The Importance of Hydration for Rosacea-Prone Skin & How to Pump it Up


Dry skin affects us all. Cold winters, low humidity, and general age are the main culprits that cause it to dry out.1 For some rosacea sufferers, namely the ones who have to deal with the dry skin rosacea (versus the oily skin variety), those factors can make their already dry skin situation even worse. How can you combat the dryness and bring on the hydration? First let’s look at how dryness develops in the first place.

When Does Skin Dryness Happen?

It all comes down to the skin barrier, basically the skin’s watchdog, keeping all the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. It also helps the body hold onto natural moisture by preventing water loss.2 But if the skin’s outer layer is parched (from the factors listed earlier), it’ll look that way too, dry as a bone.

Why is Hydration so Important?

if skin’s not hydrated on the outside, it’ll weaken the skin barrier, making it easier for environmental intruders to get in3—a nightmare for those with rosacea as it leads to even more irritation, peeling, and burning. Uncomfortable to say the least. Hydration is literally the first defense in our barrier function for healthy skin. So how can you help your skin stay hydrated if you’re rosacea-prone? Read on. 

Our Top 3 Tips to Help Pump Up Hydration

  1. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

    Yes, it’s that important. Not only creates an extra barrier on your skin that blocks out irritants, it helps keep rosacea flare-ups at bay. Just as important as moisturizing? Choosing the right one. You want to look for products that will be hydrating and delicate on sensitive skin, so looking for the words oil-free, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic is a good place to start. In fact, the fewer ingredients, the better. So what ingredients should you look out for? Here are a couple well-known hydration helpers (that are definitely worth speaking to your dermatologist about).

    Niacinamide: It improves texture and it can also help strengthen the protective barrier function of the skin by increasing the natural lipids found on the surface, while reducing water loss.4

    Hyaluronic acid: Not only is this ingredient super hydrating, it also helps the skin cells retain moisture.5 A must for those suffering from rosacea.

    Azelaic acid: Its skin-soothing properties help calm persistent redness and sensitivity plus it delivers a good hydration boost.6

  2. Avoid These Products That Dry Out the Skin

    Cleansers and moisturizers with harsher ingredients should be completely avoided as they can further dry out the skin leading to more redness. What are those ingredients you ask? Here are a couple to steer clear from.

    Hard soap: Typically, these “regular” soaps are incredibly high in detergents and other harmful chemicals (including skin-irritating fragrances). That’s why rosacea sufferers should stay away.

    Salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids: These work by dissolving cell buildup, which can be beneficial under normal circumstances, but if your skin is suffering from a rosacea breakout, it can be too irritating and drying.

    Benzoyl peroxide: This ingredient may be a friend to acne but it’s a foe to rosacea. It increases skin’s oxidative stress which increases inflammation and, you guessed it, increases dryness.

  3. Avoid Common Rosacea Triggers and Be Gentle to Your Skin

    Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. Anything that triggers a flare-up will inevitably bring on more dryness, so try to avoid rubbing or scrubbing with washcloths or exfoliants. You’ll also want to watch that sun, the most common rosacea trigger, or at the very least invest in a really good sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.7 And remember to be as careful with the ingredients in your sunscreen as you are with your cleansers and moisturizers.

    In addition to the aforementioned tips, eating a diet rich in hydrating foods, like fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water can also help you deal with dryness from the inside out. And as always, if you’re looking at introducing new products into your skincare arsenal as a rosacea sufferer, be sure to run them by a dermatologist to make sure they’re right for you.


  1. Yi Jin, Fan Wang, Megan Carpenter, Richard B Weller, Dominic Tabor, Sarah R Payne, The effect of indoor thermal and humidity condition on the oldest-old people's comfort and skin condition in winter, Building and Environment, Volume 174, 2020, 106790, ISSN 0360-1323. Retrieved from:
  2. Rosso JD, Zeichner J, Alexis A, Cohen D, Berson D.Understanding the epidermal barrier in healthy and compromised skin: clinically relevant information for the dermatology practitioner: proceedings of an expert panel roundtable meetingJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016;9(4 Suppl 1):S2-S8.
  3. Rosso, J. D., Zeichner, J., Alexis, A., Cohen, D., & Berson, D. (2016). Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner: Proceedings of an Expert Panel Roundtable Meeting. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology9(4 Suppl 1), S2–S8. Retrieved from:
  4. Emer, J., Waldorf, H., & Berson, D. (2011, September). Botanicals and anti-inflammatories: natural ingredients for rosacea. InSeminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery(Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 148-155). WB Saunders.
  5. Gollnick H, Layton A. Azelaic acid 15% gel in the treatment of rosacea. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2008 Oct;9(15):2699-706. doi: 10.1517/14656566.9.15.2699. PMID: 18803456.
  6. Masson F. [Skin hydration and hyaluronic acid]. Annales de Dermatologie et de Venereologie. 2010 Apr;137 Suppl 1:S23-5. DOI: 10.1016/s0151-9638(10)70005-3. PMID: 20435251. Retrieved from:
  7. American Academy of Dermatology. “Proper skin care lays the foundation for successful acne and rosacea treatment.” News release issued August 1, 2013. Last accessed July 31, 2017.