There is a fine line between having a rosy glow and having a red face – and many of us have crossed that line firmly into tomato red territory. There’s nothing pleasant about having a red face, which can be chalked up to a multitude of reasons. Some of the most common reasons include rosacea, sunburn and windburn, dry skin as well as having a bad reaction to skincare products. Hormones and hot flashes can also play a part, as well as red wine and spicy food. You can also add exercise, chocolate and stress to the list of potential red skin triggers. Often times having a red face can also be accompanied by mild discomfort. If the redness is chronic and painful, you should see a doctor to rule out skin issues such as eczema and rosacea.
Whether your overly rosy face is caused by too much spicy food or windburn, luckily there are plenty of ways to help soothe and tone down a red face. Here are 18 ways to reduce the look of red skin.
- Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is cool and soothing, which is why it’s usually recommended to help sunburned skin. It is also hydrating, which means it can help calm down a red face. Look for pure aloe vera gel or a moisturizer containing aloe, such as Garnier’s SkinActive Hydrating 3-in-1 Face Moisturizer with Aloe.
- Take a Break from Exfoliation
Exfoliation is an important part of any beauty routine as it gets rid of the dead skin surface cells which can clog pores and make the face look dull and dry. But too much exfoliation can backfire, causing the skin to be red and inflamed. Take a close look at the ingredients in your beauty products. If you’re using AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acid) as well as a face scrub, it could be too much for your skin. Try taking a break from the exfoliators and see if there’s any improvement with redness.
- Boost Your SPF
If your red face is sunburn related, or you instantly get red in the sun, it’s time to boost the SPF factor in your daily moisturizer (because you already know you should be wearing sunscreen every day, right?) Even if you’re not at the beach it’s important to wear a sunscreen with a high SPF every day. To avoid the telltale chalky look try a tinted moisturizer. Clarins UV PLUS Anti-Pollution Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Tinted Sunscreen Multi-Protection comes in three shades and gives the skin a nice glow. For extra protection, top it off by brushing a translucent mineral powder on top, such as 100% Mineral Invincible Setting Powder from Super Goop, which has a broad spectrum SPF 45.
- Try A Green Color Corrector
One way to minimize the look of a red face is to apply something green on it. Think of the color wheel – opposite colors cancel each other out so applying a green color corrector or primer on top of something red will cancel the color. Green primers blend well so don’t worry, you won’t end up looking like a frog. Algenist’s Reveal Concentrated Color Correcting Drops can be added to foundation or moisturizer. Make Up For Ever’s Step 1 Equalizing Primer in green is light and hydrating, thanks to hyaluronic acid.
- Eat More Anti-Inflammatory Foods
We are what we eat, and many people swear by eating anti-inflammatory foods with the idea that it will help their skin (Dr Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist who has his own skincare line, has written books about this concept). Anti-inflammatory foods include fish that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and mackerel, as well as berries and dark leafy green vegetables, and olive oil. Although it’s not proven, it is worth a try.
- Lay off the Alcohol and Spicy Foods
Alcohol and spicy foods can trigger a red, flushed face so try to avoid them or minimize them as much as possible. Alcohol can cause a red face due to rosacea or an enzyme deficiency. It also causes blood vessels to dilate, making the face look redder. Spicy food can also cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to a flushed face. Try loading up on cooling foods instead, such as yogurt, chilled juices or citrus spiked water.
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the most popular skincare ingredients around today. It is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, and contains lauric acid, which has antimicrobial qualities and anti-inflammatory properties. Try applying a thin layer of coconut oil to the face to help soothe redness and irritation, but start with a test patch first.
- Lay off the Retinols
Retinols, derived from vitamin A, are the gold standard wrinkle fighters as they help encourage cell turnover and work to fade dark spots and acne scars. But they can also cause redness and irritation, depending on the percentage of retinol used as well as frequency. Always start slowly with retinols and if your face becomes red and sensitive, you may want to take a break from them.
- Apply A Cool Compress
One way to feel instant relief from a tight, red face is to apply something cool to it. Take a clean washcloth and chill it in the fridge before applying it to your face. For extra relief, and to make it feel more like a spa experience, add a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender to the cloth. Keep a few stashed in the fridge.
- Try Hydrocortisone
Hydrocortisone cream is easily available at any drugstore or supermarket in a 1% formula. Its part of a group called corticosteroids, and they help reduce swelling, redness, and itching. A thin application of the cream can help temporarily reduce the signs of redness, but it should not be used for more than two weeks.
- Dial Down The Stress
Stress can be a major trigger for facial redness, and many people believe that it can also affect our overall health. To keep stress levels in check, try out some stress relievers such as exercising regularly, meditation or yoga- or just carving out quiet time for yourself.
- Switch to Mineral Makeup
Mineral makeup, which is a powder made from crushed titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and silica, performs double duty for irritated skin. A few swirls of the product with a brush will help cover up any redness and discoloration. Remember that mineral makeup is buildable so start with a small amount. Mineral makeup foundations are also soothing to irritated skin thanks to the zinc oxide, and won’t clog pores. Jane Iredale’s mineral foundation is a firm favorite among dermatologists and estheticians.
- Apply Cucumber Slices
You may have read that cucumber slices can help reduce the look of puffy eyes, but the same concept applies to a red face. Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, which help calm down irritated and inflamed skin, and they help moisturize the skin as they’re loaded with water. Apply a few slices on your face and lie down for 15 minutes to let them do their work. Or make your own mask by blending cucumber with colloidal oatmeal or yogurt.
- Take Cooler Showers
Everyone loves the feel of a hot shower but overdoing it can cause skin to be red and flushed as it causes capillaries to dilate. Turn down the thermostat on your shower or bath to help keep your skin calm, or at the very least, make sure you always wash your face with lukewarm water.
- Colloidal Oatmeal Masks
Colloidal oatmeal is often used in creams formulated to help soothe eczema. Also known as avena sativa, colloidal oatmeal is made from ground up oats. They help moisturize and soothe the skin and have protective properties. Make your own colloidal oatmeal mask from mixing the oat mixture with water. Let it dry for around 10 minutes and then rise off with lukewarm water.
- Try Azelaic Acid
One beauty ingredient that you may not be familiar with is azelaic acid. It should be on your radar as it is a gentle exfoliant but also has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it ideal for red, flushed faces. Find it in products such as The Ordinary 10% Azelaic Acid Suspension, and Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Transforming Multi-Correction Treatment.
- Add Some Honey
Honey is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which makes it a popular remedy for anyone with sensitive or red skin. The most basic way to use it is to apply a thin layer of honey to the face after cleansing and leave it on for around 30 minutes. The downside is that it is extremely sticky and messy. If you prefer something that is easier to rinse off, try a product made with Manuka honey, such as Fresh Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask or Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask.
- Reach for an Ice Cube
The humble ice cube is one of the best beauty remedies. All you have to do is grab an ice cube from your freezer, wrap it in a face cloth and lightly massage hold it to inflamed skin. You’ll feel an instant cooling affect and the blast of cold will also help constrict blood vessels. An ice cube also does wonders for puffy eyes.