Code red: how to calm and soothe irritated skin

how to reduce redness
Cassie Steer,-Beauty Editor

If a clear and calm complexion eludes you, try these expert tips and products to reduce redness. All beauty editor approved...

You don’t have to be a skin whisperer to deduce that redness isn’t necessarily the sign of a cool, calm and collected complexion. In fact, our skin is pretty adept at communicating its displeasure and redness is generally the first warning sign for a myriad of skin complaints. ‘Erythema, or redness of the skin is caused by increased blood flow within the capillaries and can have a number of causes,’ says oculoplastic surgeon, aesthetic doctor and creator of MZ Skin, Dr Maryam Zamani. ‘It’s commonly seen in dermatologic conditions like rosacea but can also be seen post inflammation, post clinical treatments (such as peels or laser) or from a range of conditions from seborrheic dermatitis to psoriasis or allergic reactions.’

The first step is to figure out your skin’s triggers by eliminating potential culprits, whether they are environmental causes such as sun exposure, lifestyle factors such as strenuous exercise and spicy foods or common irritants such as fragrance, parabens and certain essential oils found in skincare. According to consultant dermatologist Dr Sharon Wong, redness and irritation of the skin are incredibly common and while the causes are varied, treatment across the board comes down to gentle, barrier-boosting ingredients that calm inflammation and help the skin to form a protective shield against irritants. ‘Look for actives in skincare which can help to both soothe irritation and redness, hydrate the skin and support its barrier function. These can include niacinamide, aloe vera, oats, probiotics, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and ceramides. And of course don’t forget the sunscreen!’

In addition to skincare, light therapy has also been shown to be effective at minimising redness and is the premise behind Dr Zamani’s MZ Skin Light-Therapy Golden Facial Treatment Device: ‘Light Emitting Diode (LED) sources are unique in that they emit a narrow spectrum of light with the absorption depending on the different wavelengths of light. Red light in particular has been shown to activate collagen production to improve skin texture and colour while reducing inflammation and redness.’

It’s worth noting that some skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea have very similar symptoms to allergic reactions or irritation as a result of over-exfoliating so it always pays to make an appointment with an experienced dermatologist for a professional diagnosis. This is particularly important when it comes to dark skin, as redness and early signs of rosacea can be harder to spot.

Dampen the flames with these anti-redness skin saviours…

Less flush, more blush

Even with the best of skincare intentions there are times when we all need a more immediate solution. So we’ve enlisted top make-up artist Sonia Deveney to give her expert tips for covering redness.

‘Even the most beautiful faces I’ve worked on require a touch of cover up to create a more even skintone so I’d advise starting out by looking closely at the redness to try and assess whether it needs a little extra hydration, as this will assist in your product choice. When dealing with redness I always head straight for a concealer applied with a thin, flat brush as opposed to colour correctors which can sometimes be a bit hit and miss if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.

‘If the redness is spread over a larger area such as your whole cheek as opposed to, say an individual spot or around the nose, then you might need to look at a foundation with a medium to high coverage.

‘If you are attempting to cover up redness around a blemish then I’d suggest opting for a dryer consistency of concealer rather than a creamier texture. Setting with a loose, translucent powder will also help give makeup longevity. I’d always advise investing in a few different shades and brands of concealer so you can mix and match colours and formulations. Selecting the wrong colour will only emphasise the area you’re trying to disguise and using a formulation that’s too dry on an already dehydrated area will also highlight the problem.’

A concealer for every code red complexion emergency? Look no further…

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