Does your face flush bright red at the slightest embarrassment or after few cheeky drinks? How about following a spin class or a spicy miso soup?
With over 6 million of us suffering from a red face the in UK alone, Rosacea is a very common but often embarrassing condition. Most apparent in fair skin woman age, it starts out as a tendency to flush easily, later developing into persistent redness on the cheeks, chin, forehead and nose accompanied by bumps small inflamed red bumps as we age.
Keen to learn more about the condition, I spoke to Cherry Woods, luxury facialist at the Cherry Woods Skin Clinic in Richmond on her battle with Rosacea and the best ways to treat it.
Hi Cherry, Can you tell us about your background and why you became a facialist? I wanted to be a makeup artist and was advised to start a course which included beauty therapy and body massage plus media and theatrical make-up. Although, I was always much more of a creative make-up artist, my love for skin and all things ‘Beauty’ grew through the years and it was a natural transition to focus on Facials which I have done for over 15 years.
You batted with Rosacea for years, could you talk us through your experience? I personally suffered from an outburst of Acne Rosacea around ten years ago, which I believe was triggered by too much caffeine. I had moved to the U.S and had discovered a newfound love of coffee. Looking back, I think I caused my adrenals to fatigue, the intake of so much caffeine in such a sustained period of time, forced my body into a permanent state of ‘fight or flight’. I had red bumps on my jaw, chin, neck and central forehead and a regular flush to the skin whenever I had a caffeinated drink or alcohol.
Poor you, sounds rather uncomftable. Can you explain why caffeine acts as a trigger for Rosacea? As a stimulant, when caffeine surges into the body it stimulates your adrenal glands to produce, amongst other things, adrenaline and then it sets into motion a series of chemical triggers and reactions. This releases cortisol which signals for a massive increase in blood sugar levels, causing a huge inflammatory state in the whole body and specifically the skin.
If you are a real caffeine addict, start by drinking a tall glass of water before and after each cup of coffee, as it will take the edge off this effect and it’s a good starting point as you embark on the journey to becoming caffeine free!
Great tip, I shall remember that one. So how did you combat the condition? To combat my rosacea I needed to reduce inflammation in my body, so I cut out caffeine and adopted a low G.I. (glycemic index) approach to healthy eating. This has kept my skin calm, seen my energy levels have soared and served me well in the anti-ageing stakes! Obviously as a facialist I also practice what I preach, so I have a skincare regime including topical treatments and oral supplements, to give my skin the very best chance from the inside out.
Alongside caffeine, are there any things we should avoid if suffering from Rosacea? There are many possible causes of Rosacea, including defects in the immune system, nervous system and facial blood vessels, and for some even the presence of microbes and demodex mites. There is also some evidence that susceptibility to developing Rosacea may be inherited. However, if you are suffering then you’re likely to find that many triggers are environmental (typically hot weather too much sun exposure) and lifestyle changes/choices (such as too much alcohol, red wine in particular, and high G.I diets which burn energy fast). Certain food groups can also aggravate it such as cows’ milk, spicy food and caffeine are well known culprits, but some others may surprise you – like bananas, Tomatoes and Avocados to name but a few. I believe that I was always going to get rosacea, but my lifestyle habits at the time accelerated its onset.
If you’re struggling with rosacea, it’s worth cutting out certain food groups to see if this helps. Personally, I cut out the following:
Milk: I now only drink goats’ milk. It’s less allergenic, so gentler for my skin, plus it generates less heat during the digestive process and therefore causes less inflammation. Cow’s’ milk can aggravate eczema, rosacea and even sinus congestion, resulting in puffy eyes and skin.
Red meat: I haven’t eaten red meat or pork for more than 30 years. This helps me to keep a clearer gut and reduce the stress placed on my digestive system, resulting in clearer skin.
Chocolate: This is obviously very much a dairy treat so in line with my non cow’s milk diet, it’s not for me. In fact I haven’t had it for 20 years now. Maybe someone will invent a goat’s milk chocolate and I could indulge a little… here’s hoping!
Fruit Juice: It’s shocking to think that apple juice contains 42g of sugar per 12 ounces. I stopped drinking fruit juices a few years ago, as they are off-the-chart when it comes to the G.I. index. Whole fruits, however, I eat in abundance, as I benefit from their wider goodness including fibre.
What about skincare, is there anything special we should be doing with our skincare regime to combat Rosacea or any treatments you would recommend? The key is to gently cleanse without disrupting the delicate skins PH barrier, so unless you are very bumpy and oily try not to use water or at least do not use any foaming agents in your cleanse. Instead, use a milk ph balanced cleanser, spray to tone and then use a barrier repairing, calming moisturiser or emulsion. This routine has absolutely minimal contact with cotton wool, cloths, sponges etc and therefore causes as little irritation as possible.
If the rosacea is at its worse I do not recommend an in-salon treatment straight away. I start by introducing my clients to the Epionce Intensive Nourishing cream and milky lotion cleanser, and advise them to take the Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Omegas (a mixture of Omega 3, 6, and 9) which additionally helps to support the skin’s immunity, allows the skin to hold on to water better and it does seem to reduce inflammation in the skin.
Got, so basically keep things as gentle as possible to avoid any further irritation. How about Rosacea in pregnancy, is there anything we can do to treat the condition that is still going to be safe for our unborn child? This is a tricky one as (of course) I am not a health care professional, and lucky for me that when I went on to have my lovely boy 10 years after this flare up, the disruption in hormones did not manifest itself in a return of Rosacea. It’s key to remember that when you are pregnant, hormones may cause some skin disruptions and it is good to know that they will (for the most part) return to normality soon after the birth. In the meantime, do not radically change anything, but focus on keeping your skin cool, calm and clean. Use a good sunblock to buffer from wind, rain, temperature change and UV damage. One would not want to suggest any radical change in diet for a pregnant lady without consulting your GP, but it is important to make sure food is balanced and meals and evenly spaced out to help reduce a hi GI diet.
You’re also a makeup artist, before you go could you share your tricks for hiding Rosacea with makeup? I find that the best coverage for me is using a damp, flock sponge and applying Jane Iredale’s Amazing base loose mineral powder. It’s perfection!
Do you have any tips of tricks for treating Rosacea? Have your say in the comments below.