Spring is just around the corner (hooray!) and it seems we’re all looking for a special product to soothe our extra-sensitive dry skin after the gloom of winter. But what if your skin is super-sensitive all year round? Rosacea is a skin condition affecting around 1 in 10 people in the UK, that starts by causing a flushed appearance but can progress to permanent redness and even painful pustules forming on the face. For people with rosacea, it can be hard to find products that don’t aggravate the condition. Obagi’s Rosaclear Gentle Cleanser claims to be ‘ideal for rosacea prone skin’, promising to calm and soothe inflammation while removing make up and impurities. Let’s see how it stands up to a little scientific scrutiny!

For those suffering from rosacea, all products that cause over-drying of the skin should be avoided. Almost all beauty products require surfactants: molecules that carry both positive and negative electric charges to allow the different compounds in the product to be mixed together. These surfactants can usually be the culprit if your skin feels tight and dry after using a product. Cocamidopropyl betaine (derived from coconut oil) is one of Rosaclear’s surfactants, and though some studies have linked it to skin irritation, others dispute this and claim it is ‘not a significant skin sensitiser’and this is how it is currently classified in the dermatological world. Perhaps more positively, the sodium lauroyl oat amino acids in this product make up another surfactant and a study has shown it to be one of the ‘most tolerated’ by sensitive skin. It looks like Obagi has taken the right steps in choosing ingredients that won’t act as irritants – a good start!

Next up is Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil, a fruity extract from apricots. This oil has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to help with a wide range of conditions, but when it comes down to the skin it looks like it might be effective in toning down the inflammation associated with rosacea! The oil contains benzaldehyde, which has been shown to decrease facial redness by reducing expression of the proteins that allow for dilation of blood vessels, such as cyclo-oxygenase and inducible nitrogen synthase, both of which are known inflammatory mediatiors. This should regulate the amount of blood in the small vessels in the skin, and so visibly reduce flushed complexion. Not only this, but benzaldehyde has been shown to have anti-oxidant properties and reduces the ability of reactive oxygen atoms (free radicals) to cause the DNA damage associated with ageing. Studies have also shown it to be anti-microbial and therefore effective at fighting nasty bacteria that can lurk in our skin and cause spots. In more recent research, it’s becoming clear that microbes like bacteria are likely to have a role in rosacea development, and so these anti-microbial effects may well help tackle this underlying cause! With these three clever properties, it seems like Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil really should help Rosaclear live up to its claims.

The product also contains an old Beauty by the Geeks favourite: Aloe Barbardensis Leaf Juice, commonly known as aloe vera. The soothing qualities of aloe vera have made it a much-loved ingredient in products aimed at tackling irritated and sore skin, which is why this little ingredient has made its way onto a number of our own DIY recipes! It is believed to inhibit phosphodiesterase, an enzyme that breaks down the chemical messengers that tighten up blood vessels. By reducing the action of this enzyme, excessive blood flow through surface blood vessels can be restricted for longer and this could be very effective in reducing redness. Studies have also shown that aloe vera has anti-inflammatory action and can speed up the skin’s healing, so hopefully this means irritation and blemishes will disappear a little faster too!

Other natural ingredients in this product are extracts from herbs, Salvia Officinalis (sage) and Borago Officinalis (borage). Sage extract contains the molecule carnosol, which research has shown to be a promising anti-inflammatory compound, targeting pathways that govern blood vessel dilation.

But is there an ingredient that could reduce inflammation by not allowing irritants to enter the skin in the first place? It looks like the answer could be yes! Borage oil contains high levels of gamma linolenic acid, which is important in maintaining a healthy skin barrier and has been found to be deficient in some skin conditions. Studies have shown topical application of the oil regulates moisture loss in the skin while maintaining the skin’s barrier function to help keep any reaction-inducing nasties out! This sounds like a promising preventative ingredient, but as there is limited data available, it’s hard to know just how effective this compound actually is at fending off such agents.

It seems the only ingredient that might let this product down is the presence of a fragrance. In the beauty world, fragrances in skincare are renowned for causing drying of the skin and irritation – not only in people who suffer with rosacea.

The Verdict

The overall composition of Rosaclear is very encouraging: the science behind many of the ingredients backs up claims that the product will soothe inflamed skin and there is the possibility it could help restore the skin’s barrier to reduce future irritation. Rosacea’s symptoms cover a broad spectrum of severity, and so it is hard to say how effective this product would be for everybody. This being said, it has made it into Marie Claire’s Top Products for Rosacea and reviews are on the whole very positive. Rosaclear looks like a savvy-science product to back up its claims, earning it a thumbs-up from Team Geek!

If you like sound of Rosaclear Gentle Cleanser, you can get your hands on it HERE!

Is cocamidopropyl betaine a contact allergen? Analysis of network data and short review of the literature.
Irritant and sensitizing potential of eight surfactants commonly used in skin cleansers: an evaluation of 105 patients.
Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of apricot seed.
Efficacy of 1% 4-ethoxybenzaldehyde in reducing facial erythema.
Natural phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors from the leaf skin of Aloe barbadensis Miller
Topical Application of Aloe vera Accelerated Wound Healing, Modeling, and Remodeling: An Experimental Study With Significant Clinical Value.
The effectiveness of GLA in topical formulations for the skin
Carnosol: a promising anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent.
Fragrance allergic contact dermatitis.
Potential role of Demodex mites and bacteria in the induction of rosacea
Aloe Vera: A Short Review

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