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Main Causes of Facial Redness & How to Reduce It

Facial redness is one of the most common skincare complaints. So why does it seem so difficult to treat? The big problem is that there are multiple potential culprits for redness, which makes it challenging to identify and target the root cause. In order to help you determine what is to blame, we’re discussing the main causes of facial redness, as well as what you can do to promote a calmer complexion. 

What Causes Facial Redness?

Here are 7 of the most common causes of facial redness. 

1. Rosacea 

One of the main symptoms of rosacea (a common skin condition) is redness and flushing in the face. Over time, the redness can last for a while, and in some cases, it may never fade. 

There isn’t a cure for rosacea, but it can be managed with treatments and some lifestyle modifications (including identifying and avoiding your triggers). A board-certified dermatologist can determine your diagnosis and create a tailored treatment plan to keep your rosacea in check and minimize redness.

2. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis refers to irritation in the skin or an allergic reaction from exposure to a certain trigger. It’s typically characterized by a red rash that may feel itchy.

When this rash develops on the face, it’s often due to exposure to makeup or skincare products that don’t play well with the user's skin. Shampoos and conditioners can also cause contact dermatitis on the face, ears, scalp, and/or neck. 

Typically, this rash will show up within a few days of exposure to the trigger, and often clears within 2 to 4 weeks. If contact dermatitis is responsible for your redness, it’s essential that you identify and eliminate the trigger to avoid future rashes. 

3. Eczema

This inflammatory condition is characterized by redness and rashes, as well as dryness, itchiness, and rough patches of skin. Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) flare ups can last as little as a few days, but may linger for weeks. 

Environmental triggers (like pollution and dry air) are often responsible for eczema flare ups, as is stress. Shampoos and conditioners and scented skincare and makeup products can also be triggers. 

Much like with rosacea, there isn’t a cure for eczema. However, targeted treatments (as prescribed by a dermatologist) will help manage redness and other symptoms. Anyone with eczema-prone skin will also want to identify and avoid their triggers.  

4. Over-Exfoliation

If an underlying condition isn’t causing your redness, it might be your skincare routine. Exfoliation is great for the complexion. It resurfaces and decongests for a clear, radiant, and smooth complexion. However, over-exfoliation (whether it be with a physical or chemical exfoliant) can wreak havoc on the skin. 

By exfoliating your skin too frequently, you disrupt your skin’s natural barrier, which is responsible for protecting the skin and keeping moisture in. When the barrier is compromised, the complexion is prone to a host of issues, including redness, irritation, and dryness. 

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5. Retinol Overuse

Similarly, overuse of retinol can lead to redness. As effective as the treatment is, retinol can be harsh on the skin, especially when used too frequently or when using too high of a concentration for your complexion. Overuse of retinol can lead to inflammation in the skin, triggering redness, aggravation, dry patches, and overall discomfort. 

6. Dry Skin & Acne

Dry and acne-prone skin types also tend to be particularly susceptible to redness. With dry skin, the complexion may be prone to red patches, especially when the skin is feeling and looking especially parched and flakey. With acne, the redness in and around a blemish is a symptom of the inflammation in the skin. 

7. Weather Changes

Changes in the weather can have a major impact on the skin, which is why it's so important to adjust your skincare routine with the seasons. This is especially true when moving into the winter, when humidity levels see a dramatic drop. As a result of a lack of moisture in the air, the skin can become parched and irritated, which can lead to a redder complexion. On top of that, strong winds can also aggravate and trigger redness in the skin. 

How to Treat Redness on Skin

If you’re ready to tackle redness, here are our top treatment tips to achieve a clear, calm complexion:

Use Soothing Products:Target the root cause of redness by incorporating masks, serums, and other topical products made with soothing ingredients into your routine. For example, our  CoQ10 Boost Serum pairs gentle, skin-restoring coenzyme Q10 with licorice root extract, green tea leaf extract, and bisabolol, all of which have calming benefits. Other powerful skin soothing ingredients to look out for include centella asiatica, rose water, and aloe. 

  • Target Dryness: To minimize redness related to parched skin, work a hydrating serum into your regular skincare routine. A  gentle hyaluronic acid serum is a great choice, as this humectant is one of the most effective hydrators. 
  • Improve Barrier Health: A strong, healthy barrier will be better equipped to keep the skin protected against environmental aggressors, which may in turn help minimize visible signs of irritation. One simple way to enhance your skin’s barrier is to moisturize with a gentle, high-quality moisturizer on a daily basis. Look for formulas made with ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, all of which play a role in supporting barrier health. 
  • Stick with Fragrance-Free Products: You may not realize it, but the fragrances in your skincare products may be contributing to redness and irritation in your skin. Swap out your products with  fragrance-free skincare solutions to see how your complexion reacts. The simple switch may make all the difference!

  • Cut Back on Harsh Active Ingredients: If overuse of retinol or exfoliants is to blame for your redness, it’s time to scale back your usage. Don’t worry – you don’t need to completely eliminate these ingredients from your routine. You’ll just want to reduce your application so that you still get the benefits while minimizing your risk of experiencing redness and other negative side effects. You can even consider following a  skin cycling routine to give your skin a break every couple days. 
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