What Those Red Lines On Your Face Might Mean

Skin Condition 101

What Those Red Lines On Your Face Might Mean

By Janell Hickman

Filed Under

Most commonly found on the face or legs, broken capillaries can feel like a skin mystery because they presumably “pop up out of nowhere.” The truth is, those little red marks on your face are either self-inflicted or boil down to plain old genetics. Thankfully, these busted blood vessels aren’t at all harmful, and can be erased via laser treatments. Below, we break down what those red streaks on your face *actually* mean, and recommend products to prevent them.
Avoid Self-Diagnosing

Redness is often associated with rosacea, but this skin condition is not interchangeable with broken capillaries. Rosacea is a bit more complicated since it can be a product of genetic and environmental factors. It can’t be cured, but it can be effectively managed. Broken capillaries can be a byproduct of rosacea if the skin is over-aggravated, but anyone can get them if they’ve inflicted trauma to their skin.

What the conditions have in common is that they both respond to laser treatment (more on that below). Anti-inflammatory skincare can minimize (read: not fix) redness, irritation, and dilation. Before launching into a treatment plan, it’s wise to touch base with your dermatologist (even virtually) to determine next steps.

Prevention Is Key

Skincare products alone cannot reverse the appearance of broken capillaries, but they can help prevent them!

Heyday Skincare Educator Chrissy Carrano recommends incorporating skincare products with retinoids because they strengthen your cell and capillary walls. Antioxidants are great for the same reason—vitamin C and E work wonders for dilated capillaries. She suggests trying calming products like Pai Skincare Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil or Eminence Calm Skin Arnica Booster-Serum to minimize future skin stressors.

Sun exposure isn’t just the culprit of hyperpigmentation (and aging), it can also cause inflammation of the capillary walls to inflame and bring them closer to the surface. That’s why all skin experts wax poetic about the importance of daily sunscreen use, like Dr. Loretta Urban Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF 40.

Vices like alcohol and smoking can also dilate capillaries. “From one night out, you could wake up flushed and red. This can accumulate over years of drinking and smoking,” explains Carrano. “People who smoke end up with a lot of dilated, broken capillaries.”

When it comes to self-extracting, leaving it to the professionals is your best bet. Picking and squeezing your breakouts can also damage your capillaries, specifically in the chin or cheek area since that’s where most dilated capillaries “live.”

Skincare products alone cannot reverse the appearance of broken capillaries, but they can help prevent them! Antioxidants like vitamin C and E work wonders for dilated capillaries, and sunscreen is key.

Broken Capillaries Are Harmless—But Not “Fixable”

We understand, tiny red lines on your face can be scary, especially if you’ve never experienced them before. However, rarely do they get worse or suddenly spread throughout the rest of your face.

The teachable moment here is that broken capillaries are preventable, and there are many things you can do to avoid them in the first place. “If you’ve broken the capillary, you can consider an IPL treatment—it’s the only way to actually fix it,” emphasizes Carrano. Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a cosmetic skin treatment traditionally done on the entire face and in sub-sections. Those with rosacea can anticipate undergoing three or four sessions, versus those with very surface-level capillary activity may only need one treatment. “Everyone describes it as the feeling of an elastic band being snapped on your skin—it's not comfortable, but it's not the worst thing ever either,” Carrano adds.

Replace Your Routine With What Works
Routine 101

Replace Your Routine With What Works

At its essence, the importance of a skincare routine is to make sure your skin is healthy and functioning at its best. However, the elements of you...

Product Finder

  • any product
  • any condition
    .