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NOW READING What Is Rosacea & How a 5-Step K-Beauty Routine Can Help You Manage It
April 15, 2018

What Is Rosacea & How a 5-Step K-Beauty Routine Can Help You Manage It

Redness, bumps, sensitivity — these symptoms may sound like acne, but they may actually be a sign of rosacea. And with a condition like rosacea, you want to be extra gentle with not just your skin but your lifestyle (and stress levels!). Here, we ask the experts for tips on managing rosacea and how a 5-step K-beauty routine can help your skin look more rosy and less rosacea-prone.


In many cultures, rosy cheeks are a symbol of health and vitality. Globally, women strive to attain that pinched cheek look of radiance by investing in blush. However, chronic redness in the complexion, especially accompanied by small bumps, can be a sign of something more sinister: rosacea.


What is rosacea?


According to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., the director of cosmetics and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, “Rosacea is a condition in which the skin is overly sensitive to the environment and hyper-reactive to triggers that would not normally upset the skin. There is overactivity of the immune system in the skin and abnormal activity of blood vessels. This leads to red bumps and pus pimples as well as facial flushing.”




What causes rosacea?


The cause of rosacea is unknown. There are a number of factors that can increase blood flow to the face and cause agitation to existing rosacea. “Lifestyle affects rosacea greatly,” says South Korean dermatologist Younglak Choi, M.D. “For instance, patients must avoid drinking alcohol and try to eat mild foods.”


According to, other factors that trigger rosacea inflammation include environmental factors such as wind and sunlight exposure, cosmetics high in irritants like alcohol and fragrance, strenuous physical exercise, and emotional triggers such as stress and anxiety.


Can a Korean skincare routine help to manage rosacea?


Yes. Korean skincare practices and products are internationally recognized for clearing complexions and producing radiant results. But remember, like sensitive skin types, what may work for you may irritate someone else, so always patch test before you try something new!


With that in mind, if you’re interested in a K-beauty routine that may help reduce rosacea irritation and inflammation, read on.


The Tips


Tip 1: Avoid irritants


The key to reducing rosacea flare-ups is to know which skincare ingredients to avoid. Michelle Wong, Ph.D., the powerhouse behind science-based beauty blog Lab Muffin, recommends avoiding “irritants like methylisothiazolinone [a harsh preservative], essential oils, and heavy fragrance.” Other common irritants include alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil.


Tip 2: Incorporate skin soothers


Anti-inflammatory ingredients are the key to a happy complexion. Korean beauty offers a variety of skin soothers. These ingredients include rice water, licorice root extract, ginger, and cucumber extract.




Tip 3: Always use protection


There are skincare ingredients that you can incorporate into parts of your routine that help to protect the skin. “Barrier protection ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides, glycerin and dimethicone are great,” says Wong.


The Routine


Step 1: Double Cleanse


Koreans cleanse not once but twice. An oil cleanser is applied to dry skin to melt away oil-based debris such as makeup and sunscreen. A water-based cleanser is then applied to wet skin to remove water-based impurities such as sweat and dirt.


People with rosacea should follow two criteria when choosing their cleansers:


1. Choose an oil-based cleanser geared towards sensitive skin. A great option is Banila Co Clean It Zero Purity. It contains anti-inflammatory licorice root extract, soothing evening primrose oil, and hydrating aloe leaf extract.


2. Select a water-based cleanser close to the pH of 5.5 to avoid irritation. Many Korean cleansers list the pH of their cleansers. However, if it is not listed, you can buy pH strips to test them. These are available on Amazon, major retailers such as Target, and hardware stores. A great option is the Atopalm Moisturizing Facial Cleansing Foam, which has the desirable pH of 5.5.


teen's first skincare routine rosacea


Step 2: Toner


Toners are important because they help remove any residue left over from your cleanser, reset the pH level of your skin, and prepare your face to absorb the next steps of your skincare routine. Korean toners tend to be hydrating rather than astringent. This is important for people with rosacea because astringent toners can prevent the skin from properly repairing itself and can trigger unwanted inflammation. Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner calms with anti-inflammatory skullcap extract and healing madecassoside.


Step 3: Essence/Serum


The essence (also called serum) is the heart of Korean skincare. Essences provide a layer of essential hydration and aid in skin reparation. People with rosacea can benefit from using an essence because:


1. Hydrated skin is better protected against environmental assaults that can cause rosacea flare-ups.


2. Essences provide a gentle dose of beneficial active ingredients.


PURITO Centella Green Level Buffet Serum may be a rosacea-friendly option because it has 49% Centella asiatica extract, known for its soothing and healing properties, anti-inflammatory licorice root extract, and skin strengthening ceramide.




Step 4:  Moisturizer


After your essence, apply a moisturizer to seal in the hydration. Excellent K-beauty hydrating ingredients for people with rosacea include snail mucin, green tea, and saccharomyces filtrate. Mizon’s Snail Recovery Gel Cream contains an abundance of snail mucin for a powerful punch of hydration.


Step 5: Sunscreen


UV rays are the best known irritant to rosacea. Therefore, it is essential to always protect your face with SPF. Experts recommend using an SPF of at least 30. It is important to remember to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Klairs Midday Blue Sun Lotion SPF40 PA++ has a blue tint to counteract redness and features guaiazulene for its anti-inflammatory and calming properties.



Final Thoughts


The experts have a few final words of advice for people with rosacea.


Dr. Zeichner advises: “Use gentle, hydrating skin cleansers as well as moisturizers to help keep the skin’s barrier in as good shape as possible.”


Michelle Wong suggests that you “keep track of your triggers so you can avoid them!”


Dr. Choi, M.D., says that “getting light, regular exercise and having enough sleep can help rosacea.”


Rosacea does not have the power — you do. Armed with the advice of experts and the most effective K-beauty products and practices, you have the power to put your best face forward. Nothing feels or looks better.


How do you deal with rosacea? Has Korean skincare helped your skin issues? Share with us in the comments!



Taylor is a writer in New York City with a passion for Korean beauty and investigative journalism. She enjoys practicing her Spanish, anything matcha, and adding to her gua sha collection.




Verified Expert

Great info for those affected by rosacea. I experienced rosacea on my arms for years. Toner and sunscreen have been a godsend to reducing flare ups!


Verified Expert

This is such a short & sweet way to explain—loved it! Can’t wait to share this with my clients who suffer from rosacea. Thank you!


Verified Expert

If you have rosacea or a rosacea skin type, this is so important!

This is the article I've needed in my life! Rosacea runs in my family, especially the women. I'm sending this article to all my relatives!


Verified Expert

Great article Taylor! Rosacea is a very common skin condition and your tips will definitely help people.

That's a great article. I have struggled with red cheeks for many years before I finally realized it's rosacea and got proper treatment and learned how to reduce it, now I barely have any redness on my face. Except for obvious tips like avoiding spicy foods and alcohol here are few of my advices:
- I use gel with metronidazole every day
- Vitamin C helps to strengthen blood vessels
- I don't use any foam cleansers, I just do my double cleanse with cleansing oil and micellar water.
- I suggest to look also into fruits we're eating, I figured that... Read more

I could give up fruit and even a foaming cleanser, but spicy food and alcohol? That'd be tough for me!

I'm glad your skin is doing better! I'm curious what your skin type is and if you found getting rid of foam cleansers negatively affected your skin in any way?

I have a normal/dry skin and I have never had problems with oil or acne. Giving up on foaming cleanser did not cause any skin issues once I made sure to cleanse properly with cleansing oil and micellar water. To avoid blackheads and pore clogging I also use Paula's Choice BHA lotion exfoliant. It's very low concentration (2%) so it's not irritating at all, but keeps my skin clear and glowing:)
Giving up on alcohol and spicy food... was hard ~ I do enjoy it from time to time though :)

Ahhh, you're so blessed! I do have an oily T-zone and hormonal acne, so I guess skipping a foaming cleanser isn't a good idea for me. But it's good to know it works so well for you!

I have a mild case of rosacea that I mostly keep at bay with soothing skincare, but by far the worst part of it is that I flush deep red all over my face any time I have a spike of emotions, namely embarrassment or if I'm suddenly center of attention in any situation. It's awful!!! Too bad no skincare miracle can save me from that! >.<

I feel you! I get flushed at the smallest things, which is bad because heat contributes to my hyperpigmentation. I try to counterbalance it with calming ingredients like centella and lots of cooling sheet masks, but true, nothing can stop physiology!

It's crazy how common things like rosacea and dermatitis are but there's no known cause or cure for these kinds of chronic conditions. I've had friends who have conditions like this that I've helped sooth and almost entirely clear up with a skincare routine based in Korean beauty ideas. Obviously I'm not a dermatologist so I'm not giving out any medical advice, but I think some gentle exfoliation and then soothing and hydrating the skin while steering clear of a lot of irritants can go a long way for anybody, but especially in regards to these kinds of skin... Read more