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I’m A Skincare Expert With Rosacea – Here’s My Advice For Treating It

16th April 2024

I’ve always been very ‘rosy’ of face – by which I mean my skin tends to flush at the first sight of wine, I’ve tried almost every anti-redness serum on the market, and I’ve not had to invest in blusher in years. I’ve got a condition called rosacea – a chronic, not particularly well-understood, skin ‘disorder’, characterised by facial redness, broken capillaries, and, at its worst, angry-looking pimples.

Annoyingly, as I’ve found out first-hand, rosacea can be a rather stubborn condition to treat and there’s no definitive ‘cure’ for it either. However, if you also struggle with redness, irritation, and other rosacea-like symptoms, there are solutions out there that can help. Here’s what you need to know from my first-hand experience…

1. It’s not the same as acne (so don’t tackle it the same way)

When I first started to notice what looked like a sunburnt streak across my cheeks and nose, followed by some raised, angry-looking bumps, I was in my late teens and thought it was acne. (Rosacea can also emerge during menopause – probably due to hormonal changes – so is often mistaken for adult acne too). My solution? Cue scrubbing away at my skin and – I wince about it now – applying drying spot creams to the breakouts. That only made my skin more red and sore.

Luckily, even acne treatments have moved away from that ‘no pain, no gain’ approach nowadays, but there are still some ingredients that are great for acne, which can be too much for rosacea-prone skin. Case in point, salicylic acid and potent retinoids, so tread carefully if you’re interested in trying them. Instead, a treatment plan for rosacea should focus on avoiding your triggers for flushing, which are commonly spicy foods, wine, and temperature changes, as well as ensuring you calm your skin down and reinforce the skin barrier.

That leads me to…

2. The one hero ingredient you need to try

If you were to gather a group of individuals with rosacea who have the condition more or less under control there’s one ingredient they’ve probably tried and loved. That’s azelaic acid. It was the single best ingredient I tried for my rosacea too.

Available both within prescription-strength creams – which can be especially helpful for calming the raised, sore bumps on your skin – you can also, in great news, find it within high street serums and gels. As for how it works: azelaic acid is an antioxidant with a potent anti-inflammatory effect. In fact, it’s clinically proven, through independent trials, to decrease erythema (aka redness), swelling, and inflammatory lesions, without side effects. You can try it without breaking the bank from Skin&Me (via an online consultation), and The Inkey List’s 10% Azelaic Acid Solution.

 

3. IPL can really help

The rosacea symptom I’m still most conscious about is the broken capillaries I tend to get around my nose – a really common if stubborn side effect of the condition. Luckily, if you are in the same boat, the tweakments world can come to our rescue with an effective, if not permanent, solution – IPL.

When used to treat rosacea, IPL, aka intense pulsed light, utilises wavelengths of light that are absorbed by the red-coloured haemoglobin in the tiny blood vessels in our faces. This generates heat that breaks down the blood vessel walls, causing them to collapse and eventually be absorbed by our bodies. In the process, redness and uneven texture can also be decreased, and the treatment has really minimal downtime too, which is a win for sensitive skin. Broken veins can crop up again, but that’s less likely if you control your triggers. You can find a practitioner for an IPL session here.

4. Skincare for your skin barrier is your best friend

There are so many redness-reducing formulas out there it can feel like a bit of a minefield – even for me, and I work in the skincare industry. My biggest piece of advice when shopping around: look for ingredients to support your skin barrier as well as decreasing inflammation. That’s because a compromised barrier is what can most commonly lead to your skin becoming dry, tight, and sore; aka bad news for rosacea-prone complexions.

Key ingredients to look out for include niacinamide and the aforementioned azeliac acid to protect and support your skin; hydrators such as those naturally found in your skin barrier (ceramides and hyaluronic acid); and proven soothing ingredients such as aloe vera and colloidal oatmeal. IT Cosmetics’ Bye Bye Redness Serum has recently caught my eye.

5. Don’t forget SPF 

If you’re a frequent reader of TTG, you’ll know about the importance of wearing daily SPF (we mention it enough!), but it’s still worth bringing up here, as it’s especially important for rosacea-prone skin. That’s because rosacea is an inflammatory-based skin condition and the sun’s UV rays can be a massive source of inflammation by causing free radical damage to your skin.

Unfortunately, us sensitive skin types can be a little, shall we say, nervous about SPF. That’s because of its traditional reputation for being thick, heavy and causing breakouts. However, there are really great formulas I would personally recommend. Heliocare 360° Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50 is a 100% mineral SPF that is amazing for sensitive skin and its superlight so doesn’t leave an ashy cast.

6. Get advice when you need it 

Finally, with rosacea, it can be tempting to think, ‘Oh, it bothers me, but it’s just a bit of redness’. But, the most important thing I learned through my own experience is that the right expert advice (and even just a diagnosis) can be incredibly helpful. Seeing a dermatologist or your GP also doesn’t mean you need to take medication (although there are antibiotics available for the cysts). Instead, you can get advice on skincare and a treatment plan that works for you.

For personalised skincare advice tailored to your own needs, why not book a consultation with TTG’s skincare therapist Shenaz.

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