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If you initially thought the Geek and Gorgeous aPAD 20% Azelaic Acid Derivative Serum was an Azelaic Acid Serum, you are probably not the only one. It isn’t though, as it features an Azelaic Acid derivative called Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate or PAD instead.
I mentioned the derivative in my post on Azelaic Acid in skincare a while ago, but in short: It has a much nicer texture to formulate with than Azelaic Acid, which can be kind of grainy in higher concentrations, and has a few studies that indicate it could work similarly well. (More info: Everything you need to know about Azelaic Acid in skincare)
If that is enough for you to use Geek and Gorgeous aPAD over a dedicated Azelaic Acid product is for you to decide and depends on why you wanted to use Azelaic Acid in the first place, but for now let’s see what I think about it.
What Geek and Gorgeous aPAD claims
A water-light Azelaic acid derivative (Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate, or PAD) formula to even the skin tone, normalize oil production and calm the skin.
Facts about Geek and Gorgeous aPAD
Prize and size
One of the Geek and Gorgeous typical dark glass dropper bottles contains 30 ml and is available for 10.50 € on the website here. It is vegan and fragrance-free.
Texture and smell
Despite being called water-light, the texture feels gelish to me more than water. It is still easy to spread, but isn’t overly runny and has some body to it.
There isn’t a noticeable scent.
How to use the Geek and Gorgeous aPAD
One of the upsides of Azelaic Acid and also its derivatives is that it can be paired with any other stuff you put on your face – within reason obviously, it is always a good idea to keep your routine as simple as possible, so it can be used morning or night, depending on when you can best fit it in. (More info: What is skinimalism and is it good for you?)
I have tested that extensively and paired it with Tretinoin, with Vitamin C and with chemical exfoliants (not all in one setting obviously, but over the course of the last weeks) and never experienced any irritation or pilling.
As I personally do find it a little tacky after application I prefer using it at night, just a few drops in the palms of my hands and then pressed onto my face with a focus on the areas where I have pigmentation, which is forehead and cheeks for me. (More info: The different types of hyperpigmentation and how to treat them)
The frequency depends on the rest of your routine, but for me daily use alongside my Tretinoin was fine, which might be an indicator that it doesn’t have the same potency as a true Azelaic Acid in higher percentages would have – I doubt that this would be possible to apply like that without irritation. I would probably be able to do that with a 5% Azelaic Acid formulation though and irritation is no marker for effectiveness, I just wanted to give you the information to be able to judge the irritation potential compared to other stuff, as I find that to be tricky with derivatives.
Geek and Gorgeous recommend aPAD especially to those sensitive to Niacinamide as replacement, but this is based on personal experience of the brand, so I can’t comment on that. (More info: Everything you need to know about Niacinamide in skincare)
Ingredients of Geek and Gorgeous aPAD
Hover the mouse over an ingredient for short explanation. Read more on INCIDecoder.
The ingredient list here is kept simple, featuring prominently the Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate as Azelaic Acid derivative, claiming to help in the management of rosacea and melasma, then Glycerin as humectant, Allantoin for soothing and preservatives.
I personally am a fan of short lists like that, as they make it easier to individually pick what you want to use, but am aware that it also means you might need to layer serums, which can be too complicated for those not as invested in skincare as I am.
Does it live up to its claims?
I wouldn’t exactly call it waterlight and am not sure if it will on its own even the skin tone, normalize oil production and calm the skin. It isn’t that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t find it to make a huge difference in my skin altogether. That might be different though if I had a skin concern that I wasn’t able to address with other ingredients due to skin sensitivities and such.
How does it compare to…
Dr Sam’s Flawless Nightly Serum
Dr Sam’s Flawless Nightly Serum is the only other Azelaic Acid serum I have, and as it features 5% Azelaic Acid I would assume it is of comparable strength. The biggest difference between the two other than texture (Dr Sam’s is more of a lotion as opposed to a gel) is that the Flawless Nightly Serum is a mixture of different actives, as it also contains 10% Niacinamide, Bakuchiol and 2% Granactive Retinoid.
If you want less steps in your routine, Dr Sam’s Flawless Nightly Serum surely is the better pick, but if your skin doesn’t tolerate retinoids or Niacinamide or you are looking for a pregnancy friendly alternative, the Geek and Gorgeous aPAD is a good alternative.
Would I repurchase and which skin types do I recommend the Geek and Gorgeous aPAD to?
I personally would not repurchase, as I don’t feel I need Azelaic Acid or its derivative in my routine and didn’t see a difference in my skin that would justify to continue using it. If you aren’t able to use retinoids or Niacinamide due to sensitivities or being pregnant, or if you have excessive oiliness or pigmentation and want to try something to support your other skincare, it might be worth taking a look.
(More info: Pregnancy skincare – What to use and what to avoid)
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