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I don't have a problem with flushed skin. What I do I have a problem with is when that flushed skin is intense, chronic, and widespread. That's called rosacea, and it's something I've struggled with since high school and have since been trying to alleviate, especially after I've spent time in the sun.
"People with rosacea are highly susceptible to UV radiation," says dermatologist Lily Talakoub of McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center. "The vessels in the skin are very fragile in someone who has rosacea. The UV light breaks down collagen and elastin, which are the proteins that are the support structures for the vessels. When the collagen elastin breaks down, the vessels break and are visible under the skin, making the skin look more red and flushed."
Red and flushed is exactly the look I'm trying to avoid, which is why sunscreen is a must. "Physical sunscreens are better than any chemical sunscreen because physical sunscreens protect against all UVB and UVA rays," Talakoub says. "Chemical sunscreens only protect against UVB and some of the UVA rays."
Below, the best sunscreens for rosacea that won't cause irritation.
This French pharmacy pick (which is widely available at drugstores Stateside) is a Byrdie team favorite. It's a 100% mineral sunscreen that's fragrance- and paraben-free. We love its lightweight texture, non-whitening formula, and effective UV protection. Seriously, this one's been a mainstay in our routines for years.
Talakoub suggests trying this SPF 30 formula from Byrdie-favorite brand iS Clinical. "Extreme Protect contains extremozymes, which help protect and repair fragile proteins and DNA components, and micronized zinc oxide and micro-encapsulated organic active sunscreens," she explains. "It also helps reduce inflammation."
Anyone with rosacea knows the sensitivity and irritation that go along with it. So, I consider a sunscreen that also reduces inflammation to be as good as gold.
Another iS Clinical sunscreen, this one, Talakoub says, also does double duty. "The Eclipse SPF 50 contains titanium dioxide, micronized zinc oxide, and vitamin E to protect and hydrate skin." You can choose the tinted or non-tined formula, depending on your preference, although Talakoub is quick to point out that "the tinted version is great to help cover up redness from rosacea."
"I also love the Avène SPF 50 Compact," Talakoub says. "It has 17% titanium dioxide and provides a foundation-like coverage as well as being water-resistant. This is the one I wear to the beach all summer." Oh, how we love when makeup and skincare intersect.
"For my body, I love the Soleil Toujours SPF 50 spray," Talakoub tells me. "It's a chemical sunscreen, but it is a spray that goes on like a cream and blends well into the skin without looking pasty white. Most aerosol sprays are not effective, because half of the product aerosolizes into the air. This one does not and has a wonderful texture to it. I use it to spray my ears, behind my neck (areas often missed), and my body."
Heather Wilson, brand development director and lead esthetician at InstaNatural, recommends using this product. It doesn't just offer SPF 30 UV protection, but it has a whole host of potent botanical extracts that treat and hydrate the skin. "My personal favorite sunscreen InstaNatural's Vitamin C Moisturizer because it offers complete protection from the sun and is full of anti-aging ingredients, plant extracts, and nourishing oils for a moisturizer that does so much more than just moisturize."