Dr Sobia Ali, skin health doctor at Dr Nestor’s Medical and Cosmetic Centre, characterises the skin condition by a facial rash, with symptoms including redness, flushing and congested pores, but as Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide To Good Skin unravels, it is often misunderstood.
"Rosacea was previously known as 'acne rosacea' but this is no longer the case, as both conditions are unrelated," Dr Mahto explained. "Symptoms of rosacea include facial skin sensitivity, redness, flushing or a sensation of heat and small red bumps known as papules," she continued. "Some people may develop prominent, small, dilated blood vessels and other potential problems include facial swelling, gritty eyes, and enlargement and redness of the nose."
So what causes rosacea? While it isn't fully understood, the skin condition is said to be aggravated by many factors, such as temperature changes, sunlight, alcohol, exercise, hot drinks, stress and spicy foods, according to both experts. "There is no cure," adds Dr Mahto, "but the condition can be managed with cream treatments, oral antibiotics, anti-flushing medications, and laser therapy. The latter can be used to treat prominent blood vessels, redness and occasional skin thickening which can be associated with rosacea. Usually multiple sessions are required and a skilled cosmetic dermatologist will be able to carry out the treatments after discussion of the best laser type for your skin."
Dr Ali also mentions that rosacea symptoms could be a result of hormone fluctuations, genetics and hyperactive oil glands, and so recommends incorporating an ingredient like salicylic acid – which decongests pores, exfoliates skin and reduces inflammation – into your skincare routine. Dr Mahto also suggests avoiding perfumed soaps, instead opting for emollients, and says that sunscreen is extremely important to help manage rosacea. "UV radiation is one of the common rosacea triggers," she explains. "Ideally an SPF of 50 should be worn that provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA (which traditionally penetrate the skin and result in things like pigmentation and fine lines) and UVB (associated with burns)."
As well as SPF and salicylic acid, there are many other products and ingredients out there which can help to alleviate or even mask the symptoms of rosacea. Ahead, you'll find 10 of the very best.
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As well as its ability to reduce the production of keratin, which can block pores and lead to acne breakouts, azelaic acid is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial for those with rosacea. Apply a small amount to clean skin (ideally in the evening) and avoid contact with your lips, eyelids and under eyes to avoid irritating these thinner, sensitive areas of skin.
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According to the experts, UV exposure is a trigger for rosacea, and while it pays to invest in good sun protection regardless, it's even more important if you're prone to excessive redness and irritation. Recommended by Dr Mahto (and loved by most of R29, too) this broad spectrum mineral SPF absorbs in next to no time, feels dry to the touch and provides invisible protection against UVA (traditionally associated with fine lines and wrinkles) and UVB (responsible for burns and skin cancer). Even better? It's non-comedogenic, and so less likely to block pores.
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Formulated by Zein Obagi MD and team (and also recommended by Dr Ali), this serum takes a multifaceted approach to treating the obvious symptoms of rosacea, including redness, papules (swelling) and pustules (spots containing pus). Enzymes work to smooth and refine skin texture, while amino acids are said to increase microcirculation under the skin, promoting a more even skin tone. It also provides an antibacterial effect, keeping further breakouts at bay.
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IT Cosmetics' founder, Jamie Kern Lima, struggled to find products that would cover her rosacea-prone skin without the need for multiple, heavy layers, and so her brand was born. Just one pump of this CC cream is enough to blanket redness without feeling cakey, thanks to the tiny pigment particles. It also boasts SPF50 protection and lasts all day. Stockpile it.
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Most foam cleansers can be harsh on sensitive skin, exacerbating rosacea further, but Calmwise (previously known as Red Alert) eradicates oil, grime and excess makeup without stripping skin of the good stuff or making it taut and uncomfortable, thanks to the addition of vitamin K, recently found to play a significant role in inhibiting inflammation, redness and swelling, and Teprenone – an anti-redness active.
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Exuviance has fans in beauty editors, bloggers and dermatologists alike – and for good reason. Developed by experts, this serum feels soothing and cooling on application and contains PHA (exfoliating acids which are much more compatible with sensitive skin, as the molecules are larger and unable to penetrate pores as deeply as others) and peptides – proteins which have anti-inflammatory benefits, so flushing and redness is minimised over time.
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Another recommendation by Dr Mahto, this moisturiser – approved by Allergy UK – has been formulated with numerous skin bugbears in mind, including: redness, itching, burning and dryness. It makes a great base before makeup and instantly banishes any feelings of tightness post-cleansing.
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If you're after something a little more substantial than a serum but not as rich as Toleriane, try this. It's a milky lotion formulated with natural acids to refine uneven skin texture, oat extract (known for its moisturising properties) and plant extracts to keep redness under control. If using it in the evening, always apply an SPF during the day. Dr Mahto recommends the brand's Antioxidant Physical Protectant SPF30.
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This concealer-foundation hybrid is filled to bursting with super fine pigments that have the ability to cloak everything from redness to tattoos and dark circles. It's buildable (so still looks like skin), non-comedogenic (so won't clog pores prone to breakouts) and contains SPF35 for extra protection.