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As board-certified dermatologist Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, explains, rosacea is an immunity imbalance that breaks the skin barrier and causes inflammation. "It is a spectrum of redness, flushing, red bumps, cysts, and even sometimes facial swelling that we see," she tells Byrdie.
According to Dr. Madfes, rosacea can be triggered by anything from sun exposure and spicy food to red wine, stress, and even hot yoga. If you have the condition, you're probably well aware of how tricky it can be to find skincare products that don't make the issue worse.
However, the right lotion or cream can help calm irritation and reduce redness while helping to prevent facial flushing. "I recommend moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, green tea, and niacinamide (vitamin B3)," says Dr. Madfes, noting that these ingredients help soothe inflammation. Additionally, fragrance-free formulas are ideal, as they're less likely to cause a reaction.
Meet the Expert
- Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder and director of Capital Laser and Skincare in Washington, D.C.
- Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist in NYC, specializing in facial rejuvenation, chemical peels, fillers, skin cancer detection, and general skin care.
- Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, the medical director of Mudgil Dermatology.
- Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist, as well as the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Without further ado, these are the best moisturizers for rosacea.
Best Overall: Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer
While you might associate Proactive with intensive (albeit effective) skincare for acne-prone complexions, the brand's Green Tea Moisturizer isn't actually a treatment but rather a lightweight hydrator. More to the point, this non-comedogenic face cream contains two additives Dr. Madfes recommends for rosacea: hyaluronic acid and green tea. "These are calming ingredients for the skin," she tells Byrdie.
We also appreciate that it's formulated with allantoin, a botanical extract that soothes reactive complexions and supports the healing process—a major plus for those prone to breakouts.
Active Ingredients: Green tea, hyaluronic acid, squalane, allantoin | Skin Type: Dry, irritated, sensitive, acne-prone | Size: 3 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 20
Has a white cast
On a budget? Go with Cetaphil's Redness Reducing Moisturizer. Thanks to a subtle tint and skin-soothing ingredients like allantoin and vitamin E, this SPF 20 face lotion neutralizes redness while calming inflammation.
Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, allantoin, vitamin E | Skin Type: Sensitive, dry | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: 20 | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Value: Vanicream Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin
Reviewers note it doesn't absorb well
Vanicream offers the most bang for your buck. This 16-ounce pump bottle contains a fragrance-free, petrolatum-based cream that promises not to clog pores or irritate sensitive skin.
Active Ingredients: Petrolatum | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 16 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Luxury: Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
From the luxury beauty counter, we're loving this lightweight gel moisturizer by Biossance. It hydrates with squalane, calms stressed skin with seaweed, and visibly reduces redness with ginger extract.
Active Ingredients: Squalane, seaweed, ginger extract | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.6 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Splurge: Replenix CF Calming Serum
Works well under makeup
"Replenix CF is a great combination lotion," says Dr. Madfes. This caffeine-infused soothing serum contains antioxidant-rich green tea, gentle humectant hyaluronic acid, and calming cucumber extract—a fool-proof formula for addressing rosacea.
Active Ingredients: Green tea, hyaluronic acid, cucumber extract, caffeine | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for A.M.: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Expert Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, stands behind CeraVe's signature SPF 30 lotion. Formulated with niacinamide, the skin-soothing formula hydrates while protecting from sun damage and keeping facial flushing at bay.
Active Ingredients: Homosalate, octinoxate, octocrylene, zinc oxide, niacinamide | Skin Type: All | Size: 3 ounces | SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for P.M.: Rosacea Care Sea Buckthorn Night Cream with Willowherb
In the evening, reach for Rosacea Care Night Cream. The plant-based formula is chock full of natural skin-soothers like willowherb, sea buckthorn, and allantoin, plus shea butter to deeply moisturize while you sleep.
Active Ingredients: Willowherb, sea buckthorn, shea butter, allantoin | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Mature Skin: BeautyStat Cosmetics Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream
Replenishes skin barrier
This light-as-air moisturizer from BeautyStat is a god-send for dry, irritated skin. Standout ingredients include hyaluronic acid, essential ceramides, protective probiotics, and calming reishi mushroom extract.
Active Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, reishi mushroom extract, probiotics | Skin Type: All | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Oil-Free: EltaMD AM Therapy Face Moisturizer
A favorite of aesthetic dermatologist Naissan Wesley, MD, FACMS, this oil-free face moisturizer hydrates parched skin while smoothing uneven texture, preventing breakouts, and keeping irritation at bay.
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone, sensitive | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Rich Cream: Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Body Cream
Softens cracked skin
Doesn't spread easily
Weleda Skin Food has been a go-to for moisturizing dry skin for nearly 100 years. This exceptionally rich lotion doesn't directly address redness or irritation, but the natural formula promises not to exacerbate the issue while it nourishes your complexion.
Active Ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, lanolin, beeswax | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2.5 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"I was excited to use this cream as my daily moisturizer because it noticeably brought my skin to life, taking my skin from dull and matte to vibrant and glowing." — Ashley Rubell, Product Tester
Best BHA: Epionce Lytic Tx Retexturizing Lotion
Replenishes skin barrier
"Epionce Lytic Lotion is also wonderful for rosacea, as it repairs the skin barrier," Dr. Madfes tells Byrdie. Containing a blend of gently exfoliating salicylic acid, redness-reducing azelaic acid, and calming allantoin, this facial moisturizer pulls out all the stops to keep your skin clear and healthy.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, meadowfoam oil, azelaic acid, allantoin | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best K-Beauty: Dr. Althea Azulene 147HA Intensive Soothing Cream
Replenishes skin barrier
Dr. Althea's 147HA cream calls on natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like chamomile and azulene to minimize redness and calm irritation while replenishing the skin barrier.
Active Ingredients: Azulene, hyaluronic acid, chamomile | Skin Type: Sensitive, dry, irritated, acne-prone | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Natural: Eben Facial Cream
We're also big fans of Eben Facial Cream. The all-natural, no-nonsense formula moisturizes with olive oil, soothes with green tea, and boosts dull complexions with vitamin C.
Active Ingredients: Green tea, olive oil, vitamin C | Skin Type: All | Size: 4 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Gel: Then I Met You Calming Tide Gel Cream
Replenishes skin barrier
If you're partial to gels, you can't go wrong with Calming Tide. In addition to its signature peptide complex, it's got niacinamide and hyaluronic acid—two ingredients Dr. Madfes recommends for tackling rosacea.
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, peptides | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Serum: La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense Visible Redness Reducing Serum
Works well under makeup
New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, says those prone to rosacea are wise to use products containing calming botanical extracts, like this redness-reducing serum by La Roche-Posay. Not only does it address inflammation, but it also hydrates the skin and plays well under makeup.
Active Ingredients: Ambophenol, thermal spring water | Skin Type: Sensitive, irritated | Size: 1.4 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Our number one pick is Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer (view at Ulta), a lightweight face lotion containing a blend of soothing, hydrating ingredients like green tea extract, hyaluronic acid, squalane, and allantoin. If you're on a budget, Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer is an excellent choice. And if you're open to splurging on the right formula, opt for Replenix CF Calming Serum (view at Dermstore), a dermatologist-approved hydrator that calms irritation and minimizes redness.
What to Look for in a Moisturizer for Rosacea
More specifically, those that strengthen the skin barrier, such as ceramides and niacinamide. A weakened skin barrier goes hand-in-hand with rosacea; according to dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder, and director of Capital Laser and Skincare, strengthening it can help lock in moisture and lock out irritants.
As Dr. Tanzi explains, rosacea-prone skin is often sensitive, so the gentler and simpler the formula, the better. That means that you want to avoid potentially irritating ingredients, and fragrance is one of the most common (and problematic) culprits out there.
Choosing moisturizers that are free of pore-clogging ingredients is always a good idea.
How can you reduce rosacea flare-ups?
According to Dr. Tanzi, there are ways to help reduce (and even avoid) rosacea symptoms. Very gentle, non-irritating products that are pH-balanced can help, but there's more that you can do. As a fellow rosacea patient, here's what she recommends: "In general, I never put my face in hot water, I don't go in hot tubs or steam rooms, as it takes a toll on my skin," she says. "I wash my face at the sink with tepid water. It's important to avoid rosacea 'triggers,' such as hot weather and too much sun, cold weather and windburn, stress, alcohol, and caffeine."
Can moisturizer irritate rosacea?
Dr. Tanzi says that some moisturizers can irritate rosacea, depending on the formula. “Sometimes moisturizers with glycolic acids and retinol can irritate rosacea symptoms, so it’s best to stick with sensitive skin formulations,” she says.
How often should you moisturize with rosacea?
When it comes to daily moisturizer, Dr. Tanzi doesn’t recommend those with rosacea overdo it. Rather, they should moisturize as needed. “It depends on the need for hydration, but for most, a moisturizer at night will do the job, and for daytime, a good antioxidant is helpful,” she says.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland is a skincare enthusiast and commerce beauty writer. She interviewed a board-certified dermatologist for this article, compiling their product recommendations and insight into rosacea-friendly formulations. Before making her final selections, she combed through ingredients lists, referenced many peer-reviewed sources, and considered dozens of products from myriad retailers. Theresa has been writing for Byrdie since 2020, where she covers skincare, makeup, and lifestyle products.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough moisturizers for rosacea from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
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