It’s estimated that 16 million Americans suffer from rosacea, and that number is on the rise as more and more people are starting to recognize the signs and symptoms. The only issue is many of the symptoms of rosacea can be easily mistaken for other skin conditions. We tracked down celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau and asked her to sort out some of the finer details for us.
Keep reading to hear more about the triggers and treatments for rosacea.
We all experience flushed cheeks from time to time. “Most people get redness in their skin when they are overheated, irritated, or if they consume too much alcohol,” Rouleau says. “In these circumstances, those with sensitive skin may get more red or experience redness more quickly and intensely.” But getting a little rosy after too many cocktails is simply redness, not rosacea.
“Rosacea is triggered by episodes of blushing and flushing caused from over-circulation of the blood,” Rouleau says. It’s persistent redness that occurs even outside of redness-inducing situations. “It presents as sensitive, red, or inflamed skin that shows telangiectasia (small visible blood vessels) near the skin’s surface, which can become pustular, often causing it to be mistaken for adult acne.” But if you end up treating what is really rosacea as if it were acne, your skin won’t react well. Rouleau recommends seeking a dermatologist or professional esthetician to determine if your symptoms are actually rosacea. She also notes that the condition can be genetic, so family history is often a strong indicator.
Rouleau says eating spicy foods, drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages, and smoking cigarettes can all exacerbate rosacea. Spending time outside when it’s hot, sunny, very cold or windy can also trigger it.
“Exfoliation is an important part of any skincare routine, but those with rosacea need to be sure they don’t over-exfoliate,” Rouleau says. “Over-exfoliating can break down the skin’s protective lipid barrier causing it to become inflamed and reactive.” Err on the side of caution and consult a professional to help you determine what type of exfoliation your skin needs.
If you have rosacea, Rouleau says there are a few skincare ingredients you need to avoid: Parsol 1789 (or avobenzone) is a common sunscreen agent that can cause skin sensitivity and inflammation, essential oils (like cinnamon, clove, geranium, and peppermint) can be skin irritants, fragrances (listed as “fragrance” or “perfume” on the ingredients list) cause many negative reactions, and high doses of vitamin C (look for ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid or alpha lipoic acid) can sting and increase sensitivity.
The best way to treat rosacea is to use products with calming ingredients. Rouleau recommends sea whip, chamomile extract, and azulene extract. “Studies show that sea whip, the most soothing ingredient found in the sea, has more anti-inflammatory benefits than over-the-counter hydrocortisone,” Rouleau says. Chamomile has anti-redness and anti-inflammatory benefits, and azulene provides calming and soothing effects. Try adding Boscia’s Cool Blue Calming Mask ($34) into your weekly routine to comfort your skin.
Keep your skincare products cold—try stashing them in the refrigerator. “Greater blood flow can increase heat and sensitivity in the skin,” Rouleau says. “Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing with cool-temperature products will constrict the capillaries in the skin to ease redness and irritation.” And when washing your face, Rouleau says to use cool water. Warmer water will only speed up blood flow, increasing redness.
What other skin conditions are you concerned about? Let us know in the comments and we’ll tackle the topic in an upcoming article!