Rosacea 101: How to Treat It With The Best Non-Toxic Products
A lot of us think that we know what rosacea is, but in fact, there’s a lot that’s unknown about this common skin condition. This guide is intended to explain more about rosacea, how to identify it, and the natural and clean products that can help you treat it.
Rosacea Affects Millions of People
A 2016 study conducted by Skinfo collected data about the most-searched skin conditions by state. One interesting part: The majority of states that ranked high for rosacea were those found in the north, including Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington. But why would rosacea be so prevalent there as opposed to in the south? Great question, because to this day the cause of rosacea is still unknown. What we do know is that this condition is most common in people of Irish or Scandinavian descent, so past immigration routes may have something to do with the trend.
Rosacea affects 415 million people worldwide, which is roughly 5.5% of the total population. That’s a lot of people suffering from a skin condition that remains incurable with causes unknown. However, this doesn’t mean that rosacea can’t be effectively controlled with various products, medical therapy, and changes in lifestyle.
The 4 Types of Rosacea
Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea: characterized by facial redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels
Papulopustular Rosacea: involves acne, breakouts, and sensitivity
Phymatous Rosacea: may cause swelling, fluid retention, thickening of the skin, and rapid redness of the face
Ocular Rosacea: characterized by redness and itchiness around the eyes and swelling above the eyelids
Rosacea Versus Reactive Skin
As someone who helps create personalized skincare routines for a living, I’ve seen time and time again the confusion between rosacea and reactive skin. Rosacea always goes hand in hand with some amount of redness, but redness does not always mean rosacea. Redness in the skin can be the result of many different things, the most common being a weakened skin barrier from using harsh and highly sensitizing products. These include products that contain retinol, synthetic fragrance, a high concentration of essential oils; and cleansers with a pH above 5.5. The overuse ofAHAs and BHAs (alpha and beta hydroxy acids) as well as over-exfoliation can contribute to redness. So before you think “Oh my God! I have rosacea!” make sure you aren’t making any of the mistakes mentioned above. Your skin is fragile and you should treat it as such.
Now let’s keep in mind that I’m not a dermatologist. So before I dive into a few common signs and symptoms to look for, always check with a doctor before making any drastic changes to your skincare routine and/or lifestyle choices.
How to Identify Rosacea
According to the National Rosacea Society (NRS), these are the most common signs to look for when figuring out whether or not you have rosacea:
- Persistent redness (may resemble a blush or sunburn that does not go away)
- Skin thickening (skin may thicken and enlarge from excess tissue, most commonly on the nose)
- Flushing (frequent blushing/flushing of the skin that is often accompanied by a sense of heat, warmth or burning)
- Bumps and pimples (small red solid bumps or pus-filled pimples often develop; while these may resemble acne, blackheads are absent and burning or stinging may occur)
- Visible blood vessels (prominent and visible small blood vessels called telangiectasia appear on the cheeks, nasal bridge, and other areas of the central face)
- Eye irritation (ocular rosacea; eyes may be irritated and appear watery or bloodshot; eyelids may become red and swollen and styes are common)
- Swelling (raised red patches, known as plaques, may develop without changes in the surrounding skin)
- Dryness (central facial skin may be rough and appear scaly despite some patients complaining of oily skin)
Common Triggers for Rosacea
There are many common triggers for rosacea, some lifestyle and some environmental. Based on a survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society, the most common in a group of 1,066 rosacea patients were sun exposure (81%), emotional stress (79%), hot weather (75%), wind (57%), heavy exercise (56%), alcohol consumption (52%), hot baths (51%), cold weather (46%) and spicy foods (45%). Of course you can’t always avoid these triggers, but you can be aware of them.
As for ingredients to avoid when choosing rosacea-friendly skincare products, the list is not as long as you would think—but it can be hard to find products that completely avoid of all of the ingredients mentioned below.
- Retinoids/retinol: Although they are occasionally used to treat the pustules and bumps associated with rosacea, they often make redness and spider veins worse.
- Salicylic acid and Glycolic Acid: These are very drying and may cause rosacea to appear even more red than it was before.
- Harsh soap: It can be too high in detergent content (drying) and often includes SLS, which is extremely irritating to those with rosacea.
- Benzoyl Peroxide: Increases inflammation and may cause premature aging.
- Synthetic fragrance (parfum): Since fragrance is not regulated by the FDA, you never really know what’s in it, so why take the risk?
- Witch hazel, eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil: Natural does not always mean rosacea-friendly!
- Alcohol: It’s so, so drying.
The Best Non-Toxic Products for Rosacea
Finally, the fun part! It’s time to put a completely rosacea-friendly skincare regimen together. Better yet: We’ve provided step-by-step instructions to help you reach total skin nirvana.
Rosacea-Friendly Routine for Morning and Night
Cleanser: Massage a nickel sized amount of OSEA’s Ocean Cleansing Milk onto dry skin and rinse with either cool or lukewarm water. If you insist on cleansing with a washcloth, make sure it’s super gentle! A nice alternative would be the One Love Organics Konjac Cleansing Sponge (so soft).
Facial Oil: While skin is still damp from the hydrating mist, warm 3 to 4 drops of a single-origin oil in the palm of your hands and then massage into the skin (but only massage if you suffer from Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea, otherwise gently press). We highly recommend using La Bella Figura’s Barbary Fig Seed Oil due to its high amount of linolenic acid, which is ideal for those suffering from any sort of inflammation.
Cream/Balm: If you still need a little extra moisture, complete your routine with an anti-inflammatory balm such as May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon (normal skin) or Mahalo’s Rare Indigo Balm (breakout-prone skin). For those of you who prefer a cream moisturizer, we recommend Josh Rosebrook’s Vital Balm Cream and/or the Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream from Pai.
SPF (AM): It’s extremely important for those with rosacea to avoid SPFs that contain chemical sunscreens (oxybenzone/octinoxate/avobenzone/octisalate) as opposed to physical ones (zinc oxide/titanium dioxide). Luckily for you, we only carry SPFs that are 100% free of chemical sunscreens! Try our best-selling SPF: Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream. It will protect your skin from UVA/UVB rays while simultaneously calming the skin with a variety of anti-inflammatory herbs.
Masks: If you’re in search of the perfect mask, look no further. We suggest using the Herbal Hydration Complex by Farmaesthetics once a week to help soothe skin. This mask restores moisture and eliminates excess oil. It’s one of our favorites for helping inflamed, irritated skin.
Makeup: Did you know one of the founders of Vapour Beauty suffers from rosacea herself? Well I just figured this out yesterday so I’m here to share the knowledge! Try Vapour’s Soft Focus Foundation to reduce the appearance of redness and to simultaneously soothe, calm and protect the skin with the brand’s proprietary Herbal Enlightenment Complex consisting of Frankincense, Tulsi and Lotus.
Typically this is the part where we’d recommend a nice glass of vino to pair with your self-care ritual, but for our blushing beauties we suggest swapping out the merlot for an iced matcha latte. You’ll thank us later!
Ellen Bradley, Education Specialist | October 9, 2018