Trendy Azulene Oil Is More Like Retinol Than We Thought

Long gone are the days when skincare products needed great reviews left and right in order to be sought-after. In an increasingly visual-focused world, half the appeal of a beauty product lies in its Instagram-worthiness — for instance, an eye-catching shade and unique shape. Color actually plays a vital role in skincare branding, according to Color Matters. In addition to boosting brand recognition, color is a powerful non-verbal way of communicating the message behind each product. Aside from white, one of the most well-liked colors in skincare in recent years is blue — a shade perceived to symbolize trust and reliability, according to Herb & Hedgerow

Azulene oil, a blue skincare ingredient, has been on everyone's lips recently. More of a mainstay skin superstar than a buzzy one, azulene oil is a plant extract that purportedly boasts a myriad of skin-benefitting properties in addition to its stunningly blue appearance. In fact, azulene has been compared to retinol, a must-have powerhouse active in any skincare routine. But does that mean that azulene oil can be the next holy grail of skincare ingredients? Here are some insights from experts.

Azulene oil is a skin soother

Azulene oil — or azulene — possesses a distinctly blue color and a refreshing aroma. The FDA has approved azulene as a colorant rather than a skincare active ingredient, dermatologist Dr. Anita Sturnham tells Woman & Home.

"Azulene is a natural botanical oil derived from the steam distillation of chamomile, yarrow, or blue tansy flowers, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties," dermatologist Stacy Chimento tells Byrdie. Azulene can soothe a wide range of skin irritations and inflammation, including post-shaving bumps, redness, ingrown hairs, as well as sunburns. It also helps the skin maintain moisture and improves skin barrier function, protecting the skin from potential sensitivities and keeping it smooth. For this reason, you can find azulene in many hair grooming products in addition to facial oils and masks. Rich in anti-microbial properties, azulene is also added to a number of acne treatment products.

Azulene is generally calming and non-irritating, which makes it suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive and dry skin. Dermatologist Jessie Cheung tells Byrdie that azulene and retinol make a great pairing when they're tossed into one skincare mix. If retinol rejuvenates the skin by controlling skin cell shedding, azulene aids to alleviate the irritating side effects that are frequently associated with vitamin A derivatives. You can also layer a nourishing azulene oil on top of your exfoliating serum or retinol to rebalance your skin's microbiome and minimize irritation. Azulene oil can work brilliantly in tandem with other skin smoothers, such as aloe and vitamin E. 

Azulene can protect the skin from free radicals

Rich in antioxidants, azulene is effective in neutralizing free radicals and protecting your skin cells from the damaging effects of these molecules, according to LON Cosmetics. Free radicals, the villains of the skincare world, are to blame for destroying the collagen in our skin, causing visible damage such as wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines, and loose, saggy skin. Slathering up with antioxidants regularly can help protect the skin from the constant attacks of these skin-slaying molecules. To keep azulene oil fresh and effective for as long as possible, take care to store it in a dark and dry place. If your azulene-infused product has turned opaque and exudes a bad smell, it has gone bad.

Although azulene is safe to be applied to the skin on a daily basis, it's not completely without side effects. According to, azulene might increase the skin's sun sensitivity, so you might want to save this skin soother for nighttime use only and apply sunscreen liberally during the day. In addition, those who are allergic to any plant in the daisy family might experience an allergic reaction to any product formulated with azulene, so it's wise to consult your dermatologist before incorporating azulene into your skincare routine.