RosaceaNet Article
Rosacea Patients Can Enjoy Some Spa Treatments

If you have rosacea, your skin can be dry. Your face may sting when you apply almost any lotion or cosmetic. The skin on your face may itch. With such sensitive skin, you may be surprised to learn that dermatologists tell their patients who have rosacea that they can enjoy some spa services. Here’s the scoop on what you may be able to enjoy and what is best avoided.

Hair Removal
Avoid: Dermatologists caution that people who have rosacea should not use these techniques to remove unwanted facial hair:

  • Depilatories (chemicals that remove the hair)

  • Electrolysis

  • Waxing

Waxing rips the hairs from the hair follicles. This traumatizes the skin and can cause rosacea to flare. The heat from a hot wax also can increase inflammation, causing the skin to swell or itch. Depilatories and electrolysis also can aggravate rosacea and cause a flare-up.


Best: For their patients with rosacea, dermatologists generally recommend:

  • Gentle tweezing

  • Laser-assisted hair removal

Tweezing. For a few hairs, gentle tweezing can safely and effectively remove unwanted facial hair. Dermatologists recommend that you use a good pair of tweezers with a slanted tip. Examine the tweezers to make sure the tips align properly. Aligned tips help you to grab the hair. When tweezing, use slow gentle pressure to remove the hair, never yank. Yanking can cause the hair to break off beneath the surface of the skin, causing the painful red bump of an ingrown hair.


Laser-assisted hair removal. Dermatologists also recommend laser-assisted hair removal for people who have rosacea and want to get rid of more than a few unwanted facial hairs. Dermatologists caution that laser-assisted hair removal should be performed in a medical office by a dermatologist who has treated numerous patients.


Complications ranging from burns and permanent scars to skin discoloration and the growth of even more unwanted hair can occur in unskilled hands.


In the hands of a physician who has treated numerous patients, laser hair removal can be a gentle, safe, and effective procedure. Patients typically resume normal activities immediately after the procedure. However, the key is to find an experienced, qualified physician.


Dermatologists have in-depth medical knowledge of the skin and rosacea, so they know which laser is appropriate for each patient. They also know how to prevent potential complications.


Makeup Services
People who have rosacea can wear makeup. The key is to find makeup that does not aggravate your rosacea. If you are considering a makeup service:

Avoid: A makeup artist who does not have experience working with clients who have rosacea.

Best: A makeup artist who has experience working with clients who have rosacea.

Before the appointment, ask the makeup artist what type of makeup will be used. Dermatologists generally recommend that a patient who has rosacea use a mineral-based makeup. Another good choice is makeup that is water-based and oil-free. Green tints in makeup can effectively cover up the redness of rosacea while you are trying to get it under control or if you experience a flare-up.

It is important to realize that no one makeup is suitable for everyone who has rosacea. A makeup that aggravates one person’s rosacea may be ideal for another patient with rosacea. If your face stings or burns as soon as the makeup is applied or after you wear it for a while, wash off the makeup immediately. This is not the makeup for you.

If you cannot find a makeup that agrees with you, ask a dermatologist for recommendations. This doctor’s expertise can spare you the time and expense of trying numerous products.

Skin Rejuvenation
You will find treatments that promise younger-looking skin in spas, salons, and even the aisles of your local drugstore these days. Dermatologists typically give their patients with rosacea this advice about skin rejuvenation treatments.

Avoid: If you have rosacea, avoid:

  • Facials not performed by an aesthetician who has experience with clients who have rosacea

  • Peels not performed by a dermatologist (including peels sold for at-home use)

  • Microdermabrasion (including the kits for at-home use)

Best: If you have rosacea, dermatologists recommend:

  • A facial that is performed by an aesthetician who has experience giving facials to clients who have rosacea

  • A mild salicyclic acid peel that is performed by a dermatologist

Facials. A facial can be a truly pampering experience for people who have rosacea. Before making an appointment for a facial, ask if the aesthetician has experience working with clients who have rosacea. Once you find an aesthetician who has experience with rosacea, be sure to ask if any of these ingredients — alcohol, eucalyptus, fragrance, menthol, peppermint, or witch hazel — are found in the products that will be used. According to a survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society, these ingredients are most likely to aggravate rosacea. If you know of any other ingredients or products that aggravate your rosacea, be sure to ask if any of these will be used.

On the day of your appointment, make sure you tell the aesthetician all of the following. It is important the aesthetician know:

  • You have rosacea

  • The ingredients and skin care products that irritate your skin

  • All of the products — prescription and non-prescription — that you use on your face

  • Any other medical conditions you have

While at a spa, avoid services that can trigger a rosacea flare-up. Applying a hot towel to the face, exfoliating, steaming the face, a steam bath, and a sauna all increase blood flow to the face and can trigger a rosacea flare-up.

Salicylic acid peel. A dermatologist may use a mild salicylic acid peel to gain faster control over rosacea. This peel is often used in combination with an oral antibiotic. Dermatologists generally recommend that this treatment be performed in a medical office. This helps prevent complications.

Stress Reduction
Spas offer a number of ways to help their clients relax, including massages, steam treatments, and hot rock therapy.

Avoid: Dermatologists generally recommend that their patients with rosacea avoid:

  • Facial massages

  • Heat treatments (e.g., sauna, hot rock therapy)

  • Steam treatments (e.g., wet sauna, hot shower, hot cloth applied to the face)

A facial massage can increase blood flow to the face, which can trigger a flare-up. Steam and heat are known rosacea triggers.

Best: People who have rosacea can usually enjoy:

  • A massage that does not include your face, cause you to overheat, nor involve placing anything warm on your face.

Emotional stress is the second most common rosacea trigger according to the National Rosacea Society. A massage can help reduce stress and may be an effective way to help manage your rosacea. If you have a massage, avoid becoming overheated. Tell the masseuse that you have rosacea and ask that warm or hot items not be placed on your face.

Talk With Your Dermatologist
This article provides some general guidelines. If a spa treatment interests you, be sure to talk with your dermatologist first. The type of rosacea you have, the severity, and your personal triggers all affect what spa treatments may and may not be right for you.

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Page last updated 7/6/06

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