Think you’re the only one who does a workout and your face goes as red as a tomato? Think again. According to the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada, more than 3 million Canadians are affected by facial redness, a skin condition that causes reddening of the nose and cheeks, also known as erythema.
Often associated with fair and sensitive skin types, facial redness occurs when “surface blood vessels in the central part the face and nose dilate and become more visible, resulting in increased cutaneous blood flow to the skin,” says Aaron Sihota, RPh, a clinical instructor of dermatology at UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
But just because you’re showing signs of facial redness doesn’t necessarily mean that you have rosacea. The difference? Facial redness is temporary, says Sihota, adding that “rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition with no cure.”
Why does exercise trigger facial redness?
Although there are a variety of factors that can trigger facial redness—heat exposure, underlying medical conditions and even strong emotions—exercise is a common culprit. “Exercise, especially a high-intensity activity, results in increased body temperature and the dilation or widening of the small skin blood vessels to help with cooling the body,” says Sihota. “These blood vessels then fill with blood and cause redness and flushing, which is an inherent mechanism to regulate body temperature.”
What can you do about it?
While exercise can certainly bring out facial redness, there is an effective at-the-gym solution to help calm those red areas that are visible on your face. Invest in an over-the-counter cream that is specifically formulated to reduce the appearance of facial redness. This is the simplest way to treat your skin post-workout.
When purchasing, make sure that the cream doesn’t contain ingredients that can irritate your skin, like benzoyl peroxide, retin-A and salicylic acid, says Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a dermatologist, Founder and Medical Director at Toronto Dermatology Centre. “Consider avoiding fragrances as well,” he says. (Try Bioderma‘s Sensibio AR CC Cream 30 or Dermakalm‘s Anti-Redness Rosa Cream for a fragrance-free option.) Dr. Barankin even recommends staying away from products that contain camphor, menthol, witch hazel, eucalyptus oil and peppermint.
In addition to what ingredients to avoid, Dr. Barankin adds that there is an effective time for application: After you’ve completed your workout, shower, pat dry your face and then apply the cream.
Shop three of our favourite products that can help soothe facial redness:
Bioderma Sensibio AR CC Cream 30, $27.90, available at Shoppers Drug Mart
Dermakalm Anti-Redness Rosa Cream, $29.50, available at mass retailers
Skinfix Antioxidant Redness Treatment, $67, available at sephora.com
Next, learn how to reduce the damage of sunspots.