According to the NHS, rosacea affects around 10% of the UK population, with the fair skinned among us prone to it particularly, and in a cruel dermatological blow, more women than men suffer. For a relatively under the radar skin condition with no known cure, a frankly shocking 43% of women are thought to suffer from rosacea, along with 26% of men, and these are just the people that report it. As the Experience My Rosacea campaign by Galderma UK proved, many people affected by rosacea are suffering in silence, while the general public have very little awareness of the condition, unlike other skin issues such as acne.
While rosacea is a long-term skin condition, it can flare-up or go ‘dormant’ for all sorts of reasons , but it differs from your occasional post-gym flush, as Clinique founding dermatologist Dr David Orentreich explains:
“Generally there are two types of redness: chronic persistent redness (rosacea), and temporary, reactive redness. Frequent flushing that gets progressively worse with age is an early sign of chronic persistent redness. There also may be areas where little red bumps develop—eventually these go away, leaving an overall base of redness.”
So things in general are looking pretty red hot from a skin point of view, and not in a good way. The first step in tackling rosacea is a trip to the GP, and preferably a dermatologist, to assess your skin and possible courses of treatment, as Aesthetic Doctor Dr Maryam Zamani highlights:
“Seek advice from a dermatologist. Various topical creams and gels can be used to treat redness and symptomatic flushing can also be treated with oral medications such as clonidine. For those suffering from outbreaks, oral antibiotics or even Roaccutane can be an option.”
That being said, there are steps you can take at home to soothe rosacea outbreaks and take down redness. Also, if it makes you makes you feel any better, wonderful women such as Amy Schumer, Cameron Diaz, Renée Zellweger and Mariah Carey are all sufferers. They’ve got your back, and so have we.
Put the fire out
Before you go in with a heavy camouflage, soothe skin from the outset to create a smoother, more uniform base for makeup. Dr Anthony Bewley , Consultant Dermatologist at Whipps Cross and Barts Hospitals, London, recommends taking five with a redness reducing treatment to help both skin and mind cool off (incidentally, stress is thought to trigger 79% of flare-ups, which has more of the touch of the ‘vicious circle’ about it).
“Try a gentle treatment such Eau Thermale Avène Antirougeurs Calm Redness Relief Soothing Repair Mask , £15, for instant relief. This mask helps to ease skin discomfort and sensations of heat, improve microcirculation and reduce the appearance of redness. Natural ruscus aculeatus extract helps to accelerate blood flow and constrict facial capillaries, preventing the formation of unwanted broken veins, acting as an anti-inflammatory to delay flare-ups of redness.”
“This, combined with 54% Avène Thermal Spring Water, helps to soothe the skin and reduce irritation, whilst sucralfate works to help to heal and glycol to hydrate, decreasing the skin’s reactivity and leaving it feeling soft and supple – targeting rosacea symptoms from different angles.”
When looking for topical relief, avoid products with high levels of alcohol, fragrance or natural extracts such as lavender (definitely NOT calming in this context), witch hazel, menthol, citrus and clove, to name but a few potential irritants. It’s also key to give SLS and lanolin a wide berth. You want nourishing treatments that will help to support and strengthen the skin barrier , and there is some research to indicate that topical probiotics can help to ‘rebalance’ the bacteria on the surface of the skin that can trigger rosacea (demodex folliculorum), so you may find that prepping skin with a probiotic-rich mask, serum or moisturiser will help matters. Elizabeth Arden Superstart Skin Renewal Booster , £45, contains lactobacillus and kerifan (derived from kefir ) to promote ‘good bacteria’ and calm inflammation.
When you’ve got a day to nail but have woken up to a red alert situation, you need an SOS kit that makes skin look and feel better immediately. Neostrata Redness Neutralizing Serum , £28.50, is supported by clinical studies indicate that the cooling antioxidant and algae rich formula reduces redness by 67% in two hours, and up to 92% when used morning and night for two weeks.
Another algae based tincture to try is Bobbi Brown Remedies No.80 Skin Relief , £30, which feels light and fresh on the skin, without being tingly, and noticeably evens out skintone.
Once skin itself is pacified, you can go in with the corrective base. A green hued primer will help to counteract redness and keep makeup in place, and a multipurpose product with UV protection will keep things simple and streamlined, reducing the likelihood or further irritation and providing much needed sun protection (sun exposure is the biggest rosacea trigger out there). Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF 15 , £21 is a good fragrance-free, everyday option for the colder months and 'indoor days', with mineral sunscreens rather than chemical, as chemical formulas can cause further ‘burny’ symptoms for rosacea sufferers. The creamy green base glides on nicely and smooths out both skin texture and tone, making way for the big guns of the stuff that’s really going to put rosacea back in its box...
Sheer ‘no makeup makeup’ is all very well when you’re skin is chilled and cooperative, but for many rosacea sufferers army style camouflage feels like to only option for facing the world. Find the right foundation, however, and you can strike a balance between concealing and enhancing. Yellow toned shades will help to combat flushing, and it’s worth finding a dermatologically lead formula that contains active ingredients to alleviate symptoms as you wear it.
Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation , £45, was developed with post-procedure patients in mind, in order to both improve the skin’s appearance and speed along the healing process. With soothing aloe vera, antioxidant vitamin E and moisture binding sodium PCA, it provides impressive coverage while creating a healthy skin cell environment.
Another option to consider is Vichy Dermablend 3D Correction Foundation , £17.25, which was formulated with rosacea, acne and vitiligo in mind. Eperulin and salicylic acid cool on contact and reduce inflammation, while a gel based pigment system blurs both blooming redness and any bumps on the skin’s surface, reducing the need for caked on application. Speaking of application, makeup artist Lee Pycroft has a few pointers:
“Avoid too much rubbing when you apply your base, and try to to use rich, heavy formulas, as these can aggravate the dry patches so often associated with rosacea. Layer on light, mineral coverage and very lightly brush on or press in foundation to create both a flattering finish and reduce the risk of further irritation.”
Tool wise, clean fingers are fine, or seek out the softest brush you can find. Zoeva Silk Finish Brush , £13, is vegan and synthetic, reducing your chances of further reactions (natural brush hair can be problematic for sensitive skin) while buffing in base very convincingly.
Adding colour can be daunting when rosacea is acting up, so go on a case by case basis- if you’re already looking flushed, don’t feel the need to break out the blusher. If you do want to add some warmth, opt for brown or yellow based bronzer or blusher and keep application sparing. Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Stick , £35, creates a soft, believable wash of colour that’s also ideal for dry skin, while the & Other Stories blusher range , from £10, is both affordable to adaptable in terms of shade range and undertones (i.e, bubblegum and fuchsia aren’t your only options, thank God, but look in store if you can for a wider selection).
A natural lip colour can also be quite the confidence booster. Avoid red based hues for obvious reasons, and choose a plumping, perfecting, moisturising neutral. The bareminerals Gen Nude™ collection has a shade and formula for every skintone and preference, allowing you to brighten up your colouring or balance out excess redness. If you’ve ever struggled finding a ‘nude’ lip that doesn’t make you look like the undead, this is the range for you, and the Radiant Lipstick, £18, is particularly peppy.
For further support, advice and tips for coping with rosacea, both from a superficial and mental health point of view, check out the charity Changing Faces , which offers a free skin camouflage service in addition to information, practical resources and self-help guides.
Need more help to cover up rosacea? Charlotte Tilbury at your service…
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