Skin Care for Rosacea

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Rosacea is a frustrating skin condition that begins subtly, with the intermittent appearance of redness along the cheeks and nose. If left untreated, rosacea almost always worsens. There is much debate about what causes rosacea, but regardless of the cause, if you follow The Paula's Choice Research Team's recommendations, you'll find the best combination of skin-care products and prescription medications to give you the smooth, clear, even-toned skin you want!
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Recommended Products for Rosacea

Step-by-Step Skin-Care Routine for Rosacea

If you have rosacea, adhering to the following steps and products will help you achieve the quality of skin you've always wanted. You'll not only improve the appearance of rosacea, but also reduce wrinkles, blackheads, oily skin, red bumps, and inflammation. Now that's the way to beautiful skin!

A skin-care routine for anyone with rosacea must do the following:

  • Eliminate irritating or sensitizing ingredients
  • Include products that reduce redness and soothe skin
  • Improve cell turnover to remove the buildup of dead skin cells
  • Protect from sun damage without causing irritation
  • Fight wrinkles with products loaded with antioxidants and repairing ingredients
  • Absorb oil if skin is oily
  • Have barrier repair properties to help skin build healthy collagen and have a smoother surface

Here's a step-by-step routine you can follow to get rosacea under control:

  1. Use a gentle, non-drying, water-soluble cleanser. No soaps or bar cleansers!
  2. During the day, apply a sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater whose only active sunscreen ingredients are titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, along with healing ingredients such as antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients.
  3. Using both a foundation with sunscreen and a pressed powder with sunscreen, again only with the sunscreen actives titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, is a great alternative for those with rosacea, especially if you also have oily or combination skin or breakouts.
  4. If you have oily or combination skin, in the evening use a gel or a light serum moisturizer formulated with abundant antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. A serum with retinol is fine; retinol has research showing it helps reduce the inflammatory factors that contribute to rosacea.
  5. If you have normal to dry skin, in the evening use a lotion or cream moisturizer formulated with abundant antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. It is OK if it contains retinol.
  6. Once or twice a day, use a salicylic acid (BHA) exfoliant. BHA not only exfoliates skin, but also reduces redness and eliminates dry, flakey skin. BHA also is a must for anyone with rosacea who also has acne or blackheads!
  7. Check with your physician to see which prescription medication is best to treat your rosacea, such as MetroGel, MetroLotion, Tazorac, Renova, or Azelaic Acid (Azelex or Finacea). Any of these topical medications should be applied as directed on cleansed skin before moisturizing.

Skin-Care Ingredients that Make Rosacea Worse

Skin-care ingredients that make rosacea worse include the following, and, shockingly, they often show up in skin-care products whose labels claim they are specifically for those with rosacea:

  • Fragrant plant extracts such as cinnamon, rosemary, lavender, and rose
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • All essential oils (which are really just more fragrance)
  • Lemon, lime, menthol, peppermint, pine, and cedar
  • Alcohol (listed as SD alcohol or alcohol denatured)
  • Witch hazel

What Products You Should Eliminate

If you have rosacea, it is critical that you eliminate the parts of your normal skin-care routine that increase inflammation, and make skin redder, such as the following:

  • Harsh cleansers such as bar soap, bar cleansers, and cleansing scrubs
  • Drying liquid or lotion cleansers
  • Toners with alcohol and fragrance
  • Abrasive scrubs
  • Rough washcloths or facial brushes such as the Clarisonic
  • At-home facial peels
  • Using too many products at the same time
  • Retinol products are generally considered fine to use.

Wondering if You have Rosacea?

Rosacea is a frustrating skin condition that begins slowly, with the intermittent appearance of redness along the cheeks and nose and a tendency to blush easily. If left untreated, rosacea almost always worsens.

Here are the signs to look for:

  • Red flushing over the cheeks and nose
  • Consistent, though random, and often extreme skin sensitivity
  • Acne-like bumps (but the bumps are not acne) with underlying diffuse redness
  • Flaky skin, sometimes accompanied by oily skin
  • Visible tiny blood vessels that may become more noticeable over time
  • Other concerns, which can still be present: dry skin, wrinkles, sun damage, and skin discolorations

Almost anyone can get rosacea, but those affected most often are lighter skinned women of Northen European descent. Men are less likely to have rosacea, but when they do, they have more noticeable problems, including swollen bumps along the nose called rhinophyma. In every case, the right combination of gentle skin-care products along with topical prescription medications and light-emitting treatments can keep rosacea under control and stop it from becoming worse.

There is much debate about what causes rosacea, but regardless of the cause, if you follow our research-based recommendations, you'll find the best combination of skin-care products and prescription medications to give you the smooth, clear, younger looking skin you want!

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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