Skincare for Rosacea Is a Game-Changer: 6 Steps to Achieve Calm, Protected Skin

Skincare for Rosacea Is a Game-Changer: 6 Steps to Achieve Calm, Protected Skin

Skincare for Rosacea Is a Game-Changer: 6 Steps to Achieve Calm, Protected Skin

If you’ve recently noticed that the skin on your face keeps getting red and flushed and is feeling ultra-sensitive, there’s a chance you could be dealing with an inflammatory skin condition called rosacea. If you are, don’t be alarmed: This condition is common, and while you can’t completely cure it, you can keep it under control by avoiding things that irritate your skin, taking medication when necessary, and adjusting your skincare routine. To get you up to speed on the latter, we asked two board-certified dermatologists for their top tips on skincare for rosacea, and they emphasized taking a gentle, hydrating approach. Read on to learn the six most important considerations when building a rosacea-friendly skincare routine, from which products to use to when to involve a derm.

Symptoms of Rosacea

Curious if rosacea is something you may be experiencing? When someone has this common skin condition, they might have symptoms like:

  • Sensitive skin
  • Dry nose and cheeks
  • Flushing or blushing
  • Redness on their face
  • Burning skin
  • Acne
  • Visible blood vessels on the surface of their skin

Of course, many of these symptoms may be due to other causes, so your best bet for knowing for sure whether you have rosacea is to get your dermatologist's opinion. Still, many of the top skincare tips for rosacea involve a gentle, pared-back approach, so it's usually safe to give them a try whether or not you have a diagnosis.

The Best Skincare Tips for Rosacea

Know Your Triggers

To establish a skincare routine that won't further aggravate rosacea-prone skin, start by understanding your triggers, or the factors that cause your symptoms to flare up. These triggers can vary from person to person, but some of the most common include stress, heat, cold, wind, alcohol, pollution, sunlight, select skincare and haircare products, and foods like dairy, chocolate, and spicy food. When exposed to these triggers, your skin may become irritated and inflamed, so if you know what typically causes your rosacea to flare, you'll want to do your best to avoid them.

While avoiding triggers can be helpful, keep in mind that this method isn't exactly foolproof. "For some patients, controlling rosacea is possible through diligent trigger avoidance," says board-certified dermatologist Deeptej Singh, MD. "However, others may find that avoiding triggers alone is not sufficient to manage their condition."

Practice Gentle Cleansing

When you’re dealing with rosacea, gentle cleansing is a non-negotiable—mainly because your skin is inflamed and you don’t want to do anything that will irritate it even more. “Over-cleansing can lead to irritation,” Singh says. “It’s often more about removing cosmetic products applied to the skin than addressing an inherent need for cleaning.”

Board-certified dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD, suggests cleansing twice a day using lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser, emphasizing that those with rosacea should avoid scrubbing. Singh says that how often to cleanse your skin can vary depending on your skin and symptoms—so make sure to check in with your derm and to regularly assess how your skin is feeling. "Rosacea differs in type and severity among individuals, and a person's tolerance for cleansing can change over time," he tells us. Below are some tips on choosing a gentle cleanser:

  • Choose a gentle formula: Look for cleansers and soaps that say they are gentle or suitable for sensitive skin, such as Cetaphil or Cerave face wash.
  • Look for niacinamide: Cleansers that contain niacinamide can be helpful for some people with rosacea. This ingredient has the potential to reduce inflammation and help protect the skin from environmental stressors.
  • Consider certain synthetic ingredients: Cleansers made of synthetic detergent (rather than soap) can be helpful in reducing rosacea symptoms for some because they may be less irritating. This may sound counterintuitive, but the acidic pH of these types of cleansers could align better with your skin’s natural acidity.

Focus on Hydration and Barrier Repair

Moisturizing is really important for people with rosacea, as it has several potential benefits including barrier repair, maintaining the skin’s microbiome, and preserving the pH balance. “Moisturizing the skin helps decrease inflammation and can help with the itching and discomfort from rosacea,” Patel explains. “It [also] repairs the barrier so the nerves are not exposed to air.”

Looking for a moisturizer that’s safe for your rosacea-prone skin? The dermatologists we spoke with recommend trying a product that’s non-comedogenic, pH-balanced, and contains ceramides, which help protect and repair the skin. Products with hyaluronic acid or azelaic acid can also be helpful.

Use a Good SPF

Though sun protection is absolutely essential for everyone, this especially goes for those with rosacea because UV light can be a trigger and exacerbate irritation and inflammation. "By applying sunscreen, you can avoid rosacea becoming inflamed," Patel says.

As you search for a rosacea-friendly SPF—especially if this is one of your known rosacea triggers—we have a couple tips:

  • Look for a product that contains SPF 30 or higher: In order to avoid irritation from sunlight, you'll need adequate protection. It's best to opt for formulas with SPF 30 or higher, plus be sure to reapply throughout the day.
  • Opt for mineral formulas: Try to use a physical sunscreen that contains titanium or zinc oxide. Often, these are less likely to contribute to inflammation than chemical sunscreen products.

Avoid Irritating Products

When you have rosacea, your skin barrier can be compromised, and cosmetics and skincare products that contain harsh ingredients can easily irritate and inflame your skin. For example, "people with rosacea, eczema or a medical skin condition should not use medical-grade skincare products or exfoliating toners, as they could make the condition worse," Patel says. Instead, she recommends looking for the following ingredients:

  • Sea buckthorn oil: This can be helpful in healing inflamed skin.
  • Niacinamide: As mentioned, this ingredient contains soothing and antibacterial/antimicrobial properties, which can be majorly helpful for those with rosacea or otherwise irritated skin.
  • Hyaluronic acid: This hydrator can help restore moisture without trapping it in. 

Ask Your Dermatologist

Just like when you're dealing with any other skin condition—especially if you haven't been diagnosed yet—it's important to see a board-certified dermatologist for any questions and concerns about rosacea. They can assess your symptoms and use their expertise to come up with a treatment plan tailored specifically for you. This step is especially important because the best rosacea treatment isn't going to be the same for everyone.

Of course, it's also important to see a doctor to make sure the condition you suspect is actually rosacea. "It's essential to recognize that not every redness on the face is rosacea," Singh says. "If treatments are ineffective, it may indicate a need to reevaluate the diagnosis."

The Final Takeaway

Rosacea can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but the good news is that if you can figure out your triggers and opt for a gentle, simplified routine, it's possible to minimize some of the irritation. While you'll want to consult a dermatologist to confirm if you have the condition and see if they have tips on the best routine for you, skincare for rosacea is generally designed to hydrate, protect, and reduce flare-ups, so most of the above steps have the potential to help with a range of sensitivities.

Article Sources Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.


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