Rosacea is a chronic, yet fairly common skin disorder. Its trademark symbol? Small, red, pus-filled bumps that come about during a flare-up, which can make it difficult to distinguish from acne at times. Other symptoms include redness, flushing, and patchy dryness which are typically present on the face, particularly the nose, cheeks, and forehead, though it has been known to travel to the neck, chest, and back.1 Though there are a ton of products out there claiming to treat it, there are only a few that truly do the job of calming the redness. Here are some extremely helpful ingredients to look out for.
A compound found in wheat, rye, and barley, azelaic acid is a well-known rosacea helper as its skin-soothing properties help calm persistent redness and sensitivity. Plus, it acts as a mild exfoliant to unclog and refine pores, which is a huge help in targeting the bumps, breakouts and enlarged pores that go along with condition.2 The thing with azelaic acid however is that it takes a couple of weeks to do its job. So when used consistently, you should start to see results within about a month or so.
If you’re into health and nutrition, even in the slightest, you’re no stranger to the importance of B vitamins, namely B3. The topical form is niacinamide, a water-soluble B3 with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a good ally to have in your skincare regimen if you’re a rosacea-sufferer. 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.3
A fairly new player in the rosacea treatment game, tranexamic acid is derived from essential amino acid lysine, it’s said to boast some of the most incredible benefits when it comes to hyperpigmentation, scarring, or splotchy red complexions, aka the hallmark of rosacea. Not only does it brighten skin and improve the appearance of discolouration, but it also helps combat inflammation.4 Bonus: it’s a super gentle ingredient on its own. Just be cautious when combining it with other ingredients. As with any skincare product, it’s always best to add them one at a time to make sure your skin can handle it.
One of the components of licorice root extract (the one responsible for making licorice taste sweet), glycyrrhetinic acid is known as the calmer. It also helps minimize sensitization and even plays a role in the brightening and improving the look of uneven skin, making it a strong addition to your rosacea skincare arsenal. It’s also considered an antioxidant, which are known to help protect against free radicals.5 And since rosacea sufferers often have an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals, every little bit helps.
Also referred to as gotu kola, centella asiatica is the leafy plant with a long history in traditional medicine. It’s also a rich source of active ingredients including saponins, flavonoids, phenolic acids and antioxidants. All good news for rosacea sufferers. Not only does it help calm inflammation, but it also encourages the production of collagen, while improving skin hydration.6 Thus providing the perfect trifecta of benefits to help in the fight against rosacea.
We’ve already mentioned a couple of them, but when it comes to treating skin conditions, antioxidants really do pack a punch. Not only do they help combat that free radical damage we were talking about earlier, but they can also help with a whole host of symptoms. For rosacea in particular, antioxidant-rich vitamin C is an amazing one. It helps strengthen the capillaries (which means less redness) and it also improves flushing associated with the condition.7
Learning which ingredients work for you may take some doing as everyone is different and some may work better than others, depending on the seriousness of your condition as well as your skin type. If you’re having trouble finding the right products for your skin, speak to a dermatologist to help you explore some options.
- Powell, F. C. (2005). Rosacea.New England Journal of Medicine, 352(8), 793-803.
- Gollnick H, Layton A. Azelaic acid 15% gel in the treatment of rosacea. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2008 Oct;9(15):2699-706. doi: 10.1517/14656518.104.22.16899. PMID: 18803456.
- 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.
- Li Y, Xie H, Deng Z, Wang B, Tang Y, Zhao Z, Yuan X, Zuo Z, Xu S, Zhang Y, Li J. Tranexamic acid ameliorates rosacea symptoms through regulating immune response and angiogenesis. Int Immunopharmacol. 2019 Feb;67:326-334. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2018.12.031. Epub 2018 Dec 19. PMID: 30578968.
- Hoffmann, J., Gendrisch, F., Schempp, C. M., & Wölfle, U. (2020). New Herbal Biomedicines for the Topical Treatment of Dermatological Disorders.Biomedicines, 8(2), 27. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines8020027
- Silva, D., Ferreira, M. S., Sousa-Lobo, J. M., Cruz, M. T., & Almeida, I. F. (2021). Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Calendula officinalis L. Flower Extract.Cosmetics, 8(2), 31.
- Scheinfeld, N., & Berk, T. (2010). A review of the diagnosis and treatment of rosacea.Postgraduate Medicine, 122(1), 139-143.