I’ve never really spoken about my battle with rosacea before but someone on Instagram asked me how I get my complexion looking so healthy and it absolutely made my day. Because that hasn’t always been the case and it’s taken a lot to get to the stage when I’m actually pretty happy with my skin. Sure, I still have off days – it’s naturally quite dry and definitely doesn’t look its best if my diet has slipped but overall, it’s come on leaps and bounds. Growing up, I’ve never liked my skin. Admittedly I’ve been very lucky that I’ve never suffered from spots, even as a teenager but it didn’t ever look even or healthy. As a child my sisters would call me the Little Bit because my cheeks would be flushed like the little cartoons in the 90’s children’s TV show! Whether it was a hairdryer, playing in the garden or eating dinner, my face would go red, hot and angry when the slightest bit of heat reached my body.
It was never a big deal until I reached adolescence when everything’s a big deal! Before long, my teenage diet of fast food, smoking and alcohol wreaked havoc on my skin and my rosacea got a lot worse. I’ve always been diligent with my skincare routine – from the age of 14 years old, I took my make-up off without fail before bed and moisturised night and day. OK, they weren’t the best products and unbeknown to me, were full of alcohol (a known trigger for rosacea) but it was a start. The combination of the wrong skincare products and my lifestyle meant that my cheeks were permanently flushed, hot and aggrevated. There are different levels of rosacea and the extent of mine was purely inflammation – there wasn’t blemishes or itchiness but it definitely wasn’t happy. I didn’t understand what it was other than embarrassing so I would pile on the foundation and constantly check my face in a compact mirror in the hope that my peers or, worse, boys wouldn’t notice! Swimming and summer months were the absolute worse and I would often find excuses to stay at home so I didn’t compromise the lengthy application of my make-up.
It wasn’t until I got to my mid-twenties that I decided to stop covering up the problem and start dealing with the cause of my rosacea. I was sick of wearing layers of foundation and worrying about having spicy foods or alcohol in case they triggered it. I wanted to live my life and there was plenty of other things to negotiate in my life without my skin being one of them. I wanted to lay in the sun without having concerned strangers come up to me and tell me my face is burnt (it wasn’t!), go swimming without putting on waterproof tinted moisturiser and go for a run without people thinking I was about to have a heart attack. So, I did a lot of research, trialled A LOT of different beauty products and overhauled my diet in a bid to recognise the triggers. I’m going to be breaking this down into a few blog posts over the coming months but I wanted to start with topical products and what I found worked for me.
BEAUTY INGREDIENTS TO LOOK OUT FOR
There are so many ingredients in supposedly ‘gentle’ beauty products that’s aggrevating your rosacea. Above everything else, I had to stay away from anything that had alcohol, helichrysum italicum extract, charcoal powder, parabens, mint, grapefruit or orange extract in . A lot of these ingredients have exfoliating properties which are too harsh for sensitive skin. Trying to find products without these in became really difficult and it was around the same time I started working on Natural Health magazine so I started to learn about the benefits of natural skincareit which completely changed my skin. One of the first brands I discovered was Aurelia Probiotic Skincare and I was hooked as soon as I used their cleanser. Their products actively help your skin with every application by managing the levels of inflammation. I use this essence every day to de-stress my skin and give it a barter of hydration and it drinks it up straight away.
Often thought of as weird or smelly, natural skincare has come so far in the last few years and has made my complexion calmer, stronger and more resilient to the point where I can’t start re-introducing other non natural products into my regime. For example, I don’t find natural anti-ageing products to be as effective as non-natural ones so I’m now able to include some heavier-duty products into my routine without my rosacea coming back. Look for ingredients such as rosehip, oatmeal, aloe vera, chamomile and hyarulonic acid that will calm the skin thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. This Pai Day Cream is perfect as a base before you put on make-up, it’s super hydrating and soothes my skin after 5 minutes of massaging it in and it smells amazing!
WHAT TO AVOID
When my rosacea really flared up, all I wanted to do was put every product I had on it to make it better. As tempting as this is, try to keep everything really simple. Your skin is reactive and overly sensitive at this time so what you think might work could actually make it worse. The same goes for exfoliating – try to keep this to a minimum. I exfoliate twice a week now but when my skin was angry I scrubbed using a cream-based product with oatmeal once a week or every two weeks to encourage cell turnover. Keep excessive temperatures away from your skin as much as possible which means luke warm showers and nothing freezing cold which will cause the blood vessels to dilate. If my face felt hot I put a slightly warm flannel on my face. This sounds weird when you just want to put your face in a bucket of ice but it regulated the temperature. Whenever I find my skin needing some instant relief I turn to Medik8’s Red Alert or Dermalogica’s UltraCalm Serum which interrupt triggers to bring any discomfort down straight away.
A great quality mask is perfect to get your skin back to its best. Stay away from anything peeling, drying or exfoliating which will irritate your rosaea. I loved creamy masks like REN’s Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask that hydrated my complexion and put the life back into it again. Moisture is vital when tackling rosacea so anything rich and cool is perfect.
Rosacea is embarrassing and deliberating but it doesn’t define you. Reclaim your self esteem by being kind to yourself and your skin. Take back control by looking into gentle products that will help, not mask the problem and remember to be patient. Rosacea is an ongoing and often long-term problem but it can be managed and at times, cured, but it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes real investment and dedication. But you can get there and it’ll be worth the journey.