One of the most annoying things about rosacea — aside from the persistent redness, swollen bumps and visible blood vessels — is that experts aren’t precisely sure what causes it, or how to cure it. Witch hazel and soothing, sandalwood oil salves work for some, but can worsen the condition in others.
Sufferers are left to figure out what works for them, trial-and-error style.
There may be hope on the horizon, though: Some experts are trying to understand skin conditions such as rosacea by studying gut health. (Both the gut and the skin have microbiomes, ecosystems of microbes and microorganisms that help regulate overall health of the organ.) The thinking is that if you have an imbalance in your gut health, it could cause skin problems.
Perhaps in the future, identifying and treating problems in the gut could be a valuable first step in treating rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions. “We know that breakouts and other disturbances on the skin are a result of inflammation. Additionally, we know that people who eat the standard Western (American) diet that contains chemicals, pesticides and other harmful agents leads people’s skin to react adversely,” explained Beverly Hills dermatologist Ava Shamban. “However, there is still much research that needs to be done.”
Until then, we’re back to experimenting what works best for our individual skin. Here are 10 over-the-counter skincare products we put to the test for their ability to target and treat rosacea symptoms. (Prices can change, so shop around.)
Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleanser is made with cotton extract and aloe, which helps soothe and moisturize the skin. This cleanser was formulated for sensitive skin and gently removes dirt, oil and makeup. The product felt thick and creamy on the skin and smelled faintly of baking flour, but overall, the cleanser did a good job of leaving the skin feeling refreshed but never tight or irritated. $9.99, burtsbees.com and select retailers.
While most cases of rosacea display on the cheeks, nose and forehead, some people have a form called ocular rosacea, which causes inflammation, redness and dryness of the eyes. This eye treatment by skinfix uses natural ingredients including alfalfa seed, honey and saccharomyces (baker’s yeast) to address redness, puffiness and dark circles. When applied, the gel-like consistency felt soothing and deeply hydrating to the delicate eye area. $48, Sephora.
CBD has been generating lots of buzz in the health and wellness space and is now creeping its way into skincare. Cannabidiol as a skincare ingredient can be beneficial for those with rosacea because of its potent antiinflammatory properties. Kát Rudu’s Sanctuary Glow Hemp Serum utilizes phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil which is packed with omega-6 &-9, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins B, C & E. The silky serum absorbed quickly and left the skin feeling luxuriously moisturized. $120, katrudu.com.
Avène, one the leading skincare lines in Europe, has a reputation for catering to sensitive skin. Their Antirougeurs Calm Soothing Repair Mask is said to reduce redness by supporting microcirculation and calming irritated skin. Avène thermal spring water, one of the main ingredients, soothes the skin, while Pongamia oil works to restore the balance of the skin’s ecosystem. The mask feels like a lightweight gel, and, despite the mint green color, goes on translucent upon application. Absorbed swiftly and surprisingly tamed mild facial redness. $35.00, aveneusa.com
Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum is the gold standard among Hollywood’s elite. Sofia Richie, Tracee Ellis Ross, Hillary Rhoda, Ayesha Curry and Gwenyth Paltrow are all avid users. Founder April Gargiulo, who came into the skincare world from a wine-making background says, “The Active Botanical Serum is designed to address the underlying healthy foundation of skin. And [it] utilizes the most powerful plant skin changers we have.” Each bottle contains over 60 beneficial vitamins and minerals for the skin. Starts at $65, vintnersdaughter.com
Lauren Shaffer’s line of Laurel Whole Plant Organics contains ingredients that work to ensure the skin is getting a prebiotic boost: The Hydrating Facial Elixir I contains a “microorganism ferment” as one of the preservative ingredients intended to help maintain the skin’s diverse microbiome. The floral, light-hydrating mist retails for $56, laurelskin.com
The French favorite came onto the scene when a Parisian dermatologist mixed three ingredients — shea butter, beeswax and aloe vera — into one product. The nourishing cream was named Lait-Crème Concentré and is so popular that one tube is said to be sold every five seconds around the world. This moisturizer feels creamy yet lightweight and is gentle enough for rosacea-prone skin. Additionally, this product can be used beyond a traditional moisturizer as a makeup primer, after-sun mask, hair texturizer and makeup remover. $28 for 2.54 fl. oz., worldwide.embryolisse.com and at select retail stores.
Listen up, crystal lovers, crystals and gems can now be incorporated into your skincare regimen. Gem-infused skincare company Själ offers a mask that is said to contain gold, platinum, blue sapphire and blue copper. This “Avatar"-esque mask does not skimp on the shimmer and sparkle, and we were pleasantly surprised by the luxe texture of the mask. The Kashmir Saphir perfecting mask is aimed at calming and regenerating the skin. (The Swedish word själ translates to spirit, and the company’sname speaks to its ethos, which focuses on bringing together ancient Eastern medicines with the latest in Western biotechnology for results-driven healing skincare.) $85 for a 1 oz. mask, sjalskincare.com.
If an old-school bar of soap is your favorite way to cleanse, then check out the nourishing artisan soap by Spanish brand Ayuna. “Ayuna” means “fasting” in Spanish, which speaks to the brand’s skin-fasting and “less is more” philosophy. (Additionally, the brand seeks to deconstruct societal norms around antiaging and unrealistic beauty standards. Ayuna promotes aging well and adopting a mindset that welcomes the natural aging process.) The nourishing artisan soap works into a rich lather thanks to borage, olive and coconut oils along with activated carbon. $38, ayuna.co.
For sensitive and acne-prone skin, this toner contains organic raw apple cider vinegar, which works to even skin tone and neutralize the skin’s natural pH, meaning less oil and less dryness. (Apple cider vinegar is also considered a natural remedy for rosacea because it helps ease inflammation and redness.) The S.W. Basics line uses minimal ingredients. For example, the toner is made of water, organic apple cider vinegar, organic witch hazel, organic clary sage oil and organic sandalwood oil. Some of its other products have as little as one ingredient only. The five-ingredient toner has an earthy and tart scent that leaves the skin feeling refreshed. S.W. Basics’ toner retails for $19.99, swbasicsofbk.com.