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How to treat facial redness, no matter the cause — according to dermatologists

Note: It's always a good idea to consult a medical professional.
Woman cleaning her face.
Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Rosy red cheeks are adorable on babies, and a little blush can help accentuate cheekbones. But facial redness can be frustrating when you have too much of it in the wrong places or it simply won’t go away.

Various skin disorders can cause facial redness. And the American Academy of Dermatologists lists several causes, including pimples, eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, allergies, swollen veins — and even more serious conditions like cancer. Fortunately, less serious causes are more common, but it’s a good idea to get a medical expert's opinion when your face seems redder than it should be.

To help you tame your specific type of redness, we'll go through the leading causes, how to avoid facial redness, and the skin care products to turn to when it does happen. Ready for calm and clear skin? Keep scrolling or use the links below.

Why is my face red? | What should I look for? | Best mists | Best cleansers | Best serums | Best moisturizers | Best creams | Best night creams | Best masks | Best splurge picks | FAQ | How we chose | Meet our experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot: Best products for facial redness

Why is my face red?

Your face could be red for many reasons. The list below, while lengthy, is not exhaustive:

Emotions: Some people get red in the face when they are embarrassed, pleased or angry.

Hot flashes: Commonly seen in those experiencing menopause, hot flashes are a sudden feeling of warmth that floods your face and upper body.

Acne: Commonly known as pimples, this condition refers to when your skin breaks out into painful red bumps, or blemishes like blackheads and whiteheads.

Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis, this condition involves very dry skin prone to redness, itching and scaling.

Rosacea: “Rosacea is a condition that leads to redness and often pimples on the face,” says Dr. Angela J. Lamb, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. It's commonly mistaken for acne.

Dermatitis: This is a blanket term for any irritation or inflammation of your skin. For instance, "[contact dermatitis] is when your skin has an allergic reaction to something you’ve applied topically," says Dr. Howard Sobel, a New York City-based dermatologist. Irritants include certain perfumes, preservatives or metals.

Psoriasis: Your skin makes new cells too fast when you have this condition, creating a blotchy, reddish look.

Over-exfoliation: Scrubbing your skin too hard can irritate and redden it. "This is getting to be very common as at-home peels are gaining in popularity. While at-home peels are safe and effective, if you over-exfoliate, you do compromise and weaken your skin barrier, which inflames the skin," Sobel says.

Vigorous physical activity: A rigorous workout gets your heart working hard and may cause your face to flush.

Sun and wind damage: The sun can damage your skin, causing sunburn, spider veins, blisters or even skin cancer.

Allergies: Exposure to allergens can irritate your skin, causing swelling and redness.

Toxins and chemicals: Exposure to pesticides, cleaning agents, petrochemicals and other dangerous chemicals can make your face red.

Other skin conditions: Germs that infect the skin, including bacteria, fungi and parasites like scabies, can make your skin red.

Other health conditions: Your skin is your largest organ, so health conditions like lupus, Kawasaki’s Disease and cancers can redden your skin.

What should I consider if I want to get rid of facial redness?

Use soothing ingredients.

“Products containing niacinamide, sulfur, allantoin, caffeine, licorice root, chamomile, aloe and cucumber can help reduce redness,” says Dr. David Bank, a board-certified dermatologist in Westchester, New York.

Pare down your product routine.

If you think your red skin is due to a product allergy or over-exfoliating, it’s time to simplify your product routine.

“I usually recommend eliminating all nonessential products in these cases, including makeup to reduce allergen exposure. Once you allow the skin to calm down, then reintroduce products one by one over a period of days to allow for the culprit to identify itself. A visit to a dermatologist or allergist that does patch testing is helpful in causes related to allergies,” says Dr. Janelle Vega, a board-certified dermatologist.

Consult a professional.

A dermatologist can help diagnose the exact cause of your red skin and develop a plan to help treat it. Common options for rosacea and eczema include prescription anti-inflammatory creams, oral antibiotics, facials or lasers.

Salicylic acid cleansers can help remove dead skin cells and reduce redness in those dealing with seborrheic dermatitis, an overgrowth of yeast on the skin that leads to redness, inflammation and even scaling on one's scalp (i.e., dandruff) and face, says Sobel.

No product works for every case of redness, and you may need to try a few to discover what works for you. Products described as soothing, redness-relieving and calming are usually designed to calm irritated skin. Remember to check the ingredients for any known irritants and get your products from trusted vendors.

Best mists for facial redness

Evian Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray

What we like
  • Over 3,600 five-star ratings
  • Feels refreshing on skin
  • Can be used to blend makeup
Something to note
  • It's a bit pricey

Size: 10.1 oz. | Active ingredients: Evian water, nitrogen | Formulation: Spray | Best for: All skin types

If your face constantly goes through dryness and tightness along with inflammation, you can't go wrong with this affordable pick that's a fave among of some of our our Shop TODAY staff. The spray, which is safe for all skin types, takes the "unique mineral balance" that Evian water is known for and uses it to hydrate and soothe your skin, anytime you need.

The brand conducted a consumer research study among women who used this spray twice a day for 30 days, and they reported feeling “improved hydration, relieved tightness and a softer overall feel of skin.”

Dermalogica Ultracalming Mist Facial Toner Spray

What we like
  • Many say it's calming
Something to note
  • Some reviewers had irritation

Size: 6 oz. | Active ingredients: UltraCalming complex, water, aloe | Formulation: Spray | Best for: Dry, red and sensitive skin

This lightweight lavender-scented spray packs a three-pronged punch: It's said to calm redness, soothe irritation and rebalance your skin's moisture barrier. The mist uses a proprietary UltraCalming complex that contains calming oat and botanical ingredients like ginger root, which work alongside cooling aloe and protective bisabolol.

Bonus? This can be used under or over makeup, as well as post-wax or after exfoliation.

Best cleansers for facial redness

Aveeno Calm + Restore Redness Relief Foaming Cleanser

What we like
  • Gentle, non-drying formula
Something to note
  • Some had mixed reviews

Size: 6 oz. | Active ingredients: Glycerin, feverfew | Formulation: Foaming cleanser | Best for: Sensitive, normal, dry, combination, acne-prone, oily skin

Toning down your skin care routine is important when you're dealing with redness. Lamb likes the former version of this gentle cleanser by Aveeno, which is formulated with calming feverfew, so it's said to be perfect for those with sensitive skin. Like its predecessor, the brand's Calm and Restore cleanser is also hypoallergenic and sulfate- and paraben-free.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

What we like
  • Over 90,000 five-star ratings
  • Customers say it's hydrating
Something to note
  • Cleansing sunscreen is hard

Size: 16 oz. | Active ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin | Formulation: Liquid cleanser | Best for: Combination, oily, normal, sensitive, dry, mature skin

Sobel suggests looking for gentle cleansers that are hydrating, fragrance-free and made with as few ingredients as possible, like this one from CeraVe. It's gentle enough that it can be used every day without leaving your skin feeling stripped of moisture. The key is in its name: It has three essential ceramides, which help lock in moisture, as well as hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

A Shop TODAY Beauty Award winner, this cleanser was bestowed a perfect 10 by our testers for value, satisfaction and quality. "It’s gentle, non-stripping and hydrating. I have relatively sensitive, acne-prone skin and haven’t had any issues," says Amanda Garrity, former SEO lifestyle editor for

The Outset Gentle Micellar Antioxidant Cleanser

What we like
  • Leaves skin moisturized
  • Plant-based ingredients
Something to note
  • Some users don't like smell

Size: 5 oz. | Active ingredients: Cassia flower, glycerin, avocado oil | Formulation: Gel | Best for: All skin types

This face wash from Scarlett Johansson's skin care line, The Outset, is said to be completely fragrance-, sulfate- and silicone-free. According to the brand, it will gently cleanse your skin without it feeling stripped of moisture.

Associate editor Shannon Garlin says she just started using this and it has been one of her favorite cleansers yet. "I have very sensitive and dry skin this cleanser leaves my skin feeling refreshed, redness-free and completely hydrated. I love that most of the ingredients are plant-based, it really helps my skin feel soothed."

Best serums for facial redness

Native Brightening Vitamin C and Niacinamide Facial Serum

What we like
  • Lightweight formula
  • Absorbs easily
Something to note
  • Some found it drying

Size: 1 oz. | Active ingredients: Niacinamide; vitamins A, B3, C | Formulation: Gel serum | Best for: All skin types

Antioxidants are key to improving redness and inflammation, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Robert Anolik, who recommends this multitasking serum that’s formulated with vitamin C and niacinamide.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Rosaliac AR Visible Redness Reducing Moisturizer

What we like
  • Helpful for rosacea
Something to note
  • Some prefer old formula

Size: 1.35 oz. | Active ingredients: Neurosensine, glycerin, thermal spring water | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Normal to dry skin

The previous version of La Roche-Posay's moisturizing serum, which has since been reformulated and in new packaging, contains ambophenol, an ingredient Sobel suggests using to soothe skin. This new formula contains the also-soothing dipeptide neurosensine, which the brand tested and clinically proved to "reduce sensations of discomfort." Reviewers say they like how well this product neutralizes visible redness and how smooth and non-greasy it is on the skin.

The fragrance- and paraben-free formula is meant to be applied in both the morning and evening to help reduce the appearance of redness.

Selfmade Secure Attachment Comfort Serum+

What we like
  • Has a cooling sensation
  • Absorbs quickly
Something to note
  • Not widely available online

Size: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Helichrysum italicum extract, hyaluronic acid, squalane | Formulation: Cream serum | Best for: Red, irritated skin

We've raved about Selfmade's Corrective Experience Comfort Cream before for its calming and hydrating prowess when it comes to managing eczema's symptoms. For the face, the brand's serum, which also works as a primer (we tried it!), works just as well on sensitive, irritated and red skin. Its formula is a wonderland of soothing ingredients: 1% Cortinhib G, which counteracts cortisol, the stress hormone; hyaluronic acid; and squalane, for starters.

"It really does help calm my easily irritated facial skin (especially when I'm traveling) in addition to moisturizing it; the subtle calming scent is a nice added touch," says Shop TODAY former associate SEO editor Fran Sales, who has sensitive, redness-prone skin and likes to use this as a base or on its own.

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

What we like
  • Absorbs easily
  • Works on dark spots
Something to note
  • Some experienced acne

Size: 1 oz. | Active ingredients: Azelaic acid, salicylic acid | Formulation: Lightweight cream | Best for: Normal, dry, combination, oily skin

More of a lightweight lotion than a serum, this azelaic acid booster from Paula’s Choice can be used alone or alongside your favorite serum or night cream to “boost” your skin care’s effectiveness when it comes to reducing redness.

It’s formulated with both 10% azelaic acid, which is known for its acne scar-fighting and skin-brightening powers, and 0.5% salicylic acid, which helps clear up pores. But before you worry about all the acid, this booster also contains licorice root, which both soothes skin and visibly reduces redness.

Best moisturizers for facial redness

Cetaphil Redness Relieving Night Moisturizer

What we like
  • Gentle for sensitive skin
Something to note
  • Some experienced burning

Size: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Caffeine, ceramide, glycerin | Formulation: Lotion | Best for: Sensitive, dry, combination, normal

Bank swears by this redness-targeted night cream, which contains niacinamide, allantoin, licorice root and caffeine to help reduce redness. Several reviewers highlight how hydrating this moisturizer feels without going on greasy or heavy.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension Brightening Cream

What we like
  • Helpful for treating acne
  • Good option for rosacea
Something to note
  • Some dislike the scent

Size: 1 oz. | Active ingredient: Azelaic acid | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Normal, dry, combination and oily skin

Your skin can look a bit scaly when it gets red and irritated, so if you’re looking for something to help address uneven texture, Lamb says this paraben-free, unscented brightening cream, powered by 10% azelaic acid, is a good affordable option.

Formulated specifically to address skin tone and texture, this pore-clearing cream is also safe enough for all skin types, even those who are pregnant. One Ulta reviewer reports, “The products you can use for acne during pregnancy are so limited — but this one helped a ton. Also helped my rosacea.”

Hero Cosmetics Rescue Balm +Red Correct Green Cream

What we like
  • Gives a matte-like finish
Something to note
  • Some say it has an orange tint

Size: 0.5 oz. | Active ingredients: Apricot encapsulated pigments, beta blucan + oligopeptides, panthenol | Formulation: Balm | Best for: Acne-prone skin

Bank also recommends this budget-friendly tinted balm that promises to blur redness and nourish dry, flaky skin, thanks to peptides, antioxidants and green-encapsulated pigments; on its website, the brand describes those pigments as “hi-tech color-changing capsules that adapt to your skin tone, going from green to beige in seconds for instantly more even skin tone.”

EltaMD Skin Recovery Light Face Moisturizer

What we like
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Dye and fragrance-free
  • Very lightweight
Something to note
  • Some say it has watery texture

Size: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Squalane, Coconut fruit extract, amino acids | Formulation: Lotion | Best for: Sensitive and acne-prone skin

According to the brand, this lightweight moisturizer can help soothe acne-prone skin and redness from inflamed skin. "The cold left my face irritated and this cream helped and took away the redness from my skin. It moisturizes and does not leave a greasy feeling. I recommend this cream to use after peeling, laser, or anything that may irritate your skin. It is very mild and suitable for all skin types," wrote one Amazon reviewer.

Best creams for facial redness

Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

What we like
  • Dry-skin friendly
Something to note
  • Some say it's not long lasting

Size: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Prebiotic oat, feverfew | Formulation: Gel cream | Best for: Sensitive and eczematic skin 

If reducing redness and soothing your skin are high priorities, this multitasking gel cream formulated with prebiotic oat is a worthy contender, in Bank’s opinion. It also contains calming feverfew and is fragrance-free (though it does have a subtle scent, according to some reviewers).

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

What we like
  • Goes on smooth
  • Helps replenish moisture
Something to note
  • Some experienced pilling

Size: 2.5 oz. | Active ingredients: Thermal spring water, ceramide-3, niacinamide | Formulation: Cream | Best for: All skin types

Gentle, calming ingredients are critical for treating redness, and this gem contains a trifecta: niacinamide, glycerin and ceramide-3. Hirsh likes the ultra-moisturizing formula, which is said to have a lightweight, creamy texture.

Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream

What we like
  • Very absorbent and soothing
Something to note
  • Use sparingly if sensitive

Size: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Lactobacillus extract | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Sensitive and dry skin

When you’re dealing with redness, gentle formulas are the name of the game. Anolik likes this gentle moisturizing cream that uses microbiome technology to help soothe redness and blotchiness. Reviewers who struggle with rosacea give this product rave reviews, and others say it's easy to apply and it acts quickly.

Best night creams for facial redness

Eucerin Redness Relief Night Creme

What we like
  • Very hydrating, per customers
Something to note
  • Some say it's too heavy

Size: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Licochalcone, licorice root extract | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Sensitive

Licochalcone, a skin-soothing extract of licorice root, is the star ingredient of this anti-inflammatory cream that both Anolik and Lamb recommend for treating redness overnight.

Our Beauty Awards testers can vouch for it, too. One of them, senior photo editor Mish Coffey, observes, "It went on light, and my skin was clear and not dry in the morning like it usually is. I have incredibly sensitive skin and I was worried about breakouts or hives. I didn’t get either and my face wasn’t red."

Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream

What we like
  • Good for acne-related redness
Something to note
  • Some are irritated by scent

Size: 1 oz. | Active ingredients: Bladderwrack extract, collagen, sodium hyaluronate | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Normal, combination and oily skin

If you've been struggling to find that a cream that's affordable and calming, and whose moisturizing benefits actually last through the night, this night cream by Mario Badescu just might be the ticket. One representative on the brand's website says in response to a customer's question: "Our Seaweed Night Cream can be used on dry, combination and sensitive skin types to help provide hydration and reduce blotchiness. It can also be used if you are acne-prone."

The seaweed in the cream's formulation is Bladderwrack Extract, which is said to be full of nourishing and hydrating minerals that won't clog your pores. It also contains the anti-aging ingredient collagen, as well as sodium hyaluronate, a moisture-retaining humectant.

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream 

What we like
  • Fragrance-free
  • A little goes a long way
Something to note
  • Thick formula

Size: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, ceramides | Formulation: Cream | Best for: All skin types

This night cream is packed with ceramides, peptides and niacinamide to help skin feel and look restored, all while protecting the skin barrier, says the brand.

"I have incredibly oily skin, but I bought this after I went overboard on acne treatment and ruined my skin barrier. This did mot cause me pimples or irritation, and did not increase oiliness. Makes my skin look soft and plump," wrote one Ulta reviewer.

Best masks for facial redness

Avène Antirougeurs Calm Soothing Repair Mask

What we like
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Ultra-hydrating
Something to note
  • Small product for the price

Size: 1.69 oz. | Active ingredients: Thermal spring water, vitamin E | Formulation: Mask | Best for: Sensitive, redness-prone skin

According to Sobel, hydrating masks can offer red skin a calming, cooling and soothing effect. This one, which is designed especially for those with sensitive skin, is made with ruscus aculeatus root extract and vitamin E to soothe and help repair inflamed skin.

REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm

What we like
  • A little lasts a while
  • Absorbs fast
Something to note
  • May feel greasy

Size: 1.02 oz. | Active ingredients: Glycolic acid | Formulation: Balm | Best for: Sensitive skin

Specifically formulated for mature skin, this balm contains all the ingredients needed to help your skin recover overnight from the day's stressors. It's chock-full of antioxidants, barrier-strengthening oils like jojoba and sunflower, and "enzymatically activated oils" that the brand says helps stimulate healthy fatty lipid production. These ingredients all work together to help mitigate free radical damage, redness and dryness on aging skin.

Provence Beauty Masked Out French Green Clay Mask

What we like
  • Leaves skin feeling soft
  • Calming ingredients
Something to note
  • Can be hard to wash off

Size: 3 oz. | Active ingredients: Caffeine, niacinamide, French green clay, willowbark | Formulation: Clay | Best for: All skin types

Garlin also says that she loves using this clay mask once a week, to help soothe and wake up her skin. According to the brand, it contains caffeine and niacinamide to help brighten and improve the skin's texture, in addition to gently exfoliating it.

"This clay mask replenishes my dry skin and relieves it of any irritation. It is a thick clay mask that takes a while to wash off but once it is rinsed, my skin looks so energized and bright," says Garlin.

Best splurge products that actually work for redness

SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Essence Facial Mist

What we like
  • Ideal for acne-prone skin
Something to note
  • Doesn't work quickly for some

Size: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, phyto botanical blend | Formulation: Mist | Best for: All skin types

This face mist is pricey, but it has the clinical data to back its touted redness-reducing and hydration-boosting powers. After a study that tested this product on 50 women, ages 18 to 65, with mild to moderate facial redness, the brand reports an immediate reduction in visible redness by over 30%, not to mention increased hydration by 69%.

The superheroes lie in the product's phyto-botanical blend (which includes rosemary and cucumber), which is said to both calm irritated skin and target redness. Plus, glycerin and other humectants help hold onto moisture.

Yina Fortify Botanical Serum

What we like
  • Helps reduce redness
  • Helps soften skin
Something to note
  • It's a splurge

Size: 0.5 oz. | Active ingredient: Astragalus root, peony root | Formulation: Oil | Best for: All skin types

While it takes the form of an oil, Yina's Fortify serum is lightweight enough that it can both be used on its own or blended with your favorite moisturizer, and can be used every day. The sensitive-skin-safe serum harnesses East Asian Medicine to tackle redness, hyperpigmentation, scars and dullness. The key ingredients? Powerful botanicals like astragalus root, which helps skin recover and minimizes the appearance of wrinkles, and peony root, which helps balance your skin's barrier and calms inflamed skin.

And we can attest after using this for months: It doesn't leave your skin oily, despite its oil formulation.


How we chose the best products to reduce facial redness

The Shop TODAY team interviewed certified experts, including physicians, dermatologists and allergy specialists. We also did hours of research, scouring the Web for products with positive user experiences and reviews. We also used our background in covering skin care to thoroughly inspect ingredient lists, seals of recognition and regulatory approval lists. Plus, some of us who have facial redness share our favorite products and feedback here.

Meet our experts

  • Dr. Robert Anolik, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. He specializes in cosmetic dermatology and laser skin surgery.
  • Dr. David E. Bank, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Westchester, New York. He is founder and director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery. Bank has been practicing dermatology for 25 years.
  • Dr. Angela J. Lamb, MD, board-certified dermatologist and director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice in New York City.
  • Dr. Howard Sobel, MD, is a New York City-based dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic dermatology and surgery and aesthetic treatments. He owns Sobel Skin, a private practice in the Upper East Side.
  • Dr. Janelle Vega, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami. She specializes in cosmetic dermatology, focusing on a "holistic approach to skin care and aging."