Rosacea - how the right diet, supplements and skincare can help

Rosacea - how the right diet, supplements and skincare can help

One of the skin issues that I’m frequently asked about  is Rosacea – it is more common in women than men, more often seen during periods of hormonal change and particularly common during the peri-menopause and menopause. In a sea of misinformation and confusion, I thought I’d write about my understanding of this condition and what I’ve found to be an effective, gentle approach.

Rosacea can occur in varying degrees of severity. At its mildest it can present as transient redness, flushing across nose and cheeks, at its most severe it can cause telangiectasia which is where the tiny blood vessels become wider and run into visible lines, there are pus filled pustules, thickened skin especially on the nose, permanent livid red/purple skin across the cheeks, forehead, chin and nose. It can also affect the eyes causing irritation and inflammation.

Advice given is conflicting – use essential oils/avoid essential oils, use retinoid therapy/don’t use retinoid therapy, take antibiotics/steer clear of antibiotics, wash with warm water/wash with cold water, use foaming mild products/don’t use them. The list is endless and confusing. Each producer will have their own strategy and push it relentlessly whether it be skincare, supplements or treatments. It can be as misleading as it is confusing.

 There is some advice upon which there is generalised agreement and it seems correct in my experience –

  • Alcohol is problematic and should be avoided where possible or taken in moderation. It causes flushing and where there is sensitivity to sulfites, it is particularly marked, choose organic if you can or better still try something like Wild Eve with adaptogenic  and nervine herbs to reduce stress.
  • Hot food and drinks – eating piping hot food or very hot drinks can make it worse
  • Strongly spiced food – go steady with the chillis, hot spiced food can be a trigger
  • Irritating ingredients in skincare – products that are harsh (more on that later)
  • Stress – finding strategies to calm stress is a very good plan generally, and also specifically for rosacea
  • Vasodilating drugs and medicines with corticosteroid – it stands to reason that drugs that cause vasodilation will also affect skin affected by telangiectasia
  • Hot showers – warm is better than hot
  • Hot sun – invest in a great wide brimmed hat and loose cotton clothing. The general advice is to slather on sunscreen but I have concerns about the ingredients in most sunscreens

 At A.S Apothecary I am first and foremost a therapist, with plant based health and wellbeing at the heart of my practice. We produce skincare, we also make non-alcoholic drinks, therapeutic  teas and tinctures and we roast coffee. Our approach to rosacea is different because our approach to products is different – it is holistic, gentle and effective.

 The skin changes over time, particularly during periods of hormonal flux. It’s why at peri-menopause and menopause so many women find that their skincare routines that have served them well for years, no longer work.  The skin can become easily irritated, loses its brightness and feels increasingly sensitive.

Rosacea is more than a skin issue, it’s an imbalance, and the way to treat it needs to be more than skincare, although what you put on your skin is incredibly important. There are some really simple things that can help restore the gut microbiome, kickstart the liver and support skin health generally from within:

  • Every morning 15 minutes before eating or drinking anything, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into warm water and drink it – it has numerous benefits particularly enhancing enzyme function which stimulates the liver to aid elimination, it gives your immune system a boost because lemons are rich in vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. The vitamin C in lemons can also help to reduce stress by reducing cortisol levels which is key to rosacea management. Also keep yourself well hydrated with water during the day. 
  • Take a supplement of Omega 3 – it is an important essential fatty acid that reduces inflammation. We particularly like the supplements produced by Wild Nutrition, they are excellent quality and ethically produced. Here’s the link to their Omega 3 
  • The other supplement worth taking is Zinc – it in a study in 2020
    (Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology 
    Volume 13, 2020) it was shown to reduce the lesions associated with rosacea because of its immune boosting and anti-inflammatory action. Wild nutrition also produce a zinc supplement  You can of course eat zinc rich foods as well, including pecan nuts, brazil nuts, eggs, oats, poultry, pumpkin seeds, ginger, legumes, seafood, mushrooms and whole grains.
  • Support the gut microbiome – there are endless products designed to support the gut microbiome but the key is to eat plants that are rich in polyphenols because they support the growth of good gut bacteria and inhibit the growth of bad gut bacteria. Really good quality Olive oil is an excellent option – I’ve written about it before because we use a really polyphenol rich Olive oil for the base of our creams. The important point is that Olives are a fresh fruit the same as any other so don’t buy your Olive oil from a supermarket where it may have been sitting on a shelf for a year or two, instead go straight to the producer – we love Mesto olive oil and Honest Toil The fresher the oil, the better and you’ll know if it’s polyphenol rich because it will taste really peppery at the back of your throat.
  • Fermented foods are good – if you like it, Kimchi, Kombucha and Kefir are probiotics that contain good bacteria so you give your gut a little extra help. My favourite fermented product is coffee – being a coffee roaster and therefore coffee nerd I’m fascinated by the various fermentation approaches to coffee beans and if you read the information on our coffees you’ll see that I mention how it is fermented and for how long. Our Guatemalan coffee has an extended fermentation period which supports good gut bacteria.
  • A deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to dry skin and skin problems caused by auto-immune conditions such as rosacea – conventional treatment for moderate to severe rosacea is an oral retinoid, isotretinoin, which is a derivative of vitamin A and is particularly savage, with issues around birth defects, bleeding skin lesions, insomnia, headaches and the rest. It should be a measure of last resort. Eating beta-carotenoid rich foods can help the body store vitamin A so squashes and carrots are especially good.

 Perhaps the easiest way to think about food to support rosacea is to eat the rainbow – the more colour you can get onto your plate the better, along with plenty of nuts and seeds, washed down with a really good Guatemalan coffee. Don’t think it’s really difficult and don’t feel you have to make massive radical changes. Start with the lemon water in the morning, then try the Zinc and Omega supplements and gradually add a little more colour to your plate over time.


This is where ingredients and process are so important. Let’s start with the difference between retinols and retinoids, both of which are derivatives of vitamin A. Retinol products can be bought over the counter, they are milder. Retinoids can only be prescribed by a doctor, they are much stronger. Why use either retinol or retinoids? Retinol exfoliates the skin, it effectively resurfaces it, it stimulates collagen production and may (note the caveat) reduce the appearance of fine lines. It’s everywhere and now in everything. Along with my particular bête noir hyaluronic acid.

 The issue of this massive proliferation of retinol treatments is that they are really aggressive. They should only be used at night because they make your skin so much more sensitive to sun, they can cause irritation, pain and peeling. I think of them as the skin equivalent of sanding a piece of wood. In terms of rosacea, it’s both the exfoliating and the anti-inflammatory action on the dermis that are the desired actions.

 We don’t use retinol in any of our products, nor do we add in hyaluronic acid (which incidentally you can get naturally from bone broth or fermented soya products) I firmly believe that aggressive skin treatments which totally disrupt the skin’s natural biome are a bad plan.

 What we do instead is look to the plants and find from them all that is needed to support the skin and help it to help itself without harm. We seek balance and health in our skincare. So thinking of ingredients that specifically support the redness and irritation that comes with rosacea, there are several that are brilliant and we weave them through our products so you can create a ritual that supports, heals and calms your skin.


The Harmonising Cleansing Balm is an oil to milk formulation containing:

  • Jojoba oil which is closer to sebum than any oil, contains Vit E and B complex to aid skin repair and reduce damage
  • Equisetum which is high in anti-oxidants, has skin smoothing properties and promotes new skin cell generation
  • Sage which is anti-inflammatory and deeply cleanses to prevent bacterial growth


the Hydrating Isle Mist – a blend of 3 distillations of plants from mountain, machair and sea

  • Meadowsweet which works to remove dead skin cells from the skin surface for a more even skin texture.
  • Heather which has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to soothe irritated skin, reduce redness and inflammation.
  • Bush flower Confid Essence Brings out the positive qualities of self-esteem helping you feel more confident and comfortable around others


The Unblushing Cream

  • Calendula which is full of flavonoids that help to absorb UVR before it can interact with and damage cellular components making it photoprotective. It also calms and soothes redness.
  • Oat tops to soothe redness and calm irritated skin
  • Chamomile to induce dermal collagen synthesis and reverse scarring. It also contains Quercitin to stimulate the growth of new skin cells.

 Cleansing Multi Mask

The Cleansing Multi Mask is arguably our most versatile product for rosacea, it can be used as a mask or as a cleanser and every ingredient has the treatment of redness and sensitivity within it.

  • AS Apothecary Hebridean Blend coffee - caffeine reduces redness and chlorogenic acids (CGA) contained in coffee beans can help reduce inflammation due to skin problems such as rosacea, eczema, acne and psoriasis. CGA restores the impaired dermal matrix network as well as the epidermal skin barrier.
  • Blackcurrant Leaf to reduce redness and protect from UV damage
  • Labdanum resin to regenerate the skin, heal wounds and reduces scarring

 We also have a fantastic option that we offer to people with active rosacea, it’s a tiny bottle with Belladonna and Nux, it can be added to any of our products to give an extra daily boost to help take the heat and redness out of the skin. Simply let us know when you buy any of the above products and we’ll pop a 5ml bottle with instructions in for free.

 We’re always happy to try and help you find the products that are right for you and where we need to tinker a little to get it right, we’re happy to do that too. To go back to the start of this and the conflicting advice, there is a place for retinoids and antibiotics if all else has failed, but that kind of treatment needs not to be undertaken lightly, steer clear of retinol heavy products, the right essential oils in the right % can be a help but it needs an experienced formulator to know what works and what does not.

 In the end, you need to find someone you trust to help you navigate a way to good skin health.

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