5 Simple Skincare Cheats To Improve Your Rosacea

Red faceYou’re red, you’re bumpy and you’re fed-up. Especially now we’re in the throes of winter. You get off the overheated tube into the stinging, cold wind and then back into a centrally-heated office. Your face is tingling and you know without even looking that your cheeks and nose rival those of Santa.


You’ve tried lots of anti-redness creams but they sting and burn when you put them on, they don’t seem to do much ….and as for green colour-corrective make-up…forget it.


How to get your complexion more compliant? Prescription products are a big part of the story; but I think that the bit that doctors often don’t spend enough time on is the support system. Here are some ways to calm troubled waters with good skincare choices.


  • Cleanse with care.

82% of rosacea sufferers complain of sensitivity to skincare products. This is due to a defect in skin barrier function, a part of the disease often forgotten but practically, this is a huge issue for women. “Everything burns” patients frequently say, when it comes to skincare.

So do use gentle non-foaming cleansers containing synthetic detergents, which are labelled fragrance-free (as opposed to unscented). Pat skin dry – don’t rub.


  • Ditch counter-productive habits.

This means physical exfoliation is to be avoided. Like, totally avoided. I even recommend skipping using a face cloth. Also skip products with questionable benefit that frequently do harm, like astringent toners – avoid anything with alcohol or witch hazel in it. The one exception to the exfoliation rule is the use of salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid, which is useful in those with oily skin and also prone to acne blemishes and comedones, as its anti-inflammatory.


  • Moisturise but don’t antagonize.

The right moisturiser will improve skin texture (so often those with rosacea have skin that’s rough to the touch) and boost skin tolerance. I think that moisurising flexibly is a good idea – I talk to patients about good days’ (lighter) and bad days’ ( a little more oomph) moisturiser. Skin is a dynamic organ and it will be oilier in the week before your period and at certain times of year – we should adapt to our environment accordingly. Water-based moisturisers work best and f you’re also prone to acne blemishes (common conditions commonly overlap) stick to non-comedogenic products, from brands like Cetaphil and Avene.


  • Don’t skip on UV protection

Physical sunscreen tends to be better tolerated and less irritating than chemical sunscreens; applying moisturiser beforehand facilitates smooth application without annoying pilling, where little white bits come off…and allow time for it to dry before putting on make-up. I think that it is very much worth investing a little more in this product to find one that’s cosmetically elegant to ensure you apply it properly. Not only is sunlight the commonest rosacea trigger, rosacea plus sunlight is a potent way to degrade your dermis and age prematurely. Brrrrr.


  • Avoid heavy cosmetics that require a Brillo pad to remove.


Keep base light and low risk for irritation (Bioderma and La Roche Posay both do great sensitive skin-friendly products) and use a more high coverage product just where its needed; for this Vichy Dermablend Liquid Foundation works well. Apply with a damp Beauty Blender to gentle build coverage just where its needed.


If there any specific questions relating to rosacea I’ve not answered (it’s a big topic, and one of the most searched for on my blog) drop me a line below.

    • Veronica Kaneti
    • January 12th, 2015

    What about Perioral Dermatitis? Do the same rules apply? Any recommended over the counter treatments? The itching is so bad, particularly at night, it’s driving me crazy!

    • First, make sure it is perioral dermatitis. Then do a full product detox. Make it cleanser, moisturiser and a bit of make-up (all non-comedogenic) for 6 weeks. Often that sorts it out. Seeing a derm can speed up the process as prescription agents can be used.

    • Raquel Santos
    • February 25th, 2015

    Hello! Can you give an example of a good toner with salicylic acid? I’m trying to find a gentle exfoliating toner that won’t do any harm to my sensitive skin. I double cleanse at night using a soft cloth with coconut oil and alpha h balancing cleanser since I wear make up everyday (la roche posay toleriane and vichy dermablend concealing stick). I don’t exfoliate, ever! I was thinking about first aid radiance beauty pads but they have lactic and glycolic acids…
    I’m 30 and my derm prescribed me antibiotics for my rosacea a year ago for 2 months and it was brilliant. My skin cleared a lot. Now I don’t have bumps nor super congested skin, only the redness, some extreme flushes with some triggers and I feel my skin is dehydrated as I work all day with air conditioning. I moisturise day and night with la roche posay toleriane ultra fluid and/or bioderma sensibio ar. at night also use A’kin rosehip oil on top of everything.
    Thank you!

    Raquel S.

    • Hi Raquel, I think the best ingredient for you to incorporate is azelaic acid (perhaps mixed with salicylic acid). Both are anti-inflammatory and help with congestion. Epionce Lytic Lotion contains both. I think a leave-on product will be more helpful for the issues you describe.

    • Elaine
    • February 28th, 2015

    Hi Dr Sam

    I’ve just started to experience what I think is rosecea on my cheek -red with small bumps. I’ve also recently started to use toner with glycolic acid in it. Should I stop using those products? Also is there anything you would recommend to prevent the symptoms getting worse? Any help appreciated!!
    Thank you

    • Salicylic acid is a better choice for rosacea-prone skin, as is azelaic acid. And daily use of broad-spectrum (ideally mineral) sunscreen is key to prevention of progression.

  1. Hello Dr. Sam,
    I live in Italy, and here they don’t sell Epionce.. is there another brand for a product containing azelaic acid and salicylic acid you could suggest? I find most french pharmacy brands here.
    (I am 27 and desperate.. I have an important event at the end of the month, I know I can’t do miracles, but already not having an irritated skin with angry red bumps would be a huge achievement for me!)

    Thank you for your time,

    • Hi Jennifer unfortunately they are not that widely available. You might well be better off discussing with your doctor if they will prescribe Finacea or Skinoren on prescription.
      WR Dr Sam

      • Dear Dr. Sam,
        Thank you so much for your reply. I wish I would live in London and could visit you. I managed to receive finacea 15% from my doctor two days ago. I applied it at night after cleansing and before moisturizing(effect at H). Is it ok? In the morning I only cleanse, apply eve lad H and neutrogena sunblock 50 I bought in the USA. Furthermore, next Monday I have an appointment for the first laser fraxel treatment. Will these products be a problem in conjunction with the laser? Kind regards, Jennifer

      • Hi Jennifer, all sounds good! Re laser – it’s best practice that the treating physician advises on that. Good luck!

      • Thank you so much!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: