Can skincare get rid of redness?
If your skin is red, you have to be really gentle with your skincare so as not to irritate it further, while at the same time using products that will calm the skin and strengthen the skin barrier, to make it less susceptible to redness and irritation. For example, rather than removing your cleanser with a wet flannel, use a product that can be washed off or wiped off gently with cotton wool. Choose a cream or lotion-based cleanser, that won’t upset the skin’s barrier by removing too much of the natural oils from it, and make sure that any products you are using are fragrance-free. Fragrance may be listed as ‘parfum’ in a product’s ingredients list.
There are many cosmetic skincare products which are designed to reduce redness in the skin. The most effective of these are prescription ones, but these can only be obtained from a dermatologist. Look for ranges that are described as ‘calming’ or ‘soothing’.
Products with azelaic acid may reduce redness and rosacea, with the added bonuses of unclogging your pores and reducing the appearance of dark spots. Products with niacinamide can reduce redness and blotchiness too.
Skincare that lessens the appearance of acne can automatically help to reduce redness caused by this acne. If you have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after having acne, the good news is that time and sun protection will help this to fade—but the rate at which this happens depends on the individual.
If you have one of the specific skin conditions mentioned earlier, there are different treatments which can help. For example, there are certain creams and ointments for eczema and topicals for seborrheic dermatitis. There are also some creams for rosacea, but be aware that these don’t suit everybody—head over to the rosacea factsheet for more detail.
If the redness is due to permanently dilated or broken blood vessels (i.e. thread veins), skincare just isn’t going to shift those. Only a treatment such as laser, or intense pulsed light (IPL), or thermocoagulation can help with these once the blood vessels have lost their elasticity and ability to shrink back.
How can I prevent my skin from flushing?
Severe facial flushing or rosacea can feel completely debilitating. If this is something that applies to you – there are certain things that can be done to help you with this.
The first of these is intense pulsed light (IPL) or pulse-dye laser, which works on persistently red skin. This reduces redness by breaking up and dispersing the pigment in the dilated vein, and can be hugely effective with the right practitioner. If you decide to go down this route, it would be a good idea to consult an expert cosmetic practitioner.
If your face is flushing because of blushing, there are a few things that can be done to prevent it. Keeping cool is important to this, as you’ll be much more likely to blush when overheating. You can keep cool by wearing light, breathable clothing. There is also green-tinted redness-reducing makeup, which you could wear in potentially stressful situations like an interview. This will conceal a flush rather than prevent it, but it can be really helpful if you’re worried about other people seeing your redness.
If you’re very anxious about blushing, you can practise breathing exercises, which can help you to calm down, rather than tipping into fight-or-flight mode. Various distraction techniques can also help to distract you from your nerves, such as thinking of something funny or making yourself list things in your mind. Another helpful tip is to simply acknowledge that you’re blushing, or that you might blush, and that that’s okay. This can stop the anxiety (and blushing) spiral, as well as soothing the mind.
It would also be a good idea to make your skincare regime gentler. You can do this by exfoliating less (and avoiding using a flannel, as mentioned earlier), reducing the use of products such as retinoids or benzoyl peroxide which easily provoke the skin, being gentle when taking make-up off and avoiding products with ingredients known to cause skin irritation.
At the same time, you want to ladle on (fragrance-free) products that will improve skin hydration and build the skin barrier, such as hyaluronic-acid serums and skin-restoring lipids (including ceramides, essential fatty acids and cholesterol) which will help lock in the moisture so that the skin can function better. And don’t forget to top this off with sunscreen during the day.