Monday, February 25, 2013

In the Red

I've been battling rosacea for years, but more so in the last few weeks. Where the rosacea starts and the allergies end, I'm not entirely sure. Winter is hard on my skin because it's so drying. Lotion is hard on my skin because it's so greasy. If my cheeks aren't flaking from dry skin, they are covered in (fortunately) colourless (unfortunately) papules. And on those odd days when I have both things under relative control? Throw me in sunlight, give me a glass of red wine, or feed be anything tomato based and I will flush in seconds.

I've tried the prescriptions. I've tried the green tinted cosmetics. I've tried the dietary restrictions. If they work on one symptom, they exacerbate another. What I've found most successful is to keep the products relatively simple.

1. Cetaphil cleanser (or whatever generic brand equivalent)*
Washing my face twice a day for as little as 3 days brings all three down major symptoms into somewhat control. Whenever I recommend this to someone, their response is always: "I tried it, but my face didn't feel clean." While "tight" has become synonymous with clean for those of us raised on Ivory, the little more tender, Dove, or even worse, the salicylic acid or benzyl peroxide of medicated cleansers, Cetaphil seems to be significantly less harmful at least to my face. I've paid top dollar for the Clinique Redness Solutions Line cleanser, and while I love the tingle of their composition, I find it leaves my skin slightly greasier than moisterized as the Cetaphil feels.

2. Cetaphil moisterizer (body or face)*
I accidentally grabbed the body lotion instead of the facial lotion the last time I bought this -- cheaper and yet still seems to work the same. I am allergic and/or have rosacea triggered by scents, dyes and sunscreens, so this utilitarian lotion gets my vote of approval.

3. Clinique Redness Solution Primer*
Does the green tint work on anything? Who knows. I've learned I'm less self-conscious with my flushing when I don't look in the mirror (since it tends to be episodic, rather than continuous). That being said, I find this primer works better than the Sephora primer I had before it. While I've read that anti-chafing cream is a much cheaper option for primer, I love Clinique's mostly because of the SPF 15. For a girl who can't use most sunscreen (I'm allergic to one of the major chemicals. Not sure which one), I love the old school use of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to give me some protection from the sun without leaving me in a dense covering of hives. It also seems to help with the sunlight-induced redness episodes (and no, I'm not talking sunburns, only flushing)

For foundation? I haven't found one really better than another, mostly because I simply use them for tint, blending two of them (with ratio depending on season -- a little darker in summer, a little lighter in winter) with equal parts of moisturizer and primer (as per the above anti-chafing link).

Using these three products has helped reduce the papules, the dry skin patches, and the incidence of flushing. That being said, the best thing I can do is wash my face regularly, wrap my face in a scarf whenever I go outside, and avoid red wine... in public... ok... in public in broad daylight (maybe that's just a good rule for life). The days where 2/3-3/4 of my face have turned purple in a second and lasted for hours are fewer and further between.

I am no pro at managing rosacea, and definitely not one to say anything about managing normal skin (oh, to be a pro at that!), but these are simply tips that are beginning to work for me. Take these and try them... or let me know what works for you!

*I am not being offered any compensation for this post, either in the way of money or product (though I'll willingly take either!). I'm just paying it forward for all those blog posts I've scoured over looking for a solution to my redness issues!


  1. you should figure out your ayurvedic skin type. I did and it made so much sense. It tell you kinda your triggers.

  2. Man that has got to be so frustrating! I will say that Cetaphil is great for eczema too. Miss M has it so bad and Cetaphil and Aveeno have been the best for toning down the redness and itching. Heather

  3. That sounds annoying. I'm glad you've found some products that work. I had horrible acne as a kid (still do, but I'm better able to treat it and cover it up). I feel less self-conscious when I avoid mirrors on bad days too.

  4. Yipes! I have pretty sensitive skin (not rosacea though), I've gone through nearly every product and package, from makeup to natural to chemical. I've been using the Simple brand (newish to the US) and like it fairly well. It's dye free, scent free, etc. It's not as heavy as I need for winter skin, but it does work perfectly 3/4 seasons of the year.

    Also re: tightness - It took a long time to learn that the grease on my skin went away if I actually moisturized. I have combination skin which is super greasy, but peels like mad if I don't do anything to it. I spent years trying to strip my skin with 'potions', but didn't realize it was 'lotions' that would help.

    I'm glad you're finding stuff that helps. I've had to realize as an adult, my acne is never going away, but keeping it managed is better than nothing.

  5. I agree with Megan - I like the Simple brand and also I have found Yes to Tomatoes and Yes to Cucumbers works pretty well for me. I'll never be free of my acne, but I'm finding better ways to cope!


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