A Day in the Rosy Life

A day in the rosy life - nighttime rosacea skin care - Rosy Julie BC

Before I became a rosacea blogger and YouTube creator, I was trying a few things to keep my symptoms under control.  That said, since I decided to become a guinea pig who shares all sorts of new products, strategies, treatments and techniques, it completely changed my lifestyle.

I call it “living the Rosy Life”

A day in the rosy life - Rosy JulieBC rosacea
Just came in from a walk in -28ºC weather (-18ºF).

If you’ve been watching my videos or reading my blogs, you’ve likely heard me use this term at one point or another.  It’s the positive-sounding term I like to use for the lifestyle I’ve adopted to help keep my symptoms down, my flare-ups rare and brief, and my spirits up.

Rosacea is a complicated skin condition.  Because of that, no single thing can cure it.  As of yet, there is no known cure.  Even if the symptoms go away, they can still return.  The condition is a chronic one.

I went through several stretches of time where that really got me down.  Just knowing that I’d be dealing with the redness, burning, pimples, stinging, itching and occasional patches of dragon skin made me feel ugly, hopeless and judged by others.

Having rosacea and remaining positive

It wasn’t until I became a rosacea blogger that I started seeing things through a more positive light.  Instead of letting it continually beat me down, I accepted that this is a part of me and if there was something out there I could do to make it better, I was going to find it.  So began the days of guinea piggery.

Self-acceptance and opening myself up to patient new attempts to take control has done wonders for avoiding rosacea-related depression for me.

However, despite the fact that I’m trying new products very frequently – either because I’ve purchased them or a company has been generous enough to send them my way – I still maintain an overall Rosy Lifestyle.

As I write these words, I’m taking a bit of a break from product testing.  I like doing that around the holiday season because it gives my skin the chance to reset before I subject it to something new.

What does living the Rosy Life look like for me?  I thought I’d take this opportunity to share it with you, in case it might help to inspire new strategies you can discuss with your doctor or dermatologist to try for yourself.

Mornings: Out of bed, Rosy-Head!

a day in the rosy life - Rosy JulieBC morning windowMy alarm goes off at the exact same time every day, weekend or weekday.  This is because I have adopted very clean sleep hygiene to help keep insomnia at bay. I have an anxiety and panic disorder and am prone to insomnia, so I do what I can to get the rest I need.  Sleep is vital to keeping inflammation and, therefore, rosacea symptoms down (as well as being great for reducing anxiety and being well overall).  More about this topic later.

When I get up in the morning, I drink a small glass of water to start rehydrating after dehydrating during the night. Hydration is vitally important to a healthy body and healthy skin, so I do my best to get it right. Next, I apply a rosacea salve (the SBT Seabuckthorn Soothing Rosacea Salve) to my cheeks.  Its winter right now and even though I always wear a scarf over my face (light or heavy, depending on how cold it is outside), the salve stops my face from getting chapped and windburned. Because of the scarf and my big sunglasses, I don’t need sunscreen too much at this time of the year, though I wear it religiously during the spring, summer and fall.

a day in the rosy life - Rosy JulieBC granola a day in the rosy life - breakfastI eat a breakfast with whole grains, fresh or frozen fruit, nuts, seeds, and a coffee.  My breakfast doesn’t contain any added sugars because they promote inflammation, and that’s not how I want to start my day.  That said, I absolutely love my morning coffee so I allow myself that indulgence, drinking it black.  I do let it cool to the point that it doesn’t produce steam anymore before I drink it since heat is a rosacea trigger for me.

Next, it’s time for a walk.  I walk a neighbour’s dogs every morning with a friend. It’s a brisk half hour walk and as much as I dread it every single morning, I love it once I get going.  I enjoy spending time with the pups, I adore gabbing with my bestest friend in the world, and the exercise is great for reducing inflammation in the body, promoting overall health, burning off some of the bajillion calories I eat every day and giving me energy to face the day.

Once I get home, I wash my eye area and my face and carefully moisturize. I recently did a video about the routine I’m currently following.  If you’re curious about the sample of custom-designed face oil I mention in the video so you can have it tweaked for your own needs, I hope you’ll go check it out!

Products used:

After that, I settle in to work until lunchtime. During this period, my fingers work so quickly on the keyboard that I’m surprised they don’t make smoke. I keep the room cool but dress warmly so my face won’t overheat. My mornings typically fly by so fast that I’m nearly convinced I’m being abducted by aliens because what else could explain all that missing time?

Noon already!

I make lunch my main meal of the day.  I love a big lunch with multiple parts. I’ve become quite spoiled since I’ve been working at home.  I worked outside the house at a more traditional job for many years and hated making lunches for the next day.  I rushed through them so they tasted awful.  Now that I have the opportunity to prepare my food, I don’t turn my nose up at it. It’s a privilege I greatly enjoy.

I focus on making sure I eat a lean protein along with something hydrating such as soup (every now and again I make huge batches of hearty veggie soup that I freeze in portions for my lunches), some no-added-sugar whole grain toast and an apple or another piece of fruit.

I’ve been making a point of eating mindfully, so while I may listen to an audio book (I’m currently listening to Book 3 of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, “City of Glass.” I really enjoyed The Infernal Devices series, so this lets me stay within that universe. Yes, I love young adult fiction series), I pay attention to the flavours and textures of the foods I’m eating and the way they make me feel. It sounds silly, but it helps to make meals more enjoyable, I’m less likely to overeat, and it makes it easier for me to identify foods that trigger my rosacea symptoms because it slows things down.

For the rest of the afternoon, it’s back to work for me.  Typing, typing, more typing…

Before dinner, I head out for another walk. Another half hour or so. It’s easy to want to avoid exercise because as soon as  the heart rate rises, so does the colour in my cheeks.  That said, the benefits of exercise for rosacea symptoms greatly outweigh the temporary rosiness. Exercise reduces our overall risk of flushes and lowers inflammation, so it’s more than worth it to keep my body healthy and active.

Being Rosy from dinnertime to bedtime

a day in the rosy life - dinnerI usually have a large but light dinner, such as a huge salad with some form of protein to go with it.  The salad might be cold or warm, depending on my mood and how cold I feel after my walk.  Cold salads still work for me in the wintertime because even though I walk in frigid weather, I go fast and far enough to work up quite a sweat in my giant parka.

After dinner, I drink lots of water and herbal tea (I love rosehips and hibiscus) in the evening to stay hydrated and to enjoy something calming as I work for another few hours.

An hour before bedtime I shut down all devices with screens (computer, phone, tablet) and turn down the room lights to help create a calm atmosphere and promote natural melatonin production.  Like my waking time, I head to bed at the same time every night to make it easier for me to fall asleep. I suffer from regular bouts of insomnia, so every bit of extra help counts.

a day in the rosy life - Rosy JulieBC yogaI unroll my yoga mat and do one of four beginner yoga routines I have on a DVD I just love.  I do the Beginner Yoga DVD from Gaiam with Rodney Yee.  Depending on how I feel in the evening, I do the Beginner, Flexibility, Energy Boosting or Relaxation routine.  Each one is 20 minutes long and I try not to do the same one two days in a row.

I’ve only recently been taking yoga seriously.  I’ve tried it out now and again, but I have been trying to do it in earnest over the last while.  As I write this, I’ve done it for over two straight weeks without a day off (and a secret goal in my head to get to 30 straight days). It has been fantastic for my anxiety and my ability to sleep at night – both great for controlling rosacea – but I’ve also found my body becoming stronger and more flexible already.  This has come with the unexpected benefit that I’m less likely to flush from bending or picking up heavy things! Whoda thunk?!  Once I’m done, the TV is shut off and no more device screens are allowed until the next morning.

After my yoga routine is finished and I roll up my mat I shower, carefully washing my face.  Once I get out and dry off, I do my light therapy with the Dual Care Red and Amber High Power LED from Smarter Lights.

I complete my rosacea skin care routine using the same techniques as my morning routine, only with one main product switch, as I use:

All set for bed, I turn on my (cool mist) humidifier so I don’t dry up and turn to dust during the night.  My place seems to turn into a desert during the night in the winter. I’m not sure how I’d live without the humidifier running. It makes a visible difference to my skin and respiratory health.

I take the time to moisturize the rest of my body, not in any rush, using the time to be calm and take care of myself.  I do this while listening to the audio book again, letting me wind down and become restful before bed. This calm is very good for anxiety control and for a good night of sleep – both great factors in rosacea control.  You might not think that making sure you don’t have dry skin on your feet could help your rosy cheeks, but it’s all a part of living the Rosy Life!

a day in the rosy life - Rosy JulieBC - night headphones
Those round dealies are the headphones. They slip right inside the headband through an opening in the back.

Feeling all clean and soft, I snuggle down into my bed and listen to my audio book until I fall asleep.  I used to use ear buds overnight, but they kept falling out and getting wrapped all around me.  I was afraid I’d hang myself with them by accident one day. So I invested in a cool fleece headband with earphones slipped inside (they’re easy to pop out to wash the headband).  It’s soft and comfortable, even if I turn on my side.  The earphones don’t squash my ears, letting me listen to the book in comfort overnight. The headband is quite wide, so while I often use it as though I was keeping hair out of my face, I can also use it as a type of sleep mask to keep the room even darker than my blackout curtains allow.

That’s the end of a typical day in the Rosy Life.  It’s amazing how many habits I’ve developed since becoming a rosacea blogger – nearly all of them for the better…nobody’s perfect 😉

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Starting 2017 with a Rosacea-Friendly Spa Evening at Home

Rosacea Spa Skin Care Products - Rosy JulieBC

Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is treating you well.  So far, I’m doing my best to make sure that it’s kind to me by keeping a positive attitude and placing a greater focus on my health – including my rosacea.

To that end, I decided to spend the evening of New Year’s Day on several areas that I’d been neglecting over the holidays at the end of 2016:

  • overall skin care,
  • proper hydration,
  • rosacea trigger avoidance
  • relaxation and stress reduction.

Every year I promise to take better care of myself during the holidays.  Every year – including last year – I stress out, dehydrate, eat way too many cookies, and fall back to only the most basic skin care (staying clean and avoiding drying up like a raisin).

On January 1, I started fresh with a home spa day

Sugar Scrub No Micro Beads Rosy JulieBCIf you have rosacea, sensitive and/or reactive skin, then you likely know that a home spa day can be rather challenging.  After all, it’s not as though we can hop into a hot bath, scrub the heck out of dry areas and sip away at a good glass of red wine.

Sure, we could do that, but only if we want to spend the following hours/days/weeks with burning hot, dry, tight, itchy, glowing-red skin.  Fun, right?  Not exactly worth that glass of pinot noir.

This year, I came up with a plan.  I designed the perfect home spa experience for myself.  I liked it so much that I thought I’d share it with you, including everything from the steps I took to the products I used.

Please note that this is not a sponsored blog post.  All the products I discuss were purchased with my own money (or I received them as Christmas presents) and none of the brands have paid for this mention. I just thought I’d point that out since many articles online are sponsored or are part of affiliate programs meant to sell products. Full disclosure: this post is not an ad for any brand or product.

My rosacea-friendly home spa strategy

  1. Home Spa Rosy JulieBCClean linens and towels – Before getting started, I put fresh sheets on my bed and fresh towels in the bathroom.  After all, if I was going to truly pamper my skin, I wanted to use only fresh, clean linens to dry off and to sleep afterward. I use soap nuts to make sure there aren’t any irritating chemicals on any of my fabrics.
  2. Clean bathtub – Despite the fact that I’d already cleaned my bathroom a couple of days beforehand, I gave my bathtub a quick wash. I used a cleaning liquid I’d made with the same soap nuts I use to wash my laundry (super quick and easy to do).  At other times, I’ve used dish soap to quickly clean the bathtub. I never use bathroom cleaner before taking a bath.  There is no way I want to soak in that stuff.  I don’t ever fool myself into thinking I’ve rinsed it all away.
  3. Clean hair – With a fresh spa environment, I washed my hair.  I’ve been using SBT Seabuckthorn’s Lavender Shampoo, particularly when I wash my hair at night.  I focus on my scalp, gently massaging it in and breathing in the calming scent of the real lavender oil in the natural, vegan chemical fragrance-free and cruelty-free ingredients.  After taking my time massaging that in (I’m always gentle with my scalp), I rinsed it away with warm – not hot – water.
  4. Conditioned hair – I followed the shampoo with the SBT Seabuckthorn Lavender Conditioner.  I massaged that into my scalp.  I work gently but press down quite hard, particularly with my thumbs. This feels incredible, but it also encourages circulation to the scalp for healthy skin and hair. I also run the conditioner through the length of my hair to give it some much-needed moisture.  My hair is very long, very thick and very, very dry. I wrapped my hair into a bun on my head and clipped it into place to let the conditioner sink in.
  5. Bath time – I ran a warm – not hot – bath.  I didn’t add any products to the water because I was going to be using a couple of products during the bath, so my skin would have enough to contend with during that time.  It didn’t need unnecessary extras. For the first few minutes of the bath, I just relaxed and watched a bit of a show on Netflix on my tablet. This relaxing time is important for unwinding and giving the skin time to soften in the water. Throughout this time, I was sipping water. Keeping hydrated during a bath is a great way to get great results.
  6. Wash time – To wash my body, I used the Evening Primrose Oil bar from The Soap Works.  I like that product because it is all natural, made the old-school way, unfragranced (though it smells great because of the ingredients) and my skin absolutely loves it. It doesn’t strip away moisture.  Instead, it reduces inflammation and hydrates, adding a moisture layer to my skin.
  7. Exfoliation – I haven’t used many exfoliating products since I cut out all products containing plastic micro-beads.  Recently, I found a product from a company called Organik Botanik Australia. It was the Chamomile and Coconut Oil Sugar Body Scrub.  The box I bought came with 3 packets of what looked like slightly pink large sugar crystals. No plastic micro-beads. I needed only half of a packet to do my arms, legs, back and upper chest. Not bad! I saved the rest in a little glass jar.
    To use it, you just rub the sugary crystals onto wet skin.  I loved this product. it gently exfoliated but left a soft layer of coconut oil behind.  That felt great on my skin and softened the bath water at the same time.  The sugar crystals simply dissolved in the water, so it didn’t leave grit at the bottom of the tub like plastic micro-beads do. Even a day later as I write this blog post, my skin is sooo soft from this much-needed exfoliation.
  8. Shave – I figured that if I was going to get the most out of my fresh bed sheets, I may as well shave haha.  Anyone else love that smooth-leg feeling on sheets, or am I just a weirdo?  I recently bought a 5-blade Gillette Venus Embrace for Sensitive Skin. It’s the best razor I’ve ever used.  It’s crazy-expensive, but I’d buy it again on sale.
  9. Cool shower for skin health Rosy JulieBCRinse time – All relaxed, clean and smooth, it was time to rinse. I pulled the tub plug and turned the shower on cool to rinse the conditioner out of my hair.  Cool or even cold water is great for rinsing conditioner away because it seals the hair shaft, trapping the moisture inside. Thirty seconds of cool rinsing after a warm bath or shower is also good for your skin and even your immune system!
  10. Hair oil – Since my hair is very dry, I take care to protect it and keep frizz under control at the same time. I use a product from a brand called Pure.  It is simply coconut oil with a touch of essential oil.  I warm a bit of it in my palm and run it through the lower half of the length of my hair.  This hydrates, holds my curls together and protects the ends.
  11. Hair wrap – After towel-drying my hair, I wrapped it in a top knot with a fabric “tube” my sister got me for Christmas.  I love these things.  It’s a tube of slightly stretchy fabric that can be worn as a headband, kerchief, beanie, or in dozens of other ways. After a bath, I use it as a breathable top-knot cover, helping to keep my damp hair out of the way until I’m ready to deal with it. I then add a terrycloth headband to keep any of those little baby hairs out of the way for when I wash my face.
  12. Skin oil – I once tested an argan oil product on my face and found that I broke out in pimples.  However, I love using it on my neck and upper chest.  I don’t get pimples there, and it helps to protect my skin against premature aging.  I feel that the neck doesn’t get enough attention but it’s one of the first places to show signs of aging.  I’m working hard to delay that as much as possible.  The product I used was New Age Beauty’s Argan Facial Oil.
  13. Body moisturizing – I try to moisturize the rest of my body as quickly as I can after a bath or shower.  You start losing natural moisture within 30 seconds of stepping out of the water so it’s a good idea to work quickly.  I used SBT Seabuckthorn’s Body Cream.  I love the stuff.  It’s on the pricey side but it’s my favourite one, so I use it sparingly and alternate it with other body lotions.  I use this one when I’m really treating myself. If I could afford it, I’d buy this cream by the gallon and would use it exclusively.
  14. Face exfoliation – This is a step I take only if I’m not experiencing a rosacea flare-up.  I use the Celtic Complexion Creme Exfoliant (I’ll be sharing a review of a whole line of products from this brand’s products very soon).  I use a small amount on damp skin and use a very gentle circular motion on my skin. I focus on the parts of my face that don’t have rosacea symptoms, but I do go over the rosacea-prone areas very lightly, too. This product was developed by a rosacea sufferer who really understands what this skin condition needs from skin care, and I absolutely love it. I rinsed this product away with my hands and cool water and patted dry.
  15. Face cleansing – Next, I gave my face a deeper cleanse while leaving the natural protective oil barrier in place.  For this, I use the Face Addition Soft Cleanser.  I massage it into dry skin (cleansing on dry skin took some getting used to at first.  Now it feels completely natural). Then, I used a damp and very soft face brush to gently rinse the cleanser away. I just bought the Joe Fresh face brush and while it’s soft, I found that several of the bristles fell out, and I wasn’t impressed with it.  I’ll likely replace it with a better one soon. During a rosacea flare-up, it’s better to simply use fingertips and no brush.
  16. Face pH balance replacement – The next step was to cool my face and re-balance its pH levels with the Face Addiction Soft Tonic.  When I first tested the Face Addiction Soft line, I didn’t think the Tonic did anything.  I re-purchased everything except the Tonic…less than a month later, I re-ordered the Tonic, too.  It makes a big difference.
  17. Light therapy – With a clean face, I sat down under my Dual Care (red and amber light) and the Pure Green light from Smarter Lights. I do both sides of my face with both lights.  Each side of my face gets 2 minutes of each light.
  18. Facial treatment – I’m currently testing out a treatment and moisturizing product from Alon Labs, the Rewind Facial Lotion.  If I stay inside during the winter, it’s moisturizing enough during the daytime.  At night or if I head out into the cold winter wind, I tend to add another layer of moisture on top. It’s a surprising product that offers moisturizing without feeling even slightly heavy. It’s so light I always think my skin will be horribly flaky but that’s not the case. I’ll be doing a complete review on this product likely in February.
  19. Facial moisturizing – to give the skin on my face – which is naturally very dry – an extra moisture boost at night, I use the Face Addiction Soft Cream.  My skin adores this cream. It’s rich and hydrating without being slimy or sticky. On Wednesday and Saturday nights, I follow this with the Face Addiction Hydrate Mask, but since January 1 was a Sunday, I’d already done the mask the night before, so I left it at the cream.  That said, I have started using a cool little tool from e.l.f. It’s called the Facial Massager.  It’s a little tool with rounded spikes that I gently roll over my face without pressing down at all. It promotes healthier circulation and encourages moisturizers to be absorbed.  Since I otherwise “tap” moisturizers into my skin with my fingertips, this tool makes the process more efficient. (note: as I was looking up the name of that tool, I noticed that e.l.f. has a facial cleansing brush.  I might try that one instead of my Joe Fresh one).
  20. Tooth brushing – I think we all know how to do this one.  Just wanted to point out that I didn’t skip it and this is where it landed in my spa evening 😉
  21. Lip exfoliation – I discovered the wonders of lip scrubs this year. Used on a regular basis, I can gently keep my lips from getting super dry with those horrible peeling picks.  I used the Beauty Treats Lip Scrub (in Almond Creme), which is gentle as well as cruelty-free. I rinsed that away after a brief lip scrubbing.
  22. Lip moisturizing – I used my favourite lip moisturizing product, the SBT Seabuckthorn Lip Balm.  It looks and works just like a lip balm stick, but as soon as it applies, it becomes a luxurious lip oil that provides deep moisture.
  23. Foot exfoliating – Since I walk dogs every day, if I’m not careful, I could get foot calluses so thick that I’d get taller over time.  To prevent having to buy specialty shoes, I use a Ped Egg, which is a weird little cheaply-made tool that does a shockingly good job at keeping feet soft, especially when it’s used weekly.
  24. Toenail polish – A new year means a new toenail polish colour.  I nearly never use nail polish on my fingernails because it weakens and yellows my nails.  I’d rather just keep my fingernails healthy and clean.  My toes are another story.  I love the look of clean, cared-for feet with a fun colour on the toenails. This time, I used a Sally Hanson Hard as Nails polish.  It’s a deep cherry pink colour with a hint of glitter (but not actual sparkles, which I don’t like because they make it hard to remove). I used 2 coats.
  25. Foot moisturizing – Once the nail polish dried, I applied the SBT Seabuckthorn Heal to Toe Soothing Salve for feet.  It feels great to massage into feet and I love the various oils it contains to moisturize while simultaneously prevent the growth of bacteria and other foot evils through ingredients such as tea tree oil.  Once that was applied, I put on my trusty pineapple-print footy socks.  That keeps the salve on my feet instead of all over my carpet…ew.
  26. Hand moisturizing – When my hands are done treating the rest of my body to all my various home spa products, it’s time for them to be moisturized.  I use the SBT Seabuckthorn Hand Cream. It’s quite thick but  absorbs surprisingly quickly. When I first tried it, I thought it would leave my hands greasy, but I was happy to discover that this was not the case. When I use it at night, my hands are super-soft the next morning.
  27. Cuticle and nail oil – I love taking good care of my nails, so beyond moisturizing with a cream, I also add a cuticle and nail oil. I usually like using a product with vitamin E and sweet almond oil.  The last time I needed to buy it, the store was out of stock of my usual product, so I purchased the Witchcraft Almond Oil for Nails & Cuticles. It works nicely, but I don’t like its fragrance. That’s my only complaint about it. I dab it onto each nail and massage it into each nail and cuticle.  The next morning, my nails look healthier.  They don’t dry out and peel as easily.

After that, I take my hair down from the headband and topknot, and I head to bed.  What a relaxing way to spend an evening! It was a great way to start the year. I hope I’ll keep this habit up on occasion.  It would be good for my skin and keeping my anxiety disorder under control, for that matter.

I also hope this step-by-step description of my sensitive skin and rosacea home spa strategy helps you out, too!  After all, we can all use extra tips for taking care of ourselves.  Don’t forget to sip water the whole time!

Have you promised yourself to be better about your health and rosacea skin care this year?  If so, please use the comments and let me know your plan or resolution. I can’t wait to find out.  As much as I love sharing my own strategies, I like to read yours, too!

I’ll be posting again very soon. I will be reviewing the Celtic Complexion line of products, the Alon Labs Rewind Lotion, and I have several big things in the works to share with you in 2017.  See you soon!

A Dermatologist’s Answers to my Top Rosacea Questions

Dr. Nisith Sheth Cedars Dermatology - Rosacea expert

Hi everyone!  I’m sorry for the prolonged silence.  I have lots of excuses but I’ll save you the bother of hearing about them and will get right to the point about something exciting that has recently happened to me in my progress to learn about and treat rosacea.

Dr. Nisith Sheth Cedars Dermatology - Rosacea expert
Dr. Nisith Sheth , MBBS, FRCP(UK), CCST(Derm) Cedars Dermatology

In honour of Rosacea Awareness Month (April), Dr. Nisith Sheth from Cedars Dermatology Clinic invited me to speak with him via email so that he could answer some of the questions that continue to plague me with regards to my skin condition.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance! Dr. Nisith Sheth (MBBS, FRCP(UK), CCST(Derm)) is a consultant dermatologist and dermatological surgeon who is an expert in the treatment of rosacea as well as acne, eczema, psoriasis, discolouration, scars, moles, skin cancers and ageing skin. His dermatological training was in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.  This is an expert whose opinion I wanted to hear!

Now that I’ve received Dr. Sheth’s opinions and answers, I’m immensely impressed with his insight as well as his willingness to be frank with me. I appreciate the fact that he spoke of both published evidence and the types of things he and his colleagues have seen among their own rosacea patients.

Now I’m thrilled to be able to share my questions and Dr. Sheth’s answers with you, my Rosy Friends!

As Dr. Sheth is located in the United Kingdom and I am in Canada, I was not able to consult with him in person. Therefore, I provided a little bit of information about myself and my case of rosacea in order to offer some context to my questions.

I provided my age, offered some pictures and explained that I’ve had rosacea for at least 16 years.

Here is the background information I provided about my rosacea

I have subtypes 1 and 2 of this skin disorder, with symptoms including redness in the entire area of my cheeks, right up to my temples. When the condition flares up, I also experience tiny whitehead-like pimples in the apples of my cheeks, deeper flushing, burning and sometimes stinging or itching.

For the first five years of that time, I was diagnosed with acne and was using acne treatments such as topical prescription medications which only caused my condition to worsen.  Since then, the redness has never fully cleared in my face, regardless of trigger avoidance or successful treatments.

I have unsuccessfully tried metronidazole (as Metrogel, Metrocream and Noritate) and did not have positive results from oral antibiotics.  I was unsuccessful with several over-the-counter and “natural” treatments, including one based on vitamin C and caffeine.  For a while, seabuckthorn seed oil did wonders for my skin, despite the fact that it was slightly tinted orange on my very-pale skin but over time that stopped working, too.  I’ve tried a large number of different options throughout the last decade, giving them all time to work in a careful trial-and-error process.

Recently, I have been using a combination of red and amber high power LED (HPLED) daily treatments from Smarter Lights (formerly Light Therapy Options).  That method has been the most successful of everything I have tried for controlling the condition.  Most of my symptoms are gone although some redness remains.

My triggers include: heat, sunlight, certain foods, certain topical product ingredients, stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, seasonal allergies, among others.

Rosacea symptoms progress JulieBC
My rosacea symptoms progress over the last 10 months

Here are the rosacea questions I asked and Dr. Sheth’s replies.

Question 1

Julie “I understand that no single treatment helps all rosacea patients, even when it comes to the best products and therapies. It’s my understanding that the treatment methods that are considered most likely to be effective are still ineffective for more than half of people with the condition.  In your experience, what is the most effective method of treatment for someone like me – who has unsuccessfully tried many things – and, to your knowledge, what is the approximate success rate of that method? (please note that I will not consider this a medical recommendation. I will use this for only informational/educational purposes).

Dr. Sheth: Probably still the most effective treatment where simpler treatments have not worked are light based devices such as intense pulsed light (IPL) or lasers (such as pulsed dye laser).  Published literature suggests you can get a 75% improvement over 2 treatments.  In reality most people need at least 4 treatments leading to a 60-80% improvement.  100% improvement is possible but not common.  Published literature suggests improvement in symptoms for 3-5 years but again in reality most practitioners I speak to say 1-5 years with many patients needing a top up treatment annually or every 2 years.  Whilst they are not cures IPL or lasers can dramatically improve quality of life.

Question 2

Julie: I have found skin care and light therapy treatment to be highly effective in healing and controlling my rosacea symptoms. Still, there is redness – albeit faint – in my cheeks.  Will I ever see my natural (very pale) complexion again or is it likely that I will always have redness to some degree?

Dr. Sheth: The number of blood vessels in the dermis decreases with age probably in part due to something called VEGF  (vascular endothelial growth factor) signalling.  Look out for this as it’s an area that’s being carefully looked at in rosacea patients and a possible treatment target.  However redness and new blood vessels are also influenced by many other factors including hormonal change and the environment so in reality for most people the redness does stay.

Question 3

Julie: Aside from consulting with a dermatologist – which should clearly be the first source of trustworthy information – what other resources would you recommend for someone like me who is seeking to inform herself about her skin condition. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet.  Where can reliable information be found?

Dr Sheth: The National Rosacea Society (rosacea.org) as well as the professional bodies The American Academy of Dermatology (aad.org) British Association of Dermatology (bad.org.uk) Canadian Dermatology Association (dermatology.ca) provide independent and evidence-based reliable advice.

Question 4

Julie: Have you seen any “natural” rosacea treatments work effectively in treating the symptoms of the condition? Please know that I don’t consider your answer to be a recommendation.  I’m just curious as to which options you’ve witnessed in some of your patients throughout your experience with this skin disorder.

Dr. Sheth: I’ve had lots of patients try different things.  Tea tree and witch hazel can work for a short time – they can work in a number of skin conditions by reducing inflammation- but nothing has given long lasting benefit and none of our patients have found them to be significantly better than prescription or light based treatment unfortunately

Question 5

Julie: How can a rosacea patient know if a treatment is working? I understand that every treatment type is different and everyone heals at their own pace, but how much time should I spend on a product/therapy before I decide that it is or is not working? Many people contact me to tell me that something isn’t working after 5 days, but in my experience that is far too short for something like a cream or light therapy to prove itself.  I can’t make recommendations to people, as I’m not a skin care expert, but when it comes to own purposes in testing new things, should I wait 8 weeks? 12 weeks? What timing/signs should I be watching for?

Dr. Sheth: Rosacea is a chronic condition ad so you need to give things time to work- at least 3 months I would say

Question 6

Julie: What is the most common mistake you’ve seen rosacea patients make in attempting to treat their skin?

Dr. Sheth: Trying too many different things at the same time and looking for cures or a single underlying cause. It’s a complex condition which has multiple causes which can be very difficult to measure or control in a practical way at present.

Question 7

Julie: What is the best way to react to a flare-up as it’s happening? I know that consistent skin care and treatments are important, but what would you recommend for cooling and calming the discomforts of inflamed skin when they are actually occurring?

Dr. Sheth: Cold compresses give some quick relief. Some of the prescription treatments you mentioned earlier can help sustain that in some people though I appreciate you haven’t found them successful.

Question 8

Julie: Do you feel that “mineral” makeup is safe for rosacea-prone skin or does it make the situation worse? I’ve read conflicting reviews/opinions about mineral makeup and am not sure if I believe that it is better or worse than traditional foundations and powders. If it is not right for rosacea-prone skin, what alternative makeup type would you recommend for covering the redness?

Dr. Sheth: For many people mineral make up is the best.  A green or yellow tint usually works well. For some people almost anything irritates the skin. Alternatives are any oil-free concealers, which contain UVA and UVB protection if your rosacea gets worse in the sun which is the case for many patients. To be safe use products new to you on a test area for a couple of days first. People with rosacea have a higher incidence of contact allergy to many products and lower threshold to develop irritation. It maybe worth considering patch testing (an test to look for contact allergy) if many products are causing skin problems

I am extremely grateful to Dr. Sheth from Cedars Dermatology for taking the time to answer my questions.  I feel much more confident in my understanding of my condition, which makes a big difference in how I feel about the success of my efforts to avoid triggers and choose the right treatments for me.

I’ll be returning to regular blog posting very soon.  Please feel welcome to keep up with everything else I’m up to over social media (Facebook and Twitter) as well as over my YouTube channel, where I post videos every Sunday and Thursday.

Soon, I’ll be posting blogs about my experience in trying out Face Addiction skin care products, Earth’s Berries soap nuts, coming up with cosplay makeup for sensitive/reactive skin, and more!

 

How Long Did Red and Amber Light Therapy Need to Clear Rosacea Symptoms?

rocacea symptoms vs amber light therapy and red light therapy

Hi everyone!  In my last post, called “Halloween and Rosacea Symptoms: Very Scary, Indeed!” I talked about how all the Halloween makeup, candy and other rosacea-unfriendly things I did on that day caused my skin to experience a flare-up for the first time in a long time.

rocacea symptoms vs amber light therapy and red light therapySince I’ve been using red light therapy and amber light therapy, I really haven’t been battling with rosacea flare-ups.  I’ve just been gradually reducing the remaining redness that had built up on my face over the last fifteen years.

Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled.  However, at the same time, I decided this was a great opportunity to put the light therapy rosacea treatment to the test.

My anti-flare-up rosacea light therapy strategy

Here’s what I did to beat my rosacea symptoms.  I used the lights every day and took care to treat my skin very well.  Here are the products I used:

Light Therapy

Skin Care

Additional Efforts

  • 1 tbsp of (real) apple cider vinegar daily (consumed in a banana smoothie)
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric daily (in the same smoothie)
  • 1 dash black pepper (in the smoothie to boost absorption of the turmeric)
  • Lots of water

I used the light therapy for a full session, one time per day before bedtime (after I washed my face but before applying the natural treatment product).

I washed my face 2 times per day.  Once after walking dogs first thing in the morning and once before bed at night.

The natural treatment product was applied after I washed my face in the morning and after my red and amber light therapy at night.

I had one banana smoothie with anti-inflammatory ingredients every day in the morning before walking the dogs.

That was the whole deal.  I don’t know if the anti-inflammatory foods played any role.  I have them nearly every day, anyway, so they weren’t added to my diet just because I was battling a flare-up.

If anyone is interested in my smoothie recipe, please let me know in the comments for this blog post and I’ll be sure to share it in a future post.It tastes yummy and everything is readily available at the average grocery store and is quite affordable. I might do a YouTube video for it, too, if anyone actually wants to see it 🙂

How did it go and how long did it take?  I documented the whole thing in YouTube videos to show you.

Day 1 – The Rosacea Symptoms Flare-Up (before treatment)

Day 2 – After 1 Red and Amber Light Therapy Treatment

Day 3 – After 2 Light Therapy Rosacea Treatments

So all in all, I think it took only 2 treatments with amber light therapy and red light therapy to completely eliminate the flare-up caused by Halloween and to return my face to where it was before all the cheap costume makeup and candy!

I am VERY pleased!  It was all cleared up well before I had to be a guest speaker at a special event held at the University of Toronto, last week.  That was something that had my anxiety going haywire and the fact that I knew I’d be able to look my best did a lot for my self-confidence that day.

I know it sounds shallow, but I am very aware of my flare-ups, especially when I need to do any public speaking. The fact that I didn’t need to worry about my looks (any more than usual haha) was just one fewer thing to make me anxious, that day.  PHEW!

I’d also like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been sharing their own stories in the comments sections of these blog posts.  I read every one of them and it means a lot to me that you’re reaching out and sharing your own stories.

The more we share what we’re going through, the more we can support each other and can learn from each other.  Rosacea symptoms are difficult to explain to people who don’t have the condition, so it means a lot to be able to speak to others who just get it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.  Thanks again and see you next time!

Weeks 14 & 15 – Amber Light Therapy Fades Rosacea Redness Fast!

Amber light therapy for Rosacea - First Week Complete

I’ve completed my first week of amber light therapy rosacea treatment and, as much as I love red light therapy for healing up the little bumps and eliminating the burning, itching, stinging and all that jazz, amber light therapy is quickly fading the redness from my skin!

Amber light therapy for Rosacea - First Week CompleteAs much as I felt that I was already biased and was expecting good results from using amber light therapy, I’m still shocked at how quickly it is working. The reason is that the experience is quite different from using red light therapy.

The effects I experienced from red light therapy for rosacea

When I was using red light therapy, the colour was intense and while it didn’t feel like anything was happening during the actual treatment itself, a short time afterward, I could “feel” that something was different.  I’m not sure how to describe it.  It wasn’t a tingling or tightness.  It just wasn’t the same as it was before I’d used it.  It felt better, somehow.

Using the red light was slowly fading the redness of my rosacea, but its most striking effect was that it healed up all of the pimple-like bumps on my cheeks and completely removed all of the discomforts of a flare-up, like the heat from flushing, the stinging, burning and itching, as well as the tightness.  I couldn’t give that rosacea treatment enough praise.

The effects I experienced from yellow / amber light therapy for rosacea

Even though the process and timing is the same for amber (also known as yellow light therapy), it feels very different.  To start, it doesn’t feel as intense.  It is much more soothing and calming, overall.

I don’t really feel that it did much in terms of healing or preventing the bumps (though they haven’t come back during the 7 days that I have been using yellow and not the red light, so far), but it has been steadily fading the redness from my face.

Not only has it been fading the redness, but it has been doing it fast.  I  have had somewhat of a red mask on for the past five to ten years (though I’ve had the condition for fifteen years, it’s only for the last five to ten that the redness became permanent).  Now, the mask appears to be receding in some areas, particularly at the tops of my cheeks.  Furthermore, some of my natural skin tone is starting to show through the middles of my cheeks, as though I have natural-coloured dimples showing through the redness.

After only 7 days, there are extremely visible results!  In fact, my mother noticed while we were out shopping, yesterday. See?  Proof!  I’m not the only one seeing it.

My plans for the future

For the next week, I’m going to continue to use amber light therapy, exclusively.  This will help me to know exactly what the rosacea treatment is doing for me.

After that point, I plan to go back to using red light therapy again, too.  I will be combining them so that I will be able to gain the benefits from both colour wavelengths.  I have to admit that I’m very eager to have the next week go by so that I can test out the combined red and amber light therapy for rosacea.

Now that I’ve tried them independently, I’m very eager to see what their combined powers have to offer!

Wish me luck 🙂

BTW, last week, I did another guest blog on the SkinTastic Beauty Blog. If you want to check it out, click: “Can You Drink Red Wine if You Have Rosacea?

Here is my latest video on my YouTube channel.  This one’s about my progress with amber light therapy for rosacea:

If you’ve tried light therapy (of any colour) to treat your rosacea, or if you’d like me to try something out, please comment below 🙂

Day 9: How to Control Rosacea Flushing

Control rosacea flushing treatment

I’m having a hard time deciding whether or not the side of my face that is receiving the 3 minutes of rosacea treatment is healing faster than the side that is getting only a minute and a half.  It’s only the ninth day of my red light therapy, but I’m finding myself becoming impatient with having to be scientific.  I suppose I should at least give myself two weeks of the benefits before I get too crazy over it.

I’m still very happy with the progress.  It is continual and every day looks a bit better.  When I have flushes, they heal up a lot faster, too.  Since starting, I haven’t had a flare-up that lasted longer than 24 hours after the first red light therapy treatment that followed it.  Also, the flare-ups are a lot more comfortable.  Even if the redness is there, they’re not nearly as itchy and the burning isn’t half as bad.

Here’s what I have tried for controlling rosacea flushes

Before I started red light therapy, I tried a lot of different things to control or ease the symptoms of rosacea flare-ups.  Here are a few of the methods that I have tried, and the results that they brought:

  • Cold water – felt great when I splashed it on my face, but it left my skin more red and irritated and usually dried it out.
  • Camomile tea – I’d read online that if you make camomile tea, then refrigerate it and dab it on your face when rosacea symptoms are bothering you, that this will help.  A lot of people say that this works for them.  In my case, it didn’t seem to make any difference at all, good or bad.
  • Sea buckthorn – I have tried a number of different sea buckthorn products (from a company called SBT, which is seriously great, in case you ever want to try something made with that ingredient). I had the SBT Seabuckthorn Rosacea Soothing Salve that I use on the coldest winter days when I have to go out in frigid temperatures and whipping winds.
    The salve is thick and slimy (about the same feeling as putting lip balm all over your cheeks) but it provides an awesome protective barrier against the cold and wind. A few years ago, the packaging said that it was also good for flare-ups, so I tried it a few times (I’m not sure if the packaging still says that, or not).  Oh boy did that feel horrible! It was great as winter protection, but for indoors during a rosacea flush, it made my cheeks much more red, bumpy, and hotter.  I still use this product for outdoors in the winter, but I wouldn’t use it to treat a flare-up.
  • Thermal spring water – this stuff feels amazing.  This is not just any old water.  It’s really not.  It is specially sourced from thermal springs and carefully bottled in sterile environments.  My rosacea symptoms hate water but they love this.  I received a bottle of Avène Thermal Spring Water spray as a part of a gift set a few years ago because I was using that brand’s anti-redness cleanser (the Avène Redness-Relief Dermo-Cleansing Milk) and moisturizer (Avène Antirougeurs Day Moisturizing Protecting Cream) and when I bought them in gift sets, it was cheaper than buying them individually.
    All you need to do with that thermal spring water is spritz your face, wait a few seconds, and dab it off with a tissue or (even better) a clean microfiber cloth/towel.  My skin instantly starts to calm down from its tantrum when I use this product.  The problem is that it costs a small fortune!  It lasts a while, but the best price I can find for a 150 ml bottle (just over 5 oz.) is $14, on sale.  I don’t care how special the water is, that’s far too expensive for me to afford!  I get it extremely rarely and use it very sparingly. I’ve only used it once since I started the red light therapy, and that was right near the beginning!
  • Drinking ice water – believe it or not, this can help.  This is especially true when the rosacea flushing is caused by hot weather or hot foods and beverages.  Either drinking very cold water or even holding ice chips in my mouth can take down the redness that goes with eating a meal that is very warm or to cool down my skin when I’ve just come in after doing something active in the summertime.
  • Metronidazole – this is a topical prescription drug, also known as Metrogel, Metrocream, or Noritate.  I’ve tried it under all three of those names/formats.  I had the most luck with Noritate (for some reason.  No idea why, it’s all essentially the same thing).  The problem that I had with it was that it would make a difference for about 7 days, getting my hopes up.  Then all progress would stop and my skin would become very sensitive to light.  Even when I used it only half as much as the package recommended (at the advice of my doctor), I still ended up sunburning more easily than I already do.  That’s saying something because I can start to burn in as little as 10 minutes.

Now, I have to say that red light therapy is my top rosacea flushing treatment method.  If I’m having a bad skin day, I can’t wait for my next treatment.  My skin starts to feel better within minutes of having shone the red light on my face.  Inside of an hour, the itchiness and burning are virtually gone.  Within 12 hours, the new bumps shrink and many disappear, the redness dissipates. It’s amazing.

Speaking of red light therapy, here are my latest rosacea treatment results:

My skin just keeps looking and feeling better and better. Every morning I can see a bit of progress over what was there the night before.

Here are today’s pictures:

Cheek 1 - June 5 - control rosacea flushing treatment Cheek 2 - June 5 - control rosacea flushing treatment

I’m not sure why the pictures look so red this time.  It might have been the lighting.  Maybe I wasn’t standing in exactly the same place in the room where I take the pictures.  That’s the right redness pattern, but it’s really not that red right now.

You can see that the bumps are definitely healing up.  I’m thrilled with that! I feel like it won’t be a week before they’re gone.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I feel entitled to have high hopes after the progress I’ve seen so far!

What do you think?  Is one side healing faster than the other?  What methods do you use to control rosacea flushing?  Which ones work?  Which ones don’t?  Share in the comments below!

More tomorrow 🙂

Other factors to be considered:

  • The temperature high today was 22ºC (72ºF)
  • The temperature low overnight was 7ºC (45ºF)
  • No alcohol or spicy foods
  • I didn’t spend more than 10 minutes in direct sunlight at a time, today.

Day 5: Disaster! Bad Rosacea Flush from Sunscreen!

I’m feeling very frustrated right now.  I have experienced a setback in my red light therapy.  I hope that I won’t end up having to start the rosacea treatment as though from scratch, but I’ve had a reaction to a product that I’ve used and now my skin looks just as bad as it did way back at the start!

I have been trying to take good care of my skin because there are a lot of lifestyle changes that need to be made to keep rosacea symptoms under control and I’d like to give this treatment the best shot.  One of the important steps that need to be taken is sunscreen application. I have been wearing sunscreen dutifully over the last few years, whenever I would be spending more than 10 minutes in direct sunlight.

So since I knew I’d be out for at least an hour, I put on my sunscreen, which was AVEENO® PROTECT + HYDRATE™ Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60. This product is meant for face and body and I’d had a lot of luck with the bottle that I bought last year.  That finally ran out and I started a new one from this year.  The new bottle was not as lucky.  I don’t know if the formula is different or if my skin just changed its mind about liking it, but I ended up with massive tomato-coloured redness on my face and a ton of little ugly bumps.  My skin was so inflamed that it looked shiny like plastic.  😦

To be fair to the sunscreen, I had no problems with it on my neck, shoulders and arms.  It was just the rosacea symptoms that flared up from it.

To make matters worse, it took me forever to get it all off.  Using an ultra-gentle cleanser and my fingertips to wash my face (since you should never use anything more abrasive than gentle fingertips on rosacea!) took four washes to get the sunscreen off.  After all of that, I probably should have just used soap and a washcloth, since my skin was so irritated from being washed four times in a row.

I have done my red light therapy rosacea treatment…

…but it’s too soon to tell if it will put me back to the same level of progress that I had reached before this sunscreen disaster.

To make matters worse, when I woke up this morning, I could see more progress in the improvement of my rosacea symptoms. Now it’s gone!  I wish I had taken a picture at the time.  But I was trying to be “scientific” and stick to the same time for the pictures every day.

I just hope that things will be better by tomorrow and that I won’t feel like I’m starting from the beginning again.

For now, here are the post-red light therapy pictures:

Cheek 1 -June 1, 2015 rosacea symptoms Cheek 2 -June 1, 2015 rosacea symptoms

Actually, now that I’ve looked at the pictures, I think that some of it has calmed down (or the camera didn’t pick up the colours very well).

Here’s to staying positive! Maybe it’ll be better by tomorrow!