Managing Rosacea

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

I first experienced rosacea at 14 weeks pregnant with my first daughter Mabel.

I was in Paris. And although I knew my clothes were not going to be as ooh la la as perhaps they would have been a few months prior, I didn’t expect to have bright red itchy cheeks to accessorise my expanding waistline.

At first I assumed I was suffering from an adverse reaction to one of the many pots of goop I had purchased at the French pharmacies. But this seemed different somehow, I could see the red spider veins under the skin and they had travelled up the side of my nose on both sides, making it a bit swollen and sore.

This turned out to be my first experience with rosacea, and before I go into it in any detail I wanted to confirm that although I am able to keep it under control, there is no miracle “cure”. My condition is mild compared to some people, and it is pregnancy that seems to be the main trigger of a more severe outbreak.

If you suspect you are suffering and are yet to visit your GP then do so, and endeavour to obtain a referral to a dermatologist who will be able to examine your epidermis in more detail and make suitable (potentially prescription only) recommendations of products that may assist in managing the condition. A medical professional should always be your first call, there are a million and one lotions on the cosmeceutical market that will promise the earth and under deliver. Don’t waste your hard earned cash until you have all the facts.

You can find out more information via the NHS website.

Key Triggers For Rosacea Outbreaks And What I Avoid

1. Alcohol. I know I know, how infuriating. Wine seems to have the worst effect on me in comparison to white spirits. A few glasses of Pinot and Im suitably red-faced. And not in a cute jolly way either.

2. Hot Or Cold temperatures. And I don’t mean below freezing or melty weather, even a cold ish wind and a minute amount of sweat can start the flushing. I nearly always wear my hood up and a scarf around my face from the Autumn and in summer I find a bottle of Avene Thermal Water Spray works well to cool down my moony face. As an aside I use this as a “toner” to remove cleanser residue and any weird chemicals in the tap water I use to rinse initially. Some might think what is essentially water in a spray can is gimmicky but I notice the difference if I run out. I always always wear a wide brimmed hat whilst on holiday.

3. Spicy Food. I’m not a huge fan anyway but I do love fajitas on a Friday…unfortunately they don’t love my skin.

4. Stress. Unavoidable at times but I do take more time off work than I ever used to – it’s important for your state of mind. And if the daily grind is overwhelming, I find putting some music on and exercising takes my mind off things.

During my second pregnancy my rosacea has reappeared with a vengeance, as well as extreme dryness, I also have small lumps in the areas that flush as well as obvious spider veins. I swear, give me a white beard and some red velour and I could easily pass as Father bloody Christmas. This time around I’ve been very careful with what I put on my skin product wise and after a few months of trial and error seem to be managing the condition fairly well.

Skincare That Treats and Assists With The Management of Rosacea

1. Gentle Cleanser. Seriously, don’t use anything with exfoliating acids or harsh abrasives to remove make-up and grime, you will probably just aggravate the situation. At the moment I am double cleansing with Boots Simply cleansing lotion. I use it on a cotton pad to remove make-up initially then do a second lot to remove with a warm (not hot) flannel. For heavier make-up days I second cleanse with either Superdrug Melting Gel Cleanser (which I can’t link to as they seem to have bloody well discontinued it) or Clinique Extra Mild Facial Soap.

2. No Nonsense Moisturiser. I’ve used Aveeno cream since a dermatologist recommended it to me over ten years ago. Admittedly I’m not sure if it would work for combination/oilier skin types (My sister isn’t a fan as she finds it too heavy) in which case I would highly recommend Avene’s Skin Recovery Cream. It’s non comedogenic and leaves a lovely matte finish – I’ve been trialling it in conjunction with Aveeno and I’m really impressed with the results.

3. Soothing Serum. As an extra step (and to combat the flakes which make the redness difficult to conceal) I’ve been having little to no success with a selection of serums allegedly with magical powers. The best one I’ve found is Hydraluron by Indeed Labs which is packed with hyaluronic acid that can hold up to 1000 x it’s weight in water and works as a powerful humectant. It’s early days but my skin definitely looks bouncier, dry patches are clearing up and certainly the skin at the sides of my nose and around my eyes where the spider veins seem to be the most obvious, is softer and less itchy. There are hundreds of positive reviews on the Boots website so others have clearly experienced positive results too.

My friend (and excellent beautician) Kelly has put aside some samples of Dermalogica Ultra Calming Serum Concentrate (currently 15% off with the code “BEAUTY” on as I type) so I’ll let you know how I get on.

Concealing Rosacea Without Aggravating or Caking

As someone who doesn’t like to wear a lot of make-up on their skin, this has been a challenge and a half for me. ALL foundations just go patchy and weird, but that’s as much down to my extreme dehydration as it is my rosacea. Instead I’ve found gently patting on concealer to ruddy areas is more seamless and effective (I like Glossier Stretch for every day when I have the opportunity to touch up and Mac’s Pro Longwear Concealer for evenings/early starts and late finishes).

I then set everything with Estee Lauder Lucidity Translucent powder in 02 Light/Medium (it looks super natural but has a slight tint so doesn’t look flat).

When I am not suffering from a flare up the spider veins and redness all but disappear, however, I will be looking into laser treatment after this pregnancy should the veins in particular, persist.

Do you suffer from Rosacea? What triggers your breakouts and what products have you found that actually seem to treat the condition?

Any questions please do drop me a note in the comments section below.

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea
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25 thoughts on “Managing Rosacea

  1. I’m really glad that you’ve mentioned this Charlotte, as it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I was diagnosed with rosacea a couple of years ago, despite being told initially I was too young at 27. I take antibiotics for mine, as although I was initially reluctant, I developed blepharitis and so the antibiotics help keep them both under control. I find I can’t even use a flannel on my face as it’s too abrasive, but I use Lush Ultrabland with cotton wool pads, and Eucerin Adjunctive Care SPF 30 for daytime. I like Pixi Rose Oil Blend for night time.

    1. Hi Emma, pleasure – I’m glad the antibiotics are working for you. I do use a flannel very gently and make sure I apply plenty of cleansing lotion to soften the skin beforehand but you should absolutely avoid anything that you feel is too abrasive. I’ve stopped using a muslin cloth as these definitely seem scratchier.

      I’m a big fan of Eucerin – I’ve used their hardcore body lotion on and off for years, I’ll take a look at the SPF you mention x

  2. I developed rosacea at 30 just before my wedding. Yey. Mine takes the form of itchy bumps and general redness and I also have ocular rosacea which took some diagnosis, and gives me really dry eyes that weirdly result in constantly watering eyes, which I never thought could be so irritating and infuriating! My triggers are alcohol and hot and cold temperatures. Through both my pregnancies my skin has been much better and now I’m breastfeeding it’s pretty good too so it’s definitely related to hormones. I’ve seen a dermatologist in the past and tried various antibiotics with no joy. For skincare I have scoured blogs and web pages and spent a fortune trying things and firmly believe what suits one person may not work for the next, and also some days my skin may react to something I’ve been using for months! So frustrating! At the moment I use Clinique redness solutions cleanser, I love their daily relief cream but it’s out of budget currently and I’ve found Nivea Pure and Natural Moisturising Cream Dry/Sensitive works just as well and costs a tenth of the price of Clinique! I have to use special eye ointment when my eyes flare up which is a nightmare for eye makeup sadly. I also use Dermalex Rosacea Treatment on any red partches morning and night and that seems to help.

    I wish more research would be done on rosacea as it seems a not very understood condition.

    1. Natalie I think in general most skin conditions seem to vary from person to person, and I wonder if this is why they seem misunderstood. I’ve found with eczema what works for a lot of others doesn’t necessarily work for me, if anything a lot of targeted treatments make it worse.

      The Nivea sounds great, I might give it a whirl. The hormone thing is interesting as I do find that when I’m on the contraceptive pill (Yasmin) my skin overall is much better in terms of my rosacea and eczema flare ups x

  3. I swear by Aveeno, whenever I have any sort of skin issue it works miracles! I have started using it as my daily moisturiser now. When I am not so dry, it can be a bit heavy for me too so I will def check out the other one you recommended! Thanks x

  4. I don’t have rosaecea but I do have perioral dermatitis which is somewhat similar in some ways. And its pants, so I totally sympathise Charlotte! I’ve commented before on your insta about it. I think the trigger for my breakout was a combination of stress and hormonal changes as a result of stopping breastfeeding. Its under control now after treatment with a topical antibiotic and ‘zero therapy’ (where you put nothing on your face, no cleansers, makeup anything). My zero therapy didn’t last too long before I added Lush ultrabland cleanser as I felt I just really needed a cleanser!! But i continued with no makeup or anything else but the antibac cream for a month which saw it come under control. The worst thing about these skin conditions is how they seem to flare up overnight but take months to come right. I still have a bit of lingering redness about my nose, so interested in any recommendations for that. When I was at my worst I used small amounts of Vichy dermablend foundation for covering the really red areas. Products containing zinc are supposed to be really good for perioral dermatitis but not sure about rosaecea.

    1. Emma I’m pretty sure the Ordinary do a Zinc serum that is supposed to be great, I’ll see if I can find a link x

      1. Ooh, that would be handy. I’ve been wanting to try The Ordinary but its a bit hard knowing what actually suits your skin. Its all very scientific!

          1. Oh, bless you Charlotte!! It must be excellent then if it’s sold out and at that price point it’s got to be worth a try! I’ve put it on my waiting list 🙂

  5. I have rosacea, with the same triggers as above and the best range I’ve found is REN. You can get it from M&S and I usually wait for a 20% off day to stock up. You can get small bottles to try from their website though. It’s also free from all nasties and not tested on animals, unlike any of the major brands that sell in China.

    Avene is also a great brand and a bit cheaper.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation Nicola, I actually think the M&S beauty offering is really good in general – they have some super brands x

  6. I have a bit of Rosacea mixed with facial keratosis Pilaris (the chicken skin bumps you get on your arms and legs) I’m currently trying la Roche Posay toleriane range. First the dermocleanser which I’m finding really helps and their water spray thingy as a toner. I’m using the toleriane ultra moisturiser which I’m not overwhelmed with but may try the ‘riche’ version next. I’ve also heard good things about their Rosaliac AR intense serum. Anyone any experience of it?
    I’ve also used Clinique redness solutions cleanser which is nice, use it as my first cleanse now if I do a double cleanse. I use Clinique anti redness daily protective base over particularly red areas (it has a green tint and does take a bit of blending in!) before BB cream.
    It’s a constant battle though, whenever you find something that slightly helps You find some new trigger that sets it all off again!!

    1. It does feel like a merry go round sometimes doesn’t it Cat? I meant to mention that wool triggers mine too so anything with wool sleeves is a no as I keep touching my face, it took me ages to work out why my cheeks were flaming nearly every week last year….queue a cardigan issue (!)

      I do find concealers with a yellow undertone help with the red, also illuminating primers – they seem to take away some of the ruddy tone x

  7. I’m so glad you’ve purchased Hydraluron. I think it’ll make a bit difference to your dryness. I’ve been an avid user for yonks and always notice a difference if I don’t use it. Hope it works for you! 🤞🏼

    1. Interestingly I forget to apply it this morning and my skin is definitely drier this evening, it’s as if the serum provides an extra layer of protection x

  8. What does everyone do about applying blusher please? I feel odd without it, and usually wear Dior Rosy Glow, which is basically the colour of my rosa ra, so it does at least look natural, but I would be interested to see what others do.

    1. Emma I actually apply a very light toned pink highlighter on my cheeks when they are very red, just so I’m wearing something but it doesn’t make me look like Aunt Sally. The one I use is by Lancome and discontinued unfortunately but Benefit Dandelion is very similar x

      1. Thank you, I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy that for ages, just for the pretty packaging! I will give it a try. I hope you get some relief from yours over the coming season.

  9. There’s an article about this and laser treatment and antibiotics etc in the Christmas copy of RED magazine might be worth a look

  10. I suffer with redness across my nose and cheeks which feels hot and tiny red lumps down the side of my face which are sore but never turn in to spots. I constantly have one watery eye which has resulted in me having to ditch my beloved liquid eyeliner. I can’t seem to figure out the triggers. My scalp is really sore and flakey when I’m due on so have a steroid treatment for that. The best thing for my skin appears to be the soy serum from Aldi and a moisturiser for mature skin (I’m 37 and use one for over 50’s. No matter how much water I drink and moisturise my skin is always dry. After a shower or bath is worse, it literally burns. I’ve given up trying to cure it…I now tell myself I’m just a sensitive delicate flower!!!

  11. I have had rosacea since my 30’s (I’m 50) and at the peak of it, my face was actually purple! It was horrific. Stress, red wine, lack of sleep (all of which were big parts of my life at the time) made the redness unbearable. After having tried EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING, I finally found something that works for me. Tata Harper is a brand that is all organic/natural. She has a Nourishing Oil Cleanser that saved my life! It took a few weeks – I only wash at night (heard 2x/day is too much for skin like ours) and it made a remarkable difference! I have also simplified my routine to the oil cleanser, The Ordinary retinol .5% on neck and chest ONLY, and Trilogy Rose Hip Oil as a moisturizer. The Rose Hip Oil is AMAZING and has also transformed my facial skin!!! Hope this helps!

  12. I am a 50 yo female with hormonal/Rosacea breakouts. After many trips to the dermatologists trying different prescription topical’s and antibiotics which seemed to make my skin condition worse I decided to try dermalmd rosacea serum. I’ve been using this for about 3 months now and my skin has so much clearer. I apply after cleansing and also use as a base for my liquid foundation. The texture of the serum is a very light and fluffy, not greasy. The summer heat will be the true test for my skin and this serum as my skin is much oilier in the summer. I would definitely recommend dermalmd serum.

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