Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?

Cameron Diaz - Tag Hueur 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 Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?

And believe it or, not, Mariah Carey:

Mariah Carey Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?

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 the other day, and saw this pic:

Julie rosacea Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?

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:

Physicians Formula Sensitivity Redness Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?The ones I think are especially cool (get it?) are the Skin Calming Spray and the Redness Corrrecting Moisturizer, which has a green tint.

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 Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?

It helps to calm the skin and lock in hydration.

Dermalogica makes this calming Redness Relief moisturizer with SPF:

Dermalogica Redness Relief SPF 20 Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?

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

Avene Antirougeurs Fort Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?More on the sensitive skin front (not specifically for rosacea) are the new-ish Burt’s Bees sensitive skin line:

Burts Bees Sensitive Skin Solutions Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?

And Yes to Cucumbers:

Yes to Cucumbers Newsflash: You might have rosacea and not even know it! Could your skin benefit from a kinder, gentler approach?

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?)


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 5:24 pm

So you’re telling me that my face turning red after a glass or two of wine could be rosacea? I’ve always called it my “Asian Glow” (I’m half Japanese)….I almost never drink, but I am not willing to give it up :(


Wednesday, April 18/2012 at 6:29 pm

Certain Asian ethnicities (Japanese and Chinese, I think) get “asian glow” because they’re genetically predisposed towards it. Without getting too geeky, it’s actually caused by a less-active form of an enzyme (protein) that’s involved in the metabolism of alcohol, which causes a buildup of a certain chemical since it can’t break it down as effectively. The chemical (not as harsh as it sounds) that builds up in your body and causes the flushing is called acetaldehyde.

You could also have rosacea though. Google “asian glow” to find out more (it’s, quite funnily, called alcohol flush reaction!)


Sunday, March 2/2014 at 7:16 pm

Also–as a sidenote, I’m of Native American descent with some European ancestry too. Native Americans can also get “Asian Flush,” since we have some genetic predisposition to an aversion to alcohol–since it wasn’t made here stateside but Europeans brought it with them. Also, we have similar genetic structures to Asians and it’s now found that many Native Americans may be descended from/or are cousins to the Aino peoples in Northern Japan. If I drink, I get immediately inebriated and suffer bad Asian Flush!


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 5:47 pm

so can i still use my clearisonic???


Friday, February 21/2014 at 9:02 pm

Well, I own a Clarisonic, and I have rosacea, I just keep mine on the lowest setting. Believe it or not, I have found something that reduces the redness of rosacea, but doesn’t erase it completely. It also helps with the little bumps, too. It’s called Oligopur soothing serum, by Phytomer. The serum is green, but also translucent, reducing the redness, but not making it go away.


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 6:26 pm

I’ve always wondered if I had mild rosacea. My skin gets red and patchy after a shower and blushy after booze, and I always have a pinkish tint to my cheeks. I never bothered to investigate because the pink cheeks are like natural blush and I figured everyone gets blushy after booze, so I had nothing to worry about. It sounds like I need to be gentler to my skin. Thanks for the heads-up, Michelle!


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 6:52 pm

They (derm) told me I had rosacea and gave me a cream for it which did nothing. I didn’t have rosacea, my skin was red and irritated from the other cream they gave me, retin-a. Once I stopped the retin a, no more ‘rosacea’ here. I read XOJane, but didn’t catch that article. I do think I read another article of hers a few months ago where she said she went on retin-a…..hmmm.


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 8:27 pm

Courtney – you’re probably just missing the enzyme that breaks down alcohol –


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 9:16 pm

never putting down my retin-a. NEV-A.


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 10:36 pm

Then enjoy your rosacea ;-)


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 10:25 pm

This is a great post!


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 11:05 pm

Retin-A (tretinoin) can cause your skin to become red and irritated. This is not rosacea, its a side effect of the medication. The redness and irritation usually goes away with time. If you really need a topical retinoid but your skin is too sensitive for Retin-A you can try Differin (adapalene) which is the topical retinoid which causes the least amount of irritation.

I agree with the notion that we should all be gentle to our skin. Mine isn’t sensitive but I’m careful not to tug on it or scrub it too hard, and I make sure to always wear sunscreen.


Wednesday, April 4/2012 at 1:59 am

Well, my md thought the redness was rosacea. Not telling people not to use it, but it clearly messed up my skin. My redness never went away on it and I was on it for years, used SPF and sun avoidance, the whole 9 yards. I’m just mentioning it, because sometimes it’s not rosacea, it’s the retin-a. Differin didn’t work for me either, acne wise. I’ve decided retinoids + my skin don’t mix. Oh well.


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 11:45 pm

I use retin- a and have noticed it makes my face itchy and red, but even when I wasn’t using it the apples of my cheeks are always reddish. I was told to use avene maybe I should try it. But for now I just conceal since I’m on retin-a.


Wednesday, April 4/2012 at 2:18 am

My face ALWAYS goes red after a warm/hot shower, but I never even stopped to think if that was weird or not. I did think my skin was really sensitive, though, so I’ve mostly used gentle products on it. My favourite cleansers are the Spectro Jel ones (they’re all pretty similar, but they do make one for sensitive skin).

I just recently switched my daytime moisturizer to the Aveeno Ultra-Calming SPF 15 one, and I’m really liking it so far. Though, oddly enough, it does have fragrance in it, which I thought was strange considering it’s geared towards sensitive skin.


Wednesday, April 4/2012 at 10:14 am

Ok, first time commenting here (long-time lurker)… I have rosacea. It sucks. I’m pale and the redness can get a bit much and I get the little pustules which looks like acne but isn’t. My derm gave me some Rx sulfur-based wash and Metro-gel — neither of which did a darn thing for me. I’ve only been able to get it under control by experimenting and using the gentlest products possible. And no AHAs. No chemical exfoliants whatsoever. I can use physical exfoliants (Clarisonic works well for me) and find I need to do so 2x a week b/c my skin is also dry and prone to looking dull and flaky (also due to rosacea). It still does suck but it’s manageable!


Monday, January 6/2014 at 8:14 am

Thanks for your post Daena! I have rosacea, mild to moderate and your advice helped me a lot. I keep thinking I can get rid of it, but I think you are right, it can only be managed. I used to have very oily skin, but now it’s dry and dull. I thought it was just dehydrated and needed exfoliation, (which I avoid because I’m afraid of the backlash), but after reading your post, I think I really have dry skin now and should probably get a better moisturizer. I will tell you that Dr. Hauschka Rejuvenating Mask really helps to calm down redness and the pustules. I use it like a moisturizer and leave it on. When I am having a particularly bad flare, it is a lifesaver and can reverse the damage overnight.


Wednesday, April 4/2012 at 11:24 am

This post is so right on time for me. My skin always been a little on the reactive side, I blush easy etc. I’ve never considered that I probably have mild Rosacea. I have the type of looks that is served best by not trying so hard. If any of you follow “color theory” a soft autumn. This has always been my approach. My hair looks best when I just go with the flow, needs a bit of a mess. Complete opposite of the “not a hair out of place.” My best makeup look doesn’t look all that different then a bare face( this is not to say no makeup just looks that way).
This combined with the fact my skin can pink up and react has led me to follow simple gentle skin care. I don’t attack so much as prevent. Always clean, always moisturized, 1x weekly gently exfoliate. I’m foundation phobic, got by with just concealer where needed. Just recently started wearing tinted moisturizer.
Which brings me to my longwinded point and all that connects to my point. I’m 42 and those glimpse of the corners of my eye in the rear view mirror on a sunny day are getting a little scary. Years of laying out in babyoil with a touch of iodine( why? don’t ask me) are showing. I’ve been researching and considering adding some stronger products( retinol and/or microdermabrasion , maybe botox!? for me) to “stop aging in its tracks”. Especially when I hear some derms say Botox will actually prevent new lines from forming.
But then I think of how my skin can get angry at a harsh soap. Or some mornings even my aveeno stings a bit. Or I’ll read an article where experts warn how all these products thin the skin and I think now how can that be good long term? There was a fairly well known derm who said a while back that a type of regenerative skin cell we have numbers are predetermined like eggs and by forcing maximum turnover we’re kind of setting ourselves up to look haggard later on down the line. I’m really not sure at all which camp I’m with. I am a little vain( aren’t we all) and honestly *whiney but mom voice* I don’t want my age to show!
Since my skin looks good for my age do I just continue on with the gentle pampering and hope it loves me back? Or do I attack and treat it( and cause some anger) into submission?


Wednesday, April 4/2012 at 2:27 pm

As an esthetician, I see so, so many cases of mild to severe rosacea, and so many of these people had no idea that they had it at all!

Sabrina- As far as using the Clarisionic with rosacea, my personal opinion is yes, use it, but with the delicate brush head only, and only once a day maximum (some rosacea sufferers might be good with every other day max, you would need to watch your skin carefully and go from there).

Denise- The plastic surgeon who works at our wellness center has a great saying about Botox- “If you can’t make the face, you can’t form the wrinkle!”. I love that, and understand the logic behind it, Botox ‘freezes’ the muscle, so you can’t frown, etc, and so if you do it BEFORE the wrinkle is actually there, you won’t ever have that wrinkle, because you can’t make the expression that forms it, does that make sense?

I also have rosacea and have found that the Jurlique sunscreen (SPF 30) is the most wonderful thing in the whole world! Their sensitive skin products are fabulous- they use the holistic logic of treating like with like, and it’s working great. I’m really seeing wonderful results with using an oil moisturizer as opposed to creams or lotions, and that is helping quite a bit.

Thanks for another great post, Michelle!


Wednesday, April 4/2012 at 3:59 pm

OMG I need to know NOW what color Mariah has on her lips! i think thats the best Ive ever seen her look.


Thursday, April 5/2012 at 12:34 pm

My mystery-skin-condition proved not to be rosecea (no flushing, & the rash is different), but I’ve learned to be as gentle as possible so as not to make whatever-it-is react.

I DO have to exfoliate constantly, since my skin was crazy-dry to start with & the condition causes a lot of flaking, but I keep it mechanical & do as little as I need to to remove the flakes. Then I apply layers of soothing oils & creams… all natural has made all the difference. (Yup. Layers. Drrrryyyyyyyy….)

I think of it more as “coaxing” my skin; “attacking” it just made things worse & worse. The results have made me so happy! My skin is looking pretty clear, & the best it has in years. & Michelle, I did notice a jump in clarity when I went on CLO. So thank you SO MUCH for that! I wonder if it helps with your rosacea too!


Thursday, April 5/2012 at 1:33 pm

I have been using the Consonant Skin Care Line exclusively now for 2 months, amazing products. Very gentle and very effective (and Canadian!) The cleanser removes all makeup including waterproof mascara. All skin problems disappeared. Def worth a try if you have rosacea.


Monday, April 9/2012 at 2:06 am

I think I have rosacea :( . I’ve been considering this for a few weeks now, but your article pretty much convinced me that I have rosacea. I have very, very (flaky!) dry and sensitive skin. I was told to exfoliate all the dead skin cells away to get rid of all the flakiness…but that just made things worse!! My skin now looks aged and disgusting and ugly and dull …the texture is completely ruined!! I’m 20 years old, I shouldnt have the skin of a 60 year old!!

(Okay some 60 year old ladies have really nice skin, but mine is not nice at all! Not at all!)

On top of that, I’ve got the worst acne break out I have EVER had. EVER! I used to have acne as a teen as well, but it was never this bad. They’re humungous, painful, itchy bumps..especially on the chin and jawline area. What do I do??? I am so frustrated and in pain that I wish I could peal my skin off! I dont even want to leave the house anymore…not without a paper bag over my head.

Sometimes I feel like its rosacea, other times I feel like its eczema. I feel so hopeless.


Makeup fan
Sunday, April 15/2012 at 9:31 am

I have lupus and it’s actually VERY similar to rosacea except it is on the nose as well! Rosacea is mostly the cheeks only. It’s best to do a blood test to check up on it though. Lupus is a serious illness that needs to be treated. If you think you have rosacea, I do advise you to Google lupus symptoms because you don’t want to be diagnosed for roseacea when you might possibly have lupus. I’ve gone to countless derms and every cream I tried to get rid of the redness did not work. And it turned out I had a whole other kind of problem.


Saturday, July 13/2013 at 5:07 pm

Rosacea can affect the whole face not just the cheeks. It actually can affect the nose, thickens the skin and can lead to a bbulbous looking nose. More common in men.


Sunday, September 16/2012 at 9:20 am

I’ve never been diagnosed with rosacea but I have always known that I have sensitive skin — no harsh chemicals, no attacking my skin. Luckily I haven’t had anything too terrible I had to combat (and I’ve always thought my “flushing” was attractive). But now perhaps I will look into some of those triggers. Sadly, I’m pretty sure that alcohol’s one of them.


Scarlet Nat
Friday, November 2/2012 at 4:45 pm

Hey, good post. I agree that the girl in the picture seems to have alcohol induced flushing and it looks like rosacea. Especially as she flushes on the classic area’s: cheeks and nose. The redness and small red dots are very common with rosacea and alcohol (and red wine especially) are a major blood vessel dilator and therefore worsen rosacea (a blood vessel disorder with most likely an auto-immune component). Funny written, thanks for putting this common skin condition on the map!


Monday, May 27/2013 at 5:54 pm

I recently been to a dermatologist because I think I have rosacea. I cant use anything on my face without it burning my skin leaving it very red in spots and drying it out, so he kinda rushed my out and told me to try avene for very sensitive skin but even that did not work!! so Im trying clinque line for rosacea, and I not finding it to work.. is this rosacea or would it be something else?


Tuesday, May 28/2013 at 12:35 am

Yes, it does sound like Rosacea. Basically my dermatologist told me there was nothing I could really do other than avoid putting nearly anything on my face. I have found a couple of products that work, but I’m still looking. The probiotic Redness Solutions Clinique face cream seems to work very well, but the cleanser and foundation from that line really makes my face react. So I would only recommend that single product. I use Vichy for night cream but I’m not too happy with it. Try cutting out all cleansers that foam. I found that to work really well. Only exfoliate gently and moisturize heavily after. Try not to use anything harsh on your face. Choose a mineral sunscreen because many ingredients and fragrances in sunscreen cause my skin to react. Basically, try to use as little as possible and only introduce one product at a time. Probiotics help.


Thursday, October 17/2013 at 7:42 am

I have an autoimmune issue (could be lupus still waiting for the doctor to acquiesce and retest me DURING a flare up (i have eczema pompholyx on my palms which is awful) and I suffer from welts and hives…often. I can only use Dove Sensitive on my face and body, and I am still seeking that moisturizer that does not cause itching and hives :C


Saturday, January 25/2014 at 1:16 pm

I have mild rosacea and pure cold pressed rosehip oil has really helped reduce the redness. I just put it on all the time when my face seems dry, especially in the winter (I live in Canada, -20 celcius on a normal day). Sunscreen is a must in the summer to prevent it from getting really bad.


Friday, April 25/2014 at 11:20 pm

wow now im depressed we can folks to the moon but we can’t clear up our faces? wtf


Amelie marie
Wednesday, August 20/2014 at 8:13 am

Oh god, life changing article. I am European type, with fair skin, and always this redness. At first, I thought it was due to my shyness. Indeed, by controlling a bit my emotions, I could avoid my cheeks to glow most of the time. Though, still tendency to be red. Then, one day, after a shot of vodka, I am in hell. My face is burning, and I ran to check in the mirror. I had NEVER seen my face like that. It was painful even. From then, I avoid alcohol, because, I noticed it triggers the reaction more and more. I just thought it was alcohol problem, though, now, I have maybe a name for this.


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