Your go-to might be making redness worse.
ishonest / Chloe Jeong
If youâ€™re dealing with rosacea, you understand how hard it can be to find products that actually work for your skin concerns. Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that causes redness, visible blood vessels, bumps, and flushing throughout your complexion. In addition to unwanted redness, those who suffer from rosacea commonly have dry, flaky skin, so finding a lotion thatâ€™s rich in moisture is key.
"One of the hallmarks is a weakened skin barrier, so moisturizing is absolutely critical for those with rosacea because it helps repair this barrier, keeping irritants and allergens out," says Jennifer Herrmann, MD, FAAD, at Moy, Fincher, Chipps Facial Plastic Surgery and Dermatology in Beverly Hills. The key: Finding high-quality options that will hydrate while still yielding gently, non- irritating formulas. Not sure where to start your search for one of the best moisturizers for rosacea? Fear not. We asked industry-leading dermatologists for their picks.
Meet the Expert
Ahead, the best moisturizers for rosacea on the market.
- Our Picks
- Final Verdict
- What To Look For
Best Overall: Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 20
Active Ingredients: 10.1 percent titanium dioxide, 7.8 percent zinc oxide, allantoin, caffeine | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: 20 | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: No
As Dendy Engelman, MD, explains to us, it's always best to consult a dermatologist if you are experiencing persistent flushing or acne-like pustules. Since rosacea can't be cured with moisturizers alone, an in-person session with a professional is paramount, as they'll be able to diagnose you and work with you on an individual, personalized treatment. However, in the meantime, a skin-friendly pick like this one from Cetaphil is one of her go-to product recommendations.
"It's a great option because it is a mineral-based formula that also provides UVA/UVB protection without irritating sensitive skin. Additionally, I recommend patting it onto the skin, as the friction caused while rubbing can increase the redness," she says.
Best Budget: Vanicream Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin
Active Ingredients: Petrolatum | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 1 lb | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: No
Ultra-affordable, Vanicream's cult-favorite moisturizing cream is a great option, per Naissan Wesley, MD, FACMS, that's non-comedogenic and free of other irritating things like unnecessary fragrances, lanolin, dyes, and more. Plus, even initially inflamed skin will be left super smooth and soft.
"Vanicream makes products that are free of dyes, fragrance, sulfates, and parabensâ€”which is a great option for those with rosacea," Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology adds. "[The brand] also makes shampoos, conditioners, and sunscreen."
Best Rich Cream: Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Body Cream
Active Ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, lanolin, beeswax | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2.5 fl. oz | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes
With a name like Skin Food, itâ€™s impossible not to give this hydrating product a try. The Weleda cream is ultra-rich and moisturizing to keep dry skin at bay. While it may not address the concern of redness, it will certainly tackle any dryness or cracking on the skin which can help with inflammation. Lather this rich-hydrator on before you snooze to wake up to your most supple skin yet.
What Our Testers Say
"I was excited to use this cream as my daily moisturizer because it noticeably brought my skin to life, taking my skin from dull and matte to vibrant and glowing." â€” Ashley Rubell, Product Tester
Best Non-Comedogenic: EltaMD AM Therapy Face Moisturizer
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, willow bark extract | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No
"The best moisturizers for rosacea need to be hydrating and gentle, as people suffering from rosacea have sensitive skin, often becoming [drier], irritated, and inflamed after putting on certain topicals. In general, for patients with rosacea, I recommend using creams that are non-comedogenic and fragrance-free. Moisturizers that have the label of non-comedogenic mean they've been tested to make sure they don't clog pores...clogged pores can lead to the pimple component of rosacea," confirms Wesley. This one from EltaMD fits the bill on all fronts.
Best Day Cream: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Active Ingredients: 12 percent homosalate, 7.5 percent octinoxate, 2 percent octocrylene, 3.5 percent zinc oxide, niacinamide | Skin Type: All | Size: 3 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: No
Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, the medical director of Mudgil Dermatology, who takes a holistic stance on medicine and wellness, says CeraVe's signature A.M. formula packs a skin-soothing punch for those with rosacea. (Blame it on the strategic niacinamide content, which he says keeps flushing at bay while you get on with your life during the day.)
Best Serum: La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense Visible Redness Reducing Serum
Active Ingredients: Tambourissa trichophylla leaf extract | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 1.4 fl. oz | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: Yes
Joshua Zeichner, MD, says that it's a smart move to consider moisturizers with calming botanical extracts to keep easily aggravated skin calm, cool, and collected. He's a fan of this one from the drugstore's favorite brand La Roche-Posay, which boasts a botanical component called ambophenol to help ease redness. Technically speaking, it's a serum, but in consideration of its amazing moisturizing capabilities, we'll bend. (Plus, you could totally use it on its own or in tandem with one of these best-of moisturizers for rosaceaâ€”just saying.)
Best Night Cream: CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 3 fl. oz | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: No
Thanks to "skin-calming niacinamide," Zeichner says this specially formulated nighttime moisturizer is one of the best there is for rosacea. However, he did leave us with a tip: Don't underestimate your moisturizer and your cleanser as the ultimate power couple when it comes to rosacea. "A lot of people treat rosacea the way they treat acne, which is a big mistake," he explains. "The skin is extra sensitive and the alpha and beta hydroxy acids can really irritate and worsen rosacea. Therefore, the right cleanser is honestly as important as the right moisturizer."
Best for City Dwellers: Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Hydrating Shield
Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide | Skin Type: Aging | Size: 1.3 fl. oz | SPF: 50 | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: No
Another thing to keep on your radar if you have rosacea is your environment, which, understandably, we don't always have control over. But that's where strategic skincare picks come in. "Redness as a result of sensitive skin is increasingly more common due to pollutants in the air. With sensitive skin, you don't want any products that can irritate the skin, so opt for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free options like this one from Elizabeth Arden, which has an anti-pollution shield to boot," suggests Engelman.
Best With SPF: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15
Active Ingredients: 3 percent avobenzone, 7.5 percent octinoxate, 2 percent octisalate | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive | Size: 4 fl. oz | SPF: 15 | Cruelty- Free: No | ishonest Clean: No
Another option with favorable botanicals, this conditioning moisturizer from Aveeno is recommended by Zeichner. "It uses mineral-only sunscreen ingredients that are mild on the skin as well as skin-calming feverfew," he explains.
Best With Probiotics: Tula Hydrating Day & Night Cream
Active Ingredients: Squalane, probiotics | Skin Type: All | Size: 0.5 / 1.5 / 3.4 fl. oz | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No
"Recent research suggests that when applied topically, probiotics secrete anti- bacterial and anti-inflammatory substances that help with conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea," says Roshini Raj, MD, gastroenterologist, doctor of internal medicine, and founder of the probiotic-based skincare line, Tula. "By calming inflammation, probiotics are also effective in targeting wrinkles and preventing premature aging."
Best Natural: Naturopathica Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream
Active Ingredients: Aloe vera, calendula | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes
For a more natural option, Wesley recommends something as basic as a high- quality calendula cream like this one from Naturopathica. If you're not allergic to the ingredient, Wesley tells us she's found it to be "a helpful and soothing option" for some of her patients with rosacea.
Best Tinted: IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+
Active Ingredients: 9 percent titanium dioxide, 6.3 percent zinc oxide, snail secretion filtrate | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 1.1 fl. oz | SPF: 50+ | Cruelty- Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No
If youâ€™re looking for a cosmetic option to cover up pesky flare-ups, this full- coverage cream is a great go-to. Itâ€™s a full-coverage foundation that covers dark spots and redness without a cakey finish. Thereâ€™s also a built-in color corrector so unwanted shadows and darkness are no problem. The CC+ Cream comes in 12 colors ranging from fair to deep.
Rosacea can be a challenging and irksome condition to deal with, but using the right type of moisturizer can go a long way. The Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 20 is our top choice, a gentle, hydrating formula that instantly tamps down redness and has built-in sun protectionâ€”and is affordable, too. (The CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30 is another good, budget-friendly pick that contains SPF.) Thereâ€™s a unique redness-reducing ingredient in the La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense Visible Redness Reducing Serum, which is also light enough to be layered underneath another moisturizer. And on the other end of the spectrum, the Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream is super moisturizing, ideal for use at bedtime.
ishonest / Ashley Rubell
What To Look For In a Moisturizer for Rosacea
More specifically, those that strengthen the skin barrier, such as ceramides and niacinamide. A weakened skin barrier goes hand-in-hand with rosacea; according to dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder and director of Capital Laser and Skincare, strengthening it can help both lock in moisture and lock out irritants.
As Dr. Tanzi explains, rosacea-prone skin is often sensitive, so the gentler and simpler the formula, the better. That means that you want to avoid potentially irritating ingredients, and fragrance is one of the most common (and problematic) culprits out there.
Choosing moisturizers that are free of pore-clogging ingredients is always a good idea.
According to Dr. Tanzi, there are ways to help reduce (and even avoid) rosacea symptoms. Very gentle, non-irritating products that are pH-balanced can help, but there's more that you can do. As a fellow rosacea sufferer, here's what she recommends: "In general, I never put my face in hot water, I don't go in hot tubs or steam rooms, as it really takes a toll on my skin," she says. "I wash my face at the sink with tepid water. It's important to avoid rosacea 'triggers,' such as hot weather and too much sun, cold weather and windburn, stress, alcohol, and caffeine."
Dr. Tanzi says that some moisturizers can irritate rosacea, depending on the formula. â€œSometimes, moisturizers with glycolic acids and retinol can irritate rosacea symptoms, so itâ€™s best to stick with sensitive skin formulations,â€ she says.
When it comes to daily moisturizer, Dr. Tanzi doesnâ€™t recommend those with rosacea overdo it; rather, they should moisturize as needed. â€œIt really depends on the need for hydration, but for most, a moisturizer at night will do the job, and for daytime, a good antioxidant is helpful,â€ she says.
Meet the Expert
Seite S, Benech F, Berdah S, et al. Management of rosacea-prone skin: evaluation of a skincare product containing Ambophenol, Neurosensine, and La Roche-Posay Thermal spring water as monotherapy or adjunctive therapy. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013;12(8): 920-924.
Levin J, Momin SB. How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients?. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(2): 22-41.
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