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 21 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? | How we chose | Best mists | Best cleansers | Best serums | Best moisturizers | Best creams | Best night creams | Best masks | Best splurge picks | FAQs | Meet our experts
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.
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.
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
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's 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."
HIGHLIGHTS: Neutral pH, dispenses a very fine mist, can be used to blend or refresh makeup
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Those with sensitive skin prone to breakouts vouch for its calming and toning benefits
Best cleansers for facial redness
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Very gentle and non-drying, fragrance-free, some reviewers say the pump sometimes gets stuck
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 tester Amanda Garrity, SEO lifestyle editor for TODAY.com.
HIGHLIGHTS: Approved by the National Eczema Association, safe for all skin types
Best serums for facial redness
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Lightweight, absorbs quickly, mild but nice scent, can be drying
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Reviewers say this absorbs easily, works on dark spots, may have to use only once or twice a week if you have extremely sensitive 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 goes on the skin.
The fragrance- and paraben-free formula, which is also fragrance-free, is meant to be applied in both the morning and evening to help reduce the appearance of redness.
HIGHLIGHTS: Tested on redness-prone sensitive skin, great for those with rosacea, may need to layer another moisturizer on top
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 associate SEO editor Fran Sales, who has sensitive, redness-prone skin and likes to use this as a base or on its own.
HIGHLIGHTS: Pleasant cooling sensation, goes on light and dewy, absorbs quickly, great as a primer
Best moisturizers for facial redness
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: No fragrance, gentle enough for sensitive skin, good to pair with retinol
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Goes on smooth and silky, helps with replenishing moisture barrier, a little goes a long way
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. This gel-cream also contains calming feverfew and is fragrance-free (though it does have a subtle scent, according to some reviewers).
HIGHLIGHTS: Approved by reviewers with dry skin, rosacea and eczema; goes on very lightly so may not be long-lasting
Best creams for facial redness
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."
HIGHLIGHTS: Gives a matte-like finish when layered over moisturizer, make sure to apply with a beauty sponge
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 one reviewer reports, "The products you can use for acne during pregnancy are so limited — but this one helped a ton. Also helped my rosacea.")
HIGHLIGHTS: Helpful for treating acne and fading acne scars, especially for those with rosacea
Cica, or Centella Asciatica, is the superstar in this cream's formulation (it's derived from a plant known as "tiger grass," which is what tigers are said to roll around in when they're wounded). Popular among Korean skin care brands like Dr. Jart+, this ingredient is said to help soothe irritated skin and repair the skin barrier, among other benefits. The niacinamide in this formula helps with the latter, while glycerin helps boost moisture.
HIGHLIGHTS: Best for dry, eczema-prone skin (it goes on thick); not for those who are very sensitive to fragrance
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 that it acts quick.
HIGHLIGHTS: Great for rosacea-related redness, best for normal skin types
Best night creams for facial redness
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, TODAY.com 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."
HIGHLIGHTS: May calm flare-ups due to eczema, contact dermatitis or rosacea; heavy, so only a little is needed
If you've been struggling to find that a cream that's affordable and calming, and whose moisturizing benefits actually lasts 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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Great for acne-related redness and blotchiness, also works for sunburns, fragrance may irritate some
Best masks for facial redness
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Particularly helpful for those with rosacea, absorbs quickly, creamy and ultra-hydrating
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Goes on a bit greasy but lightweight, absorbs quickly, a little goes a long way (can be used once a week)
It’s always great when you can treat multiple skin care woes at once, and Hirsch says she’s a fan of this nourishing product, currently available only on Amazon, that is said to nix redness, treat sensitivity and leave you with a healthy, glowing complexion. The key: Cica, or Centella Asiatica, the ingredient commonplace in K-beauty to soothe sensitive skin. Reviewers like using this overnight.
HIGHLIGHTS: Also contains bisabolol (a skin-soother and antioxidant), goes on slightly greasy but is meant to be wiped off
Best splurge products that actually work for redness
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 immediate reduction in visible redness by over 30%, not to mention increased hydration by 69%.
The superheroes lie in the products 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 on to moisture.
HIGHLIGHTS: Best for sensitive, acne-prone skin; designed to be used post-procedure; safe for all skin types; visible results may not be as immediate for some
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.
HIGHLIGHTS: Great for sensitive skin; pleasant but subtle scent; one Shop TODAY editor and reviewers report reduced redness, brighter and softer skin
Questions about facial redness, answered by experts
How do I avoid facial redness?
Occasional bouts of redness are commonplace. But you can prevent it from happening in the first place by knowing and avoiding triggers.
“The most common triggers that are not product-related are extremes of weather (both heat and cold), caffeine, spicy foods, chocolate and stress. Not all of the aforementioned will be triggers for everyone, however, so play around and get to know your own triggers, then avoid them,” Vega says.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for other ways to avoid facial redness:
- Wear sunscreen! “First and foremost, make sure that you are always using sunscreen and seeking shade! The sun can be a powerful trigger for most people’s skin, so protection is key,” Vega says.
- Simplify your skin care routine. “If you are prone to redness, don’t overdo your skin care routine. Use calming, hydrating cleansers, serums and moisturizers,” Sobel says.
- Exfoliate sparingly. "Exfoliating at home is great for anti-aging, but don’t overdo it by using AHA toners and peel pads twice a day. Avoid physical exfoliants like rough facial scrubs made with walnut scrubs or sugar,” Sobel explains.
Should I be concerned if my face is red?
A little red skin here and there is frustrating, but should it be cause for concern? At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if your facial redness is out of character for your skin.
“Redness can be a sign of an underlying issue such as lupus, shingles, or a systemic allergy such as a medicine reaction. If you have tried over-the-counter remedies without success, see a dermatologist for further evaluation. Even if it isn't one of these more serious conditions, it still might require a prescription,” Bank explains.
How can I hide redness on my face without makeup?
Makeup is the fastest way to conceal redness. But if that isn’t an option, consider using what's on-hand and treating the cause, like applying a cold compress or cooling mask. Ingredients like aloe vera, cucumber slices, ceramides, oats and squalane may also help due to their cooling effect.
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."