This is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now. Frustrated by all the well meaning friends and relatives who would gush over my rosy cheeks and tell me I’d save a fortune on blush, I’ve spent almost 20 years searching for the best products to conceal and diminish my rosacea. Rosacea is a condition in which certain facial blood vessels enlarge, giving the cheeks and nose a flushed appearance. As someone who has lived with facial rosacea my entire life I would constantly trawl the internet looking for the best ways to treat it or camouflage it but aside from a lot of technical medical websites there wasn’t really any tips from people who have it. So here goes, my tips and the best products to use if you have rosacea on your face.
First up, some background info, the type of rosacea I have is just on my cheek area and looks like a bunch of blotchy redness. Until the age of 13 I didn’t think there was anything unusual about the way I looked. That is, until I reached High School. With the onset of puberty my rosacea reached it’s optimal redness and activities such as physical education class, becoming embarrassed and even laughing a lot would light me up brighter than a stop sign. As you can expect, my class mates found this most amusing and I was teased relentlessly, often coming home in tears. I can still recall the names they called me and the feeling of complete humiliation. I remember crying in my room and rubbing my face with a wash cloth, hating my face and hoping I could rub it away (of course the constant rubbing only made it worse). As a result of all of this, when I was 15 I went to a dermatologist to see what could be done about my face. He told me that mine was the worst case he’d seen in someone my age (not helpful) and at that time the main treatment to remove it was a laser procedure. I was told the procedure was painful, potentially only temporary, expensive and could lead to permanent scarring. I decided it really wasn’t worth it and instead began to hide it under foundation. And those High School bullies I mentioned, well they teased me for wearing make-up and it was at that point that I realised no matter what I did it wouldn’t change how they treated me and eventually they found someone else to belittle.
I debated whether or not to put an image in this post of my face make-up free. As sad and narcissistic as it sounds, it’s way out of my comfort zone to be so exposed. But really it’s the only way to demonstrate what my rosacea looks like so to hell with it. This is me on an average day without a scrap of makeup on and filter-free. Sometimes one cheek is rosier than the other which looks really weird! This is basically middle ground – I can get a lot redder than this and I’m at my least red when I first wake up which is why I tend to apply make-up first thing even if I’m not heading out until the evening.
There are different types of rosacea in varying degrees. I find that with me, my skin tends to be quite dry with an oily t-zone. I don’t use toner as I find this drys out my skin too much and I usually lean towards products for sensitive skin. Also I have found that as I’ve gotten older my skin has calmed down a lot.
I love the French brand La Roche Posay Rosaliac’s range which is specifically for rosacea. There are so many more brands producing creams for rosacea now than there were 20 years ago which is fantastic. Avene also do a great range but La Roche Posay would be my top pick.
I use the Rosaliac AR Intense cream at night before I go to bed. I have noticed a visible reduction in my redness since I started using this product about 6 months ago. It’s not a really heavy moisturiser so could easily be worn as a day cream. I sometimes alternate this with a heavier moisturiser at night during winter as that’s when my skin can become extra dry and a bit flaky.
I use the anti-redness moisturiser under my foundation. It is green tinted and makes my skin so smooth. As my skin is quite dry it is prone to small bumps but using this cream masks all that and leaves a smooth finish under foundation.
La Roche Posay also have a CC Cream in their Rosalic range that I haven’t been able to find in Australia yet but I’m dying to try it. Priceline have a good range of the La Roche Posay products.
I tend to change my cleansers a lot but have been using Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser for a few months now and I quite like it. While the dryness of my skin would probably benefit from a cream cleanser, my rosacea does not benefit from the rubbing that it involves so I’ve always tended towards wash off cleansers. I rinse off twice with this and my skin feels super clean. Plus it removes eye make-up as well which is incredibly convenient.
I’m a big fan of the occasional mask treatment. I’ve tried a few different ones but my favourite is Trilogy Mineral Radiance Mask. This mineral-rich kaolin clay mask nourishes and hydrates, leaving my skin feeling soft and smooth and visibly less red. Again, the fact that you wash it off and not rub it off adds greatly to its appeal.
One of the worst things you can do when you have rosacea is get sun burnt. I’m obsessive about sunscreen, especially on my face. I tend to wear sunscreen all year round and in summer I carry this little Nivea around with me. It has a lovely non-greasy formula and is perfect for re-applying during the day.
I have probably used every brand of foundation there is. Particularly when I was at High School, I needed one that would last through the day and P.E class. For many years I was strictly a Revlon Colourstay Foundation girl as it gave the best coverage and did not budge at all. Then I moved onto Maybelline Mineral Mousse until it was discontinued. In the last few years though I’ve been experimenting with others and there are a few brands I really like.
Loreal Lumi Magique goes on smooth and has a lightness about it that you don’t often get with a foundation. Coverage is great and I usually just apply it with my fingers. It lasts all day without needing a touch up and it doesn’t irritate my skin.
Ordinarily I stear clear of BB Creams and the like as I find they are like tinted moisturisers which give me nowhere near the coverage I need. Max Factor‘s CC Cream is different. In the coverage department it rests somewhere between a tinted moisturiser and a foundation. It’s for those days when my skin is behaving and I can afford to be a little lighter on the coverage. It feels light and goes on smooth and you can build up in places that have more redness.
This is my God-send. Loreal Studio Secrets Anti-Redness Primer. As my skin is dry I use it on top of my moisturiser and under my foundation. It instantly visible reduces redness. Sadly I think it may be discontinued in Australia which is why when I was in America two years ago I bought as many as I could bring back.
I use this Maybelline Fit Me concealer to target any spot redness that is still apparent even after foundation. As my rosacea is so splotchy some areas of my face are a darker red than others so this just helps to even out my skin tone. I like its creamy consistency and blendability (if that’s even a word!).
I’m a big fan of powder. I know the natural, dewy look is in and trust me, I’ve tried it, but by the end of the day it had worn completely off. For me finishing your foundation off with a powder just locks it in and gives a matte finish which I prefer. I love Maybelline Loose Powder. Easy to apply, amazing coverage, it minimises shine and gives my a flawless finish.
My other favourite powder is Revlon Photo Ready. This comes as a pressed powder compact with a mirror and tiny brush. I don’t use the brush, I use a powder puff and apply all over my face and use the brush to dust it off. Again, amazing coverage and a flawless finish. As with all powders it’s important not to be too heavy handed – especially if you’re heading out during the day.
I know it sounds stupid that I spend all this time and effort covering over my rosy cheeks only to then add blush. As I try not to be too heavy handed with the foundation, a little bit of redness is usually visible on the apples of my cheeks so I use blush to enhance and polish this off. I’ve used many different blushes in the past but my current favourite is Revlon Highlighting Palette with it’s multi-tonal effect. If gives a lovely, natural flush with a little bit of shimmer in it which highlights your cheek bones. I only apply it to the apples of my cheeks – I’m not really into the whole contouring thing.
Things that do not work for me
- tinted moisturisers – nowhere near enough coverage.
- Max Factor Pan Cake – you really only have the one shot to get this on right with its powder to liquid formula. There is no room for layering cause as soon as you wet your face whatever you’ve put on comes off.
- green tinted powders – use caution. I once resembled Kermit the Frog.
- toners – they dry out my skin and one time a toner chemically burnt my whole face because of my sensitive skin.
- cream and liquid blush – too much rubbing involved and is more appropriate if you don’t wear powder and want the dewy look.
So there you have it. I hope this has in some way helped anyone out there with rosacea. Of course part of managing redness has a lot to do with health as well. I find my rosacea flares up whenever I drink wine or if I’m near a heater or fire, certain foods can agitate it and most people will advise you not to have a bath as the rising heat can make it worse. I’d be curious to know what other people use or don’t use as there are probably heaps of other products out there I don’t even know about. As with everything it’s about finding what works for you.