Rosacea is a common symptom of perimenopause and like many women, Georgina Fuller had a full-on flare-up. We sent her to try the latest clinic treatments and gadgets to soothe her redness. Here's what worked

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

I had felt fairly prepared for all that perimenopause might throw at me, except for one thing – I did not anticipate that in my mid-40s I’d end up with the sort of rosacea I had in my teens.

Since being told by my GP a few years ago that I was perimenopausal, my skin has gone from bad to worse. A few boozy nights or stressful or sunshine-filled days and my skin turns red and blotchy. And, worst of all, I am just as self-conscious about it now as I was when I was a teenager. Back then I mostly managed to keep it at bay with a contraceptive pill called Dianette, which also targets acne.

But, three decades on, I'm pulling out the big guns and trying four of the newest rosacea-busting treatments: the latest 'salmon sperm' injectable, a celebrity-favourite laser, an at-home LED mask and a soothing facial.

There can be many triggers for rosacea, which usually manifests as flushed cheeks, broken capillaries or small bumps or pustules. Nice, hey? Apparently, women with fair skin are more likely to suffer from it and, according to NHS figures, it affects up to 10 per cent of us. It is, I discovered, very common in perimenopause.

Why can rosacea get worse during the perimenopause?

Georgina's skin before

“In perimenopause, we typically see changes in both the blood vessels supplying the skin, which causes the flushing and thread veins, as well as inflammation in the skin itself, which causes residual redness and irritation,” says Dr Lubna Khan-Salim, a dermatologist and founder of skin and health clinic Time To Bloom.

This is usually caused by the decrease in oestrogen, which helps keep skin hydrated, and progesterone, which helps to regulate the production of sebum in the skin.

“The decrease in these hormones has an impact on the skin and can have a knock-on effect on rosacea,” she says. “The skin can become dry and irritated, which can trigger more severe rosacea symptoms. Hot flushes can also cause the skin to flush and feel warm which, combined with sweat, may also aggravate a rosacea flare-up.”

How annoying! So can I nix my perimenopausal rosacea once and for all?

Kim Kardashian’s favourite laser: BBL (broad band light therapy) treatment

BBL (broad band light therapy) is a gentle laser loved by celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and it's safe - and even beneficial - for treating rosacea. It gently heats the skin to stimulate collagen production and treat hyperpigmentation, as well as redness from rosacea and acne. It’s not technically a laser treatment but sometimes gets lumped into that category as it uses light energy.

Before, during and one week after the BBL rosacea treatment

I had my treatment at  London’s Skin Science clinic.  The therapist first puts a cooling gel on, no numbing cream needed. The treatment feels like little electric shot jolts on my face and is quite hot in parts but I soon get used to it. It takes 30 minutes and ends with an oxygen spray to cool down my face. There’s no downtime - after applying a bit of makeup, I’m good to go.

In the following weeks, my skin feels smoother and softer, and a few people comment on how well I look. I am really pleased with the results and my newfound glow. It’s given my skin a real boost but I’m not sure one treatment has made that much difference to my rosacea specifically – the therapist did say I’d need two more sessions (at £520 a pop) to really see the benefits, so I'd love to go back for more. 

The at-home choice: the LED light mask

LED Light therapy is another celebrity favourite reportedly loved by the likes of actresses Emma Stone, Julia Roberts and designer Victoria Beckham. LED masks are supposed to help reduce the redness and inflammation that come with rosacea and to even out the complexion. I like the fact you can use them at home.

The Bondibody mask, with four light colour modes

I try the Bondibody mask, £249, which has four light colour modes and is really easy to use thanks to the adjustable straps on the side. You are supposed to wear it for 20 minutes daily and It is approved by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration - they also oversee medical devices)

I opt for ten minutes of the blue light setting, as this can help reduce bacteria, and then 10 minutes of the yellow setting which promises to calm inflammation, soothe facial redness and improve skin texture. It also has a red light to help with collagen production, healing and skin hydration, and purple light, which is red and blue combined.

I struggle to find the time to use it daily but I manage two to three times per day over the following weeks, sometimes broken into ten minutes in the morning and ten in the evening, and that consistency seems to be paying off. I’m really impressed with the results – my skin looks much calmer and brighter.

The new 'salmon sperm' injections on the block: polynucleotides treatment

Polynucleotides treatment is the new kid on the block in the injectables market – you may have seen the headlines asking whether you’d have salmon sperm injected into your face. They are made from purified DNA fragments from said fish and encourage collagen and elastin production, two essential proteins within the skin that decrease with age. They help repair skin cells by boosting fibroblast cells, promoting tissue regeneration and restoring skin tone and calming inflammation, such as rosacea.

I try it at the Oxford branch of the Therapie Clinic chain. My therapist applies a layer of lidocaine numbing gel, and cleans my cheeks with antibacterial alcohol wipes, which really bring out my rosacea and make it feel quite sore.

Some clinics use a cannula, some use multiple injections, often depending on the type of polynucleotides they are injecting (each has its protocol). I have the latter. The therapist starts by injecting my under-eye area, which I find painful. When she moves down to the top of my cheeks, I wince and we only manage to do a few before she asks if I’d like to stop.

Afterwards, there are tiny pinpricks on my face and I feel pretty self-conscious but it goes down the same day, and in the following few days my skin feels smoother. A course of two-to-three treatments is recommended but I think that’s the first and last time I will be trying injectables. I’m a bit squeamish so it wasn’t the right treatment for me but if you can bear needles, it is worth investigating. At £275, the price is comparable with Botox.

The non-invasive option: the rose therapy facial for rosacea

As much as I love the idea of a facial, I usually avoid them like the plague as they almost always trigger a rosacea outbreak. I am assured, however, that the Skin-Zen Rose Face Therapy, £135 for 60 minutes, at the sumptuous Matfen Hall spa in Northumberland has a soothing, anti-stress action for rosacea.

This facial uses 'rose therapy' – the calming extracts of various wild roses, to leave skin soothed, hydrated and nourished. All are thought to be a natural anti-inflammatory and thus ideal for rosacea and each product contains a rose extract. The facial included a massage to improve circulation, a calming mask to help balance sebum levels and a moisturising layer to help hydration.

After a blissful hour, my skin looks soft and glowing afterwards and the next day, even after a late wine-fuelled night, it feels smooth and dewy to the touch. It’s a win.

6 weeks later: which treatment worked best for rosacea?

Six weeks on from trying the four treatments, I still have a touch of rosacea on my cheeks, which, in the best possible light, looks more like a rosy glow than a cluster of red veins. The treatment that was most promising and comfortable was the BBL. I haven’t had any major rosacea breakouts since the BBL and my skin looks fresher and more even. Apart from a few hormonal spots on the forehead, it's altogether better.

I’ve concluded that rosacea is one of those perimenopause symptoms I will have to live with but at least I’ve found a few effective ways of managing it in the meantime.