Rosacea and summer… one of the worst combinations for me. I’m not great in the sun anyway, due to being the colour of a yoghurt ghost, but the humid, clammy heat on top of that? No, thank you. But after 18 years of having rosacea, I’ve gathered some incredible tips that will help you manage the warmer months without losing your mind or damaging your skin.
As with everything I share here, a gentle reminder that rosacea is annoyingly individual and what works for some might not work for you. It really is a case of educating yourself as much as possible and then moving upwards from there. I’m sharing generic rosacea and summer tips here to try to help the most amount of people as possible, but they might not all apply to you, so take what you need and leave what you don’t. If you’re new to rosacea, this post will be a great place to start: Rosacea FAQs.
Let’s go: Rosacea and summer tips and tricks…
Table of Contents
Let’s start with the most obvious ‘rosacea and summer’ advice: try to stay out of the sun, especially during the hottest hours of the day (11-3). I know there are some situations that are unavoidable, but wherever possible try not to be in the sun during these hours. I try not to be outdoors at all during that time because, even in the shade, the heat is too much for me and my rosacea. But you know your skin best, so just listen to what it is telling you.
Whenever outside, I recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat (caps are okay at a push, but they do leave the sides of your face exposed which isn’t ideal), sunglasses, and try to find some comfortable, loose-fitting items of clothing in a lightweight fabric. It is tempting to go for the least amount of clothing to try to cool the skin down, but think about coverage and comfort first. I favour floaty, thin maxi dresses as they cover my legs and also create their own breeze as I scamper between shadows, like a summery vampire. THIS HAT from Arket is on my summer wishlist, they also do very lovely lightweight separates which are chic and timeless, so you’ll be able to wear them every summer. You could also consider a UV parasol – yes you get some strange looks, but I just weigh up which bothers me more: the looks and comments I get when my rosacea is flaring, or the looks people give me when I’m walking around with a pretty parasol!
If you have rosacea you really should be wearing sunscreen year-round, but when the summer months arrive it’s even more important to be on top of your sunscreen routine.
- Choose a product with minimum SPF30 to protect against UVB and look for products with at least 4-star UVA protection
- Apply two fingers length (or about a 1/4 teaspoon) for your face and the front of your neck
- Areas you may forget: back of your neck if exposed, ears, and the top of your head if necessary
- Apply every two hours of exposure, or more often if you’ve been swimming or sweating excessively
- There are spray sunscreens designed for reapplication, but remember that you need a lot more than you think you do, probably about 6 passes over each area!
- Think about your indirect sun exposure: large windows at work, car journeys, flights… if the sun is reaching you, you need to be wearing sunscreen – don’t think that you’re protected just because you’re not outside.
- Chemical vs physical: there are lots of myths out there about the different kinds of sunscreens, mostly pushed by ‘green-washing’ brands who scaremonger about the use of chemicals in products. Dr Michelle Wong (Labmuffinbeauty) is my go-to for skincare science explained simply: I’d recommend checking out her instagram page for more in-depth explanations like this fantastic post which covers the myths about chemical and physical sunscreens.
- Personally I don’t have an issue with chemical sunscreens (in fact I prefer them because they tend to have a thinner, lighter formula and are better for my oily skin) but if you are nervous, or prone to irritation from products, I’d recommend playing it safe and try a physical sunscreen. The best sunscreen is the one you will wear, so go with what works for you.
- Recommendations for chemical sunscreens: Dermatica SPF50 Photodamage Defence Sunscreen (HERE – I also have a discount code to get 20% off: LEX20); La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMUNE 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50 (HERE); Garnier Ambre Solaire Super UV Anti Dark Spots & Anti Pollution Face Fluid SPF50 (HERE); Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF50 (HERE)
- Recommendations for physical sunscreens: Heliocare 360 Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF50 (HERE); Ultra Violette Clean Screen SPF30 (HERE), Ultra Violette Lean Screen SPF50 (HERE)
Do whatever you can to cool down and stay cool. In the UK, homes don’t have AC as standard, so we have to get creative. Here are some of my favourite tips:
- SHOWER: It may be tempting to have a cold shower but that will constrict your blood vessels so, although you feel cool in the short term, it actually makes you feel warmer in the long term! Apparently it’s best to have a tepid shower, then drip dry in the shower to get that cooling evaporation started.
- PULSE POINTS: Put ice or cold water on your pulse points as this is where your veins are closest to the surface of the skin so this will cool the body quicker. The most accessible ones are on your inner wrists and on your neck. You can run your wrists under water, press a cold drink against your skin, wet a towel/paper towel and press it on the skin, or sucking ice cubes also helps.
- FAN: Carry an electric handheld fan with you wherever you go. There are tons available but THIS is the one I have.
- COLD BED: If you have a hot water bottle, fill it with iced water and pop it at the bottom of your bed an hour before you get into it. The chilly feeling on your feet is so deliciously cooling.
As the weather changes, take a look at the skincare products you’re using. If your routine is solid and you’re happy with it, I’m not saying you have to change anything (afterall, rosacea thrives on routine) but here are some things to think about if you feel like your skincare isn’t working as well in the warmer months.
- CLEANSER: I tend to move away from cream cleansers when it’s hot and gravitate towards gels, milks, or oils. Anything that feels lighter on the skin and won’t make my already-warm skin feel warmer! Cleansing is key at any time of year, but in the summer you’re competing with extra sunscreen and sweat, so it’s important to get this step right.
- Recommendations: Dermatica Balancing Gel Cleanser (HERE and get 20% off with the code LEX20), Medik8 Lipid Balancing Cleansing Oil (HERE).
- MOISTURISERS: Similiarly to above, I favour gel moisturisers in the summer and avoid the heavier creams my skin craves in the winter. If you don’t feel like the lighter formulas are cutting it, you could try layering your skincare to double the hydration without it feeling stifling.
- Recommendations: Dermatica Soothing Centella Moisturiser (HERE – use code LEX20 for 20% off); La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive Fluide Moisturiser (HERE).
- SPRITZ: Personally, I like a spritz year-round, but it just hits differently in the summer months. If your spritz is a mineral water formula (e.g. Avene or La Roche-Posay) the fine mist can be really cooling and calming throughout the day (but you may need to apply moisturiser afterwards if you feel it’s making the skin more dry through evaporation). If you’re looking for a spritz to fit into your skincare routine I recommend something with additional hydrating and soothing ingredients, like the BYOMA Balancing Face Mist (HERE).
STAY HYDRATED (content warning: diet)
This should be obvious but remember to drink a lot of water. Rosacea sufferers are more likely to have a compromised skin barrier, which means water evaporates from our skin more easily which, in turn, makes our skin more dehydrated.
Did you know that about a fifth of your water intake comes from the food you eat? If you struggle to drink enough water, you can add to your overall water intake levels by eating high water-content foods, e.g. cucumber, tomatoes, spinach, melon, apples, mushrooms, blueberries.
Keep your windows and curtains/blinds closed during the day. This may sound counterintuitive, but you want to keep the inside cooler than outside, you can open the windows when the temperature drops and a breeze starts (just remember to close them again in the morning). If you have sash or top-opening windows, open the highest and lowest window to mimic some Victorian air-con!
Heat and sun exposure are two of the most common rosacea triggers, so in order to minimise the stress on your skin, try to avoid your other triggers as much as you can. Your face is already dealing with irritation so it makes sense to avoid adding even more stress on top of that.
If you need help identifying your triggers, THIS POST will help.
The ‘bucket theory’ will help with trigger management as it helps you learn how to balance and adapt to changing triggers and situations. Watch my explanation of the theory below:
Every year, when sunny season rolls around, I feel intense guilt for not ‘making the most of the nice weather’. In the past I’ve felt embarrassed for gravitating towards the shade when all of my friends want to bask in the sun. This is your reminder: you are not awkward. You’re not a diva or a princess. You’re not ruining anyone’s day. You’re looking after yourself and trying to live comfortably with a chronic skin condition. If the people around you can’t accommodate that, it says more about them then it does about you. Here are some handy tips to help navigate these conversations:
- Mention to your friends in advance that you need to sit in the shade, so they can request it when booking tables/keep an eye out for a suitable spot.
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask to swap seats as the sun moves around – my friends and family are now very used to seat-hopping as I chase the shade!
- You don’t have to apologise or feel guilty, but you can explain your rosacea if you feel comfortable doing so. Sitting in the shade won’t put their health at risk, but sitting in the sun could have a lasting impact on you.
- If you don’t want to socialise outside, you don’t have to. In the UK especially, we’re obsessed with summer and feel like we have to squeeze every opportunity out of the (rare) nice weather. But it’s okay to limit your socialising or outside time to the morning/evenings if that makes you more comfortable. Peer pressure is a hell of a drug, but consider this your permission to sack off summer if you want to!
Lastly – and most importantly! – try to work on your mindset. Remind yourself that you have survived every single flare up before today. This may be uncomfortable right now, but it will pass and you are learning from each moment. I’ve been where you are and I can promise you it does get easier.
I have some blog posts that may help if you’re struggling with the psychological side of rosacea: How positive affirmations can help (here); managing negative thoughts (here); how to work on your confidence when you have ‘flaws’ (here); and dealing with unhelpful thoughts (here).
I hope you found these tips for rosacea and summer survival useful, feel free to leave your tips in the comments so we can all learn together!
LOOKING FOR SOME NEXT STEPS?
- Follow me on INSTAGRAM for lots of updates.
- Join my private rosacea FACEBOOK GROUP.
- And I’ve linked my digital downloads designed by me to help you get to grips with your rosacea: the Rosacea Trigger Checklist and the Rosacea Flare Up Diary.
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