Alternative Rosacea Therapies – What Botanicals Work?


Why do rosacea sufferers want alternative or natural therapies?

Despite the availability of several types of topical, systemic and laser therapies, and many years of research into rosacea, why is there so much ongoing interest in alternative and natural therapies ?

The writers of this 2011 paper think that this is a good question, and propose an answer.

“Despite all the research on the development of rosacea and the underlying neoangiogenesis, pilosebaceous abnormalities, dermal matrix degeneration, and dysfunction of antimicrobial peptides most therapies only target the signs and symptoms of the condition rather than the underlying cause.

Because each patient is uniquely sensitive both to triggers that stimulate disease and to standard therapies, an increasing number of patients are seeking alternative options.”

Why won’t my Dermatologist recommend Natural Therapies?

According to the authors;

Large, clinically validated, placebo-controlled trials are lacking, most likely because medicinal botanicals used in cosmeceuticals are considered food additives or dietary supplements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can be marketed without maintaining any drug status or restriction.

So this may suggest that it is far easier to market cosmeceuticals and thus we will never seen the corresponding mandated scientific trials that could prove their efficacy.

What has been proven for rosacea?

Remembering that there isn’t really such a thing as an `alternative medicine’, just proven and unproven medicines – we still need to ask what has been shown to be effective in rosacea?

The authors tell us that only the following ingredients have any scientific literature backing their claim that they provide a therapeutic advantage in the treatment of rosacea;

Many of these ingredients will be familiar to rosacea sufferers via products that tout these beneficial ingredients. The list looks very similar to that published in 2008 – Natural Anti-inflammatory Therapies for Rosacea

Natural Rosacea Ingredients

Borrowing from the paper, the following table gives an overview of the source and ingredients of these so-far proven natural products.

ProductSourceActive Component
Colloidal oatmealAvena sativaPolysaccharides, proteins, lipids, saponins, enzymes,
flavonoids, vitamins, avenanthramides
NiacinamideVitamin B3 found in foods (meat, fish, wheat)N/A
FeverfewTanacetum partheniumVolatile oils, flavonoids, sesquiterperne lactones
LicoriceGlycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza inflataGlabridin, licochalcone A
TeasCamellia sinensisPolyphenols: epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and
epicatechin gallate (ECG)
CoffeeberryCoffea arabicaPolyphenols: chlorogenic acid, proanthocyanidins,
quinic acid, ferulic acid
Aloe veraAloe veraSalicylic acid, magnesium lactate, gel
ChamomileMatricaria recutita, Chamaemelum nobileTerpenoids, flavonoids
TumericCurcuma longaCurcumin
Lentinula edodes, Ganoderma lucidumPolysaccharides, teriperpenes, proteins, lipids,
phenols, cerebrosides

Featured Products

A photograph in the paper features a few off the shelf products. Here is what I could make out;

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream


“Clinically shown to soothe skin with eczema Steroid free, fragrance free and dermatologist recommended. National eczema association accepted. Temporarily protects and helps relieve minor skin irritation.”

Ingredients: Colloidal Oatmeal (1%, Skin Protectant), Water, Glycerin, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Panthenol, Petrolatum, Isopropyl Palmitate, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Avena Sativa Kernel Oil (Oat), Steareth 20, Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (Oat).

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer

Aveeno-Positively-Radiant-Daily-Moisturizer This loos like a fairly regular moisturizing suncreen, perhaps not suited to the most sensitive of skin.

“Immediately Highlights Skin to Bring Out its Natural Radiance. Oil-Free. Hypoallergenic. Noncomedogenic. Aveeno Radiant Skin Daily Moisturizer with an exclusive Total Soy Complex”

Ingredients: Octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate) 7. 5%, Avobenzone 3%, Octisalate (octyl salicylate) 2%, Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Diethylhexyl 2,6-Naphthalate, Glycerin, Ethylene/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Silica, Panthenol, Arachidyl Alcohol, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Methylparaben, Steareth-2, Fragrance, Polyacrylate-13, Behenyl Alcohol, Steareth-21, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Disodium EDTA, Polyisobutene, Arachidyl Glucoside, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Benzalkonium Chloride, Polysorbate 20, Boron Nitride, Titanuim Dioxide, Mica

NeoStrata Skin Brightening Gel

NeoStrata-Skin-Brightening-GelLooks like this may now be called NeoStrata HQ Skin Lightening Gel.

This product is promoted as “An essential skin lightening gel with Hydroquinone and Polyhydroxy Acids to gently exfoliate and fade dark spots, enhance cell turnover and lighten pigmentation concerns.”, so perhaps not suitable for sensitive rosacea skin.

Skin Brightening Gel Ingredients: Tolnaftate 1%, Acetyl Proline, Arginine, BHT, Dimethicone, Disodium EDTA, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Mandelic Acid, Menthyl Lactate, Methylparaben, Mineral Oil, PEG-40 Stearate, Petrolatum, Propylene Glycol, Propylparaben, Purified Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Sorbitan Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum

Paul Mitchell TeaTree Lavender Mint Moisturizing Body Butter


This product seems to have all the major ingredients in its name, so it should be no suprise that the product’s web page says that it contain shea butter, vitamin E, lavender, mint and tea tree.

This product is promoted as `Ultra Rich Moisturizer’.

Nia 24 Skin Strengthening Complex

Nia-24-Skin-Strengthening-ComplexPromoted as “a fortified cream that enhances the skin barrier function, accelerates repair, and delivers continual moisturization.”

The long list of ingredients should alert you –  there are too many.

Water (Aqua), Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Myristyl Nicotinate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cyclomethicone, Squalane, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cetyl Alcohol Glycerin, Polyacrylamide, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Seed Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Pentadecalactone, Methyldihydrojasmonate, Dodecahydro-3a,6,6,9atetramethylnaphtho( 2,1-b)furan, Myristica Fragrans (Nutmeg) Kernel Extract, Maltol, Ceramide 3,Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide 2, PEG-8, Phospholipids, Tribehenin, PEG-10 Rapeseed Sterol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Dimethicone Crosspolymer-3,BHT, Laureth-7, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Polysorbate 60, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate,Methylparaben,Propylparaben

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Hydrating Lotion


The ingredients for the lotion only list jojoba oil and lavender oil.

Botanicals and Anti-Inflammatories Article Abstract

Botanicals and anti-inflammatories: natural ingredients for rosacea.

Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2011 Sep;30(3):148-5, Emer J, Waldorf H, Berson D.,

Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology, New York, USA.

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by cutaneous hypersensitivity.

There are many therapeutic options available for the treatment of rosacea, but none are curative. Since the pathogenesis of rosacea remains elusive, it is not surprising that no single treatment is paramount and that many patients find therapies unsatisfactory or even exacerbating.

Treatments are prescribed to work in concert with each other in order to ameliorate the common clinical manifestations, which include: papules and pustules, telangiectasias, erythema, gland hypertrophy, and ocular disease.

The most validated topical therapies include metronidazole, azelaic acid, and sodium sulfacetamide-sulfur. Many other topical therapies, such as calcineurin inhibitors, benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, retinoids, topical corticosteroids, and permethrin have demonstrated varying degrees of success.

Due to the inconsistent results of the aforementioned therapies patients are increasingly turning to alternative products containing natural ingredients or botanicals to ease inflammation and remit disease.

Additional research is needed to elucidate the benefits of these ingredients in the management of rosacea, but some important considerations regarding the natural ingredients with clinical data will be discussed here.

Better Suggestions?

Do you have any better suggestions? I was a little disappointed by the passively suggested products this paper – that it showed products that might not be first line of choice for rosacea sufferers.

Perhaps you have had some success with some kind of natural treatment you can share? Please let us know below.

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About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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4 Reader Comments

  1. Lucas says:

    Maybe DIY skin care would be an option to get several of these ingredients in a mild base, that can be customised according to personal tolerance and preference. It takes some practice and it’s much more work than buying a ready product, but it’s not that difficult.

  2. Kathleen Troka says:

    Most of the doctor recommended prescriptions dried my skin out horribly and didn’t get rid of redness or pustules. I tried a anti-scar oil (lavender and neroli oil) from Plant Therapy that I bought for my young daughter to help with a stitches scar. I dilute it in primrose oil. It’s the only thing that has reduced redness for me and decreased the time of outbreaks.

  3. raafje says:

    This past weekend I bought a product called Epidermine Skin Corrector at a local fair. The ingredients include pansy, marigold, and knotweed (according to my online search). Today, Wednesday, I am already seeing a drastic improvement of my acne rosacea. I hope it continues to work.

  4. “My face is terribly allergic to botanicals.”

    “Aveena anti redness has to much perfume,in for my skin.”

    “I switched from Cetaphil for redness prone skin to baking soda, and the baking soda has made a HUGE difference. I use witch hazel to tone, and apply sweet almond oil with tea tree oil and it has helped so much!”

    ” I find Toleraine from La Roche Posay a really great line for me.”

    “Maybe coincidence but after a week of apple cider vinegar capsules my face is clearing..”

    “I use avacado or vitamin e capsule oil…”

    “So true. Even if conventional medicine therapies work, they seem to only ever be temporary for me. And then there are side effects to contend with..”

    “I’m developing Rhinophyma —- it’s freaking me out —- does any one here know things about Rhinophyma ?? —- I’m on 50 mg of Doxycycline — using Avene gentle cleanser — and metrocream and nothing is working —- I also have the redness and occasional pustules and papules and tiny water blisters in chin area —- it’s all distressing it but the Rhinophyma is what is really scaring me”

    “For me… Sulfur soap 2x week helps a lot with the inflammation
    Avene Cicalfate 2x week helps recovering the skin
    And the intake of Vitamin C + Rose hip
    Does the rest”

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