How happy is your skin today? Currently I would rate my skin condition as about 8/10. I don’t suffer from major issues: I’m happy with the firmness and smoothness of my skin, it doesn’t feel dry or uncomfortable. I do sometimes still see redness and tiny bumps on my chin, which is why I wanted to try Gladskin’s microflora-balancing product for rosacea. But first, here’s how I got here…
Like many women, my skin underwent major changes throughout my life. My mom tells me I was “milk-skinned” as a baby, and I still have this blemish-free, soft, fair skin in my décolletage area. But my face skin is a different story. Not only did I get a ton of hyperpigmentation from not wearing sunscreen until well into my mid-twenties (I know I know, I’m screaming too), I also developed eczema during my years in New York. At its worst, I had a huge red patch on my chest and another one on my chin that looked like I wore red lipstick and had a torrential make-out session. I was embarrassed to go to the office wearing an open-neck top, or meet anyone without concealer on my chin.
When I went to the dermatologist, she said, “you have eczema,” and prescribed me a steroid cream. I asked what could be causing it, and she just shrugged and said, “any number of things.” Next, an allergist told me (through a simple prick test) that I’m allergic to dust, oak, and ash tree, and that I should make sure to clean my room free of dust. He also prescribed a steroid cream. Something told me slathering my face with hormonal cream was a bad idea, so I didn’t use it. Now I know that it was the right choice for me: a friend of mine had redness in her skin that was misdiagnosed as eczema, used a harsh steroid cream, and had a severe allergic reaction (inflamed, peeling skin) that lasted for many months. I didn’t know this at the time, but on a hunch I visited an acupuncturist who told me I needed to reduce stress and advised sleeping more. This made a substantial difference. I also started using a holistic remedy, a DIY yogurt mask (I use vegan yogurt) for rosacea. (Note: a yogurt mask is of course microbiome-balancing, just like Gladskin purports to do.) This is when I saw the most improvement—and also when I realized that I may have rosacea, or a combination of eczema/rosacea.
Eczema v. Rosacea
The two chronic skin conditions share many similar symptoms, but are in fact distinct. Rosacea typically affects cheeks and the nose, while eczema can appear on any part of the body, like inside elbows and back of the knees—on the face, it typically shows on the eyelids and around the mouth. Rosacea includes flushing and visible blood vessels; eczema does not. Both can exhibit small bumps that can be mistaken for acne, but rosacea bumps can be filled with pus; eczema bumps do not. For me, the fact that the skin around my nostrils is frequently (but not always) red indicates that I have rosacea.
Both eczema and rosacea are kind of autoimmune responses although their causes differ. Eczema is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic reasons, and can be triggered by harsh chemicals. Rosacea often runs in the family, and my mom suffers from severe rosacea. Among many reasons, rosacea can be caused by demodex (a microscopic skin mite), sun damage, extreme temperatures, wind, spicy foods, alcohol, and even exercise. My rosacea gets worse from the sun and alcohol, for sure.
Note that rosacea and eczema don’t have “cures” yet, and that steroid creams are prescribed for eczema, not rosacea. Be careful not to just accept the doctor’s prescription as the solution!
You’ve probably seen them on Instagram by now. The cult-hit brand (formulated in Switzerland and cruelty-free) claims to balance your skin’s microbiome, and offers 3 lines targeting acne, eczema, and rosacea. I tried the Face Wash for Sensitive Skin, which contains no fragrance or preservatives. and is dermatologist-tested. It contains only four ingredients; its texture is jelly-like, and doesn’t foam when you rub it on. After rinsing, your face still feels hydrated, not stripped of moisture.
I used Gladskin cleanser exclusively for a few weeks and first things first, it didn’t make my rosacea worse. It’s a great basic cleanser that does its job without irritating your skin. However, I didn’t see any improvement in my rosacea, either. My chin still has very mild redness (probably unnoticeable to anyone else, but noticeable to me). It also still has pesky, tiny bumps. I’m disappointed that nothing seems to have changed. After a few weeks, I started using my usual DIY yogurt mask several times a week again to cleanse and moisturize my face (see here for the recipe). To this day, this is the most effective remedy I’ve found to control rosacea. On days when I’m feeling too tired to go to the fridge, I started to again incorporate Mad Hippie Jelly Cleanser, which is also super mild and non-irritating, and gives a more uplifting experience with a lovely scent. (I’ve also used and enjoyed their Cream Cleanser in the past.) I will continue to rotate in Gladskin’s cleanser as I find that it’s a mild and effective cleanser, especially if your skin is badly inflamed or sensitized.
Having said all this, I would be interested in trying out Gladskin’s Redness Relief Cream in the future, should I feel like my rosacea needs more treatment. (Note: it does contain mineral oil aka petroleum.) I have a more realistic view of the situation though, now that it’s at an imperfect but manageable point. Most people have bumps and color variations on their skin naturally, for whatever reason. Something like rosacea is an inherited autoimmune condition, and you don’t owe it to the world to “fix” your appearance that’s caused by a health issue. All this being said, I’m aware that rosacea is something I’ll probably live with on some level for the rest of my life, and will take my time instead of trying to find a magic bullet. That feels right to me now—what about you?
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Photo: Sunny Ng via Unsplash