Skin redness is one of the most common skin concerns for people today. If you've been wanting to learn how to reduce skin redness, read on for expert insight and tips.

We turned to a board-certified Dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, Marisa Garshick, MD, and asked her to share everything to know about reducing skin redness.

What Causes Skin Redness?

It turns out that redness is so tricky to treat because there are a lot of different causes. "Redness of the skin can be considered multifactorial," says Dr. Garshick. "Meaning, it can be due to different causes." She lists irritation to the skin or skin barrier, external stressors, and over-exfoliating as some of the ways that can cause sensitivity. She also says redness can occur due to inflammation from certain skin conditions, such as eczema or seborrheic dermatitis.

When it comes to other known skin conditions like rosacea, she says this happens due to vascular changes. When blood vessels in the skin dilate or open up, it leads to flushing. Lastly, broken capillaries are another known cause of redness.

Who Gets Redness?

Anyone can get redness if their skin reacts negatively to external stressors. But, Dr. Garshick says redness occurs mostly in those with dry or sensitive skin, as well as those who are prone to rosacea. Acne-prone skin experiences redness due to the inflammation of the breakouts.

How Do You Treat Redness?

How to reduce skin redness depends on the underlying cause. So, consider the following:

  • Rosacea: If you're dealing with a skin condition like rosacea, there are a lot of treatment options. According to John Hopkins Medicine, these treatment options include things like topical and oral antibiotics, prescription creams or lotions, and laser therapy. But the most important way to manage rosacea would be to wear sunscreen every day. The sun's rays are common triggers for these types of flareups and can make redness worse. Using something like EltaMD's UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 can help provide protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays without irritating the skin.
  • Sensitive/acne-prone skin: It's important to find products with the right ingredients. Dr. Garshick suggests using gentle ingredients like caffeine or azelaic acid, both of which will help make redness less noticeable. Soothing ingredients include aloe vera and cica. You'll also want to find something with antioxidants and hydrating ingredients like glycerin and squalane to protect the skin from environmental aggressors and keep dryness at bay. Something like the EltaMD's Skin Recovery System, which includes a toner, serum, and moisturizer, gives you an entire regimen filled with those helpful ingredients to help treat your skin.
  • Dry skin: Dr. Garshick says that if you're experiencing redness because of dry skin, look for moisturizers that help strengthen the skin barrier and lock in moisture. "Supporting the skin barrier makes it less susceptible to irritation from external factors and, as a result, can reduce existing redness and prevent it from worsening," she says. Key ingredients to look for are ceramides, which will help hydrate skin, and niacinamide, which is anti-inflammatory, calms irritation, and fortifies the skin barrier.

Dr. Garshick adds that it's important to avoid any products and ingredients that are harsh or irritating to the skin. She says to stay away from harsh soaps and abrasive scrubs and avoid over-exfoliating. Instead, opt for gentle exfoliation options, like mandelic or lactic acid.

How Does Sleep Affect Your Skin?

According to research reviewed in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, disruption of the sleep-wake cycle can wreak havoc on your skin. This is the case because your skin repairs itself while you sleep at night. You can help with this rejuvenating process by getting enough consistent sleep and implementing a regular nighttime skin care routine. A before-bed routine that focuses on moisturizing and repairing is key to waking up to brighter, healthier-looking skin.

An overnight sleep mask like EltaMD's Skin Recovery System Night Mask ticks all of those boxes. This mask contains powerful—yet still gentle—skin care ingredients and technologies that work overnight to repair skin damage from UV rays and other aggressors that cause redness and irritation. It contains a proprietary blend of amino acids to visibly reduce the appearance of damaged skin.

If skin redness persists, it might be a sign of something more serious. As you would with any skin concern, it's always best to see a Dermatologist who can help you figure out how to reduce skin inflammation and redness. These professionals are your best bet to getting the right treatment and care for your skin.


  • Audrey Noble

    Audrey Noble is a New York City-based reporter specializing in features, celebrity profiles, and beauty topics. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. She is a University of Southern California alumna with bachelor's degrees in print journalism and creative writing.

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