Best Creams, Serums, and Moisturizers for Rosacea

Best rosacea products

Rosacea Moisturizers for Eight of the 16 Baumann Skin Types

There are 8 Baumann Skin Types that suffer from facial redness.  Each of these needs a different skin care routine.  You see- even if you have rosacea, it is probably not your only skin problem.  You may also have dry skin, oily skin, dark spots, an uneven skin tone, wrinkles and sagging.  Your rosacea creams and serums need to work well in a skin care routine that targets all of these skin concerns- not just rosacea.  In fact, most people with rosacea need an antiaging rosacea moisturizer.

Luckily, anti-inflammatory ingredients also often have antioxidant abilities which give them some antiaging benefit. 

Take the quiz to find out your skin type so we can give you the best advice on which rosacea moisturizers to choose for your skin type.

Sensitive skin types and argan oil

Over the Counter Rosacea Treatments

OTC rosacea treatment swill often suffice for  mild rosacea.  In fact, in my dermatology practice I have found that the serums and creams in your skin care routine make a huge difference in facial rosacea.  You cannot just use a prescription rosacea cream with any face wash, antiaging serums, and skin lighteners.  Many of these will irritate sensitive rosacea-prone skin.  So every product in your skin care routine matters!  The most important is finding the best moisturizer for rosacea sensitive skin. Keep reading to see if your sensitive skin needs a lotion, serum, or cream.

You can learn more about face cleansers for rosacea and how to build a skin care routine for rosacea at these links, or take the easy and best way by letting us give you a customized routine with the best rosacea moisturizers for your skin type.

Rosacea Cream vs Rosacea Serum

Rosacea creams and lotions are better for dry skin types, while rosacea serums and gels are best for oily skin types.

If your prescription rosacea medication is a gel and you have dry skin, you can apply the prescription rosacea gel first and a moisturizer for rosacea after it.  This will help the rosacea medication absorb better.  Never apply a cream or lotion before a prescription medication.

Rosacea Creams, Anti-Redness Creams, and Soothing Moisturizers

Rosacea creams are best for dry, sensitive skin types. They should have anti-inflammatory soothing ingredients. Because they are used for dry, sensitive rosacea skin types, they should have soothing natural oils with linoleic acid and polyphenols like argan oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.

Both day creams and night creams for rosacea should contain soothing oils.  If they feel to heavy on your skin, you can use a serum in the morning and a cream at night.

Rosacea creams can be used on dry, combination and normal skin types.

Oils for rosacea

The Best Rosacea Creams Have Soothing Oils

Dry, sensitive rosacea skin types should use creams because they have more moisturizing ingredients than serums.

Creams are very good rosacea treatments for dry, sensitive skin types if the have the right fatty acids in them.

Linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid, is renowned for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties when applied to the skin. Its anti-inflammatory effects are largely attributed to its role in modulating the inflammatory cascade. Linoleic acid is known to compete with arachidonic acid, a precursor of various inflammatory mediators, for the same enzymes (cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase). This competition can result in decreased production of arachidonic acid-derived prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which are potent mediators of inflammation. By reducing the production of these inflammatory mediators, linoleic acid helps to alleviate redness, swelling, and irritation associated with facial redness and rosacea. Additionally, linoleic acid can be converted into anti-inflammatory compounds, such as prostaglandin E1, which further helps to dampen inflammation and soothe the skin.

Making the skin barrier stronger is also important when you have dry skin and rosacea and fatty acids in barrier repair moisturizers can help with this. Linoleic acid is a component of the skin's natural lipid barrier, helps to maintain the integrity of the epidermal layer, which is crucial for preventing water loss and protecting the skin from harmful skin irritating external agents.

Thus, linoleic acid not only reinforces the skin's barrier function but also actively participates in resolving skin inflammation, making it a vital component of skin health and a popular ingredient in skincare formulations.

Natural skin care for rosacea

Natural Skin Care For Rosacea

Oils are a great vegan, clean, and natural way to treat rosacea - but do not use essential oils. They can irritate sensitive rosacea-prone skin.

Look for oils and natural or vegan products that have polyphenols, stearic acid or linoleic acid such as these soothing and hydrating oils:

  1. Almond Oil

    • Linoleic Acid: 20-30%
    • Stearic Acid: ~1%
    • Other: Rich in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory effects.
  2. Argan Oil

    • Linoleic Acid: 29-36%
    • Stearic Acid: 4-7%
    • Other: Contains polyphenols, Vitamin E, and other antioxidants that contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  3. Camellia Japonica Seed Oil (Tsubaki Oil)

    • Linoleic Acid: ~10%
    • Stearic Acid: 1-3%
    • Other: Contains antioxidants like Vitamin E and polyphenols that contribute to its anti-inflammatory and skin-protective effects.
  4. Grapeseed Oil

    • Linoleic Acid: 60-70%
    • Stearic Acid: 3-6%
    • Other: High in polyphenols, especially proanthocyanidins, which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  5. Macadamia Nut Oil

    • Linoleic Acid: 1-5%
    • Stearic Acid: 2-3%
    • Other: Contains palmitoleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and is also rich in antioxidants.
  6. Safflower Oil

    • Linoleic Acid: Up to 75%
    • Stearic Acid: 1-3%
    • Other: Primarily known for its high content of linoleic acid, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
  7. Soybean Oil

    • Linoleic Acid: 50-55%
    • Stearic Acid: 2-5%
    • Other: Contains phytosterols, which have anti-inflammatory effects, and Vitamin E, a potent antioxidant.
  8. Sunflower Oil

    • Linoleic Acid: 65-70% (high-linoleic varieties)
    • Stearic Acid: 2-6%
    • Other: Rich in Vitamin E, which is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  9. Vaccinium Myrtillus Seed Oil (Bilberry Seed Oil)

    • Linoleic Acid: 30-35%
    • Stearic Acid: ~1%
    • Other: Contains alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and is rich in antioxidants like Vitamin E and polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

Please note that the percentages of linoleic and stearic acids can vary between different sources and brands of oils. The presence of polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds can also vary based on growing conditions and processing methods.

Rosacea creams for dry, sensitive skin

Best Rosacea Creams for Dry, Sensitive Skin Types

Rosacea creams are best for dry, sensitive skin types. Lotions can be used but creams are more hydrating. If you use a prescription rosacea gel, you can layer one of these soothing moisturizers on top. This will help the prescription gel absorb better.The best over the counter creams for rosacea are listed below.

Dermatologist-recommended rosacea creams:

  1. Derma Made Nia-genic Lotion – best light affordable rosacea moisturizer for combination skin when you do not want a heavy cream.
  2. Essopi Triple Antioxidant Cream- has resveratrol, green tea and caffeineto soothe redness.  Even though this is a cream it is very light and is good for normal and combination skin types.
  3. Replenix Redness Reducing Triple AOX Cream
  4. SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer
  5. VMV Red Better Daily Calming Moisturizer – best anti-redness cream if you have a lot of allergies. This is fragrance, preservative, paraben and formaldehyde-free for very allergic skin types with rosacea.
  6. Zerafite Soothing and Calming Moisturizer -best soothing barrier repair for very dry sensitive skin
  7. Zerafite Wrinkle Defense Barrier Cream- best soothing rosacea moisturizer that is antiaging and a barrier repair cream. 
  8. Zerafite Brightening Barrier Cream- best rosacea moisturizer that also treats very dry skin and lightens dark spots.  Also has some antiaging antioxidants.

Best rosacea serums

Serums for Rosacea

Can you use serums with rosacea?

There are many good rosacea serums that have anti-redness ingredients. Serums are better for oily, sensitive skin types.  (If you have dry skin, choose a cream as your rosacea moisturizer.)

Rosacea serums should be used 1-2 times every day in the 3rd step of your skin care routine (after eye cream and before moisturizer and sunscreen).

Use rosacea serums for oily and combination skin types

Serums are better for oily rosacea skin and for acne rosacea because they are less likely to have comedogenic ingredients.

 Serums to treat redness and soothe sensitive skin should have anti-inflammatory ingredients.

The best soothing and calming anti-redness serums to treat oily, sensitive rosacea skin are:

These can be used on oily, combination, normal, and dry skin types. If you have dry skin, follow the serum with a soothing barrier repair moisturizer like Zerafite Soothing and Calming.

Antiaging Serums and Rosacea

Some antiaging serums are not good for rosacea types because they have irritating ingredients.  See below for which antiaging ingredients are safe in rosacea and which to avoid. I prefer using exosomes with antioxidants in my rosacea patients. I try to calm their skin and eventually get them on a low strength retinol serum.  But first- I soothe the skin for 4 weeks before trying to begin a retinol.

Need help choosing a soothing serum? Shop by your Baumann Skin Type!


Retinol Serum

Rosacea suffers will have more trouble getting used to a retinoid serum than other skin types.  The side effects of retinol mimic rosacea- redness, flushing and fascial stinging. So- you need to make sure you are using it correctly to avoid these.  Start with a low dose retinol and follow these instructions.

You can use retinol if you have rosacea but only if:

Low strength retinoids for rosacea-prone skin:

ascorbic acid

Vitamin C Serum

The best Vitamin C serums have a very low pH when means they are acidic. This can cause facial flushing and stinging in rosacea-prone skin. For this reason, I rarely use Vitamin C serum in my rosacea patients.

Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Rosacea-prone skin can tolerate HA serums. HA serums have some benefit but are not the best antiaging serums and do not have any soothing qualities.  They are humectants so they hydrate skin but do not repair the skin barrier.  I prefer using hyaluronic acid serums in rosacea patients with oily skin.

If you have oily skin and you want a very light moisturizer to give skin a dewy look, these are our favorites:

hyaluronic acid

Exosome Serums

Platelet derived exosomes like Plated Skin Science Serum soothe and regenerate skin and are perfect for dry and oily rosacea skin types.  If you are dry skin type, layer a barrier repair moisturizer over the Plated serum to help it absorb. There are 2 Plated Skin Science Serums:

If you want to hear more from the transplant cardiologist who invented this serum you can find my interview on our Skin Type Solutions YouTube channel.

When to use prescription rosacea medications in your skin care routine

For moderate to severe rosacea, you made need a topical prescription rosacea medication or an oral antibiotic. For best results- combine rosacea medications with:

Your topical rosacea medication should be step 3 (after your eye cream) in your AM and PM skin care routine.  You can learn more about rosacea skin care routines here.

You also may want to treat rosacea from the inside with diet, vitamins and supplements.  You can learn more here.

Once you know your Baumann Skin Type, we will give you a complete step by step skin care regimen for rosacea that you can customize and personalize by brand, price, and your preferences.

anti-redness ingredients

Best anti-redness Ingredients In rosacea creams and serums

The 5 best soothing and calming ingredients in rosacea creams and serums are:

Find a complete list of anti-inflammatory ingredients here.

Prescription Rosacea Creams

Prescription Rosacea creams that constrict blood vessels:

Rhofade (oxymetazoline)- use every am to constrict blood vessels on the face. Works for about 12 hours. Best results seen after 8-12 weeks of use. The company recently went bankrupt so it is very difficult to find in 2023 which is a shame because it is wonderful.

Prescription Rosacea creams that kill mites on the skin:

Soolantra (ivermectin) – kills Demodex mites on the skin. Use once a day in morning or evening. You may see results as soon as 2 weeks but give it at least 8- 12 weeks to work before giving up.

Prescription Rosacea creams that reduce inflammation:

  • Azalea (azelaic acid) Cream- this rosacea cream also has skin lightening and anti-aging activities.
  • Aczone (dapsone) is an acne treatment product that is often used as a rosacea cream but is not FDA approved for rosacea. We do not have a lot of clinical trial data on dapsone for rosacea.
  • Metro Gel (Metronidazole)- this is an older rosacea gel that is an antibiotic.

You can find a board certified dermatologist near you to treat rosacea at AAD.org.

Can I use retinol with a rosacea cream?

Once you know your Baumann Skin Type®, we can give you customized advice for your rosacea skin type. This is the best way to find which rosacea moisturizers are right for your skin type.

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

Does Afrin work for rosacea?

Although the oxymetazoline in rosacea medications is the same ingredient, Afrin is not formulated in a way that allows the oxymetazoline to absorb into the skin.  The prescription drug used to treat rosacea that has oxymetazoline in it is called Rhofade. It has 10% oxymetazoline. Afrin only has 0.05%. Afrin may help skin redness a tiny bit, but it is not effective enough treat rosacea. Many people mix Afrin in a moisturizer to treat rosacea, but this dilutes out the oxymetazoline even more. If you want to try Afrin for rosacea, it should be used as a toner directly on skin. However, I have rosacea and have tried it and it really does not work well.

Best References and Scientific Publications on Rosacea Moisturizers

  1. Zeichner, J, Mitchell K. Rosacea in Ch. 17 of Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology Ed 3. (McGraw Hill 2022)
  2. Baumann, L. Chapters 64-74  Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)
  3. Baumann, L., Goldberg, D. J., Tanghetti, E. A., Lain, E., Kaufman, J., Weng, E., ... & Ahluwalia, G. (2018). Pivotal trial of the efficacy and safety of oxymetazoline cream 1.0% for the treatment of persistent facial erythema associated with rosacea: findings from the second REVEAL trial. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: JDD, 17(3), 290-298.
  4. Stein-Gold, L., Kircik, L., Draelos, Z. D., Werschler, P., DuBois, J., Lain, E., ... & Berk, D. (2018). Topical oxymetazoline cream 1.0% for persistent facial erythema associated with rosacea: pooled analysis of the two phase 3, 29-day, randomized, controlled REVEAL trials. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: JDD, 17(11), 1201-1208.
  5. Levin, J., & Miller, R. (2011). A guide to the ingredients and potential benefits of over-the-counter cleansers and moisturizers for rosacea patients. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 4(8), 31.
  6. Del Rosso, J. Q. (2009). The use of moisturizers as an integral component of topical therapy for rosacea: clinical results based on the Assessment of Skin Characteristics Study. Cutis, 84(2), 72-76.
  7. Draelos, Z. D., Ertel, K., & Berge, C. (2005). Niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer improves skin barrier and benefits subjects with rosacea. CUTIS-NEW YORK-, 76(2), 135.
  8. Laquieze, S., Czernielewski, J., & Baltas, E. (2007). Beneficial use of Cetaphil® Moisturizing Cream as part of a daily skin care regimen for individuals with rosacea. Journal of dermatological treatment, 18(3), 158-162.
  9. Draelos, Z. D. (2017). Cosmeceuticals for rosacea. Clinics in Dermatology, 35(2), 213-217.
  10. Del Rosso, J. Q. (2005). Adjunctive skin care in the management of rosacea: cleansers, moisturizers, and photoprotectants. Cutis, 75(3 Suppl), 17-21.
  11. Draelos, Z. D., Gold, M. H., Weiss, R. A., Baumann, L., Grekin, S. K., Robinson, D. M., ... & Ahluwalia, G. (2018). Efficacy and safety of oxymetazoline cream 1.0% for treatment of persistent facial erythema associated with rosacea: findings from the 52-week open label REVEAL trial. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 78(6), 1156-1163.

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