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Spider veins and broken blood vessels are among the most common of all cosmetic problems of the face, and among the most common of all the cosmetic problems that are treated with products that, are to put mildly, unhelpful. Without getting into a long discussion of what causes these unsightly broken blood vessels, I will get into actionable information about that doesn't work, and you should stop right now, and what does.

First, what doesn't work for treating broken blood vessels in the face:

  • If you use any skin care products that contain lemon oil, lavender, citrus oil, or geranium, stop right now. These oils cause irritation and inflammation that over the long run breaks down the collagen around tiny blood vessels under the skin they touch. When collagen breaks down, capillaries leak and cause unsightly discoloration.
  • Never use any kind of tape on your face. Tape can make new spider veins and telangiectasia, broken blood vessels, appear.
  • If most of the blood vessels that break are on your nose or across your cheeks, you may have a skin condition called rosacea. This form of "acne," which really is related to blood vessels, not pores, has triggers. Coming into a warm room on a cold day, or walking outside from an air conditioned room into hot summer air, can cause blood vessels to dilate and break. Drinking a hot beverage or eating spicy food can have the same effect. In rosacea, irritants of all kinds provoke an excessive reaction of the skin that leads to spider veins and broken blood vessels. Avoid rosacea triggers, and the problem may improve.
  • If you have a problem with broken blood vessels, you don't need "cleansing." In fact, washing too often actually makes the problem worse. The problem isn't clogged pores, it's broken capillaries. They need different approaches in your skin care routine.
  • Doctors often recommend steroid creams or even steroid shots to stop bleeding in capillaries. The problem with this approach is that your skin tends to fade where you apply the steroid or you get the steroid shot.
  • Never sleep on dirty pillowcases. They can (and often do) harbor a mite that causes your skin to break out.

Now for what you should be doing to prevent broken veins:

  • Vitamin K can help with bruising and broken veins that occur all over your body, but the kind of vitamin K (phylloquinone, also known as vitamin K2) that does this isn't something you need to take in supplement form. Just a couple of servings of salad or leafy greens every week is enough to give your body the raw materials for making clotting factors that stop tiny hemorrhages all over your body, not just in your skin.The kind of vitamin K you see in health food stores, vitamin K2, usually combined with vitamin D, is good for vascular health but in a different way. Very few supplements contain vitamin K1. Many contain vitamin K2.
  • Moisturizers help stabilize your skin so that capillaries don't break. However, the wrong moisturizer can so more harm than good. What's the wrong moisturizer? Anything that makes your skin smell good or tingle contains chemicals that can irritate the skin. Alcohol that makes your skin feel cooler can dry out your skin and make it "brittle." You need supple, moisturized skin to protect your capillaries. Doctors often recommend pure white petrolatum, without any scents or perfumes, but any moisturizer that lists "water" as its main ingredient will probably help reduce the problem.
  • Silicone-based concealers (preferably brands that are clear rather than opaque) can "pave over" spider veins (although they won't conceal varicose veins in other places on your body). In North America and Europe, the product by Dr. Denese New York is best for this purpose.
  • Getting rid of broken blood vessels for good usually requires intense pulsed light technology. This technology is used both for hair removal and blood vessel repair. If you buy a machine for home use (usually $400 to $1500), be sure you know the right settings before you use the machine. These treatments are also available in dermatologist's offices and at spas. You'll pay more if you get professional treatment, but you'll avoid any unfortunate incidents on your learning curve.

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