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Intelligent Beauty


Cult Beauty
Writer and expert20 days ago
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A close up shot of a person applying moisturiser to their right cheek against a pale green background, visible in the top left corner.

Rosy cheeks, a healthy flush, a bashful blush... We’re not-so-secret admirers of all the above (the Bridgerton effect is only partly to blame). However, sometimes skin can take on a hue that’s more ruddy than rouge. Rather than reaching for a full coverage foundation, there are several ways you can tweak your skin care routine to soothe and reduce the appearance of redness without concealing your complexion. 

We’ve rounded up the ingredients that should be on your watchlist as well as a few of Team CB’s favourite soothing skin essentials to help calm and reduce the look of facial redness. 


Before we get down to the nitty gritty, it’s a good idea to understand what redness is. Whether you’re a serial blusher or prone to occasional pinkness, facial redness takes many forms. You’ll probably notice a flush appearing across the cheeks, chin, forehead and nose – your face might even feel warmer to touch. 

So, what actually causes blushing? In short, it’s a physical response to an emotional trigger (think: stress or embarrassment) where a release of adrenaline causes blood vessels close to the surface of the skin to dilate. There are several other things that can cause temporary redness, including eating spicy food, sun exposure, the temperature of your surroundings, alcohol consumption... the list goes on. 

A longer-term flare up can be a sign of skin in need of a little TLC. Those with blemish-prone, sensitive and dry skin types or a disrupted skin barrier might find that redness is accompanied by tight, flaky skin or a slight stinging sensation concentrated around the chin, cheeks and nose. 


When it comes to the recipe for reducing redness, there are several ingredients that we find ourselves reaching for again and again... and again. The key here is to calm. Skin in distress rarely reacts well to a deluge of actives and exfoliating acids. Instead, the aim should be to soothe, replenish moisture and protect against future damage. 


We think hydration is the solution to many things in life, and red skin is no exception. Scan your ingredients lists to check for the likes of squalane, nourishing plant oils, hyaluronic acid (a hero humectant) and ceramides. These are all gentle giants of the moisturising world, quenching dryness while soothing sensitivity. 

In case you don’t already know, squalane is a blemish-friendly alternative to heavier oils. It hydrates deeply without clogging pores, making it a real winner for combination skin prone to both dryness and breakouts. If you’re really looking to supercharge your hydration, we like to think of hyaluronic acid and ceramides as a power couple that helps you get more from your moisturiser. Hyaluronic acid bonds to water molecules in the skin for longer-lasting hydration, while ceramides form the all-important building blocks of your natural barrier and help to reduce trans-epidermal moisture loss.


Vitamin B is a brilliant addition to any calming routine, as it helps to balance oiliness while calming the appearance of stressed-looking skin. You’ll often find it in the form of panthenol (a vitamin B5 derivative) or niacinamide – a form of vitamin B3 with impressive properties when it comes to protecting the skin barrier and minimising the look of redness.  

Creams, cleansers and masks that contain vitamin E can also help to improve hydration for a happy, healthier-looking complexion. This small-but-mighty antioxidant occurs naturally in the skin and plays an important role in protecting its moisture barrier.



Aloe vera, centella asiatica (AKA cica, which will sound familiar to any Dr. Jart+ devotees – more on that shortly), colloidal oatmeal and green tea are all super-soothers. Anyone who’s ever overdone it in the sun will be able to attest to the cooling properties of aloe vera, while oatmeal boasts impressive moisturising abilities that help to comfort skin that feels itchy and tight. Similarly, centella asiatica is an Asian herb (and a K-beauty staple) that helps to relieve and hydrate flaky, dry skin – making it a popular addition to reparative creams and moisturisers. As for green tea? It’s packed with antioxidants and helps to quench thirsty complexions while having a calming effect.


Now we’ve given the low down on our go-to skin-soothing ingredients, it’s time to put theory into practice with a winning routine. There are three rules we abide by when looking for skin care to reduce the look of redness: gently does it, consistency is key, and less is more. If in doubt, scale back your routine to the bare necessities of cleansing, toning and moisturising. Any extra steps should focus on restoring hydration rather than introducing exfoliating acids or actives while you work to reign in any irregular redness. 

For those of you in search of a full regimen revamp, here’s our pick of the bunch... 


Cleansing creams, balms and oils are your friends here as they tend to boast impressive hydrating credentials while gently swiping away all the dirt of the day. Look for gentle formulas with no added fragrance. ELEMIS’ Pro-Collagen Naked Cleansing Balm boasts an unscented formulation of the fan favourite, while Votary’s Super Sensitive Cleansing Cream is enriched with calming oat extracts: 

“I’m quite particular with my cleansers – they have to easily remove the day’s make up and impurities, leave my skin soft and plump, *never* sting my eyes and not be too strongly fragranced. Enter: the Votary Super Sensitive Cleansing Cream, which more than made the grade with its nourishing, melting formula that left my skin feeling soothed and clean without that dreaded tight, squeaky feeling. With a nurturing blend of oat extract and 21 (yep, 21!) seed oils (including cranberry, chia seed, pumpkin and grape seed), I can rest assured that this cleanser truly cares for my skin whenever I use it”. Emma, Junior Copywriter 

If your skin is prone to blemishes, a gentle double cleanse will sweep away any excess oil (CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser is an old-y, but a good-y when it comes to a soothing second cleanse).



If toner is part of your daily routine, we recommend a cooling spray (we swear by a spritz of Caudalie’s Grape Water) to help calm any redness or a hydrating, milky formula. The Ordinary’s Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner is gently exfoliating and enriched with a healthy hit of squalane. Plus, it was created with sensitive complexions in mind.



A hydrating serum can help to soothe a flare up by calming the look of irritation and replenishing essential nutrients. We asked Team Cult Beauty for their go-tos, and Kate Somerville’s Kateceuticals Supercell Rejuvenating Serum garnered plenty of praise: 

“The cooling gel-texture and roller applicator really feels like it’s rescuing my skin when I’ve had a reaction to another product (which unfortunately happens quite often). It works almost instantly by reducing inflammation and keeping my skin hydrated – this serum has rescued me a few times already!” Elise, Senior Designer 

If you’re not sure where to start, a hyaluronic acid-enriched serum is like a long, cold drink for dehydrated complexions. They’re a brilliant way to help your moisturiser work harder, as hyaluronic acid bonds to water molecules in the skin to promote longer-lasting hydration. Glow Recipe’s Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum is a current favourite. Antioxidant-rich azelaic acid serums are also a popular choice for soothing the look of redness, thanks to this gentle exfoliator’s skin-calming properties.


If there’s one thing to take away from our redness-reducing tips, it’s that a good moisturiser is essential – so ensure that your daily cream is pulling its weight. Again, ceramides, plant oils and hyaluronic acid are all hero hydrators to look out for; Dr. Jart+’s Ceramidin Cream contains a healthy hit of all of these. Alternatively, blemish-prone complexions may find that a soothing gel moisturiser formula works best for them, as well as helping to calm any active breakouts – we love Supermello’s Hydrating Gel Cream Moisturiser.  

The team here at Cult Beauty HQ also waxed lyrical about the wonders of a multitasking face oil for a complexion that feels soothed and settled  whether used alone or to supercharge your favourite formulas: 

“I love OLE HENRIKSEN’s Strength HydraBarrier Nourishing Face Oil because I really feel like it soothes my skin and I’ve noticed a difference in my redness. My skin barrier is easily affected by everything from weather to air conditioning, but this luxurious, vitamin E-enriched oil helps to support and protect my delicate skin. I add it to moisturiser, use it alone, or even mixed into make up products for an extra glow”. Amy, Product Copywriter 

As for me, I’ve been raving about Tata Harper’s Calming Creme to anyone who'll listen. It leaves my dermatitis-prone skin feeling softer and soothed whenever I notice a flare up coming on. Plus, I’ve never had so many compliments on how dewy my face looks.


There are a few additional steps you can take to calm the look of redness (without concealing!) so you can flaunt your natural flush. 

Dr. Jart+ is one name that came up again and again when I posed the question of red skin saviours to those in the office with redness-prone complexions. The brand’s Cicapair range combines clever colour correcting formulas with soothing and reparative ingredient blends (think: centella asiatica, niacinamide and panthenol, to name a few), helping to calm the appearance of redness while delivering a nourishing dose to defend against future flare ups. 

“I’m a huge fan of most of the Cicapair range but the Tiger Grass Camo Drops come out on top; they are easy and quick to apply and extremely effective in terms of alleviating the redness without feeling heavy or cakey. I have rosacea so my skin is very dry and very red and the serum consistency really works for my complexion type. I rarely reach for foundation now that I have these drops!” Elise, Senior Designer. 

We’re also firm believers in a regular face mask to replenish and calm the complexion (and mind!). Some soothing staples in our rotation are Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask, fresh’s Floral Recovery Calming Mask and the ceramide sensation that is the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask. Thank us later... 

Oh, and always remember your SPF. The only flushed cheeks we'll never be blushing over are sunburned ones – you've been warned.

Cult Beauty
Writer and expert
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