4 Reasons You’re Dealing with Skin Redness—and How to Fix It
The problem inspired a beauty product-boom of green-tinted concealers, so you know you’re not alone. But the most annoying thing about skin redness is that there are so many different causes, and getting to the bottom of it—first—is the most effective way to cure the issue. Because, let's face it, knowledge is power, and all those creams and lotions you’re furiously applying could be totally counterproductive. So we reached out to two dermatologists to learn about a few of the most common reasons people deal with redness, plus how to treat each situation.
Still, as always, we should remind you that the primary step in tackling any skin concern is visiting a dermatologist, and allowing them to fully asses and diagnose the state of your complexion.
The hint is in the name. According to dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry, rosacea is described as a chronic skin condition that causes persistent redness and even bumps that look like acne. In the office, Dr. Henry says she utilizes lasers and topical medications to reduce the appearance of inflammation and prominent blood vessels in the office, but you can also find a few solutions at the drugstore for less cash. "Rosacea-prone skin is very sensitive to ingredients in products and the environment," Dr. Henry says. "I recommend a good moisturizer to protect the skin and provide an adequate barrier against irritants we encounter every day. Two of my favorites are CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($14; target.com) or CeraVe Healing Ointment ($12; amazon.com). They keep the skin well moisturized helping to reduce the penetration of redness inducing molecules."
Sometimes what's living inside your skincare products just doesn't mesh with your skin. The result? An allergic reaction from your complexion, a signal to cease the daily application. New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco calls this a "reactive inflammation of redness." These reactive inflammation responses can also be used by an overuse of a product or treatment. She says some super common culprits include high-strength retinols, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, home peels, and over exfoliating.
The most obvious solution is to stop applying the product or cut back on how often you exfoliate or use a retinol. But when it comes to a potential allergen, it's vital that you visit a pro.
The confusing thing about eczema is that there are many different types with a few different names that live under its umbrella. Your dermatologist can help you figure out what type (contact: when something touching your skin is causing irritation, atopic, when the exact cause is unknown, etc.). Most are associated with dryness, itching, scaly skin, and inflammation. Prescribed topical medications can take down the redness, and many skincare brands, like Eucerin and Dove, have formulated products made specifically to ease these symptoms.
One common type of eczema that Dr. Francesca Fusco sees in her office is seborrheic dermatitis. She says it's an inflammatory condition she dubs as "skin dandruff" to her patients. "This can present as (sometimes) flaky red skin on the forehead, nose, and chin." Dr. Fusco says another side effect is scalp dandruff. To treat this issue on your head, she recommends a shampoo like Dove DermaCare Dandruff Shampoo ($5; walmart.com).
"Excess sun exposure can exacerbate rosacea, as well as autoimmune conditions like lupus," Dr. Henry says. "I recommend using a great sunscreen containing at least SPF 30 every day. Physical sunscreens that contain zinc and titanium dioxide are less irritating than chemical sunscreen, so I prefer those." She recommends CeraVe Sunscreen in SPF 30 ($14; amazon.com) or 50.
If you already have sunburn and you need to take down the redness fast, Dr. Fusco says you can try topical milk soaks, taking aspirin as directed, or going into a dermatologist's office for "Gentle Wave LED Treatments."
To make a milk soak, which is also a soothing and temporary treatment for rosacea, Dr. Fusco says to mix equal amounts of whole milk, cold water, and ice cubes. "Soak a cloth in mixture and apply to face for a few minutes and repeat for three cycles. The protein, pH, and cold temp will ease inflammation," she explains.