Do you have rosacea? That burning redness in your cheeks, little bumps in your skin, sensitivity to extremes of hot and cold and low humidity, even blushing often can be signs. It should be diagnosed by a dermatologist, who may prescribe oral or topical treatments, such as Oracea or Noritate. This first step is essential to managing rosacea. But what comes next, you might ask?
Well, I’ve had it for nearly 20 years, and I can tell you that it can be managed, even managed to the point where people (including your dermatologist) may say, “You don’t look like you have rosacea.” And that’s not through lots of makeup either (I rarely wear anything more than powder foundation), but through your cleansing and moisturizing regimens.
You see, with rosacea, less truly is more. So you don’t want to scrub, rub, or otherwise roughhouse your facila skin. Instead, think pampering, luxury, softness. Think of these qualities as you choose your daily basic ritual items for cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. Disclaimer: all products I’m reviewing here were bought by me.
Your skin is truly sensitive. It will respond better if you cleanse thoroughly at night with the right product. You do need to remove the day’s makeup and oils, but at the same time you do not want to strip your skin of its protective lipids. Sounds a little contradictory, but trust me, if you use the right products, it can be done.
Products I have used and recommend are Cetaphil cleanser, La Roche Posay Toleriane cleanser, and Pevonia Botanica RS2 Gentle Cleanser. I like all 3 equally. Cetaphil has the added advantages that 1) it costs the least (get it at your local big-box store or drugstore in the big pump bottle); 2) it can be used without water if your skin is feeling particularly stressed. Just apply it gently and tissue it off or remove with a moist soft washcloth; 3) it has no scent or added fragrance, and can be used as a body wash. Toleriane has a nice feel, and felt good to my skin while I was traveling in the Arizona desert. Toelriane is carried by many drugstores now. Pevonia is what I’m using at the moment and I like its gentle scent and creamy texture; it goes on more like a misturizer than either the Toleriane or the Cetaphil. It’s the priciest of the 3 but can be found on-line and at spas.
Moisturizing at Night
This is when you’ll want to use a night cream or heavier moisturizer than daytime. Your moisturizer does not need SPF for night time. If you are on a budget, Cetaphil comes to the rescue with its Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion. It has glycerin and shea butter and macadamia nut oils, no fragrance, and a nice light texture, and comes in a tube. I personally do not want to stick my fingers into jars and have taken to buying only moisturizers that cme in tubes. In the hot humid summer climate I inhabit, it’s good enough. For winter time, with its dessicating heat, I find I need a more humectant and heavy-duty moisturizer (and really, moisturizing your skin well is key to keeping it calm). Right now I am using Pevonia Botanica RS2 Care Cream. Yes it is pricey. But think of it this way: you can spend a lot of time and money trying out the drug store products (none of which worked well for me in the winter), or just go straight to what works. You can save money by buying the spa size, which is a 6.8 oz tube, instead of the 1.7 oz jar. My tube is about 2/3 gone and I’ve had it for 10 months. If you are still hesitant (and I don’t blame you), try to get samples first and see how you like it.. Which isn’t a bad idea anyway, when you have rosacea. Another line I like is the shea butter line from L’Occitane. Shea butter is a really great moisturizer (but you knew that already). If you want to try moisturizer from a few lines, look for shea butter in the ingredients. Other key ingredients to look for would be glycerin, other nut butters, and of course water. Now, when I go to the American South West, I take along the heavy artillery of moisturizers: Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Protective Cream. I use it for my night cream (and my hand cream!). I think of it as a complete barrier to the elements out there. You might find it works well for you when applied to your still-damp skin. A product I did not like was Decleor’s Aromessence Rose d’Orient Night Balm. It was stiff rather than spreadable, and had a strong medicinal odor. However, Decleor’s Harmonie Gentle Soothing Cream felt nice but as it doesn’t come in a spa-sized tube, I prefer Pevonia.
Chances are you do not another deep cleansing if all your face had on last night was night cream. It was absorbed, and so you can take a cotton ball (I like genuine cotton balls by Swisspers) and a toner for sensitive skin and gently cleanse. Really. Toners I like are Pevonia Botanica RS2 Gentle Lotion (do not spray on your face- spray on the cotton ball!) and Clinique’s Mild Clarifying Lotion. I haven’t found a drugstore brand toner that’s gentle enough for me. I did try Dermalogica’s Multi-Active Toner, which is recommended for sensitive and roseatic skin, but found it too harsh. YMMV, as always. Try before you buy.
Your daytime moisturizer MUST contain sunblock. No excuses, no exceptions. For real sunscreen activity, I choose to use moisturizing sunblocks over moisturizers with SPF 15. In my case, SPF 15 isn’t high enough. A lot of rosacea suffers are counseled to use physical sunblocks with titanium oxide in them. I actually find those drying to my skin for the most part. I have found sunblocks that mix chemical with physical sunscreen agents that do both jobs quite well. Person and Covey DML SPF 25 is wonderfully moist, won’t leave you looking like a mime, and not expensive. You might not find it in your drugstore, but it’s available on-line from various places. Need more protection than SPF 25? Elizabeth Arden just came out with Eight Hour Cream SPF 50. I’m using it now. It goes on slightly white but fades very quickly. My skin feels soft all day. Now, both of these products give me a bit of a shiny look. Most of the time I don’t mind but if I want to tone the shine down, I use a bit of powder foundation. Please use sunblock every day if you have rosacea! I cannot emphasize it enough. In fact, if you are on Oracea or other oral tetracycline and don’t use sunblock, you may develop permanent dark patches of the skin (melasma). One product I did not care for was Decleor’s AromaSun Protective Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 30. It was so runny it ran out of the tube; the white did not fade quickly; it just did not feel good on my skin. It’s expensive too.
What about Anti-Aging Regimens? Facials? Masks? Exfoliating?
Anti-aging regimens: I’ll admit, I’m “d’une age certaine,” as the French say. I use anti-aging products where my rosacea is not: on my forehead, around my eyes, around my lips and labial folds, on my neck. Daytimes I use Alpha Hydrox Body Lotion (yes, body lotion), which is 7% AHA. Nights I use my prescription Renova. Do not use retinoids or AHAs where you have active rosacea. Even over-the-counter retinoids may be too irritating. I make it a practice to avoid AHAs and retinoids in products I use all over my face, instead applying these in spots. Read ingredients before testing or buying, always.
As for facials- don’t. They are not good for roseatic skin. Splurge on a massage for your feet instead.
As for masks, I used to love a weekly mask, back when I had oily skin. Now my mask is this: I smear my night time cleanser on and leave it for a few minutes as I prepare my shower or bath, them remove it as I bathe. Remember, less is more with rosacea, and a moisturizing mask really doesn’t do any more than your good night cream does in terms of moisturizing.
Exfoliating happens without special products. Look at your cotton ball in the morning after you swipe your face; you’ll see the exfoliated cells on it. And that reminds me to tell you: do not rub your face dry with your towel, but pat it dry instead.
Dealing with rosacea boils down to a few steps: try before you buy; get a gentle cleanser, gentle toner, night cream, and moisturizing sunblock. Add anti-aging products if desired and use on spots. With a proper skin care regimen and proper treatment, soon your skin can have a lovely peaches-and-cream appearance.