they ship directly from climate-controlled warehouses. And the third part is the delivery guarantee, with no excuses! Your order will be delivered, and iHerb offers free or discounted shipping to over 150 countries. Personally, I found the website easy to use, and my order arrived in just a few days, with everything packed nicely and in perfect condition. 

iHerb sent me their entire Azelique line for free, which was a lot of fun for me as an aspiring hoarder. There are six different products: a night cream, a day lotion, an eye treatment, a cleanser, an activated charcoal/clay mask, and a polish/scrub. They also let me choose two products from their facial oils and serums, and I picked the hyaluronic acid serum (surprise, surprise), and the peptide oil blend. 

So . . . that’s a lot of stuff to test on just my one face in a short period of time. I don’t like to introduce more than one new product at a time (per day, though if you have more sensitive skin, you might want to wait longer between new products) so that if I have a bad reaction, I can tell what caused it. What I decided to do with this bounty, then, was to pick one thing to use consistently for a couple of weeks and to review in detail, and to try everything else at least once and give you a briefer, first-impressions-type descriptions of those products. Besides, you know how long-winded I am: no one would want to read my novel-length review of all eight products in one sitting. This is going to be a doozy as it is.

I’d been wanting a richer moisturizer for a while, so I picked the Azelique Age Refining Night Cream as the thing to incorporate fully into my routine (which is otherwise basically the same as what I described here). Since these products contain azelaic acid, I did, however, stop using my other azelaic acid product for the time being. 

First some general thoughts about the whole line. The packaging is no nonsense, but appropriate for the products it contains. There was just one package I didn’t like much, and you can probably guess which one from just looking at the photo above—more on that later. I particularly like the airless pumps for the moisturizers. The copy on the packaging also gets my elusive stamp of approval. It tells you what’s in the product, highlights the featured ingredients and what they are supposed to do for your skin, and—this is important—does not make any unrealistic, overblown, or woo-woo claims. There’s also a warning about patch testing products with azelaic and glycolic acid to make sure it doesn’t irritate the skin. So just because this is a line that is marketed as natural, there’s no drivel about how that supposedly means it will work for absolutely everyone with perfect, magical gentleness (like some other brands that will remain nameless). These are active ingredients that do stuff to your skin, and you need to make sure they will do the stuff that you want them to do and not do stuff you don’t want. Everyone’s skin is a little different.

Every product here, with the exception of the eye cream, the serum, and the facial oil, has the same vaguely plant-like fragrance. It’s pretty subtle, but there’s something floral and/or herbal there. I’m not good at identifying scents. I could do without it, personally, but it’s light enough that I don’t notice it after a few minutes.

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

First up, the Azelique Age Refining Night Cream ($20). This is a thick moisturizing lotion that I enjoyed much more than I expected I would. It was immediately clear that this was the kind of step my shriveled skin has been missing—the part of Texas where I’m currently living has been colder than usual this winter, and my office is having problems with low humidity on top of it, so I’m extra dry. The night cream is rich but easy to spread and not greasy, and it feels really, really soothing and nourishing on my skin. I need about two pumps to cover my face, though three pumps feels extra nice.

Here are the ingredients: 
Water (aqua), caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetyl alcohol, glycerin, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, glyceryl stearate citrate, potassium azeloyl diglycinate, stearyl alcohol, ethylhexyl palmitate, sodium hyaluronate, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, vitis vinifera (grape seed) seed oil, glyceryl stearate, potassium cetyl phosphate, tocopheryl (vitamin E), acetate, acetyl hexapeptide-8, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, glycolic acid hamamelis virgiana (witch hazel) extract, caffeine, calcium ascorbate (vitamin C) retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, epilobium angustifolium (Canadian willowherb) extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, fragrance.
Good, right? The azelaic acid is in the form of potassium azeloyl diglycinate, its water-soluble version. There’s also hyaluronic acid, which my skin always loves, in the form of sodium hyaluronate, along with some nice oils and other moisturizing ingredients like glycerin. There are even some vitamins and a ferment stuck in there low on this list.

Unfortunately the company couldn’t provide the exact percentage of azelaic acid included, which is something I was curious about. They did tell me, at least, that it contains 8.42% total active ingredients, which includes the azelaic acid, glycolic acid, argireline, matrixyl, hyaluronic acid, witch hazel, and caffeine. That means, obviously, that the concentration of azelaic acid here is lower than the usual 10% that you see in several other products on the market. If you’ve found those irritating or overkill, though, this might be a better option for your skin.

I’ve been able to use this night cream all over my face, including around my eyes, for two weeks without any adverse effects. In the morning there’s still some slight residue on my face, which I like to wash off. I don’t think this is a bad thing—it’s keeping the hydration in my skin all night, and if you have drier skin than mine, you might want to keep that extra moisture in place all day, too. Just as a moisturizer alone, this stuff works really well and has kept my skin soft and happy. I’ll talk about the longer term effects from using this whole line at the end of the post.

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb
Left to right above: One pump each of the Night Cream, Day Lotion, and Eye Treatment.

Next up is the Azelique Age Refining Day Lotion ($19). I’ve only used this product once, along with everything that follows, so take that into account. This was lighter than the night cream and didn’t feel as soothing. It was a perfectly functional moisturizer, however, which absorbed quickly but kept my skin feeling moisturized. I had no problems applying makeup over it.

Water (aqua), carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, stearic acid, potassium azeloyl diglycinate, glyceryl stearate SE, polysorbate 60, allantoin, potassium sorbate, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, dimethicone, glyceryl stearate citrate, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, cetearyl glucoside, sodium hyaluronate, acetyl hexapeptide-8, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, palmitoyl tripeptide-38, glycolic acid, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, caffeine, sodium ascorbyl (vitamin C) phosphate, retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit extract, punica granatum (pomegranate seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, epilobium augustifolium (canadian willowherb) extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, fragrance.
 You can see that the main ingredients (i.e. those in the first half of the list) are similar to the night cream, but sodium hyaluronate, for example, is a bit lower down, and overall the day lotion has quite a different texture from the night cream. In comparison to the 8% active ingredients in the night cream, the day lotion has 4.08%, so it’s less potent in general.

The next one I tried was the Azelique Age Refining Eye Treatment ($20). I’m not generally an eye cream user. For one, I’ve never found an eye cream that was much more useful than just using my best moisturizer around my eyes. What’s more, the skin near my eyes is prone to milia, and the heavy, oily ingredients in most eye creams tend to seriously exacerbate the problem. That said, I did like this lotion just fine, and it’s the one unscented product in the main Azelique line, so if you don’t like fragrance near your eyes, that would be a plus. Its texture is somewhere in between the night cream and day lotion in thickness and richness. It absorbed quickly, and after applying it at bedtime, I couldn’t detect it on my skin by the morning (but to be fair, it’s a “treatment,” not a moisturizer or a cream). For what it’s worth, I did not notice any new milia cropping up after one use of the eye product, which has actually happened with others in the past.

Ingredients for you: 
Water (aqua), capric/caprylic triglyceride, cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, glyceryl stearate citrate, glycerin, xanthan gum, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, potassium sorbate, glyceryl stearate, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, potassium cetyl phosphate, acetyl hexapeptide-8, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-38, potassium azeloyl diglycinate, sodium hyaluronate, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, caffeine, sodium ascorbyl (vitamin C) phosphate, retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), vitis vinifera (grape seed) oil, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, epilobium angustifolium (Canadian willowherb) extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin.
It’s a similar blend to the previous two products, though certainly not identical (i.e. they’re not just selling you the same moisturizer in a smaller bottle). Normally I wouldn’t apply azelaic acid near my eyes, but this stuff contains just 3.6% active ingredients, and even among those, azelaic acid isn’t high on the list. I didn’t experience any irritation at all. That said, I was also fine using the night cream around my eyes, and for my money I’d rather stick with that, since I liked it so much. I think the lack of fragrance here is one of the most important differences.

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

Next, Azelique Age Refining Cleanser ($13). I’m more concerned with performance in a cleanser than in its active ingredients, which are rinsed right off, so that’s what I’ll focus on here. This is a thin, runny, gel cleanser. It didn’t lather much, but it did clean my skin thoroughly, including removing all my makeup. It didn’t sting my eyes, which is something I hate in a cleanser, and it rinsed completely. My skin felt slightly tight after rinsing and drying, and so I was motivated to apply moisturizer pretty soon. It was a fine cleanser, but I don’t generally get too excited about cleansers.

Here are the ingredients, for your information:
Water (aqua), disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, decyl glucoside, polysorbate 20, glyceryl stearate SE, glycerin, PEG-150 distearate, stearic acid, potassium sorbate, allantoin, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, sodium ascorbyl (vitamin C) phosphate, retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, vitis vinifera (grape seed) oil, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit extract, punica granutum (pomegranate) seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, epilobium angustifolium (canadian willowherb) extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, fragrance.
Now my other surprise favorite among the bunch: the Azelique Activated Charcoal Facial Clay Mask ($20). I’ve used a lot of clay and charcoal masks. Some work better than others, and some are more drying than others, but I haven’t been impressed by very many of them. I was expecting more of the same here. The mask is easy to spread in an even layer, and it dried rather quickly—the photo below was taken less than a minute after dispensing it, and the edges are already drying. Unlike some other masks, it doesn’t sting my eyes as it dries, probably because it doesn’t contain alcohol to evaporate and give off fumes. The mask felt slightly cool on my face in a soothing, not tingly, way. It contains some sparse, scrubby particles from apricot kernels. If you like physical exfoliation, you can do some gentle rubbing as you wash the mask off. If you don’t, just go ahead and rinse it, and the grit won’t affect your skin. 

When I first rinsed off the mask, my skin felt moisturized and not at all tight or dry. It felt calm and soothed, but when I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my face was slightly pink exactly where the mask had been—as in, I could see the border between the skin at the edge of my face where I hadn’t applied the mask and where I had. I was a little disturbed, I have to admit. As it turns out, however, when I looked in the mirror the next time, a couple of hours later, my usual redness in the center of my face had actually decreased significantly from what it was before masking! That almost never happens for me with masks. Then, when I took a close look the next morning, my pores were noticeably clearer and less visible. With a good clay mask, it usually isn’t until the next day that I see an improvement in my pores, so that was right on target. Overall, I’m very excited about this stuff. Soothing, moisturizing, redness-reducing, pore-shrinking. Score!

Deionized water, kaolin, glycerin, potassium azeloyl diglycinate, glyceryl stearate SE, apricot (prunus armeniaca) seed powder, charcoal, sodium hyaluronate, sea kelp (macrocystis pyrifera) extract, cucumber (cucumis sativas) fruit extract, green tea (camellia sinensis) leaf extract, glycolic acid, panthenol, xanthan gum, menthyl lactate, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, potassium sorbate, fragrance.
I don’t know the percentage of active ingredients from this list, but you can see that the azelaic acid is higher in the list than in the other products, and that it’s actually above the gritty, bulky apricot seed powder. If you’d like to try masking with azelaic acid instead of using it in a leave-on product, I recommend giving this a shot.

And then there is the Azelique Age Refining Skin Polish ($22), which is a scrub that contains alumina, or aluminum oxide, as its physical exfoliation agent. This is a fine grit, almost the texture of baking soda, that is typically used for microdermabrasion. I like to do some physical exfoliation once a week or so to get rid of any flakiness that chemical exfoliants can’t handle, and this polish worked well for that purpose: my skin felt very soft and smooth for days after using it. I’d recommend being gentle, because alumina won’t dissolve or soften like some other scrub particles (sugar, salt, jojoba beads, etc.). 

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

My main complaint about this product is the jar packaging. It’s not just the usual gripes about jars that I object to here. The main problem is that you are supposed to wet your face first, and then use the scrub. It’s really difficult to splash water on my face and then scoop out the polish without dripping water into the jar. Even with a spoon or spatula, I’d have to dry off my hands in between. It would just be much more practical if it came in the same squeeze tube as the cleanser and mask.

Water (aqua), alumina, stearic acid, stearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate citrate, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, glycerin, xanthan gum, carrageenan, potassium sorbate, glyceryl stearate SE, potassium cetyl phosphate, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, sodium ascorbyl (vitamin C) phosphate, retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, vitis vinifera (grape) seed seed oil, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit, punica granatum (pomegranate) seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, epilobium angustifolium (Canadian willowherb) extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, fragrance.

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

The last two products that iHerb sent me are from Azelique’s Serumdipity line, and those serums and oils don’t necessarily contain azelaic acid like the main collection does.

I chose the Facial Oil with Peptides ($20), because I don’t have much experience with peptides in my skincare. As a first impression, it was a pleasant facial oil to use, not too thick or too thin, and it absorbed quickly but not instantly. My face wasn’t left feeling greasy after I applied four drops of the oil on top of moisturizer. This is the kind of product, though, that I’ll really have to evaluate after longer use, so I’ll check in later.

Despite the inclusion of rosemary leaf extract in the ingredients below, I couldn’t detect any fragrance at all in this oil (which I prefer). Ingredients:
Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea) oil, camellia japonica seed oil, crambe abyssinica seed oil, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, palmitoyl tripeptide-1, c18-36 acid glycol ester, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, tocopherol, c 12-15 alkyl benzoate, sorbitan laurate, c18-36 acid triglyceride.
I also requested the Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum ($20), because my skin loves hyaluronic acid, and I can’t resist trying different formulas that contain it. This serum was light and absorbed immediately. It provided hydration, but it’s not a replacement for moisturizer, so I’d recommend using it in conjunction with one of those. It had enough slip to spread easily over my skin, and it had no fragrance (again, thumbs up for that). 

Water, glycerin, hydrolyzed jojoba esters, sodium hyaluronate, hordeum vulgare seed extract, oat (avena sativa) seed extract, galium aparine extract, evening primrose (oenothera biennis) flower extract, sodium phytate, acacia senegal gum, citric acid, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin.
Overall, after using the Night Cream nightly for just over two weeks, and using each other product once during that same period, my skin is in nice condition. It’s very well moisturized, but not unusually oily; it’s much softer and smoother than usual; and the redness that I ordinarily see, particularly in the center of my face, is minimized. One thing that these products did not help with was the hormonal, cystic acne that I usually get on my chin every month. I don’t think anything here contributed to breakouts, but they also didn’t help to prevent them like my 10% azelaic acid product does. And to be fair, Azelique never claims to treat acne, so that’s not something I expected. Accordingly, like I said earlier, I’d recommend these products for people who find 10% azelaic acid too strong and/or who are looking for results other than acne control—brightening, redness reduction, and other antioxidant benefits—in a gentle formulation. Personally, I’m going to carefully add my 10% azelaic acid back in, because I don’t think it will be too much for me.

I really was impressed with this collection. I honestly expected to like a couple of the products, hate a couple, and feel meh about the rest. (I promise I would tell you if that were the case.) Instead, I found a couple of things that I truly enjoyed, and I have mostly positive thoughts about the others. My favorites are the Night Cream (probably because it has the highest concentration of active ingredients in addition to effective moisturizers) and the Charcoal and Clay Mask, both of which I unreservedly recommend. I plan to replace them when I run out, though I might wait until next winter for the my next bottle of night cream. My least favorite items are the Cleanser and Polish, because they didn’t seem like things I needed to add to my routine. But they’re fine. 

The price point for this line is pretty reasonable. For instance, the Day Lotion costs $19 for 1.7 oz., and the Night Cream is $20 for the same amount, which isn’t as cheap as your basic drugstore moisturizer, obviously, but is less expensive than other comparable products with similar formulations in my routine. iHerb also gave me a code to share with you that is embedded into all of the affiliate links in this post. If you purchase through any of my links, you’ll get 5% off your order (and so will I). In addition, new customers will get $5 off a $40 purchase of anything from iHerb by using this link.


  1. I'm a big iHerb fan, regularly buying supplements and skincare from them. It arrives to me in NZ super fast, and I've yet to have a dud product. Heck, it's the easiest way I can get my hands on Differin! Will have to check these out, got some Xmas money burning a hole in my pocket.

    1. Oh great! I'm glad it's reliable outside of the US too. I think actually where I've heard about iHerb most before was from Australians and New Zealanders, so I was surprised it's headquartered in California.


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