What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the skin. It is characterized by a red, flushed face with distended capillaries and raised papules. The condition often starts with red, burning, and itchy eyes. As it progresses the papules fill with pus, becoming what is known as Acne Rosacea. In its advanced stages, patients develop Rynophyma in which the nose becomes enlarged and disfigured. While the actual cause of Rosacea is still unknown, it is believed that a weakened immune system enables the cascade of symptoms that affect approximately 415 Million people worldwide. Since a large part of the immune system resides in the gut, simply ingesting spicy foods, drinking coffee and even the tannins in wine could potentially trigger a flare up. The immune system is also stimulated by ultraviolet radiation and stress as well. So Rosacea can be triggered by simply performing daily tasks.
Recent research has identified an imbalance in the gut microbiome of Rosacea sufferers. Both the gut and the skin play a role in defending the body against pathogens. So, logically, an internal imbalance can be seen on the skin’s surface as well. The theory is that this connection, known as the gut-skin axis, is the initial trigger of the inflammation seen at the onset of Rosacea. When the skin is chronically inflamed, its protective layer, the acid mantle, becomes impaired and can no longer effectively ward off an overgrowth of pests. Yes, pests! More specifically a little parasite called the Demodex Mite. Normally these mites help keep things in balance. Doing the majority of their clean up at night, they gorge themselves on nutrients like oil and dead skin cells. They then proceed to lay eggs and, ultimately, explode. When the skin’s barrier is impaired, colonies of this little friend are allowed to overgrow causing additional irritation and inflammation.
The traditional approach to relieving Rosacea relies on soothing ingredients that, at the very least, do no harm. However, they also do nothing to reverse the condition. Progressive skin therapists are breaking tradition by intentionally vasodilating the capillaries to strengthen capillary walls. The various approaches include using hot and cold compresses and professionally-applied light chemical peels. However, because of the link between the microbiota of the gut with that of the skin, many skin care professionals are opting for another solution. They are introducing clients to botanical products that vasodilate the capillaries and increase the skin’s “good bacteria”. The ingredient decks of these products don’t resemble typical Rosacea cures. Rather than relying on the calming properties of herbs like chamomile and comfrey, these products elicit stimulation. This new wave of pro and pre-biotic skincare manages to build up skin’s resistance with a very systematic approach.
Treating Rosacea, or at least successfully managing Rosacea symptoms, requires a multi-prong approach. The cocktail includes a healthy acid mantle, strong capillaries and a healthy balance of good bacteria on the surface of the skin.
Reinforce the Acid Mantle
The first step in addressing Rosacea lies in addressing external factors first. The skin can’t heal if its barrier is impaired. Sebaceous glands lie at the base of hair follicles depositing lipids onto the surface of the skin. The protective film that forms is made up of ceramides, fatty acids, water, and lactic acid. Products formulated with seed oils reinforce the acid mantle. Jojoba oil, for example, is closer to the natural weight of sebum, so it won’t clog the follicles and the body readily recognizes it as its own. Even though Jojoba oil has a low concentration of the essential fatty acids that protect the skin, it is actually known to calm the sebaceous glands and soothe inflammation.
Strengthen Capillary Walls
Intentional vasodilation causes expansion and constriction that improves capillary health. Stimulating botanicals like Peppermint, Lavender, Verbena, Lemongrass, and Gingergrass help regulate microcirculation. While they may cause an initial flushing effect, over time redness is diminished as the capillary walls are reinforced.
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Sustain a Healthy Microbiome
The importance of a sound immune system can’t be overlooked. Balancing the skin’s ecosystem also strengthens its response. Perhaps without even fully understanding why many ancient remedies relied on a fermentation process as part of their recipe. As it turns out, certain probiotic strains have been shown to strengthen the skin’s immune system. This is the key to healthy, balanced skin.
Aliesh Pierce is a published author, skin care expert and celebrity makeup artist. With over thirty years of experience in the beauty industry, Aliesh began her noteworthy career assisting makeup artists at the age of twelve. By twenty-one, she was working as a makeup artist in Europe’s fashion industry traveling between Milan, Paris, London, and Zurich. Upon moving to New York, Aliesh became the personal makeup artist to some of Hip-Hop and R & B’s most recognized musicians. After relocating to Los Angeles, Aliesh worked with an impressive list of clients which includes Queen Latifah, Ryan Gossling, India. Arie, Eva Mendez, and the Obamas, among others.
Aliesh is the author of the aesthetics textbook Treating Diverse Pigmentation. She initially added esthetics to her list of credentials to better address the root cause of the skin challenges her clients face. She now writes for trade magazines and regularly speaks at spa industry conferences, sharing her Multi-Ethnic approach to skin care. Aliesh is a sought after educator and has assisted in the formulation of several recognized cosmetic brands.