Can I Use Redness-Reducing Products Even If I Don’t Have Rosacea?

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Welcome to Ask a Beauty Editor, our new column in which Sarah Jacoby, SELF's senior health and beauty editor, goes on the hunt to find the science-backed answers to all of your skin-care questions. You can ask Sarah a question at askabeautyeditor@self.com.

Hi,

Can individuals with sensitive skin who have not been formally diagnosed with rosacea still benefit from "redness-reducing" products? And if so, what will they do? What ingredients are "calming"?

—A

You might think this is a fairly simple question, but there’s a lot going on here! And, as someone who personally deals with a lot of redness (#rosacealife), I’m excited to get into it.

First off, though, I want to be clear here that we’re going to be talking about ingredients in over-the-counter skin-care products that are purported to calm redness—not makeup products, like green tinted color correctors, which basically anyone can use.

So, what’s really in those redness-reducing skin-care products anyway? Usually we’re talking about ingredients like aloe, colloidal oatmeal, green tea, or centella asiatica. But, it turns out that there’s really not much science to support the claim that those ingredients actually reduce redness, Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, tells SELF.

In some cases, they may address related concerns, like skin irritation or dryness. But targeting redness directly? Not likely. So, if you find that redness-reducing products are helpful for you, it may be that you’re dealing with some other common skin concerns that contribute to redness, like dryness or irritation. And if you find a product that helps with that, great!

Also, remember that it’s not always easy to self-diagnose yourself with rosacea because “it comes in many different forms,” Dr. Lipner says, which may or may not include redness. Its other symptoms may include acne-like bumps, broken blood vessels, and thickened skin around the nose. Each of those is treated differently, she says, with a gentle skin-care routine, topical medications, or laser treatments. And, in general, those with rosacea may have better luck with a gentle cleansing and moisturizing routine in addition to lifestyle changes to help manage their triggers rather than products that specifically target redness.

On the flipside, not all redness is related to rosacea, Dr. Lipner points out. Eczema as well as some immune-related conditions, like lupus, can also cause redness in a rosacea-like pattern. So if you’re trying redness-reducing products and aren’t seeing results, that might be a sign to talk to a dermatologist about what might be causing your redness.

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Ultimately, Dr. Lipner doesn’t think there’s any real harm for those with healthy skin to try out redness-reducing products containing things like aloe or oatmeal. But if you’re using them to address a different concern (like, say, inflammation related to acne), there’s probably something better out there.

However, knowing that people with rosacea often have sensitive skin, it’s important to use these products with caution as they can actually cause irritation in some patients, Dr. Lipner says. And if you do have redness, it’s important to get it properly diagnosed with a board-certified dermatologist so you can manage it in the most effective way.

Related:

https://www.self.com/story/redness-reducing-products-rosacea, GO TO SAUBIO DIGITAL FOR MORE ANSWERS AND INFORMATION ON ANY TOPIC

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