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How the heck do you deal with rosacea?!

Creating a good skincare routine is hard enough when your skin behaves. It seems like a mission impossible when anything you put on it triggers another flare-up. Ugh.

Lex Gilles got your back. Diagnosed with rosacea in her early 20s, Lex is sharing her journey with the condition, including the skincare tips and lifestyle hacks to keep it under control, on her blog Talonted Lex.

It really is a treasure trove for rosacea sufferers. If you’re scared of trying a new skincare or makeup product, check out her reviews. She’ll tell you what skincare products are safe for you and what you should stay well away from.

By the way, there’s more to Lex than just her rosacea. She’s obsessed with all things nails and creates some of the most amazing nail arts I’ve seen. Definitely check them out.

In this interview, Lex shares her rosacea-approved skincare routine, what products and treatments she can’t live without and more:

When did you become interested in skincare?

I was incredibly lazy and ambivalent about skincare until I was diagnosed with rosacea at 21 (13 years ago). It was only when my skin looked the worst it had ever looked that I realised that I needed to start taking care of it, and that occasional moisturiser and a bit of youthful optimism just wasn’t going to cut it anymore!

What’s your skincare routine like?

It has been honed within an inch of its life over years of trial and (a LOT of) error. I now know which ingredients to avoid (tea tree, witch hazel, too much fragrance…) and which ingredients my skin loves (rose, aloe, cucumber…) I trial most skincare for at least a month to really make sure my skin likes it, and often go back to the same brands and products when my skin isn’t happy. I would describe myself as a creature of habit with a wandering eye! My basic evening routine is oil cleanser, gel/cream cleanse, retinol, serum, moisturiser. My morning routine is cream cleanser, vitamin c, serum, moisturiser, SPF.

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If you could only use three skincare products for the rest of your life, what would they be?

This is like torture for me as I have so many favourites!

  • The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Oil: removes every speck of make up without irritation or scrubbing. (I actually prefer gel/cream cleansers, but oil would make sure I could easily remove mascara and matte lipstick so I went with this one)
  • La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluid moisturiser: Light, gentle, but really works on my skin. Plus it suits my skin just as much in summer as in winter, which is a rarity.
  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Fluid SPF 50+: I’ve tried a lot of SPFs over the years and this one is my soulmate. It isn’t greasy, it doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin, doesn’t feel heavy, and doesn’t make my make up slide off. Just perfection.

What are your fave skincare brands and why?

La Roche-Posay and Avène are the brands I rely on most when my skin is playing up – I don’t know why but the French really do have sensitive skincare nailed. Both brands have great products that are simple, effective, and non-irritating. My particular favourites are the Toleriane range from La Roche-Posay and the Tolérance Extrême range from Avène.

What are your top 3 skincare tips to take care of your skin?

  1. Wash your face every single night, even if you haven’t been wearing make up. Dirt, oil, pollution, dead skin – it all builds up and can cause dull, tired-looking skin as well as breakouts.
  2. Wear SPF every single time you are outside during daylight, regardless of temperature or season. It’s also worth taking notice of the sun exposure you get from sitting near windows at work or home as you’re not protected from behind glass. Another forgotten time to apply SPF is on a plane if you’re near the window – you’re closer to the sun so you have to be even more vigilant.
  3. I’ve learned to listen carefully to what my skin is telling me. Does it feel different? Tight, warm, dry, itchy… all of these are signs that my rosacea is not happy. This helps me to identify stressors that are impacting me and helps me to avoid or minimise them in future. Once you get to know your skin it tells you what it needs, you just have to learn how to listen.

What skincare treatments do you regularly have done?

Currently none! I occasionally have facials but sometimes find the first 10 minutes quite stressful as I’ve had some bad experiences in the past, either from people not understanding what rosacea is or from them ignoring obvious signs that my skin is reacting to the products or technique. Having said that, I think if you find a facial that works for you they can be a game-changer for sensitive skin so it’s worth doing a lot of research and not being afraid to ask to chat to the facialist beforehand.

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What lifestyle habits do you have that keep your skin in top shape?

I have made lots of lifestyle changes to accommodate my rosacea over the years: I don’t drink as much alcohol, I try to get more sleep, I manage my stress better, I don’t eat gluten or drink dairy, I avoid hot showers/baths and also heat-styling where possible. Rosacea can be triggered by so many things that it can often feel overwhelming to look at a list of triggers, but I find it more helpful to minimise behaviours wherever I can’t eliminate them – for example, I don’t want to give up alcohol completely but I understand and accept that there will be repercussions for a night of booze!

What’s in your make up bag?

I have a lot of base products as covering my skin is the most important step in my make up routine. I used to use a lot of heavy foundations to cover imperfections, but have come to realise that 3 lighter layers of foundation looks more natural than 1 thick layer. That way I can tailor my coverage depending on how my skin looks in each area.

My go-to foundations are L’Oreal True Match, The Ordinary Serum foundation, or (a new discovery) Make Up Forever Matte Velvet Skin. I use a light loose powder to set my oily areas (Vichy Dermablend or IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores).

I love a strong brow but have pale, sparse brows after growing up in the 90s and buying into the skinny brow trend, so I fill them in with a pencil (favourites are Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, Sephora own brand pencil, or Maybelline Brow Precise pencil).

I’ve become a total convert to cream blushers and highlighters after inexplicably avoiding them for years (Glossier Haloscope in ‘Quartz’ and Cloud Paint in ‘Puff’ are current favourites).

My go-to eye make up look is a copper smokey eye with layers and layers of black mascara (Urban Decay Naked Heat palette and Maybelline Lash Sensational are my ride-or-die products) and I finish off with a bold lipstick.

I am drawn to anything unusual (grey, green, blue or black) but on a typical day I can be found sporting a bold blue-based red lipstick. Whatever colour I choose, it has to be super matte – my favourites are the Sephora Cream Lip Stains or Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks – both are unbelievably long-lasting and matte without being drying or uncomfortable on the lips.

Thank you, Lex!

Don’t forget to check out Lex’s blog, Talonted Lex. You can also keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.