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The benefits of a cleanser for rosacea-prone skin

How to find the right formula for maximum relief and hydration.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 7, 2023 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
Rosacea Is a Common Skin Condition that Can Lead to Redness and Irritation
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 7, 2023 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
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.

Are you fed up with redness, rashes, and all the other annoying symptoms that come along with rosacea? You’re not alone; approximately 5.46% of the world's adult population is affected by this chronic skin condition.¹ Fortunately, there are solutions available to effectively address and control its symptoms.

Studies have shown that using a gentle cleanser can help bring natural balance back to your skin and reduce the appearance of dryness, irritation, and other symptoms.² Everyone with rosacea can work toward having healthier, more radiant skin—with fewer flare-ups—by following a skincare routine for rosacea-prone skin. Here’s how to find the right cleanser to help relieve this condition.

Rosacea 101: Understanding the skin condition

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels affecting mainly facial areas.³ People of all ages can experience rosacea, but is more commonly seen in women between 30 and 50 and those with fair skin.⁴

The effects of rosacea can be far-reaching, often beyond the standard physical implications—patients with rosacea-prone skin experience higher embarrassment, social anxiety, depression, and quality of life.⁵

What triggers rosacea? 

Research suggests that genetics may play a role in the development of rosacea, with some individuals being more likely to develop this condition due to their family history.⁶

Fluctuations in temperature, sun exposure, wind, and other environmental elements can trigger flare-ups or exacerbate existing rosacea symptoms.⁷ Also, certain drugs and underlying diseases, such as diabetes and dyslipidemia, can trigger or worsen the condition.⁸

How can a cleanser benefit rosacea-prone skin?

Using the right cleanser is an important step to help you manage this skin condition, helping to reduce skin dryness and irritation. Further, some gentle cleansers are formulated to help soothe and calm the delicate facial tissue associated with rosacea-prone skin. For example, many contain:

  • Ceramides, which help to cool down any burning sensations in the affected area.⁹

  • Sulfacetamide, which helps lessen the surrounding skin’s redness and improve facial seborrheic dermatitis in patients with rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis.¹⁰

In addition to helping reduce symptoms of rosacea, using a gentle cleanser can be beneficial in preventing flare-ups from occurring in the first place. These products are specially formulated with non-irritating ingredients that effectively remove dirt and oils without over-drying or stripping away natural oils from the face. 

Factors to consider when choosing a cleanser for rosacea

When selecting a cleanser for rosacea, there are several factors to consider:

Gentle formulation

Look for a cleanser that contains gentle ingredients, such as centella asiatica extractgreen tea extract, and other natural plant extracts. These will help soothe inflammation and reduce redness while providing effective cleansing properties.¹¹ ¹² It should also be free from harsh ingredients like alcohol, fragrances, sulfates, and dyes that can irritate the skin further.

Hydrating and moisturizing

Moisturizers play a vital role in the treatment of rosacea. They alleviate dryness, relieve symptoms like itching, stinging, and burning, enhance skin texture, and help reduce redness (erythema).¹³

Ceramide-containing moisturizers are beneficial for managing rosacea as they support and protect the skin barrier function.¹⁴ Niacinamidehas been found to significantly improve the protective function of the outermost layer of the skin (known as the stratum corneum) in individuals with rosacea.¹⁵

Individual needs

A key consideration when selecting a cleanser is your individual needs based on skin type and lifestyle factors. What works for one person may work against another, so ensure that you check in with your dermatology provider for personalized advice. 

Allergies

When selecting a cleanser for rosacea, consider any allergies you may have before purchasing a product. Many people find relief from rosacea symptoms when avoiding common irritants like alcohol, sulfates, and fragrances found in some facial washes.

How to safely use a cleanser for rosacea

When using a cleanser, follow the instructions on the product packaging for best results or as advised by your dermatology provider. Before applying a new cleanser to your entire face, patch test it on a small area of skin, such as behind the ear or inside your wrist—checking for sensitivity.

This will let you know whether this specific product works with your skin type without an adverse reaction. Additionally, ensure you are gentle when washing and avoid scrubbing too vigorously, which can cause irritation and dryness.

It is also essential to know how often you should use a particular cleanser depending on its ingredients; some may need more frequent use while others less so. It’s best to consult with your dermatologist if you need clarification on what kind of cleansing routine would work best for your individual needs and preferences to get optimal results without causing further damage from overuse or incorrect usage of certain products.

Types of cleansers for rosacea

There are various types of cleansers, including foaming cleansers, gel cleansers, and cream cleansers. Not all forms of cleansers are suitable for those with rosacea—make sure to speak with your dermatologist about which product suits your needs the best.

But in general when choosing cleansers for rosacea, it’s important to opt for gentle, non-irritating products that won’t exacerbate the condition or cause further redness and inflammation.

Calming cleansers for rosacea: Our top picks

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser is an excellent choice for those with rosacea seeking an effective yet gentle cleanser. This product combines the benefits of ceramides and hyaluronic acid to soothe irritated skin while delivering essential hydration for optimal health of sensitive skin. It also helps remove dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities without stripping away natural moisture found on the surface of your skin, leaving it feeling soft after use.

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is a mild creamy cleanser formulated with minimal ingredients, suitable even for those who suffer from sensitive skin conditions like rosacea. The lightweight texture makes it easy to apply over large areas such as the face without feeling heavy or greasy on the skin after rinsing off. 

La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is specifically designed to target dryness associated with rosacea thanks to its creamy texture. This gentle cleanser cleanses your complexion deeply yet gently. 

Curology’s Cleanser is the go-to product for nourished, redness-free skin

Living with rosacea can be a challenging experience, but some steps can be taken to manage symptoms effectively. Using the right cleanser is essential in keeping skin healthy, as it helps to reduce redness and discomfort associated with this inflammatory skin condition.

If you’re struggling with rosacea, Curology can help. Our Cleanser contains glycerin, which is clinically proven to improve skin barrier function and hydration.¹⁶ It’s suitable for all skin types and fights breakouts and inflammation with every use. Get ready to say goodbye to redness and blemishes and hello to a softer, more refreshed complexion.

Customize your way to a healthier complexion with Curology

Are you struggling with skin concerns? Look no further—Curology is here to make your skincare routine a breeze. We offer personalized skincare prescribed by licensed dermatology providers, which caters to your needs and concerns.

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FAQs

Are there certain foods that trigger rosacea flares?

Yes, certain foods can trigger rosacea flare-ups in some people. These triggers can vary from person to person. However, some common culprits include spicy foods, alcohol, citrus fruits, chocolate, hot drinks, and processed meats.¹⁷ Keeping a food diary and identifying which foods trigger your rosacea flare-ups is essential to avoid them and manage your symptoms more effectively.

What other skincare products besides cleansers are beneficial for managing rosacea symptoms?

When used as a cleanser, topical low molecular weight hyaluronic acid is another possible approach for treating rosacea. This type of hyaluronic acid has smaller molecules that can penetrate the skin more easily. When applied to the skin, it can help improve rosacea symptoms.¹⁸

What are the pros and cons of using antibiotics to treat rosacea?

Treating rosacea with antibiotics offers several potential benefits for those suffering from this condition, including reducing inflammation, controlling flushing episodes, and treating and even preventing rashes or pustules from forming.¹⁹

One of the primary cons of treating rosacea with antibiotics is the side effects. Since antibiotics are powerful medications, they can cause various unwanted side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and allergic reactions. Additionally, long-term use of antibiotics can lead to an increased risk of developing antibiotic resistance, making future treatments less effective.²⁰

• • •

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

  1. Gether, L., et al. Incidence and prevalence of rosacea: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Dermatology. (2018, May 31).

  2. Levin, J., and Miller, R. A Guide to the Ingredients and Potential Benefits of Over-the-Counter Cleansers and Moisturizers for Rosacea Patients. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (August 2011).

  3. Buddenkotte, J., and Steinhoff, M. Recent advances in understanding and managing rosacea. F1000Research. (2018, December 3).

  4. Yamasaki, K., and Miyachi, Y. Perspectives on rosacea patient characteristics and quality of life using baseline data from a phase 3 clinical study conducted in Japan. The Journal of Dermatology. (December 2022).

  5. Moustafa, F., et al. The psychological impact of rosacea and the influence of current management options. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (November 2014).

  6. Buddenkotte, J., and Steinhoff, M. Recent advances in understanding and managing rosacea. F1000Research. Ibid.

  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to Prevent Rosacea Flare-Ups. (n.d.).

  8. Son, J.H, et al. The Risk of Rosacea According to Chronic Diseases and Medications: A 5-Year Retrospective, Multi-Institutional Case-Control Study. Annals of Dermatology. (December 2018).

  9. Zeichner, J.A., and Del Rosso, J.Q. Multivesicular Emulsion Ceramide-Containing Moisturizers: An Evaluation of Their Role in the Management of Common Skin Disorders. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (December 2016).

  10. Del Rosso, J.Q, and Baum, E.W. Comprehensive Medical Management of Rosacea: An Interim Study Report and Literature Review. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (May 2008).

  11. Sobkowsha, D., et al. The Role of Cosmetology in an Effective Treatment of Rosacea: A Narrative Review. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. (2023, June 5). 

  12. Syed, T., et al. Management of papulopustular rosacea with 2% polyphenone (green tea extract) in a hydrophilic cream: A placebo-controlled double-blind study. American Academy of Dermatology. (March 2005).

  13. Baldwin, H., et al. Evidence of Barrier Deficiency in Rosacea and the Importance of Integrating OTC Skincare Products into Treatment Regimens. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. (2021, April 1).

  14. Lynde, C.W., et al. Moisturizers and Ceramide-Containing Moisturizers May Offer Concomitant Therapy with Benefits. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (March 2014).

  15. Matts, P., et al. A Review of the range of effects of niacinamide in human skinIFSCC Magazine. (January 2002).

  16. Milani, M., and Sparavigna, A. The 24-Hour skin hydration and barrier function effects of a hyaluronic 1%, glycerin 5%, and Centella asiatica stem cells extract moisturizing fluid: an intra-subject, randomized, assessor-blinded studyClinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. (2017, August 11).

  17. Searle, T., et al. Rosacea and Diet: What Is New in 2021? The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (December 2021).

  18. Schlesinger, T.E., and Powell, C.R. Efficacy and tolerability of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid sodium salt 0.2% cream in rosacea. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. (2013, June 1).

  19. Valentín, S., et al. Safety and efficacy of doxycycline in the treatment of rosacea. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. (2009, August 12).

  20. Valentín, S., et al. Safety and efficacy of doxycycline in the treatment of rosacea. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. Ibid.

Donna McIntyre is a board-certified nurse practitioner at Curology. She obtained her Master of Science in Nursing at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA.

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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).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Donna McIntyre, NP-BC

Donna McIntyre, NP-BC

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