There are more than 16 million Americans who suffer from rosacea, but reaching these shoppers has been increasingly difficult for brands offering products appropriate for the reactive, sensitive and redness-prone skin type — until now.
As of Thursday, the rosacea-focused corner of the beauty industry is likely to expand thanks to the National Rosacea Society’s new Seal of Acceptance. It’s a tool to alerts shoppers that a product has gone through rigorous testing to be approved by a panel of doctors for use by rosacea sufferers, as well as anyone who deals with redness or sensitivity.
It follows in the footsteps of the National Eczema Association, which launched its Seal of Acceptance in 2008. It’s since grown its acceptance list to around 400 products from dozens of brands like Tower28, Aveeno, Burt’s Bees, Cetaphil and CeraVe. Earlier this week, the National Eczema Association announced it is expanding its seal to lip-care and deodorant products.
“We’ve been an organization for 32 years, and from the start, one of the most common questions we’ve gotten is, ‘What products should I use?’” Andrew Huff, president and executive director of the National Rosacea Society, told Glossy. “[Rosacea] is the fifth most common diagnosis in dermatology offices, yet there is very little attention paid to this very large group of individuals who have a very difficult time finding products that are suitable for their skin.”
The National Rosacea Society is a non-profit that operates through donations and corporate support from pharmaceutical and skin-care companies. Its mission is to raise awareness and provide education, as well as to support research. The group organizes rosacea awareness month in April and has funded $1.7 million of rosacea research, Huff told Glossy.
“Our hope is that [the seal] will not only be a resource for patients to find products, but also an incentive to skin-care and cosmetic companies to tailor their products to this very large group of people,” Huff said.
To apply for the seal, brands must present rigorous 30-person clinical studies on their products, as well as manufacturer data sheets, which are reviewed by an anonymous, independent team of dermatologists overseen by Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, FAAD, clinical and research dermatologist and part of the NRS board of directors. “It’s anonymous because the whole process has to be academic and independent,” Dr. Draelos told Glossy.
The application fee is $1,500. Once granted, licensing for the seal costs $2,500-$10,000 per year, depending on the company’s revenue, Huff told Glossy. The licensing term is two years and is automatically renewed at the same rate if no changes have been made to the product.
Upon acceptance, the NRS promotes a product’s new seal through a press release and adds the approved product to its database. Brands Glossy spoke to plan to promote their products’ acceptance on product pages, on social media, through customer email marketing, and by adding the seal to in-store gondolas and packaging, which can require a large investment for new secondary packaging and displays.
“We will be bringing the seal into Sephora stores later this year,” Amy Gordinier, founder and CEO of Skinfix, told Glossy. “Watch out for more to come on this!”
Dr. Draelos hopes this seal will inspire more companies to develop skin-care technology to reduce redness, quell inflammation, soothe skin and improve barrier function by focusing on formulas well-suited for rosacea sufferers.
“Not only can a product be formulated so it doesn’t provoke rosacea, but also, brands can submit formulations that improve rosacea and function to be maintenance products after prescription therapy or for people with really minor rosacea,” she said. “Some patients only need to use an OTC product [like the ones we are approving].”
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 1.6 million people sought treatment for rosacea in 2013, the last year the data is available, and the total medical cost of treating rosacea that year was $165 million.
Rosacea impacts more than 415 million people globally, or about 5.46% of people, according to the British Journal of Dermatology. It affects about 16 million Americans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
According to the AAD, Rosacea is believed to be caused by inflammation from various sources, but the exact cause is not yet fully understood. It can be triggered by stress, food, heat, sun and cosmetics and is most common in women ages 30-50.
Rosacea sufferers experience symptoms across a spectrum that includes sensitive and reactive skin, flushing, redness, swelling, acne-like breakouts, bumpy skin texture, and red and irritated eyelids. Rosacea patients often experience a burning, itching or stinging feeling when their skin comes in contact with conventional skin-care and makeup products, which is often triggered by common ingredient categories like fragrance, cooling or warming ingredients, penetration enhancers, and volatile ingredients that are used for dry down and texture, like alcohols, said Dr. Draelos.
A 2021 study of people with rosacea conducted by pharmaceutical company Galderma found that wearing masks during the pandemic worsened two-thirds of all participants’ symptoms, including redness, pimples and flare-ups.
The NRS has approved all the Seal of Acceptance submissions thus far, Huff told Glossy. The first 10 products with the seal include skin-care and makeup from Bee Rx, Laura Geller, Prequel, Senté, Skinfix and Serica.
“Witnessing the challenges [rosacea patients] face, I was motivated to develop skin care that can specifically cater to their needs,” Prequel founder and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Samantha Ellis, M.D. told Glossy. “The seal not only validates our commitment to creating effective and gentle solutions but also provides those who struggle with rosacea trustworthy options in managing their condition.”
The growth of the rosacea-focused beauty market has significant overlap with several other growing categories, which include the rise of the OTC marketplace, fragrance-free and clean fragrance categories, products designed or approved for sensitive skin, and those approved for eczema.
“There are so many skin-care products out there, we hope that this seal helps customers struggling with rosacea easily identify the products that are best suited for them,” said Skinfix’s Gordinier.
The opportunity for growth in this category is high. Market research company Mordor Intelligence expects the rosacea market size to reach $2.09 billion in 2024 and grow at an 8.74 % compound annual growth rate to reach $3.19 billion in 2029.
Skin Laundry, a chain of 46 laser facial studios in the U.S. and coordinating products that target skin concerns, sees rosacea as a growing category. “We perform an average of 26,500 laser facials a month in the U.S. alone, and around 10% of those are for clients seeking solutions for rosacea,” said Dr. Roberta Del Campo, Skin Laundry’s medical director. “[Rosacea is] being diagnosed more frequently and the knowledge that there are newer more effective treatments is becoming mainstream. … Rosacea is commonly mistaken for acne or eczema, and people with rosacea usually experience flare-ups and periods of remission.”
Brands like Apostrophe and Curology also provide treatment for customers in this category through telemedicine and prescription skin care. “Our licensed dermatology providers treat [rosacea] daily,” said Dr. Whitney Tolpinrud, MD, Curology’s medical director. “Although rosacea is not considered curable, there are topical and oral treatments that can help minimize symptoms.”
Earlier this week on the subreddit r/Rosacea, some of the 61,000 members discussed the National Rosacea Society’s new seal. “I hope the list grows,” said one member. “This is super helpful if more brands apply to be labeled rosacea friendly.”
Others dove into the fine print of the seal to learn more about their own skin from the guidance meant for skin-care brands. “I found reading the guidelines for acceptance to be very useful,” said another Reddit user. “For instance, I already knew to avoid ingredients in the first two categories, but the ‘penetration enhancer’ category is new to me and gives me at least two more ingredients to avoid.”
Other Reddit commenters were disappointed by the small number of approved products: “Where are certain LRP [La Roche Posay] or Avene or Cerave or other brands constantly mentioned in here that most of us use with success, and most dermatologists worldwide suggest??”
Currently, it can be challenging to find products online that won’t cause rosacea flare-ups. Amazon has more than 4,000 product returns for the search term “rosacea” in its “beauty + personal care” category. Featured brands include Cetaphil, La Roche-Posay, Aveeno, Paula’s Choice, It Cosmetics and Eucerin.
Ulta Beauty delivers 24 returns when searching for “rosacea,” including Clinique, E.l.f and Dermablend. And Sephora has 399 returns across categories, including Tower28’s SOS line and Dr Jart+’s Cicapair line. Walmart has 505 returns, which include Aveeno, Prosacea and ZealSea.
“I see a lot of people with rosacea who are very frustrated,” Dr. Draelos said. “It’s kind of an unspoken disease; it hasn’t gotten as much press as something like eczema…The idea [behind the seal] is to bring medical expertise to the industry to create a bridge that benefits patients but also drives consumer sales, as well, so it’s beneficial to all parties.”