Azelaic Acid: The Ordinary vs Paula’s Choice (Which One Is Better?)

The Ordinary and Paula’s Choice are two of the most popular skincare brands in today’s market. The two companies have similar products; however, their formulations and ingredients are vastly different.

The Ordinary is popular due to their low prices and affordable but effective products; however, they are also known for containing one active ingredient per product, hence the low prices.

Paula’s Choice, on the other hand, takes the opposite approach. This brand packs their products with several active ingredients in a single product as well as some additional goodies.

But this is why Paula’s products are more expensive compared to the The Ordinary.

Now, both Paula’s Choice and The Ordinary have azelaic acid products, and with the vast difference in price, you certainly want to know what you’re getting from each one.

Therefore, in this article, I will review Paula’s Choice vs The Ordinary azelaic acid and share my opinion on which one is worth your money.

Azelaic Acid comparison review

NB: I can show you how to never have acne again. If you have acne and want it gone, read this message.

What is Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It’s also produced by the yeast that lives on the skin.

In the world of skincare, azelaic acid is typically used as an active ingredient in various products like serums, essences, gels, creams, and even cleansers.

Its versatile nature makes it a popular choice in many dermatological treatments, even though its skin benefits vary widely.

The Benefits of Azelaic Acid

Here are some azelaic acid benefits for the skin:

  • Antibacterial.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Reduces redness and irritation.
  • Soothes acne.
  • Fades hyperpigmentation.
  • Fades post-inflammatory redness.
  • Reduces acne scarring.
  • Refines skin texture.
  • Brightens skin tone.
  • Soothes inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea and dermatitis.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% Review

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% is a lightweight cream-gel that boasts a high concentration of the active ingredient to provide optimal results.

It aims to improve skin brightness and texture while diminishing the appearance of blemishes.

Free from cruelty and vegan-friendly, this product aligns with ethical skincare practices. 


The main active ingredient in The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% is azelaic acid.

Additionally, the product also contains several silicones that make the thick texture easier to spread, keep the skin soft and supple, and reduce the appearance of large pores.


The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% has a mild medicinal scent that isn’t overpowering and is easily tolerated.


The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% has a thick gel-cream consistency that needs to be warmed up between your fingertips for easier application.


When I started using The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, my skin was oily, acne-prone, and quite dull due to being dehydrated from the overuse of exfoliating products.

At first, I was somewhat satisfied with the product as it spreads nicely, mildly mattifies my skin, and does indeed make my pores look slightly smaller than usual.

But soon after I started using it daily (as a part of my nighttime skincare routine), I started noticing several things I didn’t really appreciate.

First, I started noticing how my skin would become a little dull right after applying it, and I was rather confused because azelaic acid is supposed to do the opposite.

Then, I just didn’t enjoy how it kept making my skin more mattified to the point where it started feeling dry and uncomfortable.

Additionally, I wasn’t a fan of the heavy silicone consistency.

Finally, my biggest complaint about The Ordinary azelaic acid is pilling on my skin only moments after finishing my routine for the evening.

I would go out of the bathroom and glide my finger along my cheek just to double and triple-check, and the product was definitely pilling.

Now, after a short Reddit search, I found out that I wasn’t the only one experiencing this problem, and other users were chiming in with their experiences on this particular issue.

However, I managed to find out that I was using a tad bit too much of this product and this was what was causing the pilling. Apparently, all you need is a pea-size amount for the entire face, and I, admittedly, might have applied a little more than that.

I decided to test this both in my nighttime and morning skincare routine by using a little less than a pea-sized amount of product, but unfortunately experienced the same issue again.

Some Reddit users said they had experienced the same issue, especially when applying The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% before sunscreen, which makes me think this product is hard to combine in a skincare routine and not worth my time and effort to make it work.

After combining the product with a few other products in my routine with the same result, I decided to move on to the next option – Paula’s Choice Azelaic Acid Booster in hopes that I wouldn’t experience the same issues as while testing the The Ordinary’s azelaic acid.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Mattifies the complexion.
  • Minimizes large pores.
  • A small amount needed for the entire face.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% Cons:

  • Pilling.
  • Not suitable with sunscreens.
  • Feels like silicone.
  • Can be drying.

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Review

Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster is a potent yet lightweight serum that aims to reduce acne, even out uneven skin tone, refine skin texture, and soothe irritation.


The Paula’s Choice azelaic acid definitely has more beneficial ingredients in the formula compared to The Ordinary.

Here are some ingredients found in this product:

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: An outstanding emollient that makes your skin feel nice, smooth, and moisturized. It is derived from coconut oil and glycerin and it has a light, odorless, and non-greasy texture. It is well tolerated by all skin types and is also easy to formulate with.

Salicylic acid: The gold standard for every acne-prone skin, this exfoliating ingredient is oil-soluble and works deeper inside the pores to dissolve the buildup of sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells that are causing clogging and acne.

Licorice extract: A skin-lightener with antioxidant properties, this ingredient helps reduce dark spots and keep wrinkles at bay. The most active part of this ingredient is called glabridin and it was shown to inhibit UVB-caused pigmentation. Additionally, another study suggests that licorice is even more effective than the gold standard skin-lightening agent hydroquinone and is also one of the safest skin-lightening agents in skincare products.

Allantoin: A super common soothing agent in skincare products, allantoin can be found naturally in the roots and leaves of the comfrey plant and it can also be produced synthetically. Allantoin has softening, soothing, and wound-healing properties, making it a great ingredient for sensitized or compromised skin.

Bisabolol: One of the active parts of chamomile, bisabolol is a clear, oily fluid used in skincare as an anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredient.


The Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster doesn’t have added fragrance and has no scent.


The Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster has a silky smooth consistency that glides on the skin with ease and absorbs quickly.


The Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster truly goes the extra mile and besides helping with acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation, it also soothes irritations and moisturizes the skin.

At the time of writing, I have been using this product for around a week, once a day (in the evening) and I started seeing an immediate improvement in my skin.

This product started working on some of my residual post-inflammatory erythema left from acne breakouts, and I felt as if the product actually knows what to tackle first.

You know that feeling when you take a painkiller, and you’re wondering whether the painkiller will “locate” the pain and stop it. And it always does.

The same goes for this product. I started seeing immediate results, and I felt confident writing this review after only a short time of using it because I know things will only get better from this point on.

The texture is amazing, it glides on the skin like a dream, and it sets easily without leaving an excessively oily residue. It is more of a healthy glow rather than greasiness.

This product does not mattify the skin, nor does it say it does, and this is something I enjoyed as I typically go for mattifying products, so this was quite a pleasant experiment for me.

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Pros:

  • Lightweight texture.
  • Glides on the skin easily.
  • It doesn’t leave an oily residue.
  • It gives a healthy glow to the skin.
  • Helps reduce the severity of acne.
  • Soothes inflammation.
  • Fades post-inflammatory redness.
  • Fades hyperpigmentation.

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Cons:

  • Expensive.

Final Thoughts

Azelaic Acid- The Ordinary vs Paula's Choice

Do you absolutely need azelaic acid in your routine?

No, you don’t need to add products to your skincare routine simply because someone raves about them.

However, I highly recommend azelaic acid for anyone dealing with acne, small pimples, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and post-inflammatory erythema.

If you are on a tight budget and don’t mind the silicon-y texture, you may very well go with The Ordinary’s azelaic acid, as it will do the job just fine.

Just remember not to make the mistakes I made with it so you can get the most benefits from the product.

However, if you can afford to spend a little more, Paula’s Choice azelaic acid is a product that’s worth every penny.

As it turns out, azelaic acid doesn’t play solo, which is the case with The Ordinary’s product, so you definitely get more bang for your buck with Paula’s Choice product which includes other beneficial components that boost its effectiveness and help address various skin concerns.

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6 thoughts on “Azelaic Acid: The Ordinary vs Paula’s Choice (Which One Is Better?)”

  1. Thank you! I have rosacea, and I love Paula’s Choice Azelaic Acid Booster. Its anti-redness effect is clearly visible after only 1 use. I’m thinking of switching to The Ordinary, because It’s cheaper but I’m afraid of it. Maybe it’s worth a try.

    • The only issue I had with The Ordinary is the very silicon-ey base. It dries out matte and it kinda makes my skin look dull, which I don’t like.

      I would definitely stick to something that’s already working if it were me 🙂


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