By Gretchen Voss
Photo credit: Greg Delves
There is no cure for this widespread, poorly understood, underdiagnosed condition that more than 14 million Americansmostly women of Northern and Eastern European descent between the ages of 30 and 60have. No one, knows what causes the chronic inflammatory disorder in which microvessels dilate, causing patchy red areas on the face and, eventually, acne-like bumps. (Severe cases can also include chronic eye irritation, thickened skin, and rhinophyma, as terrifyingly illustrated by the bulbous nose of W.C. Fields.)
"We don't know what causes rosacea, but we do know what makes it worse," says Dr. John Wolf, chairman of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "The most common triggers are sun exposure, emotional stress, hot weather, alcohol, and spicy food."
The secret to calming rosacea is to treat your skin as though you've got mild acne, says Doris Day, a New York City dermatologist. Choose oil-free products and exfoliate regularly, but (and this is key) choose the mildest acne products you can find. They should be alcohol-free and have a low concentration of acne-fighting active ingredients (such as salicylic or glycolic acid). Also, they should never contain scrubbing granules (microderm kits are out for you). As for coverage, celebrity makeup artist Matin Maulawizada swears by Laura Mercier's Oil-Free Foundation. It's perfect for sensitive skin, conceals redness and never leaves the skin greasy.