Keep Calm And Reduce Redness


You know what sucks about working out? Red face. I only recently learned that my face isn’t a fan of strenuous activity—four years of college spent in various seated and reclining positions and my skin glowed, blemish and rosacea free. I try to add a measly twice-weekly Pilates class into the mix? Boom: red spots and rough patches galore. Though I’m tempted to give up the exercise in favor of restoring my skin’s former glory, I have a vague (OK, not so vague) inclination that the responsible thing to do would be to keep the activity and treat the skin on its own terms.

The overwhelming answer to this dilemma is, ironically, rose. Rose oil can help reduce the appearance of broken capillaries (i.e. why you’re flushed) whether it's workout-related or simply genetic. Also, you will literally smell like a bouquet of roses, which is a nice post-workout treat. Another overarching theme here is green coloring, which is calming and color-correcting. And fun.

A note before we begin: If you’re suffering from full-blown rosacea, consult your dermatologist, who will probably direct you to one of a few effective Rx solutions (Metrogel and antibiotics are a pretty standard course of action). However, if you are one of the pale, often-flushed people who constantly hears “Are you OK?” while people consider your blushing face inquisitively, here’s hoping you leave this page less red than you started.

First step: get the grime off. For the impatient set, I recommend REN Clean Skincare Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Water, which is a three-fer: makeup remover, cleanser, and toner all in one. Easily swiped with a cotton pad, it pretty instantly relieves irritation without drying. Alternatively, a quick rub with a few pumps of the Avène Antirougeurs Anti-Redness Dermo-Cleansing Fluid, followed up with a spritz of (refrigerated) mist, feels luxurious and is nice if you’re into the routine of it all.

Should you be fresh off your morning workout, first let me say, good on you. Secondly, wash your face and apply La Roche-Posay Rosaliac UV. It’s another three-fer, as far as I’m concerned: get your SPF, morning moisture, requisite green cream out of the way in one fell swoop.

Then we have the sit-and-marinate option: Fresh Rose Face Mask. I swear that it’s just crushed up rose petals and magic. Smear the brown goo all over your puffy face, leave for 10 minutes, and rinse away with cool water.

At night, I follow the mask with Darphin Intral Redness Relief Recovery Cream, which is green and smells like plants (though I’m not sure which plants). After a particularly bad experiment with a different regimen left me with frightening blotches up to my ears, I frantically applied this to calm the whole situation down to great effect. I figure if it can battle adverse product reactions, it’s strong enough to deal with comparatively low-impact, occasional exercise.

—Emily Ferber

Photos by Tom Newton.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Addison Cain

    The REN water looks awesome. Though I don't have fair skin, I flush really easily. I fully appreciate all the advice in this post :)

  • Chelsea

    Redness is my biggest issue! It's not as severe as some people's though, due to a good routine. I'm loving First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery - a water-like serum, very hydrating and calming. I also love the First Aid Beauty cleanser, though I do pre-cleanse with Bioderma Crealine cleansing water. Using a gentle BHA to exfoliate also helps - I like Paula's Choice.

    • eastvillagesiren

      excellent product choices!

  • Samantha

    I thought I was alone with this problem! The fresh mask sounds amazing, I might have to try it.

  • Carolyn @ The Makeup Writeup

    The REN water looks intriguing! Thanks for sharing; although I'm not fair, I do get red incredibly easily. I'll have to try out some of these recommendations -- thanks!

  • francesk

    As a pale-faced-prone-to-flushing red faced gal myself, I can't say enough about the power of the rose to calm down angry skin. I have been using rosewater as a toner after washing in the morning and before bed for ages. I was using CO Bigelow's rosewater but for some crazy reason they stopped making it. Now I use Boots rosewater that you can get in the US at Target and Monoprix has tons of it in lovely bottles as well. Now that I know about these other products --especially the ones from La Roche-Posay and Darphin, I'm going to stock up on those as well. I thank you and my face *especially* thanks you!

    • tracy gray

      Try heritage rose water my personal fav.

      • Jill

        Kari Gran also has an amazing rose water that I use morning and night.

  • Mady

    I've always thought the pale, flushed face looked kind of nice and glowy!

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    I have Rosacea so I'll have to check some of these out. Oddly enough, Fresh Black Tea Cream really helps. I'd also recommend the OH Truth Serum and Booster.

  • H

    These are really expensive products....I tend to just use either rose water or I make a Greek yogurt mask. The yogurt really is wonderful for brightening.

  • Dana

    Mario Badescu -- that rose spray for $7. Can't go wrong.

  • Mademoiselle nature

    Nice post!
    I would really recommend 100% pure rose water. If you have never tried it, then it is time!

  • Eve Daher Kinsella

    I recently purchased the REN water and was quite excited, though it burned my eyes when removing eye makeup ... any other all natural micelle water suggestions that remove makeup and cleanse?

    • cat butt

      Vichy makes a good one and it doesn't burn at all, and Nuxe does a rose-based one which is also nice. Not sure if either are all-natural though.

    • Vanessa Andujar

      Koh Gen Do cleansing spa water is the best hands down. i have dermatitis and rosacea and it actually brightens and calms my face down so much!

  • Jessica (What To Style)

    I really like the Avène's products, they're amazing! =)

  • The Beauty Inbox

    Those wily French sure know their skincare - J'adore La Roche, Avene and Darphin...

  • Emma Hager

    Running has definitely affected the my skin in terms of post-workout redness and even minor pore-cloggage (from sweat and dirt from XC trails, I'm assuming?). I appreciate your suggestions and I'll look into these upon my return home!

  • Marie

    I started using a cleansing milk by L'occitane, and my redness has almost completely disappeared. Combining it with rosehip seed oil and jojoba oil helped as well.

  • H.D.

    Andalou's 1000 Roses face mask is an all natural alternative to the Fresh one and works beautifully. Heritage rosewater with glycerin is also a life saver.

  • Grace

    Im currently using the REN cleansing water or the centifolia gel with my clarisonic for cleansing, and the darphin intral balm, any idea on the differences between the balm and the cream?

    • ITGFerber

      I found the balm heavier than the cream—good for certain dry spots, but too much for my whole face in the summer. The cream is greener (which I LOVE) and smells stronger (also love). But both are great products!!

  • Bally Chohan

    One of the common and serious skin issue. You advice is effective and great. Thanks for sharing this.

  • taha

    I also recommend " Darphin Intral Redness Relief Recovery Cream," for this problem. Good post

  • Eleri Roberts

    Ooooo the Ren water sounds like such a post-gym gem! NEED

  • Kim

    I've recently discovered Paula's Choice earth sourced toner. Don't be discouraged by the ugly packaging, it's the most soothing thing my skin has ever felt. Plus it's cheap since it works as a light moisturizer, not as a drying toner! It's better than Paula's Choice own redness relief product.

    • Jennifer Z

      Definitely second this. It's like a liquid moisturizer that makes my skin calm and dewy.

  • Jennifer Monforton

    The Fresh Rose Mask really is a wonderful treat! Such a unique texture and so luxurious. I deal with redness on a regular basis- will definitely be checking out some of these other goodies :)

  • Michaela

    I love the fresh rose face mask, it works wonders!

    thanks so much for your recommendations!

  • A Karina Zatarain

    Kiehl's Stress-Minimizer Skin Rescuer Daily Hydrator or something like that is also great for redness reduction! Smells nice too.

  • shakethatbeauty

    For me the only thing that has worked has been the Dermalogica Calming range - especially the serum and the mist. It is so soothing and awesome for minimizing redness around my nocse and cheeks.

  • justanotherredhead

    I've been looking for something effective to treat red spots for some time now. I tend to get patches in the winter and then hormonal acne in the summer that flares up. I tried MURAD Overnight Soothing Gel For Red, Irritated Skin which does nothing except coat your skin in silicone. Rose is generally soothing, until it's not. I had a sample of KORRES Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial and it burned when I applied. For now, only raw Aloe vera does the trick. Still looking for that Holy Grail product.

  • Kate

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a tinted moisturizer or powder that doesn't react with rosacea?

  • Gina Nicoletta

    The La Roche-Posay Rosaliac UV was my favorite moisturizer, and they discontinued it this month! I hate looking for new moisturizers...

  • Saba

    so great article! Redness is a common problem. Thank you for this.

  • Kloe Kariki

    I have really bad acne scaring on my face, chest, and shoulders. Not just discoloration but bad scar tissue. The Citrus Clear Grapefruit Spot Treatment is working great at getting rid of all the scar and keeping the acne away. I've only been using for two weeks and I see results. I have seen about 70% of the discoloration go away so far.


Avène Antirougeurs Anti-Redness Dermo-Cleansing Fluid
REN Clean Skincare
REN Rosa Centifolia 3-in-1 Cleansing Water
La Roche-Posay
Rosaliac UV Fortifying Anti-Redness Moisturizer SPF 15
Fresh Rose Face Mask
Darphin Intral Redness Relief Recovery Cream