A whopping 415 million people in the world have rosacea. That’s a pretty large pie of the population that deals with one of the most confusing and frustrating skin conditions e-v-e-r. It’s hard to treat correctly, because well, it’s hard to tell if you even have rosacea in the first place.
“A lot of people don’t know what’s making their skin inflamed, so they could be doing the wrong thing in their skin-care regimens, which inflames the rosacea even more,” says Sonya Dakar, celebrity facialist. It’s hard to pinpoint rosacea because, first of all, many different things can bring it on and cause a flare up. “Rosacea comes from several things: Genetics is number one,” she says. “Number two is lifestyle, and the third is the wrong ingredients coming into contact with the skin.” It can also be triggered by certain foods or even stress, adds Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York. “Rosacea is a sensitive skin condition, and most notably it can be flared by a small shift in skin pH,” she says.
Whether the rosacea is showing up in the form of pimples, redness, dryness, blotchiness, irritation, or stinging inflammation in general, treating it is all about using TLC and not going into combat with your harshest skin-care products. “Rosacea is inflamed skin, so you need to be anti-inflammatory with your regimen, and really protect, balance, and nourish the skin,” says Dakar, who formulated her macadamia and evening primrose-rich Blue Butterfly Balm ($85) specifically for her clients with rosacea. So while you’re using the most gentle regimen—Dr. Nazarian recommends using only sensitive skin-friendly, fragrance-free products—and trying your best to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet, avoid the most common mistakes that Dakar and Dr. Nazarian see people make when dealing with rosacea woes. You’ll find them below.
Heat and rosacea do not mix. “Avoid super-hot showers, and don’t go into a steam or sauna, because it makes broken capillaries in the skin expand,” says Dakar. Even heat in your diet can trigger a rosacea flare-up, which is why Dakar says to avoid spicy food, which stimulates blood flow, “sending heat to your skin and your face.” So, literally remain calm, cool, and collected for the sake of a happy complexion.
Drinking caffeine and/or alcohol
Caffeine, like spicy food, also stimulates your blood flow, which can lead to irritation and redness of your skin, according to Dakar. “You can have one cup, but watch your intake,” she says. “Alcohol does a similar thing, which can make your face red and puffy.”
Washing with harsh cleansers
“Using a cleanser that is too harsh or even using a product that is too drying may cause a flare in rosacea and increase inflammation,” says Dr. Nazarian. Dakar recommends skipping foaming cleansers or those with sulfates, and instead opt for a milk-based cleanser “that’s packed with good ingredients to calm the skin.” One star ingredient? Oat, which is known as a trusty skin-soother. “Oil-based cleansers are also wonderful for someone that tends to be more dry,” says Dakar. “Look for fatty acids that help nourish the skin.”
Over-exfoliating the complexion
Just because you have rosacea doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid exfoliating, though (phew!). “Everybody needs to exfoliate their skin,” says Dakar. Avoid intense acids (like glycolic or BHAs) or any rough scrubs (Dr. Nazarian seconds the notion that you should avoid physical face scrubs). “I’d advise to use something that’s acid free—just lightly chemically exfoliate, but make sure the exfoliant is hydrating your skin at the same time,” she says, noting to look for an exfoliant with hyaluronic acid in it. “You could also use a warm towel to very gently exfoliate your skin.”
Not using enough sun protection
Yes, I’m going to say it—SPF is important no matter what skin condition you’re dealing with… rosacea included. But Dakar stresses the importance of proper sun protection 365 days a year, seven days a week. And not just a good SPF. “Wear a hat and long sleeves if you’re going to be out in the sun,” she says.
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