This is Part 3 of my 5 Part Rosacea Blog Series.
Dermatologist's Skin Care Tips to Control Rosacea
In this article, I give you my Rosacea Skin Care Tips to create a supportive routine that helps minimize rosacea flare-ups and maintain remissions. It has worked for many thousands of my dermatology patients.
- In part 1 of the series, I provided an overview of rosacea.
- In part 2, I described the symptoms of rosacea in detail.
- In the final articles of this series, I discuss my dermatologic approach to rosacea treatment, including skin care, medicines, lifestyle recommendations, and procedures.
All of the information comes from my dermatology practice. I've helped a lot of people with their rosacea over the years, and I've learned a lot in the process about this very temperamental skin condition. I also have mild rosacea myself. This gives me the added "opportunity" to understand the frustrations of this common skin condition from the inside out.
Rosacea Skin Care Tips
- What skin care products most often irritate rosacea?
- What are my Top Specific Skin Care Tips for Rosacea-prone Complexions?
- What is my top "treatment" routine to help "correct" the skin problems of acne rosacea?
- Why it is so important to pick the right face cream to moisturize your rosacea-prone skin?
- What is the best sunscreen to protect rosacea-prone complexions?
People with rosacea usually have sensitive skin.
Before discussing skin care, it's important to know that complexions with rosacea are usually very sensitive.
Most people with rosacea have very sensitive facial skin and don't tolerate many skin care products. - Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey
To find the right products for your rosacea-prone skin, you first need to understand that when you have rosacea, your facial skin is sensitive. That is because your skin barrier is not as strong as normal and things penetrate your skin more easily. As a result, your rosacea may be easily provoked by anything that irritates your facial skin.
What skin care products most often irritate rosacea?
- Most acne products, anti-aging products and alcohol containing products that are irritating.
- Some botanical products, such as those with tea tree oil or rosemary, may also irritate sensitive rosacea skin.
You can appreciate from this picture of a rosacea-prone complexion that their skin would be very sensitive! Even if your rosacea is not this inflamed, you have skin barrier vulnerability. Having rosacea doesn't mean you can't ever use potentially irritating products. It just means that you have to "sneak up" on your skin with them... only using them when your rosacea is controlled and your skin barrier is pretty well healed.
I create a Complete Skin Care Routine for a rosacea patient - and my own rosacea-prone complexion - using products that support rosacea healing. The key components are:
- a pH balanced non-irritating cleanser for general skin cleansing alternated with a cleanser fortified with pyrithione zinc,
- Green Tea Antioxidant Therapy, which is in every rosacea skin care routine that I create because I've found it that important to quieting rosacea skin inflammation,
- a skin barrier healing moisturizer with both humectants (like glycerin) and occlusive ingredients to significantly reduce Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) so that sensitive rosacea barrier-damaged skin can heal,
- a broad spectrum mineral zinc oxide sunscreen to prevent UV triggered rosacea flare ups.
My Rosacea Therapy Skin Care Kit represents the best routine for a rosacea-prone complexion. Because I want people with rosacea to think holistically about their skin care routine, I always give a discount on kits relative to single product purchases. You always get the best results when you use a Complete Skin Care Routine that works synergistically instead of piecemealing a routine with products that work at cross purposes. Rosacea is tricky and really benefits from this approach.
People with rosacea should start with lower concentrations of products that might irritate skin.
Also, you want to select lower strengths and begin with less-frequent applications of potentially-irritating products. Keep a close eye on your complexion and the minute your rosacea starts to flare-up, you have to stop using anything even slightly irritating, and go back to gentle, rosacea-healing skin care until your skin calms down again.
Whether your rosacea is active or in remission, your skin is still sensitive and needs carefully-selected skin care to prevent rosacea flare-ups. Some skin care products can actually help control rosacea. Many other products aggravate and trigger it.
Knowing what to use on your skin and what to avoid will give you some measure of control over this common and frustrating skin problem.
What are my Top Specific Skin Care Tips for Rosacea-prone Complexions?
Your skin care routine is really important for controlling your rosacea. Your routine needs to give your skin everything it needs to be healthy and fight inflammation. I call this Dr. Bailey's Complete Skin Care Routine™. It is a holistic approach to skin care that gives your skin carefully selected products for the 4 essential skin care steps: CLEANSE, CORRECT, HYDRATE, PROTECT. Having a holistic skin care routine Complete Skin Care Routine is especially important if you suffer from rosacea.
I'll explain what I've found to be the best type of products for each of these steps to help you control your rosacea. I’ll also tell you what types of products to avoid.
The Best Skin Cleansers for Acne Rosacea
The obvious goal when you cleanse your skin is to remove excess oil, dirt, previously-applied products and debris. It's also an opportunity to deliver medicine to help control and treat your acne rosacea. What many people don’t realize is that skin-cleansing is also potentially risky for rosacea because many skin cleansers contain harsh ingredients that are irritating for rosacea prone skin. You need to be very particular about your cleanser if you have rosacea.
The most effective and the safest cleanser I’ve found for rosacea is Calming Zinc Soap. I include it in all of my rosacea skin care routines. Dr. Bailey
The 2% pyrithione zinc in this product helps to control Pityrosporum yeast germs and possible also discourage Demodex mites, both of which may be increased in number in the pores of people with rosacea.
For the rare person allergic to pyrithione zinc, I recommend a pH balanced cleanser for sensitive skin such as my Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser (what I personally use). People with sensitive skin benefit from alternating the Calming Zinc in the morning with Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser at night.
Almost all people with rosacea-prone skin need to avoid cleansers with potentially-irritating ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid. Only if you have the most extremely oily skin should you use foaming-cleansing products with the harsh sodium laurel sulfate type of ingredients.
Lastly, I don’t recommend that you use facial-cleansing wipes because they leave a chemical residue on your skin. I prefer rinsing cleansers off the skin with water, to minimize oil-removing chemical residue, and to better prepare your skin for your next important skin care step, which is the layering of your rosacea correcting products.
What is my top "treatment" routine to help "correct" the skin problems of acne rosacea?
I always recommend that you apply your most important, therapeutic (correcting) products immediately after washing and before applying any products with a thicker consistency, like moisturizers. I've found that for rosacea control, calming products are a key therapeutic skin care step. The most effective contain high concentration, pharmaceutical-grade green tea antioxidants.
In my 30+ years of clinical experience treating rosacea, the best of the best green tea product is Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy which also contains the important ingredients caffeine and hyaluronic acid. - Dermatologist Dr. Bailey, rosacea expert
I consider these three ingredients natural remedies for the treatment of rosacea. In fact, this cream is so soothing that I advise my patients to apply it first, and to apply any prescription topical medicine for treating their rosacea on top of their Green Tea Cream.
The Green Tea Cream helps to soothe facial inflammation from seborrheic dermatitis and sun damage. And many people with rosacea also have these two skin problems as well. I’ve never found a skin care product that was even remotely as effective as Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy so it is the cornerstone of my rosacea skin care regimen. I consider it therapeutic.
The combination of Calming Zinc and Green Tea Antioxidant Therapy can be found in my Redness Relief Kit.
Why it is so important to pick the right face cream to moisturize your rosacea-prone skin?
Providing the correct level of hydration for your rosacea-prone skin is important for preventing rosacea flare-ups. The skin's barrier integrity in rosacea is weak. Preventing skin dryness is important for strengthening this skin barrier so that rosacea-prone skin is less sensitive. Unlike regular acne (acne vulgaris), acne rosacea is not worsened if you apply oil containing moisturizers to your skin.
It’s important that you pick the right moisturizing product for your skin based on your moisturizing needs because properly-hydrated skin is less prone to rosacea flare-ups. - Dr. Bailey, Dermatologist and rosacea sufferer
If your skin is excessively oily, choose an oil-free product such as Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin, and apply it where you skin runs dry, such as along your jaw bone.
If your skin is dry, chose a more richly-hydrating product, perhaps one with an oil ingredient that has an elegant and light feeling. The top choice in my dermatology practice is the Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Dry to Normal Skin.
An entirely natural and economical product option is my Natural Face and Body Lotion.
As I’ve mentioned before in my general skin care advice, your moisturizer should "dial in" the moisture your skin needs and protect your skin from losing moisturizer during the day; properly-hydrated skin is less prone to becoming irritated and experiencing a flareup of rosacea. But moisturizers provide no "magic" beyond hydration, regardless of product claims. Unfortunately, many moisturizers contain well-meaning ingredients that taunt highly sensitive rosacea-prone skin.
I recommend that you apply your moisturizer after your treatment products and before your sunscreen. Make-up, if you use it, goes on top of your other skin care products and as the last thing that you apply to your skin.
What is the best sunscreen to protect rosacea-prone complexions?
Sunscreen application is a critical skin care step for anti-aging skin care and healthy skin. Plus, we now know that sunlight will trigger rosacea for some people. Sunscreen products, however, are tricky because I've found that many "chemical" sunscreen ingredients irritate rosacea, causing flare-ups.
I recommend that you avoid using chemical sunscreens if you have rosacea. - Dr. Bailey, Dermatologist
Use sunscreens made primarily with mineral zinc oxide as the active sunscreen ingredient. This is because the mineral products are less irritating to sensitive rosacea-prone skin. In my opinion, the mineral sunscreens also provide the best, most broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection for wrinkle, sun spot and skin cancer prevention.
Apply your mineral sunscreen after the therapeutic and moisturizing products because the sunscreen ingredients are designed to sit on top of your skin bouncing off the sun’s rays.
In my practice, the top sunscreens loved by my patients with rosacea are:
Sheer Strength Pure Physical Matte Tinted SPF 30+ (what I personally wear every day). This product also contains iron oxide to help filter visible light and blue digital screen light. The tinting technology created by iron oxide blends in to all skin tones - even one as fair as mine! The matte base makes an excellent primer for makeup too.
Sheer Strength Pure Physical Water Resistant Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen. Is a powerful non-irritating pure mineral sunscreen when you need water-resistant protection for sweaty activities. I wear this hiking and gardening. It comes in a large 6-ounce non-aerosol spray and it is also great for all over protection.
Make up, if you use it, is applied on top of your sunscreen. I prefer mineral makeup for complexions suffering from rosacea because it is non-irritating. I have a beautiful collection of hypoallergenic, pure and clean mineral makeup.
My Rosacea Therapy Kit gives you all the right products to fight rosacea flare-ups.
Let me do the product selection for you. My Rosacea Skin Care Kit is built from what my patients and I have learned during my 30+ years of dermatology practice. Hypoallergenic products that target the skin problems of rosacea, support skin barrier healing, fight rosacea skin inflammation and prevent flare-ups working in a holistic Complete Skin Care Routine targeted precisely at rosacea! My kit gives you options to customize products for your oil type and product preferences.
To Summarize the 5 Most Important Rosacea Skin Care Tips:
- I recommend only non-irritating skin care products.
- 2% pyrithione zinc and Green Tea Antioxidant Cream with high concentration, stable, pharmaceutical, pure green tea antioxidants, plus caffeine and hyaluronic acid, are key elements of my rosacea skin care regimen.
- I have my patients apply medicated prescription products after their Green Tea Cream.
- The right moisturizing face cream is used to "dial in" proper hydration because dry skin predisposes to rosacea flare-ups.
- Mineral sunscreens for sun protection are best.
My 5 Article Series on Rosacea Skin Care Tips:
- What is Acne Rosacea?
- What Are the Skin Symptoms of Acne Rosacea?
- Rosacea Skin Care Tips from My Dermatology Practice (this article)
- Acne Rosacea; Dermatologist's Natural Treatment of Rosacea
- Prescription Medication and Cosmetic Procedures to Treat Rosacea
Author: Dr. Cynthia Bailey M.D. is a Board Certified dermatologist practicing dermatology since 1987. She has done well over 200,000 skin exams during her career and authors the longest running physician written skin health blog in the world.