Spring Break is nearly here and for a lot of us, that means we either want to spend some time in the sun or look as though we have. For those of us with rosacea, both possibilities can pose a rather significant challenge.
Tanning is a relatively controversial topic both in terms of achieving the look from sun exposure or through sunless methods. UV rays (from both the sun and tanning beds) and certain chemicals in self-tanning products have been directly linked with an increased risk of skin cancer and premature aging. However, that won’t be the topic of this post. There are tons of articles online from some fantastic sources, and I recommend checking them out if you want to learn more about that (important) topic.
Here are two from ConsumerSafety.org that I find particularly helpful:
The Trouble with Traditional and Sunless Tanning with Rosacea
When you have rosacea, you need to keep those aforementioned issues in mind above and beyond the fact that the sun is the top rosacea trigger, according to the National Rosacea Society. Their figures show that 81% of us are triggered by sunlight. That’s more than 4 out of every 5 rosacea sufferers!
Another 41% of us are triggered by certain skin care products – nearly 1 in 2 rosacea sufferers. That means that regardless of whether we’re into traditional or sunless tanning, rosacea can present a considerable barrier to achieving that sun-kissed look on Spring Break.
Since there are a lot of us facing this challenge at the moment, ConsumerSafety.org has asked me to share my thoughts on the topic. They also provided me with a handy list of general tips we can follow to take care of the rest of our skin to avoid “sun shock,” skin cancer and other sun damage. Click here to download that list for free.
Please note that this is not a sponsored blog post. ConsumerSafety.org asked me to discuss Spring Break and skincare for fun in the sun with my own spin. It’s such a great and relevant topic that I was more than happy to comply.
Tanning in the Sun with Rosacea
If you’ve been reading my blog or watching my Rosy JulieBC YouTube channel for a while, then you know that I fall into that group of people whose rosacea symptoms are triggered by sunlight. This means that for me, tanning my face is out of the question.
For one thing, I don’t tan, I burn. For another thing, it causes my cheeks to turn dark purply-red and I break out in papules and pustules that look like acne (though they’re not). After even a short time in the sun, my skin feels tight, hot and will sometimes sting or feel itchy.
This is even worse at a time like Spring Break, when I’ve spent the last few months thoroughly covered up during the winter and have had limited time for natural sun exposure, anyway.
How to Enjoy Spring Break in the Sun with Rosacea
This doesn’t mean that I can’t go to a place that is sunny and warm. It just means that some extra precautions are necessary.
I’ve accepted the fact that I will not be lying out in the sun with my face in the direct sunlight. Still, it doesn’t mean I need to find the nearest dark cave and hide in it while everyone else is out and having fun.
Here’s what’s in my rosacea sun exposure toolkit:
- Moisturizer – thoroughly moisturized skin fares far better against the sun than dry skin. My skin is naturally as hydrated as the Sahara Desert, so I stick to a rigid moisturizing routine on a regular basis, but particularly when I’ll be in the sun as well. Some top favourite products for this include:
- SBT Seabuckthorn’s Chokecherry Oil
- SBT Seabuckthorn’s Tea Cream
- Face Addiction’s Soft Cream
- Celtic Complection’s Creme
- Sunscreen – of all the skincare products I use, a good sunscreen is the hardest for me to find. The reason is that most sunscreens contain ingredients that cause my skin to flare up. There are a few that I’ve found that don’t cause a rosacea flare-up.
I apply the products a half hour before heading out to give them the chance to absorb and start working at their fullest. I’ll then reapply every 2 hours or more frequently if I’ve been swimming or sweating a lot. Each have their benefits and drawbacks, but my favourites include the following:
- The Matter Company’s Substance
- Celtic Complexion’s Organic Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
- Celtic Complexion’s Tinted Moisturizer SPF 31
- La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra-Light Fluid Lotion
- A Wide-Brimmed Hat – I don’t mean a baseball cap. I mean a hat with a big brim that goes all the way around to shade my face from sun in all directions. Some hats actually come with an SPF, which I appreciate. Otherwise, I just look for one that provides actual shade and that doesn’t have lots of holes (for example in a loose weave) that would let the light through.
- A Parasol – I’ve started to love using bright and pretty parasols. I save the black umbrella for rain protection. For the sun, I use a brightly patterned, summery umbrella or a Chinese-style parasol. I’ve collected several options over the years so I can match them to my outfit or my mood.
- Water – staying hydrated gives skin an extra boost of protection. The healthier skin is, the better it can protect itself from the sun and the less likely it is to experience rosacea symptoms. Getting a great refillable bottle helps to encourage me to drink from it more – and to bring it in the first place!
Those are the tips I use for my face. For the rest of my body, I follow the tips mentioned in the ConsumerSafety.org list I mentioned earlier. These help to avoid sun shock and keep skin healthy and comfortable while reducing the risk of sunburn.
Sunless Tanning with Rosacea
There are two main categories of sunless tanning: tanning beds and topical products. I’m not going to talk about tanning beds as an option for several reasons: I’ve never tried them, I think they’re dangerous to a person’s health, and they are a fast route to a rosacea flare-up so I don’t feel that they apply for our needs.
So that leaves us with the second category: topical products. These come in the form of sprays, lotions, creams, serums, oils and several others. I’ve tried a few of these over the years but, to be honest, I started phasing them out when I began taking my rosacea seriously.
The reason is that I couldn’t find a single topical self-tanner that didn’t irritate my rosacea. Since I didn’t want to have a tan-looking body and a white-and-red face, I gave up on trying to look tan at all. That said, it isn’t impossible to look sun kissed just because you have rosacea. The key is to choose your products carefully, apply them with a light hand and understand the ingredients.
How to Achieve a Spring Break Sun Kissed Look with Rosacea
Ideally, you can try to find a self tanner that you can use on your body and a matching tinted moisturizer or mineral makeup bronzer that will allow you to make it look as though your face and your body were in the same sunshine over spring break.
To do this realistically, don’t apply a ton of product to either your face or body. Your goal shouldn’t be to look as though you baked in the sun for hours every single day. That will only give you an orange or otherwise fake skin colour. People won’t think you had a great time in the sun if you do that. They’ll think you don’t know what you’re doing with self-tanner or that you made a concerted effort to bring out your inner oompa-loompa.
Instead, make your goal to have a bit of a healthy “glow.” Embrace your natural skin colour but enhance it with a very slightly darker golden shade that makes it look like you were able to step out into the light after having been inside all winter long. A little bit can go a long way for giving you a healthy look that shows you had a great time on Spring Break.
To make sure you’re using self-tanner properly and safely, consider checking out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s information about these products. It provides some very handy insight about DHA (a major ingredient in nearly all self tanners) and in what ways it can be safely used as well as how it should be used in order to avoid risks to your health.
In terms of mineral makeup that can help you to bronze your face to match without causing a rosacea flare-up, here are some of my favourite options:
- Cheeky Cosmetics Bronzing Powder
- The All Natural Face Vegan Bronzer
- Physician’s Formula Argan Wear Ultra-Nourishing Argan Oil Bronzer
- Physician’s Formula Nude Wear Touch of Glow Palette
- Everyday Minerals Bronzer
Rosacea After the Sun
This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually quite straightforward. A little bit of preparation in advance will mean that you’ll be ready to work these tips into your Spring Break trip very conveniently.
You’ll be able to achieve the look you want – both there and when you come home – while keeping your skin healthy, protected and nourished, and saving yourself from a vacation filled with rosacea symptoms.
That said, nobody’s perfect. If you do end up getting more sun than you meant, be sure to have a plan of action to get things under control very quickly. Nourish your skin with after-sun products like La-Roche Posay’s Posthelios After Solar Repair, or my personal favourites: pure aloe vera gel and SBT Seabuckthorn’s After Sun Cream.
If you’ve had a sunburn, pure aloe vera gel and SBT Seabuckthorn’s Sunburn Soothing Salve (rich in coconut oil and other important oils that cool, hydrate and encourage healing in sunburned skin) can rapidly become your best friends. These are worth having on hand for quick damage control, just in case.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
No matter what you’re doing over Spring Break, I hope you have a wonderful time and come home with calm skin, no rosacea symptoms and a huge journal of great memories.
I’d like to thank ConsumerSafety.org for inspiring me to write this post.