If you have sensitive skin that flushes way too easily, reacts to everything, and flares up at the most inopportune times (sometimes with red inflamed blemishes) with redness concentrated mostly around your nose and cheeks, you may have roseacea. To make matters worse you are now noticing articles in magazines that are talking about how inflammation of the skin contributes to aging…agh!
It’s not too late to adopt some new life style changes that offer positive results for your skin. In the next few posts I will be showing you tips & tricks you can easily incorporate into your life to help relieve the stresses of rosacea. Today we start by offering you tips on how to make subtle changes to your home skin care regime and make it easier to achieve and maintain a calmer, healthier, more comfortable complexion.
STEPS TO IMPROVE SENSITIVE OR ROSACEA-PRONE SKIN:
1. Use a gentle water-soluble cleanser. Check the ingredients. Harsh emulsifiers, particularly polyethylene glycols (PEGs) can aggravate your rosacea. Use only tepid water to wash with and under no conditions should you use an abrasive cleanser or scrub.
- Dry skin should choose a light weight milky cleanser.
- Oily skin should choose a detergent (sulfate) free, low foaming cleansing gel.
2. Use a non-drying, alcohol free toner. Avoid fragrance, essential oils and anything that gives your skin that tingly, cool feeling. That coolness means water is evaporating out of your skin. This causes dehydration which makes your skin more vulnerable to react to triggers in the environment. Still, toner is important because it removes lingering cleanser and irritants (like chlorine and fluoride) found in tap water. A good toner for rosacea also contains mildly antiseptic ingredients and should be a relatively simple formula to avoid irritation.
3. Invest in a super calming serum. Even if you’re most disturbed by the blemishes that often come with rosacea, treat the redness first! When the skin is calm it can heal. Skin that gets stronger can fight off blemishing better. What should a rosacea serum do?
- CALM: My favorite calming ingredient is Sea whip. This coral-like sea plant is a superior anti-inflammatory that reduces pain and swelling associated with rosacea.
- REPAIR: Peptides have some of the same skin building properties as retinol without the irritation. Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 is a good example of a skin building peptide with anti-inflammatory properties that helps promote tissue repair, making for stronger skin.
- LIMIT BACTERIA: Another favorite ingredient of mine is Licorice Extract (listed as Glycyrrhiza Glabra on the label). Studies suggest that rosacea may be caused by some yet unidentified pathogen that leads to inflammation. Licorice Extract is not only an excellent anti-inflammatory ingredient with superior calming properties but it is believed to limit rosacea related bacteria on the skin. Through clinical studies, Licorice Extract has been shown to eliminate almost 100% of the enzyme Lipase. Lipase is a bi-product of the types of bacteria that may be triggers for red inflamed blemishes associated with rosacea.
- PROTECT: Antioxidants help prevent the damage caused by inflammatory triggers. Look for Japanese Green Tea which is an antioxidant that has been studied and shown to calm and strengthen capillary walls which helps prevent leakage of blood into the surrounding tissue.
4. Never forget your sunscreen. The sun definitely aggravates rosacea conditions. The problem is that many sunscreens are based on irritating chemical ingredients. The way to circumvent this problem is to choose a sunscreen based on physical screens containing minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The problem with chemical sunscreens is the way they work. Chemical sunscreen absorb ultraviolet light from the sun and converts it to heat which is then released in the skin. Heat is the nemesis of rosacea prone skin. A physical block acts more like a barrier that reflects suns rays away from the skin. Choose a 30 SPF sunscreen for maximum protection. You also might want to follow this with a foundation that also contains mineral based sunscreens for extra protection. Remember, your sunscreen isn’t going to work unless you apply enough and reapply often enough.
5. Exfoliate. Many rosacea sufferers have flaky surface skin cells. Scrubs and Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic) will only aggravate a rosacea condition. You might find you can tolerate a mild, time released retinol (vitamin A) if you start very slowly (once a week and work up to every other night over time). In the beginning you may need to buffer the retinol with a moisturizer. Cut back usage if any signs of irritation occur. The benefit of using retinol is that over time it helps build collagen to strengthen your skin which increases skin’s resistance to triggers. It’s also an amazing anti-aging ingredient. If retinol doesn’t work for you a second option is to find a non-abrasive enzyme based exfoliant. These go on like a masque and gently remove surface cells without containing strong acids.
6. Moisturize. Use an appropriate moisturizer for your skin type. Include calming ingredients, antioxidants and vitamins. If you’re going to include Vitamin C make sure it’s the no-sting form of the vitamin (avoid L-ascorbic Acid). Remember that occlusive ingredients such as petrolatum trap heat in your skin, which is definitely not what you want. Oily skin needs a light formula that contains antioxidants and I would still opt for sea whip as the major calming ingredient. Drier skins need a comforting cushion for their skin. It seems that ingredients that are derived from the ocean are more effective and less irritating than petroleum based creams or those containing essential oils. Check out soothing Red Marine Algae. This seaweed can be found off the coast of Hawaii. This plant has developed a defense system against harsh environmental conditions. When used in a moisturizer, the components in Red Marine Algae are harnessed to facilitate repair for environmentally damaged skin.
7. Masques. For instant relief (say when you’re going out and want your skin to look exceptionally good) try a non drying Aloe Vera or Azulene based masque. Clay masques may dry out your skin and only serve to aggravate it. Aloe lets the heat out of the skin by temporarily dilating capillaries then, skin calms down and feels soothed, refreshed and hydrated. When blemishes are also present you might want a gel masque that also includes mildly antiseptic BHA to unclog pores and kill bacteria.
So there you have it. Home care steps that will improve sensitive or rosacea prone skin. At Elizabeth Renee Esthetics we are currently doing extensive research on the causes and treatments of rosacea. We are working an an updated serum for sensitive, inflamed skin, and the prototypes we’ve tested look very promising. Stay tuned for new posts on symptoms, triggers, available treatments and dietary changes that seem to have helped others with sensitive skin and rosacea symptoms. If you have extreme rosacea symptoms you should contact a dermatologist for medical care.