When you have rosacea, you have to watch out for certain triggers. Spending too much time in the sun, applying harsh skin-care ingredients, and even eating certain foods can cause flare ups. And according to Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Southern California, you also have to be super careful when using hairspray.
"Hairspray contains many chemical ingredients, and because it is aerosolized, as opposed to a cream or serum, it can land on your face easily where it can cause your skin to react," says Dr. Chi. People with rosacea are so sensitive to hairspray and other ingredients because their skin is so reactive. "When rosacea is triggered, a flare can look like redness and pimples on the cheeks, forehead, and chin, and can come with burning, swelling, and itching."
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, not all people with rosacea are sensitive to hairspray, so it's important to figure out your triggers so you know what to avoid. But if you notice that hairspray flares your rosacea, the good news is you don't have to ditch it completely and accept a life of limp curls and flyaways. Dr. Chi says you have options.
3 ways to prevent hairspray from flaring rosacea
1. Cleanse after styling your hair
"I always recommend cleansing your face after you’re done with your hair styling if you have used aerosol hair products," she says. "That way if any chemicals have landed on your skin, you can remove them before applying sunscreen, makeup, and other skin products."
To prevent getting your hair wet during this process, you can hold it back with gentle, no-crease clips ($7) or a headband ($9), or use a washcloth ($12) to remove hairspray residue so you can remain upright and avoid water dripping onto your hair.
2. Cover your face when applying hairspray
"If you can’t cleanse after using hair spray, then cover your face with a dry washcloth or paper towel before using hair spray," says Dr. Chi.
3. Use a sensitive-skin-friendly hairspray
Options one and two are likely enough, but if you're super sensitive, you can skip hairspray altogether and substitute pomade or gel or use a sensitive-skin-friendly hairspray. Dr. Chi is a big fan of the Vanicream Firm Hold Hairspray ($12). It's a fragrance-free hairspray designed for sensitive skin and scalp that's free of potential irritants.
"When you look at their product line, Vanicream has no parabens, no formaldehyde, no fragrance, and no masking fragrance," says nd they're lanolin-free. We like lanolin because it's very moisturizing, but we have to keep in mind that lanolin comes from sheep's hair, and some people are sensitive and irritated by it."
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