A sanguine flush of the cheek has long been associated with youth and beauty. Sonnets have been composed in ode to the bloom of a woman’s cheek. However, there is a big difference between this:

and this:

Photo Copyright: The Center for Laser Surgery in Washington, DC

Rosacea is a common yet perplexing skin disorder in that most people who are afflicted don’t even know they have it. If you experience persistent redness or flushing of the face, please go to Rosacea.org to see if you may have this disorder. Rosacea affects and estimated 14 million Americans, including myself and my friend Spicy Tamale (“caller, you are on the request line!”). Tamale and I are afflicted with Subtype 1, which is the initial stage of the disorder and also the mildest. It is characterized by flushing and persistent redness, and sometimes visible blood vessels. Occasional pimple-like bumps may be experienced with this stage of the disorder.

Coming up, I will (to the best of my ability) give my fellow Rosacea sufferers some tips to keep your blushing skin under contol.

First of all: I am not a doctor. I am not a dermatologist. I am not a liscenced aesthetitian. I’m just somebody who’s been thorugh a world of skin problems and fortified herself with the knowledge to overcome them. What I’m offering is not purely anecdotal evidence based on what’s worked for me, but rather, proposed solutions based on my knowledge of how certain treatments and active ingredients tend to work on most people’s skin.

Anyway, first and foremost, if you think you have Rosacea: Go to a dermatologist. They can formally diagnose you and provide you with a host of treatment options. Here is what you can expect from a derm treating you for Rosacea:


Identifying your “triggers”, the things that cause your skin to flare up. Usually alcohol, hot weather, sun exposure, hot drinks like coffee and tea, spicy food, and exercise. Basically, all the things that make life worth living. A doctor may tell you to avoid these things as a way to control your disorder. I say fuck that. Treat your skin, live your life.

General Skincare Tips: Living with Rosacea means handling your skin with kid’s gloves. No scrubbing, pulling, tugging, or harsh products. You may want to bring all of your skincare products to your appointment so that your doctor can assess what active ingredients may be irritating your skin.

Prescription Steroid Creams are a treatment option. They do well in treating the actual Rosacea, but I find they do very little for the overall appearance of the skin. They can be very drying, and even the word “steroid” freaks my shit.

V-Beam or Pulsed-Dye Laser Treatment: This seems like the best option, as it reduces the visible blood vessels in the skin, and provides a more permanent solution. However, the treatment can be painful for some people, and it’s probably very expensive. Also, there’s no telling whether or not those evil, bloodsucking insurance companies will cover it.

Homeopathic Rosacea Treatments

These are the ways I’ve learned to live with my Rosacea through research and a lot of experimenting.

First, some no-no’s:

* Do not scrub the skin with a product or a washcloth

* Avoid products with high concentrations of Alpha or Beta Hydroxy, Benzoil Peroxide or Salicylic Acid. These are known irritants. Don’t even think about using Proactiv.

* Do not skip the sunscreen. Exposing your Rosacea to the sun can worsen the condition. Use an SPF every single day.

* Aveeno Ultra Calming doesn’t work. Don’t bother. It made my skin greasy and didn’t even touch the redness.

Now for the do’s:

When you have Rosacea, you cannot “scrub” your face like most people can. You cannot use exfoliators or home peels, as these are far too harsh. However, Rosacea is charicterized by bumps, irritation, and dry patches of skin. So removing the dead skin cells is a must in order to keep the skin smooth and reduce irritation. So I use the Shiseido The Skincare Complexion Brush ($23 at Sephora):

Apply your cleanser to the dampened brush and softly brush in a circular motion. The bristles are so silky and soft, it’s almost impossible to brush too hard. What makes this brush different from other complexion brushes is the soft, rubber massage nodules in with the bristles.  The massaging works to firm the skin, and may also stimulate sebum production which will aid in preventing dryness. This is a great product even for people with normal skin.

Toner is also necessary in zapping the pimple-like bumps associated with this condition. I’ve tried so many toners in my day, but my favorite by far, I stumbled across on accident recently. I picked up Neutrogena Deep Clean Dual-Action Invigorating Toner ($6.00, drugstores) when they didn’t have my usual at the pharmacy.

The ingredients on this product read like Rosacea-calming 101: Chamomile, aloe, alcohol (yes, actually), witch hazel, menthol, and blue coloring. The blue coloring is surprisingly essential.  There is an expensive line of Rosacea products used by famous Rosacea sufferers like Bill Clinton, and the blue tinting is a key part of reducing the appearance of redness. Who knew! Anyway, this toner rocks. It calms my skin and has a lovely, botanical, orange-blossom scent. J’adore!

Tea. Tea is yummy, and doctors are finding health benefits associated with tea drinking left and right. Black tea is especially high in anti-inflammatory properties. Given that Rosacea causes histamine production in most sufferers which in turn causes inflammation, taking an anti-inflammatory is the logical step. Uh, and drinking tea is safer than popping ibuprofen like M&Ms, so there’s that. But, There is no medical proof that drinking tea helps Rosacea, but I figure it can’t hurt.

Topically-applied Camellia sinesis is, however, an established Rosacea salve. Look for products with green tea, tea extract, or the above-referenced Latin name in the ingredients. However, avoid the thing called “tea tree oil”, as it’s is not the same thing, and may cause irritation. To get my cuppa going on on my face, I use Kanebo Naive Green Tea Cleanser ($5.99 at evecare.com):

Most folks will reccommend Cetaphil to folks with sensitive skin, but that shit never makes my skin feel clean, and it doesn’t take off makeup for shit. So I use this mild yet effective cleanser. It contains green tea and menthol, which are known to cool and soothe irritated skin. It also makes my skin feel firmer and smoother. And, at $5.99 for a tube that will last a year (use a pea-sized amount on your complexion brush), it’s a steal.

Mosturizers are also key in keeping your poor, afflicted skin happy. There are lots of new products coming out targeting the millions of people diagnosed with Rosacea. Eucerin makes a Rosacea line, but I’m not a fan of their stuff normally. I’m sure I’ll try it some day. But, I’m far more excited about Murad’s Redness-Correcting line, and I plan to buy some as soon as my Shiseido The Skincare moisturizers run out. And, at the same price ($35 for a moisturizer, available at Sephora), it’s still cheaper than most Rosacea treatments.

This moisturizer is mild, contains SPF 15, and has a green tint to help mask the redness. I can’t wait to try it out & tell you how it works! If any of you try it before me, let me know!

That’s about it for my Rosacea spiel. I hope this helps you, Spicy Tamale, and all of you other Rosacea sufferers who may read this blog. Again, feel free to email me with any tips you may need, or leave them in the comments.