Rosacea on Spring Break: Will We Ever Look Tanned Again?

Rosy JulieBC Rosacea Sun Protection Skin Care

Rosy JulieBC Rosacea Sun Protection Skin CareSpring 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 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!

Rosy JulieBC - spring break sun protection with rosaceaAnother 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, 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. 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.

Rosy JulieBC - broad brimmed hat sun protectionFor 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.

Rosy JulieBC - sunscreen for rosaceaI’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 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

Rosy JulieBC - sunless tannerThere 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.

Rosy JulieBC - Bronzer for rosaceaTo 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.

Rosy JulieBC - parasolYou’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!

Rosy JulieBC - beach rosaceaNo 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 for inspiring me to write this post.



Day 8: Loving my rosacea-friendly sunscreen

rosacea skincare skin care products

I used my new sunscreen today and my skin feels great!  I can’t tell you how relieved I am to say that.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you will know about my sunscreen disaster which set back all of my progress with my red light therapy (if you’d like to read it, it’s here: Day 5: Disaster! Bad Rosacea Flush from Sunscreen!).

However, I have since found a new sunscreen and I am thrilled to say that it is definitely working (more about that product here: Day 6: The Red Light Therapy is Clearing My Rosacea Symptoms Again). 

Now that I’m in full recovery mode from the massive rosacea flush that brought out all of my symptoms in full force, I’d like to take the time to talk about some of the things that I do aside from red light rosacea treatments to overcome a flare-up.

Rosacea flushes need to be treated very delicately

When you have a rosacea flush, some of the things that you would instinctively do are exactly the opposite of what you should do.  It’s like Mother Nature gave us all of the wrong natural instructions to follow for this condition.  I guess there are times when she can be as clueless about things as the rest of us!

Based on my own experience (and please remember that I am not a doctor) the first thing that I recommend is to treat your skin as though it is extremely delicate.

When I have a flush, my rosacea symptoms are as follows:

  • redness
  • bumps – sometimes just red, other times tiny whitehead-like spots
  • burning sensation on the skin
  • itchiness
  • tight/dryness
  • sometimes an ultra dry, roughness around my jawline/temples

So here is what my instincts tell me to do.  Do NOT do what my instincts tell me to do.  Treat your skin delicately:

  • I want to treat redness by covering it up with foundation makeup/powders.  Unless you absolutely must use makeup because you have a presentation or a wedding, for example, try to keep your skin cleansed and moisturized with nothing else on it.  When your skin is having a flare-up, it is hyper sensitized and even water can make it worse.  As long as you can stand it, don’t use makeup on flushing skin.
  • I usually leave the regular little bumps alone.  They’re just red bumps.  But when the little whitehead-like dealies show up, all I want to do is scratch them off.  Yes it’s a gross inclination, but I’m trying to be honest with you.  Remember, though, that these are not pimples (which shouldn’t be scratched off/popped anyway, btw).  These ones will go away on their own and the more you treat them well, the faster they will heal.  Do not use acne medication or spot treatments on them, this will worsen your already irritated skin. Mine will often be gone within a few hours of appearing if I leave them alone and keep up with my healthiest rosacea skin care routine. Red light therapy has virtually eliminated the worst of this symptom.
  • When my skin is burning, I want to splash cold water on it.  That said, both extreme temperatures and tap water can be hard on rosacea symptoms.  Instead, drink lots of water, try to stay in a cool room out of direct sunlight, and occasionally mist with thermal water (I’ll talk about thermal water more some other time.  This blog is already getting long) and after a few seconds, lightly dab it off with a clean microfiber cloth (not a paper towel or regular hand towel).
  • When a flare-up is itchy, all I want to do is scratch it.  Resisting can be maddening.  Keeping my skin cool can be helpful but red light therapy is the only thing that has made it go away for more than a few minutes at a time.  It has made a huge difference in that symptom.
  • When my skin is tight and dry I want to use cream hydration masks and thick/heavy moisturizers.  The best thing, though, is to stick to your usual cleansing and moisturizing routine as long as it usually works.  Consistency is important and the dryness will often pass as the flush eases.  If it doesn’t, consider a slightly heavier moisturizer, but only if you think you’ll need it for several weeks, straight.  The red light therapy has also helped with this symptom, for me.
  • When I have ultra dry rough patches of skin on my jawline and up near my temples, all I want to do is use a facial scrub or at least use a washcloth to “exfoliate”.  That’s about the worst thing that can be done for rosacea symptoms. It invites infection and encourages redness and irritation. It also slows the healing process of your other symptoms.
    Nothing more abrasive than the pads of your fingertips should ever come in contact with your face.  Even then, you should make sure that you are using clean hands and you should barely put any pressure on your skin.  If you can see it stretching, you’re pushing too hard. Very gently use circular motions for about 30 seconds per area and that’s all you should need with a skin cleanser for reactive, sensitive skin.  That will clean your skin without damaging it or pushing bacteria back into your pores, and it will encourage circulation to the area so that it will be recharged with oxygen and nutrients from your blood.

I have tried a few different kinds of products and home remedies for rosacea flare-ups and flushes, and a few have worked while others have been disastrous.  I’ll be sure to write about that in a future post.  If I forget, please remind me in the comments below.  We’re in this together, after all 😉

Back to my red light rosacea treatment progress

One cool thing that I noticed, today, was that I was out walking in the warm weather and despite the heat and humidity (and the new sunscreen), I didn’t suffer a flush! My face looked the same before I went out as it did when I arrived home. 🙂

Here are my pictures of today’s progress.  I’m really considering taking the pictures before the treatments instead of after, so that my skin looks its actual colour instead of redder than usual.  I wash my face before every red light therapy session (because it works best on clean skin), and my skin tends to be redder than usual for a while after I wash it. Still, there is visible progress. Yay!

Cheek 1 - June 4 - rosacea skincare  Cheek 2 - June 4 - rosacea skincare

More tomorrow! 🙂

Other factors to be considered:

  • The temperature high today was 26ºC (79ºF)
  • The temperature low overnight was 14ºC (57ºF)
  • No alcohol or spicy foods
  • I spent two periods of 30 minutes in direct sunlight, today and I wore sunscreen.

Day 7: The Awesome Benefits of Red Light Therapy and Rosacea Skin Care

I woke up this morning to a major difference in my skin when compared to how it had looked last night.  I have to say that red light therapy might not stop rosacea flushes from happening if I choose the wrong skin care product (sunscreen) for my face, but it certainly heals it up far faster than it would on its own.

I’ve been working on slowly rethinking my current skin care routine because the weather is definitely getting warmer out and the moisturizer that was working for me during the winter is starting to prove to be too heavy for the summer months.

I have very dry skin at the best of times, but even I don’t need a super-thick lotion.

Rosacea skin care product selection is a lengthy process!

Changing a skin care routine when you have rosacea can be a tricky thing. I feel fortunate in that I am very happy with the facial cleanser that I have (I think I mentioned it before, but I can’t remember, so I’ll just link it here again.  It’s Eucerin DermatoCLEAN Mild Cleansing Lotion).

What I like about it is that it is a lotion, not something that foams (even something like foaming action can be too much for my skin when it’s having a bad day). It can be used with or without water, which is also good for highly reactive skin, because there are days when even water can be too much. It’s pretty effective at taking off makeup and I don’t feel like my face has been stripped clean after I use it.  Typically, my skin feels softer and healthier than it did before I washed it, which is nice.

The moisturizer that I have been using has been Eucerin Replenishing Face Creme Day 5% Urea was awesome over the winter. It offered me great hydration and a barrier against super-cold weather and biting winds. However, now that the heat and humidity are climbing, it’s not absorbing into my skin as nicely and it just sits like a slime layer on my skin. I tried thinning it with a drop of distilled water (which is gentler than tap/bottled water, though not as good as thermal water, which I’ll talk about on another day), but that didn’t seem to do the trick.

So now I’m on the hunt for a new moisturizer.  I’m thinking of looking into the La Roche Posay line, because that brand is good for sensitive and reactive skin, and it’s the brand of the new sunscreen that I’ve purchased (which I discussed in my blog post called Day 6: The Red Light Therapy is Clearing My Rosacea Symptoms Again).

I tend to try to stick to one brand as much as possible because companies usually formulate products to be able to work together.  The good ones do, at least.  That’s why I was using a series of Eucerin products over the winter.  I still plan to return to Eucerin when the cold weather returns. Still, I’ll do a lot of research and review reading before I make my final decision.

I’m still seeing progress with the red light therapy rosacea treatment.

In fact, I saw my best friend (and co-author of the Perspective book series) today for the first time in a few days, and she could see the difference in my skin.  She said that the colour looked smoother and less blotchy.  Overall, my skin looked healthier and not as irritated.

That’s definitely good news.  I know that my best friend will tell me the truth.  If she didn’t think there was a difference, she’d say so!

Overall, I’ve also noticed that my skin is still getting softer and it isn’t as dry immediately after washing.  It’s a good feeling! So I’ll be keeping up my use of the Peak 630™ Red LED Light Therapy Set while I work out the rest of my rosacea skin care routine.

For now, here are my daily pictures (btw, even if they don’t seem that great, compare them to previous posts.  I’ve been making visible progress!):

Cheek 1 - June 3 - Rosacea skin care  Cheek 2 - June 3 - Rosacea skin care

Does anyone else agree with me that the cheek in the right hand picture is healing faster than the one on the left?  The second picture is the one receiving the longer red light therapy rosacea treatment.  I’m seriously thinking of doing both sides for the longer session, too. Any opinions?  Please share them in the comments below.

More tomorrow 🙂

Other factors to be considered (which I forgot to add, yesterday.  Sorry!):

  • The temperature high today was 22ºC (72ºF)
  • The temperature low overnight was 8ºC (46ºF)
  • No alcohol or spicy foods
  • Spent about an hour or so in direct sunlight at a time, today – used sunscreen.

Day 6: The Red Light Therapy is Clearing My Rosacea Symptoms Again

If you read the post that I left yesterday (Day 5: Disaster! Bad Rosacea Flush from Sunscreen!), then you’ll know that I had an unpleasant (to say the least) experience with some sunscreen.  I was afraid that I was going to have to go back to the beginning and lose all of the progress that I had been making with my red light therapy.

Nope!  After a full 24 hours of having skin that felt horrible, itchy, and burning, and that was beet red, there have been definite improvements again.  There is hope!  By the time about an hour had passed after the red light therapy, some of the very irritated redness had gone away.

Today, it took only a few minutes after the next red light session for all of the discomforts to go away.  No more itchiness, burning, or tightness. It makes me feel as though everything is headed back in the right direction again. My skin started to feel cooler and softer right after the rosacea treatment, as well.

When I took a closer look at my skin, the redness is still more dramatic than what it had been before the sunscreen incident, but it still looks like the bumps are healing up.  What a relief.  Before I started to use the red light therapy for rosacea symptoms, that reaction would have continued for days.

I did a vlog (be kind in the comments, I was very nervous 😉 ) to describe what happened because I’m trying to describe the situation fairly.  I likely won’t do many (if any) more vlogs, but this way, I could just babble in front of the camera and tell the entire story without having to type out every detail.

Here are the pictures of what my skin looks like today.  I’m hoping to see rapid progress out of the damage done by the old sunscreen so that I can get back onto the same healing track that I’d reached before.

The sunscreen that I’m now using, which I mentioned in the video, is La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-fluid Lotion SPF 60. If I have any struggles with this one, I’ll be sure to add it to a future blog, but when I used the test product a couple of times, it was great.  It’s very light and it didn’t cause any reaction in my skin.

Here are today’s pics after my red light therapy rosacea treatment.  They’re better than yesterday but I’ll still need improvements to reach the progress I’d achieved before the sunscreen incident.

cheek 1 - June 2 2015 rosacea symptoms flush cheek 2 - June 2 2015 rosacea symptoms flush

More tomorrow!

Other factors to be considered (which I forgot to add, yesterday.  Sorry!):

  • The temperature high today was 21ºC (70ºF)
  • The temperature low overnight was 12ºC (53ºF)
  • 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!