Can you Use Retinol with Rosacea?

Can you Use Retinol with Rosacea?

Finding a skincare routine at the best of times can be tricky, let alone when you prone to flare-ups in rosacea. It can often feel like an impossible task finding ingredients that can keep your complexion looking and feeling its best. With that in mind, I wouldn’t blame you for scratching your head with slight confusion when you hear how using retinol can help combat rosacea. Yes, admittedly it doesn’t really add up using one of the most potent skincare ingredients topically on a skin that is suffering from rosacea, known for making your skin feel tight, dry, and uncomfortable.

Don’t worry though as we will make everything a lot clearer by the end of today’s blog post, so stick around if you want to know whether you can use retinol with rosacea.

Will retinol make rosacea worse?

The short answer is no, it won’t, even though common belief and misunderstanding of how retinol works may make you feel it is a recipe for disaster. Quite often many think retinol exfoliates the skin when in fact it increases the speed of the skin cell cycle, pushing away the build-up of dead skin cells and revealing fresh, vibrant skin giving you a glowing complexion. This is why using retinol with rosacea will benefit the areas suffering from inflammation as they will be significantly reduced. Having said that, if your skin is particularly sensitive it is best to consult with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure you are using the correct concentrate that will benefit the skin and prevent any unwanted reactions. 

Can you use retinol cream on rosacea?

Yes, you can, so long as you have checked with a dermatologist or medical professional that it is safe to do so. As I have already mentioned, by applying a topical cream or lotion containing retinol you are able to reduce any inflammation or flare-up of rosacea. To help combat any further potential severe dryness, team your retinol cream by applying a serum beforehand packed with hyaluronic acid and other hydrating and skin-repairing ingredients.

One important point to remember with retinol is that it must be introduced in the correct way. You do this by starting with one application a week during your evening routine, you then need to allow the skin to build tolerance and work your way up to every other evening. If this is new information for you and you’re finding retinol a little confusing to understand you can check out our dedicated blog post about the skincare benefits of retinol.

What retinol is best for rosacea?

When you first start using retinol to combat rosacea flare-ups it is advisable to use formulas that are available over the counter. The reason for this is because the percentage of retinoid used in the product is lower than the other more potent formulas that are medical grade or prescription only.

Try to find formulas that are light-weight and are in a serum or oil consistency especially if there are other hydrating ingredients included in the blend as this will not only help calm the inflammation of the skin surface, but you will also ensure the protective skin barrier is strengthened with the correct levels of water. The reason this is important is because when the skin barrier is weakened skin damage caused by exposure to free radicals, such as pollution, central heating and UV rays will result in signs of ageing, uneven skin tone and loss of elasticity.

What should you not use on your face if you have rosacea?

There are several skincare ingredients that should be avoided when you are prone to rosacea flare-ups. Here are examples of the worst ingredients that should not be used:

  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Alcohol
  • Fragrance 

You’ll find that these ingredients are often found in skincare products such as toners, astringents, and cleansers. To avoid aggravating the problem the best thing to do is to never use toners and switch to cleansers that are gentle and non-foaming.

How do you calm down a rosacea flare-up?

If you find you are suffering from a rosacea flare-up here are some of the easiest and most effective steps to take to help combat the inflammation and soothe irritated skin. 

  1. Switch to a gentle cleanser- Ensure you are using lukewarm water and massage the cleanser onto your skin very carefully. Once you have finished dry the skin by using a soft towel and patting gently.
  2. Moisturise daily- In fact, moisturise twice a day to ensure you are maintaining effective skin health, especially if you opt for a formulation that is packed with hyaluronic acid and other hydrating ingredients.
  3. Avoid using harsh products- Even the gentlest formulas of face scrubs will be too much for the skin. Therefore, you should avoid using products, such as face scrubs and exfoliating toners.
  4. Use sun protection every day- Even days that are gloomy and overcast it is still very important to use a daily SPF. This will protect the skin from exposure to UVB and UVA rays as well as other environmental aggressors and free radicals.
  5. Test your makeup before applying it to the face- Quite often you’ll find that makeup formulas contain a lot of fragrance which can cause rosacea to worsen. Before applying any foundations or any makeup test it by dabbing a small amount next to the inflamed area of skin. If there are no signs of the rosacea becoming worse, you are safe to apply the makeup to your face.

How long do the retinol uglies last?

The retinol uglies are a term used by many to describe the side effects of applying retinol to the skin for the first time. When building the skin’s tolerance, you’ll find there are areas of flaky patches of skin, slight redness, itchiness, and the skin will feel dry and uncomfortable. There is no escaping the uglies and it is considered something that you just must wait out, some find they last a week, some closer to three weeks. You can help combat and soothe any areas with hyaluronic acid to give the skin a boost in hydration. 

There you have a little information about using retinol when you have rosacea, don’t forget if you have any concerns with using certain skincare products its best to consult with a doctor or dermatologist. For any other skincare related questions you can come and follow us on Instagram.


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