5 Gentle Cleansers That Are Safe To Use If You Have Rosacea

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When you have rosacea, you have to be extra cautious about your choice of skin care products in order to avoid flare-ups. The best cleansers for rosacea are, in general, gentle, non-drying and non-abrasive, but at the same time, they effectively remove makeup, dirt, pollutants, and dead skin.

Rosacea is essentially hypersensitive skin that’s easily irritated by many of the ingredients found in common makeup and skin care products. It also has certain ‘triggers’, like sun exposure, caffeine, hormones, and stress. These triggers and irritants — which may be different for everyone — can cause rashes that look like acne, swelling, dryness, or redness. With that said, you shouldn’t avoid skin care products altogether. In fact, a proper skin care routine tailored specifically for rosacea will help your skin stay healthy, smooth, and symptom-free.

According to celebrity cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Shereene Idriss of Union Square Dermatology in New York, you should choose your cleanser according to your skin type. “There’s no one-size-fits-all cleanser for rosacea, as one person may be more sensitive than the next," she says. "That being said, it is best to avoid cleansers with sulfates as they tend to strip away the natural oils on your skin. This may seem like a good idea but in reality, it triggers your skin to go into overdrive and produce more oil.”

Unsurprisingly, the same thing goes for additives like parabens, fragrances, and phthalates, as they tend to cause irritation. So what should you look for in a cleanser? Your best bet will be a hypoallergenic face wash that has moisturizing properties and comes in a gentle formula like a cream, milk, or oil cleanser. Check out these five highly-rated options, below, that fit the bill.


Best Hydrating Cleanser: A Sulfate-Free Face Wash That Moisturizes & Calms Irritated Skin

Your dry, sensitive complexion will love Skin Laundry’s Cream Face Wash. It's free of soap and sulfates (as Dr. Idriss recommended) and effectively removes makeup and dirt without over-drying the skin. In fact, it actually delivers irritant-free moisture to your skin via macadamia nut, meadowfoam seed oils, aloe, and panthenol, all of which also reduce itchiness and inflammation. It has a lovely but subtle citrusy scent and leaves your skin feeling clean, smooth, and hydrated.


Best Exfoliating Cleanser: A Formula With 4 Percent PHA That's Gentle Enough For All Skin Types

If you’re experiencing a rosacea-related breakout of acne, aggravated dry skin, or oiliness, NeoStrata’s Facial Cleanser with PHA can help. PHA is a much gentler form of an AHA, so it’s an exfoliant that’s safe for most sensitive complexions and improves the overall look and feel of your skin. This cleanser is also is soap-free, fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. In fact, it's so gentle, it can be used by people who've recently had microdermabrasion or a chemical peel.


Best Natural Cleanser: A Soothing Cleansing Milk With Toxin-Absorbing Bentonite Clay

Don’t underestimate the power of this cleansing milk from Dr. Hauschka. Sure, it’s 100 percent organic and vegan, but it also contains bentonite clay and oat, which absorb and remove dirt, sebum, and toxins from the skin while reducing redness and inflammation. Made with anthyllis, jojoba oil, and almond oil, the formula is both gentle and hydrating. Reviewers say it does a great job at taking off all your makeup, and its nutrients help to heal and balance chronic dry skin. With a barely-there scent and a near-perfect rating, this is a safe and non-toxic cleanser that'll convert you to the green side.


Best Cleanser For Removing Makeup: A Skin-Soothing Cleansing Butter Made With Chamomile Extract

If you want a simple cleanser that melts away makeup quickly and effectively without causing irritation or stripping your skin of any moisture, try The Body Shop's Camomile Cleansing Butter. The rich, lotion-like formula is paraben-free, gluten-free, silicone-free, 100 percent vegan, and includes chamomile extract, which is naturally anti-inflammatory and an antibacterial astringent. With a cult following in the Instagram beauty community and a near-perfect rating on Amazon, you can trust this lightly-scented formula will take off even the most stubborn waterproof mascara.


Best Cleanser For Oily Skin: A Hydrating, Antioxidant-Rich Cleansing Oil

The easiest way to remove makeup, no matter what kind of skin you have, is with a cleansing oil. Julep's Love Your Bare Face Age-Defying Cleansing Oil is particularly perfect if you have rosacea because it relies on nourishing oils like grapeseed, rosehip, and olive to thoroughly remove makeup, dirt, and debris without over-drying. The natural oils in this cleanser also deliver essential nutrients and antioxidants to your skin which protect its moisture barrier, boost cell turnover, and keep it healthy and calm. It's also a wonderful option for those with oily skin, since excess sebum is typically produced to compensate for a lack of oil. So, though it might sound counterintuitive, a cleanser like this one could be just the thing to balance out oil production.


Also Great: This Derm-Favorite Moisturizer That Soothes Skin & Reduces Redness

After washing your face with one of the best cleansers for rosacea, slather on Bioderma's Sensibio AR Anti-Redness Care moisturizer to restore hydration and soften skin. The soothing formula works to reduce redness and relieve overheating using a natural, patented complex called Rosactiv. A French pharmacy favorite, this is also one of the most commonly-recommended moisturizers for rosacea by dermatologists.

One reviewer, a physician, raves, "THIS BRAND IS AMAZING! I have FINALLY FOUND SOMETHING MY SKIN LIKES!! Not just 'tolerates', not just marginal improvement. And I purposefully held off writing this review for months to be sure what I was seeing would remain true. Affirmative real significant improvement. Remarkably, it started right away, which is not how things should work, but it did. Rosacea and adult acne both settled down markedly within 48 hours though were not gone of course. The redness was fully in control in under a week and has remained so."


Also Great: This Soothing & Redness-Reducing Mask Made Specifically For Rosacea-Prone Skin

Another killer French pharmacy product, Avène's Antirougeurs Calm Redness-Relief Soothing Mask is a green-tinted treatment that works to reduce redness and strengthen the skin's natural protective barrier, which tends to be compromised in sensitive and/or rosacea-prone skin types. The hydrating mask also helps relieve inflammation and irritation using a super gentle formula that's free of fragrance, parabens, oil, and other common irritants.

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This post was originally published on 2/13/2018. It was updated on 6/18/2019. Additional reporting by Adeline Duff.

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