Red, red, red

One woman's rosacea journey: novelist Maggie Alderson shares her experiences with this so-distressing skin condition - and the products which help - to mark the first day of Rosacea Awareness Month I wish you could see my face. As I go into my tenth year of rosacea it’s going through a particularly bad patch (stress) and I look in the mirror at the full pepperoni pizza, with not only patches of sore redness, but a raised topography of spotty bits which are hard to cover up. Some of my pimples cast a shadow.

This is when I reach for the hardcore products, by the dermatologist doctor brands. Dr Brandt’s Laser Relief does help if applied to the reddest areas, but the ingredients list scares me and I wouldn’t use something so harsh for long (benzyl alcohol? no thanks).

Dr Nick Lowe Redness Relief Calming Cream can also help extreme breakouts, although it’s very minty and a bit like applying Colgate to your face and I only use it on the very worst pimples for a very short time.

Both products do what they say on the tube, but leave my poor old boat race feeling abused and battered, parched and leathery. That’s when I run into the arms of my favourite French pharmacy spa brand, Avène.

Avene MaskAs part of their Antirougers range they do a Redness Relief Soothing Repair Mask which is one of the nicest products I’ve ever put on my face. A gloopy viscous gel/cream it makes my ravaged skin feel loved and cared for. It’s cooling in a subtle way (paging Dr Lowe…) and leaves the skin feeling moisturised and dewy.

It has joined the ranks of my repeat purchase beauty staples.

Avene Moisturising CreamWhile they don’t seem to make a huge difference, I like all the products in the Avène range – not least because they don’t make my skin worse. The Relief Fort Concentrate for Chronic Redness helps a lesser breakout than the one I have now and the Redness Relief Moisturising Protecting Cream for Dry to Very Dry skin does what it says on the tube.

So the Avène range is now an essential part of my rosacea arsenal, but it’s not enough and I would like to make a plea to all the beauty companies: stop bracketing all the different kinds of rosacea together.

What works for someone who gets the flushing kind, where the whole face goes bright red, does nothing for my kind of rosacea. I never have flushing, just the random breakouts and sore bits.

They are completely different conditions, yet all beauty brands – and all medical descriptions of rosacea – bundle them in together as the same thing.

There are hugely varying kinds of chronic skin redness and the beauty brand which recognises this and produces different products for the different problems will mint it. And not in the Colgate way.

One more tip: the best treatment I’ve found for really sore, hot rosacea spots is a very thin slice of cucumber (the thinner the better as it releases more of the crucial juice).

You can physically feel it drawing the heat out, as the cucumber quickly gets hot on your face. Keep changing the slices and the breakout will noticeably abate. You feel like a twit doing it, but the result is worth looking like a poached salmon for.

So another tip to the beauty brands: analyse the active ingredient in cucumber juice and bottle it.

And if that doesn’t help, there is always the pimply rosacea sufferer’s very best friend, Bare Minerals foundation powder.

• Dr Nick Lowe Redness Relief Calming Cream/£17 for 50 ml at - buy here

• Avéne Redness Relief Soothing Repair Mask/£15 for 50 ml at - buy here

• Avéne Relief Fort Concentrate for Chronic Redness/£22 for 30 ml at - buy here

• Avéne Redness Relief Moisturising Protecting Cream/£13.50 for 40 ml at - buy here

• Bare Minerals Foundation Powder/£25 at - buy here