Struggling with blotchy skin? You may be able to fake a more even complexion with the aid of a colour-correcting concealer, but let’s be honest – it’d also be nice to be able to flaunt a makeup-free complexion every once in awhile.
First thing’s first: identifying the root cause. Why? Well, if you can address what’s causing your skin discolouration, you may be able to prevent it from flaring up in the first place.
Keep scrolling to discover some of the reasons why your skin could be blotchy, as well as expert advice for how to improve your complexion…
1. Your gender
“Both men and women can suffer from blotchy skin, but due to factors such as hormonal shifts and pregnancy, women are more likely to develop this problem,” says skin expert and owner of Blyss Skin Clinic in Sydney, Jodie King. According to the expert, childbearing age tends to be the prime time for redness and blotchiness to develop, and it can also worsen with age.
2. Your skin type
Generally speaking, fairer skin types tend to be more prone to blotchiness and skin discolouration. As skin, wellness and nutrition expert from All Saints Skin Clinic, Chiza Westcarr explains, caucasian skin is less well equipped to handle the harsh Australian environment and while darker skin types aren’t immune to the same symptoms, they are more visible on a fairer skin type. “The fairer the skin, the more it shows,” she says.
3. Excessive skin exfoliation
Exfoliation is important to promote healthy skin cell turnover, but over-exfoliation or excessive scrubbing with harsh exfoliants can damage the outer protective layer of your skin (the stratum corneum), leading to blotchy skin. “Scrubs, glycolic acids and AHAs can impair the skin’s barrier and cause a flush” says Chiza. Why? Well, as Jodie explains, “The skin’s natural repair system goes into overdrive, resulting in inflammation and redness” – and that’s just the beginning. As Chiza explains, because the “the skin’s first line of defence” is now impaired, “opportunistic irritants and bacteria can penetrate the dermis”, causing further skin irritation and inflammation.
4. Broken capillaries
As well as causing general skin inflammation, over-exfoliation can also lead to broken capillaries (also known as telangiectasia) which give the skin a red, blotchy appearance. As Jodie explains, the network of veins that carry the blood supply of the face are essential for healthy skin, but if the dermis is too thin, “They sit very close to the surface of the skin, so they are not difficult to damage”. When they tear, this allows blood to seep out, visibly marking the area of damage (usually on the nose and/or cheek areas).
5. Inappropriate skin care ingredients
Jodie stresses that no two skins are alike, which means that “Just because your friend’s skin looks fantastic using that new product, does not mean that yours will”. Chiza agrees, and recommends avoiding ingredients such as silicone, talc and perfume, as they can exacerbate blotchy skin.
6. Environmental factors
Environmental factors such as excessive UV exposure and fluctuations in weather/temperatures can also exacerbate blotchy skin. In addition to causing visible sunburn in the short term, “Repeated sunburn also breaks down collagen,” says Jodie. This in turn leads to thinning of the skin, making those red capillaries more visible.
7. Lifestyle factors
Stress, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption aren’t just bad for our inner health – they can also adversely affect the appearance of our skin. How, you ask? Well, as Chiza explains, they can lead to an increase in blood pressure, which causes the capillary networks within our skin to “work harder, dilate and spread” more extensively than usual to feed the skin. “Smoking also causes oxidative stress,” says Jodie, meaning that insufficient oxygen and nutrients reaches our skin tissues. The result? More visible capillaries.
8. Chronic skin conditions
Blotchy skin is a common symptom of chronic skin conditions such as dermatitis and rosacea, are associated with skin barrier impairment. “Dermatitis results in skin inflammation and irritation,” says Jodie, leading the skin to appear red and dry. Meanwhile, rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that presents as flushing of the skin. Unfortunately, visible capillaries are more likely to occur with these conditions, leading to an even redder skin. While neither of these conditions is curable, “they can both be managed with appropriate treatments,” says Jodie.
Lifestyle changes to prevent blotchy skin
According to Jodi and Chiza, certain lifestyle changes may help to discourage blotchy skin. These include:
- A balanced diet, “to increase nutrients and oxygen making their way around the body,” says Jodi
- Avoiding rosacea triggers such as spicy foods, corticosteroids (a class of steroid hormones that cause dilation of blood vessels) and stress
- Quitting smoking and avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol
- Wearing a high SPF sunscreen daily, including when driving, as damaging UV rays can penetrate car windows
Recommended treatments for blotchy skin
In addition to preventative lifestyle measures, there are also a number of treatment options that can be beneficial for improving the appearance of blotchy skin.
At All Saints Clinic, Chiza recommends laser genesis which bulk heats the skin, “helping to densify the dermis and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin”. IPL and laser treatments can also be used to reduce the appearance of capillaries. As Jodi explains, these treatments are designed to “impede the blood flow of the capillaries and destroy them”. The treated veins are then removed by the bodies natural processes.
Jodie and Chiza say blue and red LED light therapies can also aid in reducing redness, by stimulating skin tissue and therefore promoting improved skin tone.
Skin care products for blotchy skin
Appropriate at home care is also imperative for improving the appearance of blotchy skin. For best results, Chiza advises on “cutting everything out and gradually re-introducing products that are cosmetically elegant and suitable for your skin type”. Both Chiza and Jozi recommend gentle, cream-based cleansers and protective balms to help reduce water evaporation from the skin. Jodi also recommends products containing niacinamide, while Chiza recommends “lactic acid instead of glycolic acid or AHAs for gentle exfoliation”. Sunscreen is also essential – Chiza stresses the importance of a “High quality, fragrance-free formula, with a good protection factor”. beautyheaven recommends the following skin care products for blotchy skin:
- RosehipPLUS® Organic Daily Cream Cleanser
- Scout Cosmetics Super Fruit Exfoliating Wash-Off Cleanser ($39.95, scoutcosmetics.com)
- Antipodes Grace Gentle Cream Cleanser ($40, davidjones.com.au)
- Arbonne Calm Soothing Facial Serum
- Ella Baché Serum Marin
- Trilogy Sensitive Very Gentle Calming Serum
- Aspect Dr Multi B Serum ($129, skinclinicblyss.com.au)
- Paula’s Choice CALM Redness Relief Moisturiser
- QV Face Ultra Calming Moisturiser
- Ultraceuticals Ultra Red-Action Moisturiser
- Cosmedix Rescue+ Intense Hydrating Balm & Mask ($59, cosmedix.com)
- RATIONALE B3-T SUPERFLUID SUNSCREEN SPF50+ (rationale.com)
Do you struggle with blotchy skin? What do you think could be causing it?