Ingredients to avoid if you have rosacea

Sarah Brown is the founder of Pai Skincare. Entrepreneur, mum and sensitive-skinned soul.

We’ve written about rosacea many times – ingredients to avoid, the effects of diet, environmental triggers, etc. But the message is far more interesting coming from rosacea sufferers themselves.

According to the National Rosacea Society, 41% of 1,066 patients surveyed said that certain skincare products aggravated their condition. Choosing gentle skincare products that minimise irritation is key to managing rosacea.

Pai Skincare campaign model Hellana, who suffers with Rosecea

Skin care ingredients to avoid for rosacea

Here are the top six skincare ingredients to avoid for rosacea based on their reactions:

  1. 66% said Alcohol
  2. 30% said Witch Hazel
  3. 30% said Fragrance
  4. 21% said Menthol
  5. 14% said Peppermint
  6. 13% said Eucalyptus

Confusingly, some of those are natural and plant ingredients, so why is it that these are the skin care ingredients to avoid if you have rosacea? Let’s take a closer look at each of these potential irritants.

1. Alcohol

Whether you have sensitive skin or not, alcohol is best avoided as a skincare ingredient. Although there are some small benefits to using alcohol as an ingredient, there are far better ways of reaping these benefits. The negative effects of alcohol far outweigh the pros. Such effects include dryness, damaging the skin surface, and diminishing of your skin’s natural ability to replenish.

We hate to be the bearer of bad news for the wine lovers out there, but it’s not just the alcohol in your skincare products that can cause a rosacea flare-up. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol is a well-known trigger of rosacea too. 

2. Witch Hazel

Witch hazel gets quite a lot of positive press regarding its ability to fix various skin problems. Afterall, it’s a completely natural ingredient with known antioxidant and astringent properties. So what’s the issue? 

For those who suffer from rosacea, witch hazel is commonly known to cause irritation. This is primarily because it is often mixed with alcohol during the distillation process. It may provide a short-term solution to your skincare problem, but is likely to cause more issues in the long-term. Best avoided altogether we think!

Pai Skincare campaign model and Rosecea sufferer, Hellana

3. Fragrance

Fragrance ingredients are likely to cause a negative skin reaction in just about everyone with sensitive skin. It’s understandable that consumers prefer to use products which have a pleasant smell. But, an appealing fragrance can come with a heavy price for rosacea sufferers.

It can be quite tricky to tell from the ingredients list whether a product contains fragrance, as there are many different types, with many different names too. It’s also not always as easy to simply give the product a quick sniff. Afterall, there are some natural ingredients that smell delightful. Or, even if the product has no smell, fragrance may have been used to mask an unpleasant smell.

Rest assured that at Pai Skincare, we never use fragrance in any of our products.

4. Menthol

Known for its pleasant cooling sensation, menthol is often used to provide a soothing or pain-reducing effect. In actual fact, it has a sensitising effect on the skin, meaning that skin is likely to become irritated rather than calmed.

It’s also worth remembering that menthol is an alcohol, and we’ve already covered the issues caused by using alcohol in your skincare.

5. Peppermint

Although this ingredient does boast some beneficial properties, like menthol it can cause sensitivity on the skin. This makes it bad news for anyone who suffers from rosacea and facial redness.

In short, any form of mint oil is generally quite potent and therefore a common trigger for sensitive skin – whether it’s rosacea or dermatitis. They are common triggers of allergic reactions too.

6. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus may be known for its antibacterial properties, but it’s also a very fragrant oil. This means it’s an ingredient to avoid for rosacea sufferers.

At Pai, we never use eucalyptus and other known irritants in our products. That’s why all of our skincare collections are suitable for sensitive, rosacea-prone skin.

Advice for choosing products with rosacea

As a general rule, we suggest using products which are specifically formulated for sensitive or rosacea-prone skin. Opt for natural and organic ingredients, as these are far less likely to cause irritation. Take a close look at the ingredients and try to avoid as many of the ingredients listed above.

Pai Skincare 'Skin Journal' and Sensitive Skin Toolkit

You may need to take a more personal approach, as everybody reacts differently. Try keeping a skin diary and record which products you use, along with any reactions. This will help you identify the products that cause stinging, burning or redness and irritation.  Over time, you’ll become increasingly familiar with the ingredients which cause your skin to flare up. Armed with this knowledge, you can be sure to avoid them in the future.

We advise testing products on a small patch of skin before using them all over your face. Check whether a brand offers sample or travel-sized versions of their products. This means you don’t have to invest a fortune in trialling products which may not be suitable for your skin.

Further support and advice

For more advice on how to manage rosacea, have a read through our previous post: What is rosacea and how can I treat it?  You might like to read the full report from the National Rosacea Society here

You can also book a free telephone consultation with our Sensitive Skin Experts for advice and non-pushy product recommendations based on your actual needs and lifestyle.


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