I Tested 6 Popular Redness-Reducing Skincare Products
12.20.18

If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me if my face was sunburnt on occasions when I hadn’t spent any more time outside than the five minutes it takes me to walk to work, I would be living in a much nicer apartment. In addition to having a naturally pink complexion that wears the effects of heat, spicy food, alcohol and various skin care products like an ostentatious corsage, I’m also prone to blushing whenever I’m the subject of unforeseen attention. And the rosy cherry on top? I have mild rosacea, which means the blood vessels on my cheeks are known to put on a special show from time to time.

At this point, even though I’m used to it, the redness still makes me a bit self-conscious, not to mention physically uncomfortable due to the irritation. I posted an Instagram Story to this effect during a recent episode in which my face resembled that of a creepy attic doll, asking for redness-soothing product recommendations. I got TONS of recommendations, which was amazing, but there were a handful of standouts that came up multiple times (and with passion, I might add). I also received numerous requests for me to share the results, so I decided to do one better and actually test the most popular ones out. Below, my foray into the world of many a green-tinted goop.

1. Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream

Dr. Jart’s “Cicapair” collection is formulated with Centella Asiatica (also known as tiger grass), a plant with medicinal properties that have been lauded for centuries. According to Dr. Jart’s website, “this active ingredient has also been recognized as a recovery system to help support wounded skin exhibiting inflammation, redness, or blemishes.”

The Tiger Grass Cream has 505 reviews on Sephora, almost all of them five stars, so I was excited to try it. On the morning I did, I was experiencing a typical hive-y breakout across my cheekbones (which I only recently realized happens every time I wash my hair, thus indicating some kind of allergy or sensitivity to my shampoo or conditioner (!?), but that’s an investigation for another time). I squeezed out a small dollop of pistachio-colored lotion and patted it gently onto my irritated skin. Unsurprisingly, the rash didn’t disappear right away, but it did feel soothed. I tested the cream a few more times on different days when my skin was in a more neutral state, and I was pleased with the results each time, especially as a base for makeup.

2. May Lindstrom “The Blue Cocoon” Beauty Baum Concentrate

Before I say anything about this product, I have to point out that it’s COSTLY. At $180, it clocks in just under the most I’ve ever spent on a beauty product myself ($190 — for a Biologiqe Recherche lotion), but five different people recommended it to me with notable passion, so I called in a sample for research purposes.

Approaching it with a healthy degree of skepticism (because if a product costs as much as a facial, I believe it should produce equivalent results, but also because May Lindstrom’s website calls it “a meditation and spa vacation for your skin”), I opened the jar and examined its contents. It was cerulean blue, smelled like medicine and looked like lip balm. I scooped up a pea-sized amount and spread it over my face. It melted easily and the texture was pretty greasy, so I was glad I was using it at night. That was the last thought I had before wondering if this might be the best heavy-duty winter moisturizer of all time. Not only did it visibly soothe my skin, but it also kept it feeling hydrated for hours. I’ve used it every night since, and I consistently wake up with a complexion that hasn’t looked this happy since high summer, not to mention less red. This is a product I will absolutely invest in with my own dollars.

3. Alchimie Forever Kantic Calming Cream

This cream has rave reviews everywhere from Dermstore to Amazon. It’s derived from grape seeds and European blueberries (potentially the best kind of blueberries? Idk!) and promises to “reduce free radicals and diminish redness in the skin.” I’ll be honest: I didn’t love this one, mainly because it was SO strongly scented and I wasn’t personally a fan of the smell (having it on my skin was similar that feeling when you’re sitting next to someone on the subway whose perfume is too flowery). Given that it wasn’t a standout in terms of redness reduction (at least upon first application), I probably wouldn’t use again, but if you are a fan of cold cream-esque lotions with floral scents, you might want to give it a shot.

4. SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel

This gel has mixed reviews online, but enough people recommended it that I was curious to try, and I’m so glad I did. I don’t want to be hyperbolic but I truly felt like I could see it healing my skin upon application. I definitely noticed a decrease in redness, and my skin just looked…more content? Chilled out? Free to be? Its only con is that it’s a bit sticky, but I wasn’t too bothered by that. Would absolutely re-purchase.

5. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is an under-the-radar skincare ingredient that has been proven to clear up acne, fade hyper-pigmentation, even out skin tone and reduce sensitive. It can be derived from grains like barley, wheat and rye, but is also produced by the yeast that lives naturally on skin. To top it all off, it’s beloved by the rabid skincare community on Reddit. I read that a concentration of 10% was ideal and was pleased to discover a product with exactly that on The Ordinary (for $7.90!). I applied it in the morning after a shower and found the texture kind of velvety, similar to that of a primer. I didn’t notice any immediate effects but I am curious if I would with repeated use. It’s not hydrating enough for this season, but I plan on reincorporating it into my regimen come summer.

6. Paula’s Choice CALM Redness Relief Moisturizer for Normal to Oily Skin

This product was very similar to the Ordinary Azelaic Acid in that I felt pretty neutral about its effects (felt nice on my skin but didn’t noticeably reduce redness) and it was super lightweight, thus making it more appropriate for a warmer season based on my skin’s needs. That being said, if you have an oily but sensitive complexion and are looking for a gentle moisturizer to use daily, this is a great option.

Makeup free! (Except for a touch of mascara).

Interestingly, after spending a week testing redness-reducing products, my skin has truly never looked better. The effects have been palpable enough that I’ve found a new level of comfort going makeup-free — something I started doing a few months ago (for many of the same reasons Haley spoke about in this story) but never felt entirely comfortable with until the past six days. I even took a series of exuberant bare-faced selfies before heading out to a fancy dinner this past Saturday for my birthday — an occasion that certainly would have begged for foundation and concealer in the past — because I was so excited about how my skin appeared in its natural state. I suppose the takeaway from this turnaround is that my sensitivity-prone skin was in grave need of soothing and hydration, and my previous skincare routine was not supplying enough of that. Thanks to the addition of numerous products formulated specifically for this purpose, I saw great results. Going forward, I plan to implement the following daily routine to make sure I’m catering to my skin’s penchant for TLC:

MORNING

+Step one: Peet Rivko Gentle Cleanser (or any super gentle cleanser I have on hand)
+Step two: SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel
+Step three: Sunscreen

EVENING

+Step one: Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm
+Step two: Peet Rivko Gentle Cleanser
+Step three: Biologique Recherche P50 (my skin will frequently turn red upon application, but I’ve found that the exfoliating and skin-clearing benefits of this product outweigh any negative aspects of this temporary sensitivity)
+Step four: A teeny tiny drop of May Lindstrom “The Blue Cocoon” Concentrate (I have a feeling this jar will last me forever — a little goes a long way)

Given that I’ve only been experimenting thus far, I’m eager to start using my favorite redness-reducing products regularly and see if the impact is even more noticeable. This is a continued crowd-sourcing mission as much as it is a test-drive, though, so if you have any go-to anti-redness or just generally soothing product recommendations, tell me in the comments. I could talk about this all day.

Feature gif by Edith Young; Selfies via Harling Ross. 

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