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It’s been almost a decade since I found out I have rosacea. I had persistent redness and acne-like bumps on my face and I had no idea why. Over the years, I worked with my dermatologist to manage my rosacea. During that time, it was mostly on me to find out what my daily triggers were so that I could avoid them. While some things are common knowledge such as spicy foods, others took some trial and error to figure out, especially when it comes to skincare.
I experimented with several skincare products and ingredients and finally perfected my rosacea skincare regimen. As a result of all that trial and error, I had this list of rosacea dos and don’ts in my mind in the end. So I’m hoping to save you some time by sharing these common skincare mistakes to avoid if you have rosacea. Keep reading to find out more.
Skincare Mistakes To Avoid with Rosacea
1. Applying Skincare On Wet Skin
Applying skincare products on wet/damp skin is the most common skincare mistake people with rosacea make. You once read somewhere that it’s best to apply your moisturizer on wet skin.
But that’s not the whole truth! If you’re using a treatment product such as a vitamin C serum or an exfoliator, you shouldn’t apply them when your skin is wet or damp.
Wet skin is more absorbent. Skincare products penetrate more when you apply them on wet skin. That means an increased likelihood of irritation for people with rosacea.
This happened to me when I first tried The Ordinary Resveratrol + Ferulic Acid Serum. I thought it was the product that irritated my skin.
When it happened again with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner, I quickly discovered the common denominator: wet skin! The problem went away when I started using the same products on dry skin.
So avoid using skincare on wet skin. Instead, apply them on clean, dry skin. The only exception to this rule would be your moisturizer or hydrating face serum ONLY IF they don’t contain any active ingredients.
2. Taking Hot Showers
I feel like this is a mistake we often knowingly make. Taking long hot showers is not a good practice if you have rosacea or sensitive skin.
If I stay in the shower a little longer than usual enjoying a steamy shower, my skin immediately becomes red with red blotches all over my face.
It’s because heat is a common trigger for rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends using warm water for showers and baths instead of hot water.
Additionally, just like I mentioned above, avoid doing your skincare routine immediately after taking a shower, especially if it was a hot one.
I enjoy binge-masking several times a week. I use several, gentle face masks without irritation whatsoever. But when I use these masks right after a hot shower, they irritate my skin.
Increased sensitivity from heat gives me flushing, making it impossible to use my products. Instead, I learned to give it about 20 minutes to let my skin cool down and acclimate before using anything.
3. Using Comedogenic Products
Comedogenic products refer to skincare products that contain ingredients that have the potential to clog your pores and cause acne.
But because we are so preoccupied with going for gentle skincare to avoid rosacea flare-ups, we sometimes overlook the most important criterion when selecting skincare: skin type! Big mistake if you have rosacea, especially acne rosacea.
Rosacea subtype 2, which is commonly known as papulopustular rosacea causes raised bumps on the skin. Sometimes, they are simply raised, red bumps. Other times, they are pustules. And these are commonly mistaken for regular acne.
When you have oily skin that’s already prone to acne, using comedogenic skincare will only make it more difficult to distinguish between the two.
As a result, you won’t be able to select the right treatment products, and can even make things much worse without even knowing it.
So when selecting your skincare products, especially your moisturizer, make sure it’s suitable for your skin type. Go for oil-free, non-comedogenic products if you have oily skin.
4. Popping Rosacea Bumps
Just don’t. It’s useless. Again, acne rosacea is commonly mistaken for acne. However, the most important difference between the two is that there are no blackheads present in acne rosacea.
Not that you should pop a regular pimple but trying to pop rosacea pimples is way more unpleasant. The bumpy area becomes even more red and sensitive.
And it looks worse the next day! I’m speaking from experience and trust me, leave it and don’t touch it if you don’t want to deal with a full-blown rosacea flare-up.
Instead, use anti-inflammatory skincare products such as skincare with oatmeal or Centella Asiatica and let it go away on its own. Do not interfere. And that brings me to my next point.
5. Not Seeing a Dermatologist
With all the skincare available today, we think we can take matters into our own hands and manage rosacea, which is a mistake. You don’t have to live with it. When handled properly with the help of a professional, rosacea is highly manageable.
A typical journey includes a diagnosis, a treatment plan, and a follow-up. The rest is about avoiding your triggers and preventing flare-ups by doing adjustments in your daily life and your skincare.
This is what happened with me and a few other friends of mine who were dealing with facial redness and took my advice and saw a dermatologist.
Treating rosacea is far from just about using gentle cleansers or avoiding fragrances. These practices are about preventing symptoms. They’re not permanent solutions.
Only a dermatologist can tell you if it’s acne or acne rosacea. And only they can offer you the best treatment to get rid of rosacea. So don’t skip this step and see a dermatologist.
Using facial scrubs to exfoliate rosacea skin is a common skincare mistake. We think that exfoliating with chemical exfoliants such as lactic acid is going to be more irritating. To get rid of dead skin cells and smooth out skin texture, we resort to facial scrubs.
This is something you should avoid because the irritation potential is twofold: irritation from scrub particles and rubbing.
Avoid vigorously rubbing your face with exfoliating scrubs if you don’t want to deal with redness and sensitized skin.
Instead, use gentle exfoliators for rosacea made with low-concentration hydroxy acids such as mandelic acid or gluconolactone. If you don’t overdo it, you can exfoliate even if you have rosacea.
7. Skipping Sunscreen
Sun protection is one of the most important aspects of a proper skincare routine. It’s the same when you have rosacea. Because sun exposure is one of the most common causes of rosacea flares. Even if you’re not out and about, use an SPF of 30 or higher to prevent sun-induced rosacea flares.
Personally, I can swear that seeing a dermatologist and making it a habit to use sunscreen daily have been the two most helpful things I have done for my rosacea skin.
8. Not Taking Your Unique Skin into Account
As people with rosacea, we’re always told to avoid fragrance, and alcohol in our skincare products, go for mineral sunscreens, or steer clear from active ingredients.
At this point, these tips have been repeated so many times that we don’t think twice about them anymore. Accepting these skincare tips as truth is a very common mistake people with rosacea make.
I have a whole collection of articles about rosacea here. And one thing I always bring up is to not judge a product based on ingredients. Another one is to always go for what suits your unique skin.
Here’s an example. Avene is one of the most beloved skincare brands among dermatologists, especially when it comes to sensitive skin. Yet, most of their products contain fragrance! But they work!
Ascorbic acid which is pure vitamin C is supposedly the best form of vitamin C. Yet nobody seems to understand that just because vitamin C derivatives are less potent, it doesn’t mean they’re useless. They work better for sensitive skin!
Again, mineral sunscreens are supposedly non-irritating and better than chemical ones. However, some mineral sunscreens, especially the ones with zinc oxide, cause dryness. How is that better?
My point is that you should always consider your own skin’s needs and not follow some skincare trend religiously just because somebody says so.
I used up a salicylic acid serum which contained fragrance, alcohol, and essential oils to clear up my acne. My daily sunscreen is a chemical one. It works for me! That’s what’s important. Find what works for you.
So these are some of the most common skincare mistakes to avoid with rosacea. We all know that spicy foods and hot beverages are usually a no-no for people with rosacea. But skincare is very subjective, and personal, and involves different practices for different people. And tiny, subtle things we do or don’t do with our skincare can actually have a big impact on rosacea symptoms. By avoiding these easily overlooked mistakes in your skincare, you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration.