Just a Red Face – or Something More? | How I Soothed My Rosacea

This post may contain affiliate links from which I will earn a commission. Learn more in our disclosure.

This is my story about how I soothed my terribly red face in a very unusual way.

If you have red, irritated skin on your face, I hope this helps you as well!

woman with red face

Last night a new acquaintance said to me, “You have a beautiful complexion!” (and no, the above photo is not of me).

I almost couldn’t believe it, and then I told her what a testimony that was to my health improving.  I mentioned to her my previous struggles with my poor red face and thought, “After all that I have been through, I really need to share with others what I’ve been through with my skin and my health.”

And so this post was born.

Your skin can be a reflection of what is going on inside of you.

If you have blemishes or rashes going on with your skin, something isn’t quite right inside.  It could be a topical issue, of course, but more often than not if you work on something inside, the outside gets better.

Many many people are struggling with undiagnosed skin conditions. They think that they have to just live with them, putting makeup on top to cover up the problem.

But that is not true. There are ways to deal with these things–and sometimes working on the inside of your body is just what needs to happen.

There are different thoughts in the alternative medical community about the causes of skin problems, but I’m going to share part of my skin story so that hopefully you can benefit from what I’ve learned.

Want to Save This Post?

Enter your email & I'll send it straight to your inbox. Plus, you'll get healthy living updates too.

Save Recipe

My Face’s Story

In my childhood, I always had beautiful olive-toned skin.

The first signs that I had a problem showed up in my late 20s.  I remember wondering about faint flushing that I’d begun to experience and I asked an older woman in my church if she thought that I had rosacea.  She had mild rosacea, and she said that there was no way I did.

But the redness continued to come and go.  Slight, but still there.

Several years later, I asked my doctor what he thought, but he dismissed my concerns and told me to just be gentle with how I washed my skin – “Use tepid water and don’t scrub,” was his advice.

Fast forward again.

Another year or so later and I saw my dermatologist for another issue.  I timidly voiced my concerns, and he validated my suspicion.  I had a real problem.

His reassurance? “It probably won’t get so bad that you’ll have a bulbous nose.”

Well, I was glad about the nose thing, but I didn’t want the red face either.

Years went by and I just avoided wearing pink and red.

It all was manageable until about 4 years ago when things got really bad.

My face was red.  Really red.  Nose, cheeks, chin. 

I felt this awful irritated tingling all the time.  I could feel it creeping up into my skin and it was basically petrifying.

I was crying, complaining to my husband, and scouring the internet for solutions.  I even got an intense case a few times when the rash got bright red and looked like the classic lupus butterfly rash.

Talk about stress.  Here’s what I found:

How to Soothe a Red Face

Following are some things that you can do to soothe red facial skin.

  • Special face creams and washes
  • Dietary changes (e.g. avoid spicy foods, too hot or too cold drinks, and alcohol)
  • Avoid intense exercise
  • Avoid stress
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes
  • Use Green-tinted cover-up (can you say, “Wicked Witch”?)

Basically, I was supposed to change my whole life.  Meanwhile, this red face was doing its best to do just that.

I truly didn’t want to go anywhere.

One night my husband kindly drove me across town to a woman’s house to try samples of her expensive skin care routine that was supposed to help soothe irritated skin.  More money to throw after a problem that wasn’t going away.

And how I was supposed to avoid stress when I felt like my skin was inflamed all the time?  Sigh.

Well, finally I found some answers. 

What Causes a Red Face?

There are a lot of things that can cause redness on the face, but one of them might surprise you.

As I was doing research on my situation, I read that a red face is thought to be linked to acid reflux.  Interestingly, I’d been having heartburn.  So I talked with my physician and he prescribed Zantac.

One thing on the internet caught my attention.

Acid reflux can be caused by too little acid in the stomach – not too much.

The remedy?  Betaine HCl (that stands for hydrochloric acid.  Stomach acid).

It sounded simple, but a bit scary. But after digging around on the internet more and reading over and over again that people were having relief from this simple change sounded amazing, and the ingredients seemed to be simple and natural. Furthermore, there weren’t any big warnings about using a small amount.

And the $17 bottle at the health food store for 200+ pills was a lot cheaper than the expensive skin care routine.

Next thing I knew I was driving to the health food store.

Two pills with my dinner and a good night’s sleep and …

My face looked a TON better in the morning.

I couldn’t believe it.

My red face wasn’t completely clear, but it sure had improved a lot.

I wasn’t afraid to go out in public anymore.  Though I didn’t want to wear red yet, at least I didn’t feel like I was going to crawl out of my skin.

Since then, I’ve continued to work on my health and my skin.

older woman with red face

What I Did to Soothe My Red Skin

The HCL was a great help for me, but there are other things that have been helpful for me as I have worked on my overall health doing the following.

How Is My Face Now?

I actually wore a scarf with pink in it a few weeks ago and was told by a friend how nice it looked. Great, huh?

So wearing pink or red is not my goal, but it sure feels nice to be able to wear these colors and not feel self-conscious.  What I truly hope is that this information can help you or someone you love.

Your red face may appear to be merely a cosmetic issue, but looking and feeling inflamed all the time is not fun. And more importantly, it typically means something needs addressing inside.

Clean Skincare to Soothe Redness

Beautycounter products in a wooden tray

What you use on your face can make a big difference for your red face. You should use something gentle, with safer ingredients, and no artificial fragrances.

I use a number of products that I love but one of my favorite companies is Beautycounter due to their transparency and quality. Following are products that many who struggle with a red, irritated, face say have helped them.

Cleansing Balm (used as a cleanser or as a soothing balm–this should last about 6 months at least if used as a balm)

Countermatch Line – this set has worked wonders for lot of people with red and irritated skin, like rosacea. Their Countermatch Moisturizer works well for all kinds of irritated skin on the face.

Supreme Cream – A fantastic moisturizer.

Counterstart – this line is really basic and has also been a winner for those struggling with red, irritated skin.

Others mentioned that a facial oil with calming essential oils was helpful too.

I’m happy to help you with these products or any others and can discuss other companies as well. Just comment below the post or reach out to me at adrienne {at} wholenewmom {dot} com.

Is Your Probiotic Making You Sick?
The “Straight Poop” About Probiotics

Finally, I am not a doctor. Even though I was Pre-Med at a quality university, I decided that I couldn’t likely juggle being a physician while being a mom.  In hindsight, I was probably right, but that doesn’t make me any less interested in all things medical.

Still, you must check with your own physician prior to changing your diet, exercise routine, or supplements.  Just makin’ sure we understand each other :).

If you struggle with a red face, what has helped you?
If you know someone struggling, please share this information with them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



  1. As a child my eczema was very bad (I would scratch myself bloody). My dermatologist gave me steroid creams, never mentioned that dairy might be the problem. As a teenager I had awful acne. Dermatologist gave me antibiotics (kept me on them for 3 years…ugh). Well you can imagine the damage that was done to my stomach and intestines. I was in a health food store asking questions about all of my digestive troubles and the NTP helping me asked if she could palpate an area on my rib to see if I was having any HCl issues. Sure enough she touched that spot and I told her how painful it was. I left with a bottle of HCl and then read the book “Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You.” After a year my adult acne went away, the bumps on the backs of my arms disappeared, and my itchy dry skin became smooth. I quit having stomach problems. I did other things like up my EFA’s and took gluten and dairy out of my diet as well. However I think my low HCl was the main culprit. HCl is so important, and it seems that very few people even know about it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome, Kathryn! Wow. What a story. My son was up every 1/2 hour as a baby due to his allergy to the dairy, eggs and peanuts that I was eating. He was literally covered w/ eczema and was even oozing on his face. Now he has life-threatening food allergies to those and other foods. Thanks for sharing. It’s amazing how much mainstream medicine (and even alternative) doesn’t know, isnt’ it?

  2. I am 38 and was diagnosed at 15! Talk about a suck fest! I have learned a lot about this lovely disease over the years. Natural soaps made with tea tree oil work fabulously and feel good on a flushing face, Nutragena (sp) products (their gentle line) aren’t bad either. Clinique makes a yellow face powder that helps tone down the redness. I know a lot of you may cringe when you read this, but…a vegetarian diet helped me get off of 1000 mg of antibiotics a day! (Metrogel quit working for me years ago) I started using shampoo/conditioner/body wash with less fragrance. I started using fragrance free laundry detergent. I changed about a million things, and now there are days where I could actually wear blush!! (I’ve always wanted to, but NEVER needed it!)

    Sadly, red wine makes me redder than the wine itself. (I could really use a glass right now!)

    1. Wow – you’ve done a lot of work, Candace. I am not cringing about the vegetarian diet, but interestingly, that might be showing how this is related to digestion since digesting meat can be more difficult. If you ever try the HCl I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

  3. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

  4. Hmmm. I have had rosacea for years AND I have G.E.R.D. or a hiatal hernia, depending on which doctor you believe (that would be neither, by the way.) Anyway, it’s interesting to hear that there may be a connection between the two conditions. Thanks for the info, I will definitely try this!

  5. I cannot tell you how much I related to your post – I have been told all of the same things with how to deal with it. Basically don’t eat what you want, don’t exert yourself, buy these expensive creams and use green make up. No thanks. I’m absolutely trying HCl. Going out tomorrow! Thank you thank you!

  6. I’m so glad you were able to heal yourself without all the drugs and toxic “treatments!” It’s so sad to me how many of these modern diseases can be treated with a healthy diet and natural supplementation, yet so few of the people suffering from them know about it. I’m pretty sure rosacea is a GAPS condition and could definitely be helped even more through that. Thanks for linking this to Sunday School, Adrienne!

    1. Hi Emily! I have heard so much about GAPS but haven’t tried it yet, though I will say that we do a lot of the things on it. I agree – so much of our ailments are treatable naturally.

    2. What does GAPS stand for? I have Rosacea & just bought Hcl (I hope it helps). I’ve been trying to find the root cause of the Rosacea. I’m hoping that I don’t have to go gluten free.

    1. Let me know! I think, for a lot of us, is progressively sneaks up due to dietary issues and other things. I hope it works!

  7. It is also possible that an elimination diet could reveal some sensitivities that exacerbate and/or create certain skin conditions. I know that cutting out gluten and dairy did amazing things for my skin. And cutting out refined sugar did even more. This is fascinating information. Thanks for sharing your experiences 🙂

    1. Yes, of course it is possible. Gluten, dairy and sugar are for sure the three big culprits. And, in my opinion, refined white flours as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Did you have large pores and inflmamation too? My pores are so large, I think you could probably drive a small car through them. And my cheeks around my nose on either side are always puffy and inflamed, that on top of the “mild” rosacea. I was told to take anti-biotics, but I am nursing, so I have not tried it yet, but I just hate how I look. My face is always so red and for some reason I am really puffy. Like everywhere, but especially in the face. I will look up the copper toxicity, because I am always horribly fatigued. More so than I probably should be. Thank you for the info!

    1. Hi Kim. I have visible pores, but I wouldn’t say that they are large. Perhaps the ones on the sides of my nose are. I of course am not a physician, but I would take a look at the Betaine HCl and try one capsule. It shouldn’t be an issue w/ nursing since it is just stomach acid but you could check w/ a lactation consultant first if you would feel better. I am starting to think that copper toxicity is epidemic. The Gittleman book is fabulous. It’s a keeper too. Someone loaned me her book, but I am going to purchase one for myself.

  9. Hi Adrienne!
    I’m so happy for you that you managed to find some success with natural methods… although I haven’t suffered with rosacea, I had severe adult acne and I have managed to completely get rid of it quickly with lifestyle improvements. Getting rid of dairy and gluten are huge, as well as improving digestion!! Lack of HCL is a major hidden factor in acne as well as rosacea and people need to know this information…. it saddens me every day to know that people are dealing with terrible skin diseases with no where to turn… you’re so right saying “How can I not be stressed out when my whole face is inflamed!?”. Anyway… if anyone is interested, I have a whole blog dedicated to healing acne naturally with lifestyle improvements and it seems like there are many here who may benefit from checking it out.
    Much love xox

  10. Thank you for this informative post. I was diagnosed with mild rosacea in my mid-twenties when I saw a dermatologist for severe acne, but never did anything about it (the acne eventually cleared up). I flush very easily and have what I call a very “ruddy” complexion that I just try and cover up with makeup. I looked up copper toxicity after reading some of the comments here and saw that it can cause not only rosacea but hair loss as well….and hair loss is what I am more concerned about than my face. I guess the scalp is just an extension of my facial skin and so if my skin is unhealthy, so is my scalp. I’m losing hair at an alarming rate; brewer’s yeast was also mentioned here as a good source of zinc and I once read at a hair loss site that brewer’s yeast is recommended as one way to combat hair loss. Malabsorption of nutrients is another. It all goes hand in hand, I guess.

    1. You’re welcome, Betsy. There is so much that I want to share (and learn) about copper, etc., but suffice it to say that it is all connected. I am more and more convinced that allopathic (mainstream) medicine treats symptoms, but good alternative care goes after the root issues. The practitioner whom I am working with said, when your hair doesn’t grow, or your nail growth slows, or you lose reproductive function, it’s because those are unnecessary functions. The body is storing up energy that it doesn’t have for other, more important things. Of course, these things can come and go so this may be simplistic, but now my skin is in good shape and my hair is not falling out again and my nails look good. And reproductive issues are another story as well. Maybe too much info for some, but I will maybe have to post on a lot more of this. Take care of yourself.

  11. I am glad that you have found a natural way to help clear your face, but I have found through great research that rosesa is caused by the body’s reaction to foods….most of the time it is gluten and refined sugar. I know of other people (personally) that had it and went all natural on the sugar and cut out gluten. You can’t tell they’ve ever had it, their face isn’t even pink anymore. I have tried it as well (although the gluten free has been challenging) and when I stick to the diet my face clears up. The pimples, pistules, redness and all! But I can always tell if gluten has accidentaly snuck in somewhere because the next morning my face itches and the rosesa come back. I would rather get rid of what is causing it than simply treat the symptoms 🙂

    1. Hi Bethany. I actually think that what you and I are saying is quite similar. Rosacea is related to digestion and malabsorption. HCl, bitters, enzymes, improving digestibility of foods, eating fewer processed foods and sugars, and avoiding gluten, are all a part of improving digestibility. I personally think that if you added some other options to your regimen that you might be able to tolerate those “accidentals”. Of course, I might be wrong. I didn’t change my diet at all when the rosacea originally improved a great deal. It is possible that rosacea is different for different folks, but the digestion link is important and perhaps universal. Thanks :-).

  12. I am now thirty-one, but have had diagnosed rosacea (mild) since my early twenties – arrgh! Did I mention I still have problems with acne? I’m fair-skinned, I get hot or cold easily, I can be easily embarassed… so when I read that one of the ways to prevent the redness is to keep yourself from flushing, I was like – seriously? Also, don’t eat hot or cold foods. Ooookay.

    I’ve tried different creams, but right now I’m not doing anything proactive about it. My skin seemed to improve a bit with healthier eating habits, but I still have the redness around the nose/cheeks. I sometimes wonder if just cutting something out of my diet entirely would help, but I don’t feel like trying the whole process of elimination.

    I’ve never heard about indigestion contributing to rosaca, and I’ve never had a problem with acid reflux, so that just may be a matter of personal experience. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Karla,

      You are right – that it might be just applicable to some part of the population. However, I am finding that more and more people appear to be suffering from digestive issues and that the HCl (and enzymes and everything else that I wrote about) can be great helps for a lot of people. I know what you mean about all of the recommendations. They are ridiculous. Basically you are supposed to eat lukewarm and keep yourself lukewarm. Impossible :-).

      The elimination thing can be really hard. I may have to move forward with that due to other issues I am having, but I would really consider the jojoba wash that I recommended and think about fewer raw foods (just lightly steamed veggies) and trying the HCl. There are different thoughts on how to use HCl and I think the enzymes are preferable (I stopped using the HCl for quite awhile and had great skin – my practitioner wants me to start taking it again for awhile and I have read that as you age your HCl amount decreases). In any case, these are all easy, inexpensive things to try. My kind of experiment.

      Take care,

  13. Thank you, Adrienne. Initially it is the rosacea I hate. But I can’t seem to find the underlying cause, so I guess it is all part of it that has to be explored, not just the skin. I am thankful it is just the cheeks that are affected. I have always been one to blush easily and am easily over heated, so I may have had it even longer than 5 years. It wasn’t even on the radar! But Ican’t wait to try to get rid of this thing. Thank you again.

  14. I am crying as I read this. I cannot wait to try these products, I have been unsuccessful in everything else. I am not handy with my computer, would it be possible for you to make this article printable so that I can refer to it often. I would like to make several copies to keep with me til I can conquer this thing. Thank you so much. If there is more to help please keep us informed: products, where to get them, more nutritional advice. 5 years ago I did a huge research and unfortunately did not find anything to help and I gave up. This gives renewed hope. Thanks again.

    1. Oh, Cat. You are so welcome. I was in tears basically daily before I found this solution. Is it the Rosacea solutions that you would like to be printable? I will go and do that now. Just stay tuned. As I can handle it I will be sharing more of what is hopefully turning my health around,

    1. Sasha, acne is tough, but I might be so bold as to suggest the same things. In looking back on my life, I think that the acne was a sign of the things that were already plaguing me – poor digestions, the Standard American Diet, candida, adrenal fatigue, heavy metals, etc. So I would look at all of these things and take them step by step as you can handle them. Typically, from what I am learning, skin issues are closely tied to copper toxicity. I hope that helps and I hope to share more that may help in the future.

    2. Hello again, Sasha. I just wanted to encourage you also. I had horrible acne in my late 20s. It was awful. My path towards better health has been a long one and I haven’t always done the right thing. But gradually, as you work on whole foods and less toxicity, I think you will get to a better place with your skin as well.

    3. I am with you, Sasha! 30 this month, and still struggle with acne. I have always thought it was linked to my hormones. I hoped a whole food diet would help, but not seeing anything change on my face. What step should we take next?

      1. Right now, I would say that the same recommendations would apply. I would start with sugar free and going with fewer grains and only whole grains. Work on digestibility and all the other things I mentioned. I have emailed my practitioner to see if she has other thoughts, but I am betting that acne is tied to high copper. Are you using filtered water (as in reverse osmosis)? I think that is pretty crucial too. I will get back to you after I hear back from Theresa Vernon on this. Hormones are tied to adrenal and thyroid. It all goes together.

      2. Theresa just emailed me back about the acne. She says it is closely tied to too much copper, too little zinc and too much sugar. I highly recommend talking w Theresa about all of this. Reducing sugar on your own is easy. There’s a great book on copper toxicity: Why Am I Always So Tired?.

    4. Hi Sasha. I just heard back from my practitioner about acne. She says it is closely tied to too much copper, too little zinc and too much sugar. I highly recommend talking w Theresa about all of this. Reducing sugar on your own is easy. There’s a great book on copper toxicity: Why Am I Always So Tired?. I so hope this helps.

      1. Dear Adrienne,
        Thank you for the reply and for the info. I remember that about 10 years ago i did heavy metal hair test and it came back showing very high copper indeed. I was surprised, did not know how to interpret it. I will certainly order this book and read about it. Thank you very much! I love your site.

        1. Hi Sasha. Just so you know, most tests are not like the one that I did. After checking that book I would look into Theresa’s information if you don’t get the relief that you want. Copper toxicity (and other metal issues) are very complex. I will hopefully go into more on my blog, but suffice it to say that a lot of things I will share will likely convince you and others about this being a huge issue. Take care and thanks for the sweet words.

  15. Interesting post! I’ve never heard of your digestion having anything to do with it. I take antibiotics daily for mine. If I miss a dose, I turn beet red, my skin not only feels like it’s got ground glass in it when I touch it, but it also feels like something crawling under my skin and 1 eyelid swells closed. Nice! As for foods, I’ve found that the typical no-no’s don’t bother me, but spinach & yogurt destroy my face. Temperature extremes are a real problem for me too. Can’t wait to try some HCI.

    1. Jeannie, I would love to help you more w/ this if you would like. I would consider getting away from the antibiotics if possible. They will only hurt you in the long run. I am not a dr., but your skin “feelings” are just what I had. Let me know how you do w/ the HCl. Try the jojoba wash too. Best wishes.

      1. I thought she (Jeannie) meant ‘pro-biotics’. Somehow, I even read it as probiotics. Had to re-read her comments again and oh dear, she did write ‘antibiotics’.

  16. You are right about that. Eating right not only helps you have a beautiful, glowing and healthy skin but also you feel happy and positive in every way of life.

    1. I know. It helps so much. Too bad that I don’t always do it right. But I am doing so much better than I used too :-).