Skincare tips for reducing redness on your face

Sensitive skincare

It’s no fun dealing with flare-ups of redness on your skin, especially along the cheeks, nose and sometimes even the chin and forehead. Making matters worse, this kind of redness is often easily inflamed, even by the smallest thing, and can sometimes lead to bumps.

If this sounds like what you’re going through, don’t lose hope! We’ll show you how to build a gentle, soothing skincare routine that helps with reducing redness and smoothing out any bumps. We’ll share skincare tips for reducing redness on your skin: so that you learn which ingredients could be causing your irritation and how stabilising your skin's microbiome can help to reduce redness with skincare.

What causes redness on the face?

There are many factors that can cause or contribute to redness on the face, ranging from skincare practices to your environment and what you consume.

Often, skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis and eczema are the culprit behind uneven tone and other uncomfortable concerns like tightness, flakiness and dryness. On lighter skin tones, the uneven tone associated with these skin disorders often appears a pink or red colour and on skin with more melanin this uneven tone can appear as dark, dusky spots or blotches. If you recognise your own skin in these descriptions, you can consult a dermatologist for treatment options.

Diet can also tip the scales in favour of skin redness. Alcohol and spicy foods (those containing capsaicin) tend to promote a wash of colour in people with rosacea or even just with sensitive skin prone to redness.

Heat also promotes skin redness. It does so through vasodilation, promoting a rush of blood to the skin’s surface. However, it’s the damaging UV rays we really have to worry about – UV rays create redness and wreak havoc on the skin at the same time, causing visible signs of ageing not to mention sunburn! Those with darker, more melanin-rich skin won’t have redness but the damage is still there. Instead, your skin may respond by feeling tight and itchy. That’s why it’s crucial to always apply (and reapply) a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or higher.

A bigger surprise to many: the skincare products you apply to calm redness might actually be causing your redness…

How to get rid of redness

If you want to get your skin on the right track, it’s crucial to eliminate any irritating skincare exacerbating the redness. Once you do that, your skin will feel the difference. To take good care of your skin, especially if you’re already seeing redness, steer clear of the following:

  • AVOID bar soaps, cleansing scrubs and cleansers that leave your skin feeling tight or dry
  • AVOID abrasive cleansing tools (e.g. a cleansing brush with stiff bristles or microdermabrasion devices)
  • AVOID astringents, toners, clarifying lotions or any skincare product that contains witch hazel or alcohol (listed as SD alcohol or denatured alcohol)
  • AVOID products that contain fragrant plant oils or extracts such as lavender, grapefruit, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus or rose
  • AVOID products that contain synthetic fragrances; these may simply be listed as parfum or fragrance on the ingredient list
  • AVOID products that contain any essential oil; they are just more fragrance! They contain volatile compounds which research shows irritate the skin and cause oxidative damage

It bears repeating: one of the most common warnings on our list is fragrance. Fragrance has negative repercussions for the skin, including flare-ups which can lead to red, bumpy, flaky, dry, itchy, older-looking skin. So, aside from the importance of NOT using anything that aggravates your skin (everything must be non-irritating), your entire skincare routine should be 100% fragrance free to help reduce redness on the face. With Paula’s Choice, there's plenty of options that relieve redness.

Redness skincare products

Exfoliants can help reduce red skin if you use the right one. Harsh scrubs aren’t recommended since they can cause microtears in the skin, impairing its barrier and exacerbating redness. Instead, opt for a gentle beta hydroxy acid (also known as BHA or salicylic acid) exfoliant as it has a soothing effect on the skin and visibly reduces redness due to its inherent calming properties.

More to love: BHA’s ability to shed dead skin cells allows the skin to easily soak up the hydrating, nourishing and soothing ingredients you apply afterwards. BHA works both on the surface of the skin and within the pores to remove the impurities that can cause red skin from breakouts. BHA does all of this while still soothing your skin. To achieve the best results from your anti-redness skincare, seek out a BHA formula that contains additional skin-soothing ingredients, which you can find in our CALM 1% BHA Sensitive Skin Exfoliant.

How to treat redness

Once you’ve cut out the irritating products, eliminated problematic skincare steps and started using only antioxidant-enriched, soothing, calming, gentle & fragrance-free-formulas, you’ll be miles ahead. If you have skin prone to rosacea, read our guide to skincare suited for rosacea. Below is a step-by-step skincare routine for red skin:

  • A gentle, non-drying, easy-to-rinse, skin-softening, water-soluble cleanser
  • A toner that delivers skin-replenishing ingredients, such as antioxidant-rich plant extracts, ceramides, panthenol, hyaluronic acid and calming agents to renew your skin
  • A BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant: BHA not only exfoliates built-up layers of dead skin to reveal radiant skin hiding beneath, but also calms red areas while smoothing dry, flaky skin
  • For the daytime, a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher with only titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide for active sunscreen ingredients, as these ingredients provide the best protection and help reduce the risk of early ageing
  • For the evening, revitalise and soothe the skin with a calming serum plus a barrier-replenishing moisturiser formulated for your skin type, look out for those that contain abundant antioxidants, skin-enriching ingredients and skin-drenching hydrators

Sticking to these guidelines is easy with our elevated CALM Collection, a line curated to soothe and calm reddened skin. This line is 100% fragrance-free and adapted to suit sensitive skin, even for those with rosacea. Carefully crafted with ingredients to offer both immediate and sustained relief for sensitive skin, each extra gentle CALM product targets the underlying causes of sensitivity rather than just soothing symptoms. Choose CALM to tenderly soothe redness, reduce dehydration, enhance radiance, combat sun damage and finally reveal your healthy, youthful glow. The CALM Collection is a multi-tasking yet gentle skincare experience with innovative ingredients that reduce reactivity within the skin and deliver visible anti-ageing benefits.

References for this information:

1. International Journal of Dermatology and Venereology, December 2021, pp. 199-209
2. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, October 2018, 1-7
3. Dermatology Practical and Conceptual, October 2017, 31-37
4. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, February 2016, Supplement, 2-8
5. Journal of Cosmetic Science, March-Apri 2015, 79-86
6. Journal of Allergy, February 2011, ePublication
7. The Journal of Clinical and Aestheic Dermatology, November 2008, 38-44
8. American Journal of Contact Dermatitis, September 1998, 170-175