woman sitting with a salad bowl

I remember going for a facial in my late twenties and the facialist told me, ‘..you need to take care of your rosacea.’

My what? I don’t have rosacea…I just have rosy cheeks.

‘No, it’s rosacea. You need to stop drinking red wine, spicy food and do gentle exercise.’

WTF. So I googled rosacea, and my skin didn’t look like all the pictures I saw, so I dismissed it for a while.

I had always been prone to flushing but I had pretty flawless skin as a teen. So flawless, in fact, that in my teenaged modelling years, I would regularly book jobs for skincare in the most skin obsessed places like Japan and South Korea.

Now, of course, two kids, a business and an irritable gut later, I am no longer in denial. Most of the time, my lifestyle choices keep both my gut and my rosacea feeling pretty good. I can actually forget that I have gut issues – but with my rosacea, not so much. Stress is definitely my primary gut trigger but with rosacea, I have a hard time adhering to steps I need to keep the neurovascular aspects in check. When things are bad, my skin feels like it’s being pricked with hot needles and I get 1 or 2 of those tiny telltale pimples on my cheeks. I’ve also had a bit of eczema pop up on my neck (oh joy!) but it’s only happened twice and I have been able to get it under control in a few days with good old Aveeno and attention to diet. Otherwise, it’s just extra hot flushing when I am exposed to triggers.

I have struggled with inflammatory acne in my thirties, which began (with a spectacular pizza face explosion) literally the day I found out I was pregnant with my first kid but I have now gone six months without a breakout…fingers crossed that annoyance is behind me.

What I do to keep rosacea in check

Because stress is my primary trigger for like, life, managing it has been a huge part of staying well. When things are busy (like 24/7) I literally vibrate with energy…even though most of the time I am quite happy and motivated and I don’t feel like I am under stress.

  • In 2018, I began waking up at 5:30AM so that I can have 30 minutes to myself. This has really helped, as I now start my day in silence, either reading or meditating, as opposed to being full steam ahead from the minute I wake up. With two spirited kids, mornings can be really stressful and it can feel like I’ve survived a war by 8AM. Hitting snooze is really tempting but I feel so much more grounded having that time to myself.
  • I swear that taking ashwangandha has made a major improvement in my skin. It is an adaptogenic herb with an actual research base to support its use and I feel like it helps protect my body from stress and I can feel the difference. When I am really wound up, I feel almost a sour feeling in my body – if that makes any sense – and ashwangandha dispels that. I take Sunpotion. I love it so much. Tastes like garbage, but this recipe helps.
  • I should take sleep a bit more seriously. I have a really hard time falling asleep because my brain goes nuts when I shut the lights off, but getting up early helps with falling asleep. I typically get 6 – 7.5 hours a night, depending on how late I have to work and how long it takes me to fall asleep. It can take me an hour to fall asleep or more!
  • I work out 2-4 times a week, alternating jogging, Lagree West classes and yoga. Here is where what is good for my gut and my stress levels isn’t always good for rosacea. Anything that really gets your blood pumping will trigger rosacea but I need to get a good sweat on for my mental wellbeing. So it’s a tradeoff I am more than willing to make. If it feels particularly hot, I will literally put ice on my cheeks post workout.

My diet is pretty rock solid, as you’d expect…but I’m not always so diligent with avoiding rosacea triggers.

  • Dietary triggers: most commonly reported include alcohol (especially red wine), hot food and drinks like soups or tea and spicy food. I like all of these things a lot. Most weeks, I will keep alcohol consumption to only Friday and Saturday and I find that having 4-5 days without really helps support gut/skin health.
  • I love spicy food and pretty much refuse to stop eating chiles.
  • I also really need to stop drinking coffee on an empty stomach. But I love the ritual of having coffee (with my ashwagandha!) before breakfast.
  • Dietary triggers can also be unique and patients report a variety of triggers. I find that eating a a bunch of sugar (pretty rare for me) or high glycemic meal (like a big bowl of mashed potatoes or pasta) will do it for me. Pasta + a glass of red wine? Near instant flush.
  • My everyday eating plan is a plant-based anti-inflammatory diet. Lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. Moderate whole grains. I get plenty of fibre, omega 3s and keep my sugar intake low. This is what Eat More Plants is going to be all about!
  • If you are just starting on your path, I would highly recommend you work on un-junking your diet and eating more fresh plant foods as a foundation for lifelong health and managing inflammation.
  • I take a probiotic (Bio-K+) pretty much daily along with vitamin D3. In crazy times, I take a multivitamin (MegaFood) because I can now lose my appetite when stressed (I was a stress eater in my twenties).

Many of you asked about skincare and cosmetics… I am definitely not an expert and can only share my experiences but here goes.

  • I am a total skincare obsessive and I find that most products make my face worse. I tried using La Roche Posay’s line for rosacea and found it pretty terrible. After reading about Marie Veronique on Lee from America, I have been trying a bunch of her products for about a 6 weeks and am really liking them!
  • Currently, my regime is:
    • Marie Veronique Replenishing Oil Cleanser (PM) and Gentle Gel Cleanser (AM)
    • Marie Veronique Pre- and Probiotic Mist (AM/PM)
    • Marie Veronique Redness Relief Serum (AM/PM) and The Ordinary 1% Retinol in Squalene (PM). Retinoids are an evidence-based option for rosacea. Noting a huge change in my skin and will probably never stop using them now that I am done having kids (retinoids are ultra high doses of vitamin A which can cause birth defects).
    • Sunday Riley Autocorrect Eye Cream from Sephora
    • LOA Skin Miracle Oil. I have tried facial oils in the past and they weren’t right for my skin. This one is amazing. I can see with the warmer weather that I will use a lot less. Right now, I am using it at night and during the day, adding a drop to my Aesop Oil Free Hydration Serum.
    • Marie Veronique Zinc-based Tinted SPF 30
  • My rosacea isn’t so advanced that I have experience with heavy coverage formulations although I know a lot of people swear by CoverFX. I don’t use any colour correctors.
  • For my good days and everyday use, I am using RMS Beauty UnCoverup as a foundation, which is totally natural. For not so good days or days when I am on TV or on stage, I use Shu Uemura The Light Bulb foundation which I am totally in love with and have used for years.

So there you have it, a little look into how I keep my mild rosacea as mild as I can. I will be sure to update this page as things change or evolve.

I would love to know what’s worked for you…or if you have any questions over on my Instagram or Facebook! xo, Desiree

Photo Credit: Melissa Quantz

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