There are many misconceptions about broken capillaries. The first and foremost being that they're broken.
"When you see capillaries visible on the skin, they're permanently dilated," explains celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. "Even if you fall and get a bruise, those aren't even broken, but rather considered leaky capillaries."
What They Look Like
Capillaries come in two colors: red or blue. The red ones are arterial capillaries, where the blood is oxygenated and comes from the heart to the skin, while those that are blue are venous capillaries going back to the heart.
"Red capillaries are easier to treat, prevent, and get rid of," says Rouleau. "Blue vessels are often times deeper in the skin and harder to treat."
Commonly appearing around the nose and cheeks, they can occur anywhere on the face, as well as other parts of the boy such as the chest or legs. And while everyone has these microvessels underneath the skin's surface, they're more noticeable in fair skin types, which are lighter and thinner.
Women's skin also tends to be more delicate than men's, which is naturally thicker and toughened up by shaving daily, and they'll be more visible, says Dr. Francesca Fusco, MD at Wexler Dermatology.
What Causes Them
"Capillary walls are very elastic and through repeated dilating from hot showers, spicy foods, microdermabrasion, intense exercise, alcohol, or merely just genetics, they no longer have the ability to contract causing them to remain enlarged," explains Rouleau.
How to Prevent and Get Rid of Dilated Capillaries
1. Refrigerate your products. Toners and masks can be kept in the fridge. "Their cool temperatures can soothe redness on the skin by gently constricting capillaries," says Rouleau.
2. Use calming ingredients. "Products containing anti-inflammatory and calming ingredients such as chamomile, sea whip extract, azulene, and white tea help naturally cool and comfort the skin and may ease pressure off of capillaries," explains Rouleau. If you don't want to have to worry about looking at the ingredient list, products exclusively formulated for reducing redness are the way to go.
3. Use gentle exfoliants. "Scrubbing is for pots and pants, not faces," cautions Dr. Wexler, who recommends a fine grain exfoliant like Patrica Wexler's Resurfacing Microbrasion cream. You can also use a chemical exfoliator, which uses acids to dissolves dead skin cells and debris from the skin's surface.
Renee Rouleau Redness Care Firming Serum, $44.50; reneerouleau.com.
4. Wash your face with cool or tepid water. "Hot water on the face will speed up blood flow and dilate capillaries, which will only increase redness in the skin," cautions Rouleau.
5. Take it easy on intensive exercise. Because life isn't fair, intense activity creates a flushing of the skin and long term flushing can put continual wear and tear on capillaries. "Activities like walking, swimming, or yoga can provide a workout without as much redness," says Rouleau.
6. Take Vitamin C with bioflavonoids. "Vitamin C taken orally is essential for not only your body's overall health, but the added benefit of bioflavonoids may help prevent bruising and keep capillary walls strong," explains Rouleau.
7. Wear sunblock. If you struggle with dilated capillaries you should be all the more diligent about applying a minimum of SPF 30 daily, says Dr. Fusco. UV rays damages and thins the walls of surface blood vessels, exacerbating their appearance.
8. Try a laser treatment. Both Rouleau and Dr. Fusco agree that lasers are the most effective way to treat prominent capillaries. "There are next-generation laser procedures, like intense pulsed light (IPL), that can be very beneficial, as well as the older tried-and-true technology of using an electric needle to cauterize surface capillaries," explains Rouleau.
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