Wearing makeup with rosacea can be tricky. Along with all the usual makeup concerns (like picking the right shade, finding a good texture for your skin type, etc.), people with the inflammatory skin condition also have a host of extra worries they may take into consideration like addressing the telltale redness and choosing formulas that won’t irritate. But we took the guesswork out by checking with the experts (a dermatologist and two leading makeup artists) for insights to find the best makeup for rosacea.
What exactly is rosacea?
“Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that can cause redness, swelling and sometimes small bumps,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic, NYC. It’s characterized by small bumps and flushing of the skin. She continues, “It is most commonly found on the face, particularly the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. It is typically triggered by various environmental factors such as sun exposure, diet (like spicy foods), alcohol consumption, weather, heat, stress or certain skincare ingredients.”
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, rosacea affects 16 million Americans and is most commonly seen in fair-skinned adults ages 30 to 60. It may have a genetic component, and it may get worse during menopause as your hormones shift.
What to look for in makeup when you have rosacea
Paying attention to ingredients is key for anyone with rosacea. First, you want to stay away from potential irritants. Insists Dr. Engelman, “Avoid makeup products containing alcohol, fragrance and abrasive exfoliants.”
Then, think “soothing.” When choosing makeup for rosacea, “ensuring that the products are hypoallergenic and contain skin-calming ingredients to reduce redness and inflammation is of the highest importance,” says Yetty Bames, a makeup artist at Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon in NYC as well as for editorial shoots. Some of the add-ins Dr. Engleman recommends: Aloe vera, niacinamide, oatmeal, green tea and witch hazel, which, she says, “are great because they are anti-inflammatory, so they help to reduce redness the skin experiences as a result of irritation from rosacea.”
Dr. Engelman also advises looking for mineral-based products, which are made up of crushed natural minerals from the earth. “Mineral makeup and foundations are great for someone with rosacea because they are more gentle and soothing, and typically contain fewer ingredients,” she explains.
You can also look for green-tinted products made to cancel out redness. Explains Bames, “Based in makeup theory, you can neutralize unwanted color on your skin by using the color wheel as a guide.” Because green is opposite red on the wheel, “It not only cancels out redness, it helps to blur textured skin and raised pimples,” she explains. You simply swipe it on and then apply a concealer or foundation over top.
Should you wear blush with rosacea?
“The only time rosacea comes in handy is when I decide to use it as a built-in blush,” says Bames. That means for some people, the natural flush can simply stand in as blush once evened out with a bit of concealer.
If that sounds tricky or if your redness is mild and easily hidden under your green corrector and/or foundation, then you may use a touch of blush on the cheeks. In that case, Bame recommends using sheer, toned-down formulas to avoid ending up with more redness if your makeup starts to wear off throughout the day.
Prepping the skin for better makeup wear with rosacea
“Prepping the skin before applying makeup is crucial for a good outcome with rosacea. Start with a gentle cleanser suitable for sensitive skin to remove impurities without stripping the skin’s natural oils,” says Dr. Engelman. “Follow up with a lightweight moisturizer to hydrate the skin and create a smooth base for makeup.”
Then, when it’s time to remove, she says, “To prevent irritation, use a gentle, fragrance-free makeup remover or micellar water to cleanse the skin. Avoid harsh scrubbing or exfoliating as this can exacerbate the skin concern.” And, finally, she says, “Follow up with a gentle cleanser to ensure all makeup residue is thoroughly removed.”
The 9 best makeup products for rosacea
Below, the best makeup products to try out if you suffer from rosacea.
Best prepping moisturizer for rosacea
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Fluide Oil Free Moisturizer (Buy from Amazon, $30.99)
Dr. Engelman suggests starting with a lightweight moisturizer without a lot of irritating extras to lay down a smooth foundation for makeup. La Roche-Posay’s Toleraine Fluide is an industry favorite because it’s oil-free and contains just a few ingredients including glycerin for hydration, vitamin B3 (AKA niacinamide) and La Roche-Posay Thermal Water to help restore your skin barrier. Plus, it has a matte finish — key because glossy finishes can exaggerate the bumpy texture that can come with rosacea.
Best powder for rosacea
Mario Badescu Special Healing Powder (Buy from Mario Badescu, $14)
Recommended by Elaina Badro, a celebrity makeup artist and founder of Elaina Badro Luxury Brush Line, this multi-purpose, oil-absorbent powder helps to keep shine at bay, set your makeup and add skincare benefits to soothe all at the same time. It also get points for the quality of ingredients — it’s not typical to find ingredients like sulfur, kaolin, zinc oxide and calcium carbonate all packed into one product for such a low price. Tip: Use it alone as a colorless setting powder or mix it with your favorite setting powder if you’d like a little more coverage.
Best green color-corrector for rosacea
Physicians Formula Butter Glow Corrector in Green (Buy from Physicians Formula, $12.49)
Bames finds that green color-correcting creams are a great addition for people with rosacea, since they neutralize the redness before adding foundation on top. This one is a great choice because of its incredibly smooth consistency (thanks to murumuru, cupuaçu and tucuma butters) that foundation can glide easily on top of. And the doe-foot applicator makes dotting it just where you need it easier for blending.
Best concealer for rosacea
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Color-Correcting Concealer Cream (Buy from Ulta, $38)
While not a traditional concealer, Bames recommends this full-coverage color corrector to hide imperfections with a blurring effect in an instant while treating your irritation. Fans love that it also offers anti-aging peptides, calming colloidal oatmeal, collagen and aloe to keep your skin happy and looking better with every wear. It’s a bit of a splurge, but the results are worth it.
Best primer for rosacea
Elizabeth Arden Flawless Start Instant Perfecting Primer (Buy from Macy’s, $37)
Because rosacea typically has a bumpy texture, using a primer as a first makeup step can help create a smoother surface for makeup. Dr. Engelman recommends this formula, as “it not only preps the skin to hold makeup all day, but it also blurs redness for a great skin base,” says Dr. Engelman. “While working its magic, it has an added bonus of moisturizing the skin, which is helpful in reducing irritation that rosacea can cause,” she explains.
Best foundation for rosacea
Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Lightweight Loose Powder Makeup Foundation (Buy from Amazon, $9.75)
Made with sensitive skin in mind, this mineral foundation is lightweight, breathable and packed with vitamins. But even better for people with rosacea: It’s clinically proven to reduce redness. Devotees love its natural finish, the fact that the coverage is buildable so you can layer it on until you get the coverage you’re seeking and that it stays matte all day.
Best blush for rosacea
Burt’s Bees Blush Makeup (Buy from Ulta, $9.99)
Again, as Bames reminds, if you have rosacea and you want to skip blush, you have professional permission to kick it to the curb. If you’re looking for a formula that will work with your rosacea, however, you need one with subtle buildable pigments that won’t irritate your skin. To the rescue: This natural, mineral-based formula that contains soothing bamboo and honey as well as nourishing vitamin E to help boost your radiance in more ways than one.
Best bronzer for rosacea
Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Glow-Boosting Pressed Bronze (Buy from Amazon, $14.26)
No irritating shimmer here! This bronzer gets high marks from fans for having a nourishing mix of vitamins and antioxidants along with moisturizers that treat your skin while providing a hint of glowing color. Plus, it’s a mineral formula (as recommended by our experts) that’s free of 150+ known harsh ingredients. And it’s also hypoallergenic, which Dr. Engelman says is “essential” for people with rosacea.
Best applicator for rosacea
Elaina Badro Duo Fiber Brush (Buy from Elaina Badro, $30)
Although she may be biased (she makes it after all!), Badro recommends her own Duo Fiber Brush when it comes to applying foundation over rosacea rather than a sponge. Why? Not only does the brush work with both cream and powder formulas, but, she explains, “The bristles are a bit softer vs. using a beauty sponge that creates more bounce, which would irritate the skin,” she explains. The key to flawless coverage? Use it to gently stiple your makeup on rather than swipe. And, like all makeup applicators, make sure to wash weekly to keep it free from bacteria!
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