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Ruddy Complexion: What It Is, The Main Causes & 4 Natural Treatments

Emily Rekstis
December 22, 2021
Emily Rekstis
Contributing writer
By Emily Rekstis
Contributing writer
Emily Rekstis is a freelance writer who has worked at Harper's Bazaar, Self, And UsWeekly. Her bylines appear in Healthline, Byrdie, Women's Health, MyDomaine, BuzzFeed, The Cut, Allure and many more.

There seems to be an endless list of skin care concerns, from acne breakouts to wrinkles. But one skin care issue people don't seem to talk about as much is a ruddy complexion. Our guess is that people might not quite understand what a ruddy complexion is and how it works.

Ruddiness often falls under the skin care category of irritation or inflammation. A ruddy complexion typically presents itself as red, blotchy, and dull. Just like most skin care issues, both genetics and environmental factors play a role in causing a ruddy complexion. Though it may be tricky to nail down the exact reason for the ruddy complexion, there are a handful of natural solutions that make it easy to resolve.

Keep scrolling to learn more about a ruddy complexion and four no-fuss natural treatments. 

What is a "ruddy complexion"?

A ruddy complexion describes skin that appears reddish in tone, looking possibly sunburned, blotchy, uneven, and dull. "This reddish appearance can be anywhere on your skin–nose, cheeks, under your eyes," explains esthetician and celebrity facialist Aida Bicaj. It also might feel rough and dry to the touch.

Though any skin type can experience a ruddy complexion, it's most often associated with sensitive or sensitized skin types. Founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology and board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, M.D., points out that this condition is most associated with lighter skin tones. 

Finally, "the severity can vary from person to person," Bicaj says. "Also depending on its cause."

What causes a "ruddy complexion"?

There is no clean, simple answer as to why people get ruddy complexions. In fact, there are a variety of things that can cause a ruddy complexion. "While often inherited, ruddy skin can also be a side effect of several varying environmental factors," Hartman explains.



Rosacea is a skin condition that causes the skin to appear persistently red, starting with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than others according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Other symptoms might include bumps, pimples, visible blood vessels, and skin thickening. Just like a ruddy complexion, rosacea can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors.


Harsh weather conditions

A sunny day with strong UVA and UVB rays isn't the only forecast we need to be aware of to protect our skin. A harsh breeze, low temperature, and exposed sunlight can work together to cause a ruddy complexion. "People who work outside or spend a lot of time outdoors may experience red and splotchy skin," Hartman says. "Chilly temperatures, strong winds, and direct sunlight can temporarily cause, or exaggerate, a ruddy complexion." 


Harsh ingredients

Harsh ingredients like retinoids, acids, alcohol, and physical exfoliants can easily irritate sensitive skin. Whether it happens overnight or over time, this can create redness and irritation that then may result in a ruddy complexion.

 How can you treat it naturally?

There are also a handful of great natural treatments that can help you reduce redness in the face.


Avoid harsh treatments.

As previously stated, harsh ingredients can cause a ruddy complexion. So it only makes sense to steer clear of these to minimize that outcome. "Avoid procedures like chemical peels and certain ingredients like retinol and beta-hydroxy acids until the redness is well controlled," Hartman says.

In the meantime, you can swap in products with calming and protective ingredients. Hartman recommends emollient ingredients like ceramides and oatmeal extracts (like oat oil or colloidal oat) because they "increase hydration and prevent transepidermal water loss, which causes dryness, irritation, and redness."


Give your skin a detox.

If you can't exactly pinpoint what's causing your ruddy complexion, celebrity aesthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab recommends a skin detox for a month. What exactly does this mean? For 30 days you should only use a gentle cream cleanser, a fragrance-free moisturizer, and a zinc-based sunscreen. "Ruddy complexions can be difficult to understand as to why it is occurring and also how to treat," Ross says. "But less is more when it comes to skin care."

Once you get to the bare bones of it and let your skin chill out for a while, then you can slowly and carefully add back in other ingredients to see how your complexion tolerates them. For example, you may find that you can safely use an alpha-hydroxy acid two times a week—but no more than that. Or you may find that retinols are simply too strong for you, full stop. But at the very least you are understanding your skin a bit better.


Use cold water.

It may feel better to wash your face with water on the hotter side, but in reality this temperature can actively harm the skin. Not only will too-hot water strip your skin's barrier of its natural oils, but it also won't soothe any flare-ups and irritations. So instead of turning on the hot tap to wash your face, use cold water as it has been proven to reduce inflammation1 within the body. 


Protect your skin with sunscreen.

Though cutting back on your skin care routine could be key to resolving a ruddy complexion, the one product you should not skip out on is sunscreen. "The best way to protect against most of the triggers that can contribute to facial redness is to commit to wearing sunscreen every single day," Hartman says.

The best type of sunscreen to ensure great UVA and UVB protection without compromising complexion is a zinc-based formula. Not only does it provide the necessary protection, but zinc also has healing and anti-inflammatory properties that can actively soothe a ruddy complexion.

The takeaway.

Ruddy complexions are totally normal and affect many types of people. If you find yourself dealing with red, blotchy skin, the best thing you can do is to pare back your routine for a while.

Emily Rekstis author page.
Emily Rekstis
Contributing writer

Emily Rekstis is a freelance writer, editor and content creator. After serving as the beauty assistant at Harper's Bazaar and Self magazine, she went on to cover celebrity beauty and fashion as UsWeekly's Style Editor. Consistently curious and always willing to learn, she indulges in her variety of interests writing about everything from beauty trends to health habits to design tips for publications like Healthline, Byrdie, Women's Health, MyDomaine, BuzzFeed, The Cut, Allure and many more.