We've discussed rosacea before. From identifying its common triggers (including ingredients to avoid flareups) to sharing ways to reduce the inflammation, these tips have you covered. But when it comes to conventional rosacea treatments, some of which involve antibiotics, "Many of us resist using [them], as we worry about the antibiotic killing the good bacteria along with the bad," explains esthetician Athena Ellen. That's why we're asking Ellen and experts whether there is an au naturel route to treating rosacea symptoms.
What Is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that results in inflammation and redness of the skin. It can also cause skin pustules. Contributing factors vary but may include genetic predisposition, hormones, skin mites, diet, and environmental factors.
To get you started, it's worth knowing that four different subtypes of rosacea exist. And, while subtypes three and four "often need medical attention including oral antibiotics and/or light therapies," explains esthetician Nicole Weir, the first two subtypes can be treated with natural remedies as they involve redness/swelling and acne breakouts, respectively, says Ellen.
Meet the Expert
To help you decide whether a natural remedy makes sense for you, we consulted Ellen, Weir, and esthetician Lori Sprester to break down everything we need to consider before reaching for a rosacea treatment.
Keep scrolling for the natural remedies that might just help reduce rosacea.
Consider Cleansing Oils
Your face-washing routine is essential in managing rosacea: "Using the wrong cleanser will deplete vital lipids and generate inflammation in the skin, which spells disaster for rosacea sufferers," says Weir. Instead, Ellen suggests using mild cleansers, such as cleansing oils and products high in rosehip seed oil, sea buckthorn oil, tamanu oil, and evening primrose. "These ingredients are highly nutritious and anti-inflammatory," she says.
Not only do oils help reduce inflammation, but they're great for hydration, too. Just be extra careful when it comes to certain subtypes of rosacea like acne rosacea, for which Sprester says she doesn't recommend using any oil at all. What she does recommend, however, are carrot seed oil and blue tansy. "Just remember less is more and no rubbing/massage on rosacea skin," she instructs.
Carrot seed oil is an essential oil, which has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties
Even though cleansing oils are gentler on sensitive skin, always spot-check new products on the inside of your wrist before you put it on your face or other rosacea-affected area.
Clean Up Your Diet
You've heard it before: You are what you eat. That's why our experts encourage incorporating health-promoting foods (read: good fats, high-fiber foods, veggies, turmeric, and ginger) into your diet. Since the gut regulates inflammation in the body, introducing foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar and hydrogenated oils reduces inflammation throughout the whole body, they explain.
Turmeric powder is made from the root of Curcuma zedoaria, a form of ginger native to Southeast Asia. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is what gives it that yellow-orange tinge; it's also what makes it such a potent anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is also found to lighten hyperpigmentation.
This might explain why they often see improvements in their clients with rosacea who have overhauled their diets or recently participated in a cleanse. Plus, who doesn't love another excuse to hit up your local farmers market? You can make going out to get fresh veggies and other foods part of a relaxing weekly ritual.
Drink Aloe Vera Water
Applying aloe vera topically is nothing new, but ingesting it? "Drinking aloe vera water is like drinking water with extra antioxidants and vitamins," Ellen says. "It helps increase the water content in the intestines and helps to eliminate toxins in the body, thus helping inflammation in the body and lessening rosacea."
Aloe vera is a naturally derived ingredient known for its soothing and moisturizing properties. The aloe plant's inner gel mucilage (the part that's used in skincare products) is made up of 99.5% water.
You can buy aloe vera water at the store, or you can make your own. To do it at home, take a few cubes of aloe (cut fresh out of an aloe stem, beneath the green part) and add them to a blender. Add water to the aloe cubes in the blender and blend until the two are totally mixed. If you want, you can add a bit of lemon or juice for some extra flavor.
Avoid Potential Irritants
Always check the ingredients of your skincare products. "Most skincare is loaded with preservatives and irritants. Avoid gel cleansers, acidic exfoliating cleansers, and any products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide," advises Ellen, as well as scrubs, retinol, and glycolic acid.
While we're all for a natural solution, make sure you look at the natural preservatives in natural products as certain ingredients—like radish root, for example—can be very irritating to some.
Weir explains, "Rosacea does not respond well to acne-fighting actives like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide and using the more conventional stripping ingredients found in OTC acne products can be disastrous for a barrier that is already highly inflamed and impaired." Sometimes, it's a matter of do-no-harm, which means that relying on simple and non-irritating ingredients.
Choose Products With Anti-Inflammatories
Because the skin barrier is compromised when it comes to rosacea, it can be even easier to irritate. The best course of action is to strengthen and calm this skin barrier as much as possible, which Weir says should be the priority when it comes to rosacea.
This is why you tend to see certain ingredients in sensitive-skincare products. We're talking: lavender, oatmeal, chamomile, and licorice. These ingredients are known to have calming properties, according to Sprester.
Try Cosmeceutical Skincare
Sprester suggests using cosmeceutical-grade products for sensitive to hypersensitive skin, as they will have certain irritants removed. "Omega fatty acids are great at restoring the skin, and hyaluronic acid in combination with calming botanicals," she says. "You can take these things as supplements and find them in products which is a powerful way to get results with your skin."
What Is Cosmeceutical Skincare?
Cosmeceutical skincare is a product intended to have both a cosmetic and therapeutic medical effect. It usually consists of topical products, such as lotions or creams, with active ingredients like vitamins, antioxidants, and botanical extracts that work to improve and enhance skin.
Make a DIY Face Mask
DIY face masks are easier to make than ever. First, there's aloe vera, which works wonders for redness—it contains skin-enhancing vitamins C and E and amino acids for a soothing effect. And although aloe vera works perfectly well by itself, combining other calming products (like cucumbers) helps to create the perfect natural mask to combat irritation.
"Applying pure aloe vera gel, a green tea compress, or a colloidal oatmeal mask will temporarily relieve the skin, reducing redness and inflammation," says Ellen. Plus, there's a good chance you've got most of those ingredients in your house already.
Keep calm and don't stress. Our experts tell us that stress affects skin and plays a big role in triggering inflammation. They suggest developing a daily meditation routine—even two minutes will do—to lower stress both in your mind and body.
Meditating in the morning is a calm way to start your day, and it's rather simple to incorporate into your routine. Even if meditation doesn't tend to cure rosacea, taking a couple of minutes to let your mind clear and focus on breathing deeply before starting your day happens to be quite helpful overall.
Ed. note: Consult a dermatologist first before trying a new remedy, so you can determine what the best step is for you.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Rosacea: who gets and causes.
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Fox LT, du Plessis J, Gerber M, van Zyl S, Boneschans B, Hamman JH. In vivo skin hydration and anti-erythema effects of aloe vera, aloe ferox and aloe marlothii gel materials after single and multiple applications. Pharmacogn Mag. 2014;10(Suppl 2):S392-S403. doi:10.4103/0973-1296.133291