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Makeup for rosacea

How to ensure your cosmetics aren’t contributing you your rosacea flare-ups.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jan 29, 2024 • 15 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
Woman applying makeup to cover rosacea - rosacea tips from the experts
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jan 29, 2024 • 15 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Summary

  • People with rosacea, a chronic skin condition, might experience redness, flushing, visible blood vessels, and other symptoms. Makeup can be used to help conceal rosacea.

  • A number of factors may contribute to rosacea flareups, including some cosmetics ingredients. That’s why it’s important to understand which products are not likely to irritate sensitive, rosacea-prone skin.

  • By following a proper skincare and makeup routine, people with rosacea can minimize the appearance of their symptoms and get healthier skin in the long run. 

  • Cosmetics like non-comedogenic foundations, concealers, setting sprays, and primers can help to reduce the redness that may result from rosacea.

You already know acne-safe makeup is smart skin care. Level-up the skin love with your own Curology Custom Formulaᴿˣ.*

When living with skin conditions like acne or rosacea, it’s important to be careful about what touches your skin. While makeup doesn't generally trigger rosacea flare-ups, certain ingredients in cosmetic products can. Lucky for you, Curology’s experts have found several cosmetics that are generally suitable for rosacea-prone skin, so you can conceal unwanted redness with the right skincare and makeup routine. Let’s get into it!

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. People with rosacea might experience these symptoms:¹

Redness and flushing

If you have rosacea, you may experience frequent flushing or persistent redness mainly across the nose and cheeks, but it can also affect the forehead and chin. This symptom is often the first sign of rosacea.²

An increase in skin thickness

Skin thickening, or phymatous changes, are a secondary symptom of rosacea. Thickening may happen if your sebaceous (oil) glands enlarge (aka hyperplasia),³ which may occur alongside the dilation of hair follicles.⁴

Visible blood vessels (aka telangiectasias)

Dilated small blood vessels, known as telangiectasias, can occur with rosacea.⁵ This may happen due to exposure to extreme temperatures, spices, and alcohol, all of which may trigger rosacea flare-ups.⁶

Papules or pustules (similar to pimples)

If you have the papulopustular form of rosacea, you may be experiencing papules and pustules on the affected area(s) of your face. This subtype of rosacea is sometimes called adult acne, but acne-like bumps from rosacea don’t have comedones.⁷ ⁸

Knowing your other rosacea triggers and avoiding them can help you to manage and decrease rosacea flares. Ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties like ivermectinmetronidazole and azelaic acid may also be beneficial.⁹

Makeup doesn’t cause rosacea, so feel free to wear it if it helps you feel more confident! That said, it is important to find makeup without potentially irritating or pore-clogging ingredients. Since there’s no cure for rosacea, many people use foundations and concealers to cover up persistent redness from time to time.

What causes rosacea

While the exact cause of rosacea isn’t fully understood, several known factors may contribute to its development. These include:¹⁰

Family history: Genetics may play a role, as a higher occurrence in those with a family history and specific genetic markers has been found in rosacea patients.

Sunlight: Ultraviolet (UV) exposure, can trigger rosacea and might be involved in its onset.

Microorganisms: Demodex mites are more commonly found on rosacea-affected skin, suggesting a potential role, but it remains unclear if they cause or result from the condition. Another organism, Helicobacter pylori, is also associated with rosacea. 

Neurovascular dysregulation: Abnormal dilation of blood vessels and specific reactions in your skin, along with immune system activation, are also considered contributing factors to rosacea’s development.

How to cover rosacea with makeup?

Now that we know the facts about rosacea let’s go over steps you can take to cover the symptoms. The good news is you don't have to be a makeup artist to get the job done!

Foundation and concealer are the star players of a rosacea makeup routine. For the best results, we recommend adding a few additional makeup products to cover your rosacea:

Step 1: Prime. After using a cleanser and moisturizer, apply primer. Give it about 10 minutes to set before continuing to the next step.

Step 2: Foundation. Apply a thin layer of foundation all over your face using a damp beauty blender.

Step 3: Concealer. Apply concealer directly to red areas. Blend with a short, fluffy brush until you eliminate any harsh edges.

Step 4: Blend your foundation and concealer with the damp beauty sponge, which should still have a little foundation.

Step 5: Set your makeup using a pressed or loose powder, then top it off with a setting spray. This is the key to helping your makeup stay locked in place.

Ingredients that may trigger rosacea

Not all makeup products are created equal. Some cosmetic products contain irritating ingredients that can trigger rosacea flare-ups, such as:

  • Alcohol

  • Menthol

  • Added fragrances

Opt for gentle makeup products to avoid triggering your rosacea.

How to apply makeup for rosacea?

The redness and irritation that can come with rosacea can be a daily struggle. But you can achieve a radiant and even complexion with the proper makeup routine.

Let’s dive into a step-by-step guide:

1. Wash your face

Starting your makeup routine for rosacea begins with washing your face, which is a crucial step for cleanliness and skin health. Daily cleansing helps remove environmental triggers that can aggravate rosacea. However, the choice of cleanser is also important. For rosacea-prone skin, harsh products may worsen the condition. It’s best to use cleansers designed for sensitive skin, which are typically gentle and moisturizing. 

These products protect your skin’s protective lipid layer—an essential barrier against irritants and moisture loss. Using the right cleanser ensures a smooth canvas for makeup application and promotes overall skin health.¹¹

Woman Checking Out her Facial Skin

Curology's Gentle Cleanser is an excellent choice for individuals with sensitive skin.

2. Apply moisturizer & sunscreen

Hydration is key! Use a moisturizer like our Curology Gel Moisturizer to keep your face soft and smooth. And, of course, don’t skip the sunscreen—it’ll protect your skin from further flare-ups that may be triggered by UV rays. While many gravitate towards chemical sunscreens for sun protection, those with rosacea should be discerning. Chemical options might make your symptoms worse due to skin irritation.¹² 

Mineral-based sunscreens, rich in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are ideal for sun protection. They sit atop your skin, reflecting harmful UV rays and helping prevent further flare-ups as they don’t tend to irritate the skin.¹³ Try our Curology sunscreen!

As an added advantage, many mineral sunscreens come tinted, offering a dual benefit of protection and a means to mask the characteristic redness of rosacea, ensuring you enjoy both care and confidence.¹⁴ 

3. Apply a redness-reducing primer

Before any makeup touches your face, use a primer to reduce redness. This will provide a smooth canvas and help mask the rosacea flare-ups.

4. Apply foundation

Opt for a foundation labeled hypoallergenic or suitable for sensitive skin. A mineral-based foundation can be soothing. Dab it on gently and blend well. Avoid foundations with mineral oils, fragrances, and preservatives,¹⁵ as these can be irritating. Also, remember that most high-coverage products are not ideal because of their complex pigments, fats, and wax content.¹⁶

5. Apply concealer

If there are still visible red spots or areas, touch them up with a concealer matching your skin tone. Remember, dab and blend—don't rub! Green or yellow-colored concealers that go under your foundation can also camouflage redness.¹⁷

6. Blend your makeup

With rosacea, blend your makeup with care. Ensuring an even spread helps mask the typical redness, giving you a more even skin tone. A soft makeup sponge or blender will help you get that smooth, seamless finish without any noticeable lines or patches. This may be your secret to achieving a confident look that respects your skin’s sensitivity. Remember, the goal is a delicate balance: enough coverage for self-assurance but gentle enough to cater to your skin’s needs.

7. Set your makeup

To keep your look intact all day, lock it in place. A translucent mineral powder or a gentle setting spray can be your ally. This step helps ensure your makeup doesn’t shift, smudge, or fade. By choosing the right setting product, you can go about your day with the peace of mind that your makeup remains fresh.

8. Remove your makeup with a gentle cleanser

At the end of the day, be kind to your skin. Always remove your makeup with a gentle cleanser to avoid causing any additional irritation.¹⁸ When you’re removing makeup from skin affected by rosacea, it’s best to gently use your hands. Oil-based makeup removers that have special ingredients called emulsifiers are recommended. These products can help you avoid stripping away your skin’s natural oils and making your skin feel overly tight.¹⁹

Facing the world with rosacea can sometimes feel challenging, but remember, the right makeup routine may help you feel more comfortable and confident in your skin! It’s all about using products that soothe and protect your sensitive skin while effectively concealing redness. Always opt for hypoallergenic, non-irritating, and gentle products, and be diligent about removing your makeup at the end of the day to keep your skin happy and healthy.

Makeup products for reducing skin redness

Most recommended methods for concealing skin redness use a combination of foundation, concealer, and setting powder or spray. We also recommend using a primer for smooth, long-lasting wear, plus some extra skin hydration. With the help of Curology’s medical experts, we’ve reviewed the formulas of each product to verify they’re non-comedogenic and free of ingredients that commonly trigger skin inflammation, like rosacea.

Primer

makeup primer forms a barrier around the skin, acting as a base for makeup. Primers with silicones, like dimethicone, form an occlusive barrier that helps maintain skin hydration. Use a primer with a green tint for skin redness, like NYX Studio Perfect Primer in Green.

Setting powder

Once you’ve got your look down, you want it to last! That’s where setting powders come in. Talc-free setting powders like Clinique Redness Solutions Instant Relief Mineral Setting Powder are generally best since talc can cause makeup to separate. Talc used in cosmetics is verified to contain no harmful asbestos. Experts have checked many studies and believe that when used as it’s currently done in cosmetics, talc is safe. However, if someone has broken or very damaged skin, it’s best not to use products containing talc on those areas.²⁰

Setting spray

Setting sprays are designed to improve makeup’s staying power. Unfortunately, most of them contain alcohol, which is a known rosacea trigger. Look for alcohol-free options like e.l.f. Cosmetics Makeup Mist and Setting Spray.

Micellar water

Applying makeup is one thing—getting it off is another. Many makeup removers contain alcohol, which is a no-no if you have rosacea. Micellar water is an alcohol-free, oil-free choice, and Curology makes a unique Micellar Makeup Remover with a gel-water texture designed to be gentle on the skin.

Woman holding up Curology's Micellar Makeup Remover

Color-correcting palette

A color-correcting palette is an excellent addition to a makeup arsenal, particularly if you’re also looking to conceal under-eye circles and dark spots. Unfortunately, a lot of them contain ingredients that aren't as skin-friendly, which is why we recommend a rosacea-friendly option, like Kiki Milano Color Correct Concealer Palette.

Foundation for skin with rosacea

Everyone's skin is different, and figuring out what works for you can take some trial and error. Whether you prefer higher-end products or more affordable drugstore finds, there’s a foundation out there that works for you—especially if you layer it on top of a color corrector for maximum impact. These blendable, multi-tasking products are great for helping to cover redness and provide buildable coverage:

The best natural finish: L’Oreal True Match Mineral Foundation

  • Light coverage

  • Natural finish 

  • Powder formula

Concealers for skin with rosacea

What’s a great foundation without a great concealer? The right concealer for rosacea offers full redness coverage without irritating sensitive skin and layers well underneath or over top of your base. From liquid to stick to powder, these formulas are long-wearing and adaptable.

The best liquid concealer: Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Camouflage Color Corrector

  • Full coverage

  • Natural finish

  • Liquid formula

The most convenient: BareMinerals BarePro 16-Hour Full Coverage Concealer

  • Full coverage

  • Matte finish

  • Stick formula 

The best natural finish: Lily Lolo Blush Away Corrector

  • Natural finish

  • Powder formula

  • Light coverage

Color-correcting makeup, explained

Sometimes, no matter how much flesh-toned foundation and concealer you cake on, skin redness can still show through. This is where understanding color-correcting color theory can help.

  • Green helps cancel out redness from rosacea, acne, and other inflammation.

  • Yellows and oranges help cancel out blues and purples from dark circles.

  • Lavender and pink help cancel out brown spots, melasma, and hyperpigmentation.

No matter how red your face is, you’ll want to layer your green products under foundations and concealers that match your natural skin tone.

How to get a custom prescription rosacea treatment

Now that we've fully stocked your makeup bag, let’s talk about your rosacea skincare routine. Just like makeup products, what's in your skincare products matters. But with so many factors at play, finding a rosacea treatment that actually works can be tricky.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology.

Curology members get a dermatologist-designed skincare routine sent straight to their door, featuring a personalized prescription formula with a mix of active ingredients for their specific skin concerns. If Curology is suitable for you, you’ll be paired with one of our in-house licensed medical providers who can prescribe a formula with ingredients like ivermectinmetronidazole, and azelaic acid. Our formulas are vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and designed by dermatologists for all skin types, including those with rosacea. Get started today!*

FAQs

What makeup and skincare ingredients are bad for rosacea?

While wearing makeup does not necessarily trigger rosacea, your cosmetic products can contain ingredients that trigger rosacea flare-ups, such as:

  • Alcohol 

  • Menthol 

  • Added fragrance 

Check the labels of your favorite makeup products to make sure none of the ingredients are known rosacea triggers.

How do you wear makeup if you have rosacea?

Foundation and concealer are the star players of every rosacea makeup routine. To get the best results from your foundation and concealer, you should consider using a few additional makeup products to cover your rosacea, such as primer and setting spray or powder. After washing your face and moisturizing, apply primer, then follow with foundation. Spot-treat redness with concealer, blend, and then set your makeup.

What type of foundation is best for rosacea?

For those with rosacea, it’s important to choose a foundation that is hypoallergenic or suitable for sensitive skin. Mineral makeup foundations can be especially beneficial, as they offer soothing properties that can calm your skin. These foundations can provide adequate coverage without causing further irritation. The key is to ensure that the products you choose are free from potential irritants, such as alcohol and fragrance.

How should I apply concealer on red spots?

When dealing with rosacea, gently dabbing and blending a concealer that matches your skin tone is the ideal method to cover visible red spots. Rubbing can irritate your already sensitive skin. It’s also important to wait at least 10 minutes after applying any topical medications before putting on concealer to prevent adverse reactions or decreased efficacy of the medication.

What’s the best way to blend makeup for rosacea?

Blending makeup well is important for individuals with rosacea. Utilize a makeup sponge or blender to ensure an even application. Proper blending helps in covering rosacea-induced redness effectively, achieving a natural look without noticeable lines or patches.

How can I set my makeup to last all day?

To make sure your makeup stays put and doesn't trigger your rosacea, set it using a translucent setting powder or spray. These products are designed to keep makeup in place throughout various conditions during the day, while also ensuring that the skin's condition isn't aggravated.

How should I remove my makeup at the end of the day?

End your day by gently removing makeup with a mild cleanser. Opt for cleansers that are designed to maintain your skin’s lipid barrier. It’s important to treat your rosacea-prone skin with care, ensuring you don’t cause additional irritation during the removal process.

Is using my hands to remove makeup safe for rosacea?

Yes, using your hands can be safe, but always be gentle and ensure your hands are clean. For effective and safe makeup removal, consider oil products that contain emulsifiers so your skin doesn’t dry out. Remember, your skin with rosacea tends to be more reactive, so a gentle touch is always best.

Are there any makeup habits that could exacerbate my rosacea?

Yes, using foaming cleansers, wearing makeup more than six times a week, using facial masks over four times weekly, and getting professional facial treatments more than once a week could contribute to the development of rosacea.²¹ For all skincare and makeup choices, it's always recommended to test a small patch first or consult a dermatology provider, especially when dealing with conditions like rosacea.

• • •

P.S., We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Gallo, R.L., et al. Standard classification and pathophysiology of rosacea: The 2017 update by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. J Am Acad Dermatol. (January 2018).

  2. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy, S. Rosacea. StatPearls. (2023, August 8).

  3. Culp, B. and Scheinfeld, N. Rosacea: a review. Pharmacy and Therapeutics. (January 2009).

  4. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy, S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  5. Oge, L.K., et al. Rosacea: Diagnosis and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. (2015, August 1).

  6. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy, S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  7. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy, S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  8. Zhong, H., et al. Efficacy of a New Non-drug Acne Therapy: Aloe Vera Gel Combined With Ultrasound and Soft Mask for the Treatment of Mild to Severe Facial Acne. Front Med (Lausanne). (2021, May 21).

  9. Rivero, A.L. and Whitfeld, M. An update on the treatment of rosacea. Aust Prescr. (February 2018).

  10. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy, S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  11. Nowicka, D., et al. Skincare in Rosacea from the Cosmetologist's Perspective: A Narrative Review. J Clin Med. (2022, December 23).

  12. Nowicka, D., et al. Skincare in Rosacea from the Cosmetologist's Perspective: A Narrative Review. J Clin Med. Ibid.

  13. Nowicka, D., et al. Skincare in Rosacea from the Cosmetologist's Perspective: A Narrative Review. J Clin Med. Ibid.

  14. Nowicka, D., et al. Skincare in Rosacea from the Cosmetologist's Perspective: A Narrative Review. J Clin Med. Ibid.

  15. Sobkowska, D., et al. The Role of Cosmetology in an Effective Treatment of Rosacea: A Narrative Review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. (2023, June 5).

  16. Sobkowska, D., et al. The Role of Cosmetology in an Effective Treatment of Rosacea: A Narrative Review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. Ibid.

  17. Sobkowska, D., et al. The Role of Cosmetology in an Effective Treatment of Rosacea: A Narrative Review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. Ibid.

  18. Sobkowska, D., et al. The Role of Cosmetology in an Effective Treatment of Rosacea: A Narrative Review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. Ibid.

  19. Sobkowska, D., et al. The Role of Cosmetology in an Effective Treatment of Rosacea: A Narrative Review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. Ibid.

  20. Fiume, M.M., et al. Safety Assessment of Talc as Used in Cosmetics. Int J Toxicol. (July-August 2015).

  21. Nowicka, D., et al. Skincare in Rosacea from the Cosmetologist's Perspective: A Narrative Review. J Clin Med. Ibid.

Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

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• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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Curology Team

Erin Pate Nurse Practitioner, NP-C

Erin Pate, NP-C

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