When I started the ‘How Do I Look?’ series, it was because I had seen how powerful it can be to find someone else who has shared your experience, someone who looks like you, someone who feels like you. When I found others with rosacea online, I was so happy: I felt understood and supported in a way I hadn’t before. And I wanted to help make those connections for other people. Being involved in the skin positivity community online, I have been introduced to so many incredible people doing amazing work. People with conditions I know nothing about but wanted to: psoriasis, vitiligo, trichotillomania, eczema, scars, acne conglobata… So this blog series was born: interviews with all sorts of people who are all using their spaces online to spread information, love, and support. As April is Rosacea Awareness Month, I’m focusing all my interviews this month on ROSACEA.
Today’s interview is with the wonderful Rose Gallagher: make up artist, Heads Up champ, and fellow rosacea sufferer. We first met a year ago, when we were both guests on the Sali Hughes Soho Radio show, talking about rosacea, and I’ve been in love with her ever since. Rose talks to me about her diagnosis, her love of make up, and why developing rosacea has changed her life in a positive way.
Tell me about your rosacea?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had rosy skin. Even in the early years of secondary school, I wore much fuller make-up than my friends because I was so keen to cover it. But when I reached my late 20’s it seemed to become extra apparent, so I saw a dermatologist who diagnosed me with two different types of rosacea. This coincided with me deciding to film more make-up tutorials on myself, having only previously done make-up on other people, like most other make-up artists. I would always start make-up free, and lots of people would ask about my skin (usually because theirs looked similar), so it was almost an accidental discussion. It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about it, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting it to be the focus point, because all I was trying to do was teach basic make-up!
What are the common misconceptions, comments, or questions about rosacea? What do you wish people knew?
I think because I work in beauty, people assume I am overloading my skin with products or using too many different things. The reality is I stick to a very basic, simple regime and keep things consistent, but you can do everything right and still not find a cure for your rosacea.
I think a common misconception is that there will be a wonder product to fix it, which unfortunately there isn’t.
And truthfully, I think rosacea doesn’t get as much airtime as other skin concerns, for example acne for which there is an a wide, brilliant community of positive activists. I wish people knew that this is a very frequently occurring skin condition, and you aren’t in a minority if you have it. One of the things I find people want to do the most with me is just discuss their skin with someone who understands, because they think it’s just them.
How does your skin make you feel on a day to day basis?
To be honest, I’m so used to wearing make-up, I don’t really look too much at my skin. When I do look at it, it’s frustrating. I definitely wish I had clearer skin so that I could feel comfortable to wear no make-up and feel nice. I go make-up free all the time, but I’m not skin confident when I do that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish my skin was different, but equally I don’t allow myself time to dwell on it. I literally put my face on and carry on with my day.
How do you feel about make up?
I adore make-up and I genuinely don’t know where I’d be without it. I’m happy to go make-up free, and I do that a lot. But I don’t feel good about my face when I haven’t covered my redness. When I have my make-up on, I feel like the version of myself I deserve to be. A version that doesn’t have distracting patches of redness. I find that I forget my skin altogether when I have make-up on, whereas when I don’t have it on I’m conscious that my skin must look red.
What are your thoughts on the media visibility of rosacea?
I think we have a lot of work to do in terms of making this more of a normal conversation point. I think rosacea is a funny topic, because it isn’t perceived to be as dramatic as acne, so I don’t think people realise the emotional impact of it can be just as powerful as any other skin concern. I wish more people showed it, just so that it was less of a controversial topic. People are forever telling me I am ‘brave’ to show my skin. It shouldn’t be perceived an act of bravery to be sharing a skin condition that the British Skin Foundation suggest is found in 1 in 10 people.
How do you deal with bad days?
I always put my make-up on when I’m having a bad day because then I’m not catching a mirror and having negative thoughts. I stop them in their tracks, and put something else on that will distract me. For example, a gorgeous bright lipstick is a sure fire way to perk up my whole complexion and make me feel better. I think it’s important to try and take action to turn a bad day around as opposed to letting it take ownership. I also have a folder in my phone of nice messages I’ve received from people who say seeing my skin has helped them. It drives me to carry on sharing the bad skin photos because I know someone else is taking comfort from my bad day.
If you have consulted the medical community for your rosacea, how were those experiences?
I saw a dermatologist last year who diagnosed me with rosacea and gave me lots of advice to manage my skin. The experience start to finish was fantastic. She suggested both lifestyle changes and skincare steps to help manage the severity of my redness, and I’ve noticed a marked improvement in the texture of my skin since following her recommendations.
In the past few years there have been more conversations around the link between skin and mental health, what are your thoughts?
It really pleases me to see more discussion about the link between self-esteem and mental health, whether for a skincare concern or any other personal concern. I noticed recently Lex that you discussed the fact that it’s ok to be completely consumed by the situation we’re in right now, and still have those personal feelings about your skin. It’s true, and I think everyone’s situation is relative.
Have any positives come out of your rosacea?
Absolutely! I have been amazed at the community of people I have spoken to as a result of having rosacea, and feel very privileged to have people open up to me and share their experiences. Being able to share such intimate journeys of confidence with people is a very special thing. It has been a real testament to the positive impact that social media can have. And I’ve met some good friends along the way of trying to navigate my skin journey – you included, Lex!
What are your top tips for living with rosacea from a psychological POV?
One of the things I try and practise as much as possible is to acknowledge the things I like about myself. We are so used to looking in a mirror and picking apart the bad things. I make an effort as much as possible to find the things that are annoying me, and say something good about them instead. If I’m worried about my weight, I’ll catch myself in that thought and make a point of noting how soft my skin is on my body. So I’d encourage you to do the same with your rosacea. Instead of just commenting on the redness in your skin, make a point of focusing on a feature on your face that you love, and taking some time to focus on that.
What are your top product recommendations for rosacea make up, application tips etc?
For me, application is key when dealing with rosacea. Use a really soft touch to minimise aggravating your skin, and pat product onto the red areas to help to build up coverage. You may also wish to use a slightly fuller coverage formula on the red areas and a soft formula everywhere else, to give the illusion that you aren’t wearing as much.
I’d recommend sealing your make-up in with powder, because red skin tends to be hot to the touch and your make-up may melt away a little quicker than it would on the average person.
And if your skin is textured with redness, cream formulas will be more flattering and help to skim over that texture (but still set with a tiny bit of translucent powder to lock them into place). My favourite picks are the IT Cosmetics CC Cream for complexion (I use this every day. Yes, I work with them on an ongoing basis, but they invited me to do that because I use this every day), I love Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge cream blush for cheeks, the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid to highlight, any translucent powder, and if you like to use a primer the Daniel Sandler Anti-Redness Primer is the only green product that I can get on board with because it neutralises without making the complexion too washed out. If you have sensitive eyes, La Roche Posay even do a mascara suited to that!
What are your top skincare recommendations?
When it comes to skincare, keep things as simple as you possibly can. Use as little product as you can get away with, and in a fragrance free, simple form. I’ve ditched cloths, much to my dismay, and remove my make-up with a cleansing cream (eyes with a separate eye remover and cotton pads because I wear lots of make-up). My favourite brands for rosacea-prone skin are La Roche Posay and Cerave, however there are bits and pieces from lots of other brands that work super well. SkinCeuticals is great if you can stretch to it, and generally you won’t go far wrong with French pharmacy brands like Avene. There are lots of specific product recommendations on my IGTV videos in the rosacea section, so take a look there for some inspiration.
Want to hear more from Rose?
- Follow her on Instagram;
- Watch her Instagram Highlights;
- Watch her on YouTube;
- Listen to her podcast, Beauty From The Heart.
Read the other posts in the How Do I Look? series here:
- MICHELLE talking about her scars;
- SOFIA talking about her acne;
- NATALIE talking about vitiligo;
- SUSIE on her Telogen Effluvium (hair loss);
- AMY on her port wine stain birthmark;
- GEMMA on psoriasis;
- AMARA on eczema;
- GRACE on her scars;
- JUDY on her sensitive skin;
- SHANKAR on his Vitiligo;
- P. on their Acne Conglobata;
- SOPHIE on her Trichotillomania;
- KALI on her acne;
- and CAECILIE on her rosacea.
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