Winter With Rosacea: How I'm Keeping Cold-Weather Flare-Ups Under Control

The products and practices that make my redness less noticeable.
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The products and practices that make my redness less noticeable.

After writing about my struggle to find good skincare and makeup routines for my rosacea, I always figured I would revisit the topic once my skin had improved enough for an update. Recently, though, I realized that I would be waiting for quite a while. 

My skin isn’t perfect now, but it probably never will be. The important thing is that I’m doing a better job taking care of it and knowing what works for me now.

Also, I last wrote about my rosacea in the spring. It’s December now, and that means cold weather that can wreak havoc on skin like mine that’s already dry and red. I’m doing a much better job this winter keeping my skin happy, so I thought I would share my routine and favorite products for those of you with similar skin issues.

First, here’s my face without any makeup (besides lipstick) to give you an idea of what I’m dealing with.

The pond behind me froze the day I took this picture.

The pond behind me froze the day I took this picture.

This is usually what my face looks like unless I’m taking pictures or going out somewhere fancier than work or errands. As you can see, my cheeks have a default flushed look. I’m also recovering from a horrible cystic acne breakout unlike anything I’ve ever had. 

After eliminating everything else, I feel 95% certain that it was the Metrogel that I was put on by my dermatologist to treat… my rosacea. Oh, the irony. The moment I try to be proactive and take care of my skin, I get the worst acne of my life because of it. I stopped using the Metrogel, but I still have pretty bad scarring and now I don’t even have anything for my rosacea. I have to go back to the dermatologist now and see if they can prescribe something else.

In the meantime, if I’m having a low self-esteem day because of my skin, then I cover it up with foundation. I have two that I rotate: Clinique Redness Solutions in Calming Alabaster, the palest shade, and L’Oreal True Match in Ivory. 

Here I’m wearing Clinique Redness Solutions Foundation in Calming Alabaster and Rimmel Kate Moss Matte Lipstick in shade #109.

Here I’m wearing Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup in Calming Alabaster and Rimmel Kate Moss Matte Lipstick in shade #109.

The Clinique foundation is $27 and the most I’ve ever spent on foundation (or any makeup so far, actually). I’m not sure the amount is proportionate to the price; you don’t need a ton, but it’s a very small one-ounce bottle. 

It doesn't blend very easily on my skin and can stick to bumps and dry patches. You have to make sure to exfoliate and moisturize really well when using this. Also, it probably won’t cover up any serious zits or spots. 

The good news is that it does a great job of hiding redness, has SPF 15, and gives the most natural look I’ve ever had with a foundation (when I get it to blend properly). I also like that in comes in a squeezable bottle so that getting the right amount of product without a mess is easy. I feel like this might be better as my summer foundation, though, when my skin isn’t as dry.

The L’Oreal foundation is around $8 at Target and is what I’ve stuck with the longest. I’ve had this bottle since last June and still haven’t run out yet. You only need a small amount, and it blends really well. 

It’s much more liquidy and runny than the Clinique. You can use your fingers, but I’ve gotten the best coverage with my foundation brush--and this has really good coverage. I barely need concealer after using this. 

This foundation also has SPF 17. That’s the good news; now the bad news (doing this one in the opposite order!). The packaging is atrocious: you have to pour it out of the bottle, and given the runny consistency it often comes out too fast and makes a mess. I’m also afraid that the shade I have is a bit too pale, and since it is heavy coverage, it can make me look like a ghost if I’m not careful. So, obviously, this is my winter foundation.

The Clinique is on the left and the L’Oreal is on the right.

The Clinique is on the left and the L’Oreal is on the right.

I would suggest using a primer under both of these foundations. Try to pick a green one that will cancel out redness. I tried a sample of Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primer Adjust from Sephora and really liked it. It alleviated my redness somewhat and it definitely made my makeup go on really nicely. 

Even more important than makeup is skincare. Right now I’m just trying to keep my skin hydrated and calm despite the cold air outside and blasting heaters inside.

And these are the products that are helping me do just that.

And these are the products that are helping me do just that.

With my skin type, I’ve found it’s very important to have a gentle, hydrating cleanser that won’t irritate or dry out my skin. I’ve mentioned the Red Better products that were sent to me by VMV Hypoallergenics before, and guess what: I still have all of them. 

I try to use the Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream every night, but it’s probably more like three to five times a week. I definitely use it if I was wearing makeup that day. It’s scent-free and cleans my skin while leaving it feeling soft and hydrated; I’m definitely going to spend the $20 for another tube when this one finally runs out.

Recently I purchased the Precision Pore Cleansing Pad from Sephora for $6 and love using that to apply my cleanser. It really helps to get the cleanser into my pores and gently scrub away all the gunk and dead skin--a good alternative for those of us too cheap or scared to use a Clarisonic.

I also use the VMV Hypoallergenics Red Better Flare-Up Balm when my face is flushing really badly, but I try to use that sparingly because it’s more expensive than the cleansing cream.

I’ve found it’s also imperative to have gentle, fragrance-free makeup wipes that won’t anger my skin. So many make my face red and stinging. I was really happy to find Olay Wet Cleansing Cloths (fragrance-free and with aloe!) and have used them ever since. I use them to take off eyeliner, lipstick, and foundation at the end of the day. I keep them by my bed so if I’m really tired or lazy, I’ll still take my makeup off. Usually it motivates me to keep going and wash my face with my cleanser as well, but if not, they get the job done well enough on their own.

A good moisturizer is so essential that I recently ponied up the money for a really nice one: Dr. Jart Water Fuse Water-Sure Gel. I wrote about it here, if you’re interested. It’s pricey at $38, but I think it’s worth it. It’s extremely hydrating and gets absorbed into your skin insanely fast, and you only need a tiny bit. I put it on in the morning and at night. 

I’m also thinking about picking up some CeraVe moisturizer since everyone here seems to gush about it so much; I feel like it would be a good idea to switch back and forth between the expensive moisturizer and a cheaper option.

Finally, I really love using oils on my skin for an extra moisturizing boost. For around $10 each, I found virgin coconut oil at the grocery store, jojoba oil at my local health food store, and pure argan oil at T.J. Maxx of all places (and I had a gift card, so it was basically free). 

The coconut oil is also great for shaving and moisturizing my legs, and I like to use the argan oil in my hair from time to time. The argan oil is the lightest so I use that during the day for a subtle glow. I’m currently using the greasier jojoba oil at night since my coconut oil has been relegated to the bathroom for my legs.

The argan oil is my favorite solely because it has a pump.

The argan oil is my favorite solely because it has a pump.

A few final tips to keep in mind:

● Avoid long, hot showers. So hard to do in the winter, but necessary if you want to keep your face from becoming flaming red and dry.

● Cut back on booze and coffee. I know, I know: like I’m going to give either of those up in the dead of winter? Just cutting back a little does help to make my face less inflamed though.

● Try to find a workout routine that goes easy on your face. There’s nothing wrong with getting your blood flowing, but I’ve learned to avoid certain things like running outside in the winter. It makes my face way too red and dry and it’s just not worth it. Run inside if you can, or take up an indoor sport that’s more slow-paced, like yoga. Also make sure to keep a cool, damp washcloth nearby for your face.

● Sleeping on a silk pillowcase helps to limit the damage on your skin every night. I don’t know for certain how much it helps with things like rosacea and wrinkles, but it’s definitely nice to not have to wake up with pillow lines on my face anymore.

●Invest in a loop scarf--or infinity scarf or whatever you call it. Not only do they keep your neck warm but you can pull them up to protect your face from the harsh winter air.

I got mine from H&M for $5 and it was completely worth it.

I got mine from H&M for $5 and it was completely worth it.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this picture of me celebrating the very first snowflakes of the season. Just because it wreaks havoc on our skin doesn’t mean winter can’t be fun.