The National Rosacea Society (NRS) has designated April as Rosacea Awareness Month to educate the public about the chronic disorder estimated to affect 16 million Americans. According to the NRS, rosacea is, “a chronic and potentially life-disrupting disorder primarily of the facial skin, often characterized by flare-ups and remissions.”
My experience with rosacea has included the redness, swelling, and bumps. I can relate completely to the “flare-ups and remissions” part of the condition – sometimes my face looks great and sometimes I want to walk around with a bag on my head. It’s quite annoying, actually – like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.
Wait – I take that back. Sometimes you do know what you’re gonna get. There are certain things – “triggers” – that can cause rosacea flare-ups. Some of my most common triggers are:
- Chocolate: call me crazy but not even a tomatoface will cause me to give up chocolate.
- Red wine, vodka or champagne: see above comment about chocolate.
- Stress/Anxiety: it stresses me out thinking about how to reduce my stress.
- Heat, humidity, cold, wind: please tell me where in the world it will remain a constant, non-humid 70 degrees 365 days a year. Now help me figure out how I can move there.
- Exercise – if I give up on the exercise I will also have to give up on the chocolate and alchohol – I commit the crime, I do the time.
Of course those aren’t the only things that trigger rosacea flareups – almost everything is a trigger! OK, not really, but you can read more about rosacea triggers at the NRS website.
While there is currently no cure for rosacea, there are some dermatologist-prescribed options that can help – creams like Metro Gel and Finacea or antibiotics like tetracycline, doxycycline, or amoxicillin. In my experience, the creams never really did anything spectacular to improve my complexion and while the antibiotics did a fantastic job, I didn’t want to take them long-term. I also seriously considered Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments, but I just couldn’t get past the price tag (about $1500 for the recommended 6 treatments).
So of course, being the beauty product whore I am, I turned to a non-medical course of action. Over the years, I found several products and techniques that have helped control or reduce the appearance of redness and the bumpy texture of my skin:
Bare Minerals Makeup – When I first saw Bare Escentuals advertisements on TV, I figured I was falling for yet another gimmick. This makeup was actually supposed to help my skin look better, really? Give me a break. That was 10 years ago, and do you know what? Bare Minerals actually makes my skin look better, not only when I’m wearing it, but even when I’m not. It’s non-irritating, has SPF, and actually feels like it’s protecting my skin. I think it played a huge factor in keeping my rosacea under control by keeping my skin non-irritated. Sure, I’ll occasionally shop around for other foundations and makeup, but Bare Minerals will always be my go-to brand.
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser – this cleanser is supposed to help visibly reduce the appearance of redness and calm dry, irritated or sensitive skin while gently cleansing. I used this cleanser for a long time and it did a very nice job cleansing without drying out or irritating my skin.
Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleanser – according to Aveeno, this cleanser has moisture-rich soy extracts and “this soap-free cleanser lifts away dirt, oil and makeup without over-drying for naturally radiant skin”. This is the cleanser I’m currently using (initially because the Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser was out of stock last time I needed some), and I really like it. I’m not sure if it’s a combination of this cleanser and other things I’m doing, but my skin has been looking fantastic lately.
B. Kamins Chemist Rosacea Products– The price tag is not for the faint-of-heart, but these products kick some serious rosacea ass. I came across B. Kamins years ago at Sephora when I first saw their Rosacea Starter Kit. This is the first line of products I used that really made a noticeable difference in the appearance of my skin – dramatically reducing redness and making my skin silky smooth. I found the Soothing Day Cream SPF15 a little too greasy for everyday use, so I ended up using the regular Day Cream SPF15 for everyday moisturizing. Also worth checking out is the Revitalizing Booster Concentrate – this stuff could actually be a miracle in a bottle for reddened, sensitive skin.
Exuviance Essential Daily Defense Cream SPF15 – this product is advertised as, “An anti-aging day cream with Glycolic Acid and Gluconolactone to brighten skin tone, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and refine skin texture”. This has been a relatively new addition to my normal skincare routine, but so far I’m fairly impressed. While I haven’t been using it long enough to notice any reduction in fine lines or wrinkles, I do think it has contributed to a smoother skin texture. This Exuviance moisturizer is half the price of the B.Kamins moisturizer, and in my opinion, every bit as functionally good.
Wait – “functionally”? What the hell does that mean?
Well, this moisturizer does what it’s supposed to do and it doesn’t irritate my skin. I can’t say it’s every bit as good as the B. Kamins moisturizer because I am very close to not being able to tolerate the smell. The Exuviance moisturizer kind of smells like a synthetic pina colada – a little bit pineappley-coconutty-chemistry lab kind of smell. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need my moisturizer to have a good smell – between body washes, perfume and hair products I think I have the fragrance department covered. Drop the smell and it would be damn near perfect.
Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – I saved this for last because as far as I’m concerned, it’s the ultimate skin care solution. I’ve already written about it here, so I won’t keep beating a dead horse. Wait, yes I will. This stuff is Voodoo Magic. Dilute it 50% in water. Use it as a toner after cleansing your face. Wait 30 minutes. Rinse it off. That’s it. M-A-G-I-C, I tell you.
Seriously, though – although I understand about the slightly acidic pH of the skin, I always thought vinegar was a rosacea trigger, but apparently not. I don’t know why – I want to say I don’t really care why, but I am curious. If you’ve got rosacea, invest the 5 bucks to buy a bottle and give it a whirl for at least a month. If you decide for some reason you don’t like it, at least you can add it to your kitchen pantry to make some great salad dressings or marinades. Where can you find it? Check your local health food store.
If you’re dealing with rosacea, hopefully this has at least given you some ideas for products that will not aggrivate the condition, and at best, maybe improve it a little bit.