Rosacea is skin condition that’s both incredibly common and incredibly misunderstood – it can afflict all skin tones and ages. Typically, it first presents as flushing of the nose and cheeks. Plus, rosacea can look a lot like acne, which makes it even more difficult to figure out what skin situation you need to treat. If you think you might have rosacea (according to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 14 million people in the U.S. are living with it, so odds are if you suspect you have it, you do), start by trying a skincare regimen tailored to the condition and see if your condition improves.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is much more than persistent flushing. In fact, there are so many variations that the clinical definition of rosacea has four subtypes. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is likely what you think of when you think of rosacea: redness and flushing. Papulopustular rosacea is the type often confused with acne. Skin suffering from phymatous rosacea appears thick and bumpy. And ocular rosacea occurs in the eyes.
But while rosacea is often associated with visible redness (and therefore, with fair-skinned individuals), skin doesn’t need to be obviously flushed for a person to have rosacea. Meaning, skin of color can also suffer from rosacea (although it may be mistaken for something else).
How to treat rosacea
There are a number of causes of rosacea and triggers that will set it off. In general, you want to avoid skincare ingredients that can lead to irritation, like tretinoin, benzol peroxide, fragrance, and glycolic and salicylic acids. Sun exposure is one of the main causes of rosacea flare-ups (even in more melanated skin), so daily SPF 30 is essential.
Regardless of how it begins, left untreated, any rosacea variety will worsen (and you can have more than one type at a time), whether that means spreading to other parts of the body (including the ears, back, and chest) or permanently set up shop and never go away. For that reason, it makes sense to follow a skincare plan, like the one below, that helps keep rosacea in check.
Build Your Rosacea Skincare Routine
You don’t want to strip skin and risk upsetting your complexion even more, but you do need to remove dirt and debris at least once a day. A hyaluronic acid-based cleanser, like Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Meltaway Cleanser, will gently erase makeup and oil while leaving skin’s moisture barrier intact.
Controlled lactic acid:
In general, hydroxy acids are a category to avoid if your goal is keeping rosacea at bay. However, lactic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid) can help strengthen skin’s moisture barrier. A reinforced moisture barrier is better at thwarting external irritants than a compromised one. The catch is that it needs to be a controlled dose of lactic acid — you don’t want the acid to sit on your skin for a long period of time as that will cause moisture barrier disruption. Our Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel has two steps. The first contains lactic acid, while the second, neutralizing, step shuts off the acid in step one to prevent over-exfoliation, while still allowing your skin to receive lactic acid’s moisture barrier-building benefits.
Red light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been shown to reduce inflammation when used regularly. Since flushing goes hand in hand with inflammation, a daily LED session with an at-home device (like Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro) can help keep skin calm.
Even if your rosacea is of the acne-like variety, you need to moisturize your skin every day because hydrated skin is less prone to irritation. Just reach for a gentle, oil-free cream with a high concentration of hyaluronic acid to maintain moisture levels. We like Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion for obvious reasons.
Physical sunscreens, which use minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to deflect UV rays, are less irritating than chemical formulations because they sit on top of skin. You also need to look for a broad-spectrum version with an SPF of at least 30 and apply it every day. Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ticks all the boxes.
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