You Might Have Rosacea and Not Even Know It

Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?
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Michelle Villett
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Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?
Cameron-Diaz-Tag-Heuer-2012

One "opportunity" that working in this industry frequently offers is the chance to have your very own hair/skin/nails/other body parts judged by whichever so-called beauty expert happens to be in town presenting to the media. I'm a masochist, so I always go for it and ask them what they think. (Then spend the next few months of my life ruminating over what they said and how to fix it.) Hair is usually the easiest to take—and I think mine must be getting better, because Gisele's colourist Harry Josh told me I was on the right track (although a bit fadey) when I met him a few months ago.

Skin feedback, however, is pretty traumatizing. Which brings me to the topic of the day. Remember when I met Dr. Obagi—of the famous cult favourite Obagi skincare line? Yeah, well, among other things—like how I've got sucky thin skin, thanks—he told me I had rosacea. UM WHAT?!? I've always categorized my skin as sensitive... and yes, it does tend to flush and go red quite easily. But rosacea?

So I'm thinking, if I have it, YOU might have it, too. In fact, some derms say that many—even most—sufferers aren't aware they have the condition. Since it's national rosacea month and all, we should probably talk about this. Could YOUR skin benefit from a more gentle approach?

What the heck is rosacea, anyway?

The technical definition is that it's a disease characterized by flushing. Which kinda throws me off because I always think of my redness as just that—redness—not an actual flush. But I do believe it's one and the same, because for me the red comes on after certain triggers, like a hot shower or spicy food (but more on those in a sec). Along with the visible redness can come other issues, too: dryness, irritation, dilated or broken blood vessels and even acne-like pustules (acne rosacea, which must truly be the worst of both worlds).

The other thing is that while rosacea can affect all skin types, you're more likely to have it if you're a fair-skinned woman, over the age of 25 and of northern European descent, including those with Irish, Scottish or English ancestry. HELLO! I guess that nails it. My name is Michelle and I have rosacea.

Stars! They're just like us

Did you know Cameron (above) has rosacea?

Renee too:

Renee-Zellweger-rosacea

And believe it or, not, Mariah Carey:

Mariah-Carey

There are some weird-ass triggers

Everyone's are different, but yours could be one, a few or all of these:

  • Temperature changes (hot OR cold)
  • Sun exposure
  • Spicy food
  • Hot drinks
  • Exercise
  • Stress
  • Certain foods (some people react to chocolate, which is really sad)
  • Alcohol (even sadder)

I was reminded of the last one when I was browsing xojane.com the other day, and saw this pic:

Julie-rosacea

This is one of their writers, Julie, after two glasses of wine. The post was about whether she has an allergy to alcohol. I'm not a doctor, I just play one on the internet—but I do believe this is a case of alcohol-triggered rosacea.

And it's bad news bears, because if this happens to you, there's no magic pill to take; you just have to identify the problem and then avoid, avoid, avoid. That's the very first step in managing rosacea. The second step is what you put on it.

Be nice (to your face)

You can just tell from the lingo that beauty brands use (and beauty editors too) that most of us are in some kind of battle with our complexions. You've got to have your "arsenal" to "fight" [insert beauty problem here] and "stop it in its tracks."

A little intervention is fine... IF YOUR SKIN CAN TAKE IT. And it goes without saying that rosacea sufferers are vulnerable—so depending on how severe your problem is, put the kibosh (or at least cut waaay back) on microderm, peels, exfoliation, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid and retinoids.

The buzzwords you need to get familiar with include gentle, mild, nourishing, hydrating, calming and soothing. Don't those sound nicer anyway? Look for formulas that don't have any fragrances, dyes or preservatives that release formaldehyde, and make sure to use sunscreen to prevent UV-triggered outbreaks. (Finding the right one is a matter of trial and error, although I'd probably start with a mineral one with zinc oxide, which is a natural anti-inflammatory.)

You might want to do this EVEN IF your skin is "sensitive" or "normal"

One of the most mind-blowing interviews in the biz is with Celeste Lutrario, the mastermind formulator behind Burt's Bees products. The last time we spoke, she told me that sensitivity is the precursor to "everything else"—meaning all the wonderful signs of aging—and therefore EVERYONE, not just us wimpy redness-prone skin types, should use products geared toward sensitive skin.

Got that? Your skin might be better off just gently moisturizing and nourishing it... instead of being on constant attack mode with your glycolics and Retin-A and the like. (Celeste is also anti-exfoliation, which I talked about at length in this post last year.)

Convinced you want to be nice for a change? Then...

Here are some fab products to consider

Physicians Formula has skincare now, did you know? And this line is specifically geared toward sensitivity and redness:

The ones I think are especially cool (get it?) are the Skin Calming Spray and the Redness Corrrecting Moisturizer, which has a green tint.

Physicians-Formula-Sensitivity-Redness

My go-to natural beauty store, Pure + Simple, has a brand new rosacea line, Holistic Vanity Rosacea Care. The camelia oil is the star product:

Holistic-Vanity-Comforting-Camellia-Oil

It helps to calm the skin and lock in hydration.

Dermalogica makes this calming Redness Relief moisturizer with SPF:

Dermalogica-Redness-Relief-SPF-20

Avène has a line called "Antirougeurs" (anti-redness) and this is the most concentrated treatment ("Fort"):

More on the sensitive skin front (not specifically for rosacea) are the new-ish Burt's Bees sensitive skin line:

Avene-Antirougeurs-Fort
Burts-Bees-Sensitive-Skin-Solutions

And Yes to Cucumbers:

Yes-to-Cucumbers

Do you think you might have rosacea?
Have you been fighting your skin or are you already on board with the keep-it-gentle approach?
What are your favourite rosacea and sensitive skin prodz? (Tried any of these ones?)