Whether you’re forever the person with the pink cheeks in the room, or whether you have a bout of unexplained redness – we’ve got you covered…

Identify the cause

Our skin goes red for a multitude of reasons, of which most boil down to either irritation or inflammation. You’ll see these two words repeated multiple times throughout the article, so if you wanted to invent a drinking game, now would be a great time.

Dehydration, a compromised skin barrier, incorrect products (or incorrect use of products) and environmental factors (sun, wind, cold) are only a few conditions that lead to irritation and/or inflammation. If you can pinpoint what the cause of your skin redness is, treating it will be a whole lot easier.

First and last

The first and last products in your skincare regime (i.e. your cleanser and your day cream/night cream/SPF) are very important in preserving your skin’s pH, and thus its protective barrier. If you suffer from skin redness, focusing on the first and last products you use is critical.

Cleansers should be mild, soap free and preferably non-foaming. Look for moisturisers that have a barrier protection function.

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It’s close to impossible to avoid all ingredients that could potentially cause skin irritation, but definitely be aware of the big ones and don’t use those. Three well-known skin irritant culprits are alcohol (ethanol, not fatty alcohols), fragrance (parfum) and colourants. Check the ingredients on your current skincare products and see if you’re doing more harm than good to your face.

There are a host of other potential irritants too, but if you don’t know what your skin is reacting to, there’s no point in going on a wild goose chase. If you suspect a specific product is aggravating redness, eliminate it immediately (and for at least 10 days) and see what the difference is.


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Avoid other aggressors

Aside from what you’re putting on your skin, other factors can aggravate skin irritation too, exacerbating redness. Heat, cold, spicy food, alcohol (there goes the drinking game), friction – basically, if you can imagine it aggravating redness, it probably does.

Temporary redness

Not all redness is bad – sometimes it’s just a sign that your vascular system is working. Flushing after excercise, after being in the sun or outdoors on a hot day, or when you’ve injured your skin are all signs that your vascular system (together with the rest of your dermis) is at work to repair your skin to its normal, healthy state.

Relief for red skin

If your skin is almost permanently red, book a consultation with an aesthetic clinic or dermatologist to discuss long term treatment. I did just this, and my problem turned out to be dozens of tiny capillaries just under the skin surface.

Our agreed upon method of treatment was IPL, and since I’ve done that I now go for one session every year or so to maintain my no-longer-permanently-red skin.

If your skin is temporarily red (let’s say you have severe dehydration or you’ve had a serious skin treatment), cool your skin down as quickly as possibly. Spritz with thermal water, put a face mask in the fridge, apply generous amounts of soothing moisturiser – do what you have to in order to soothe the irritation.