158: Rosacea Warrior: Thriving with Granulomatous Rosacea w/ Gabrielle Buckman, LE

Granulomatous rosacea is a rare form of rosacea that can be difficult to diagnose and treat. My guest will be sharing her journey with this skin rash, and how she managed to drastically improve her skin's health and appearance.

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My guest today, Gabrielle Buckman, is a Licensed Esthetician in St. Louis, Missouri.

She was diagnosed with granulomatous rosacea in May 2019.

Using her training in skin, as well as the help of her dermatologist, Gabrielle has managed to get her rosacea under control.

She enjoys helping her clients overcome the obstacles of their skin conditions, and being able to really relate to them.

Join us as we discuss Gabrielle's journey with granulomatous rosacea.

How do you manage your rosacea? Let me know in the comments!

In this episode:

  • When did Gabrielle first start noticing her skin rash?
  • What did her dermatologist recommend?
  • What triggered the granulomatous rosacea?
  • What sunscreen does Gabrielle recommend for those with rosacea?


“Being an esthetician, I really take care of my skin and take pride in it. So all of a sudden it was red and crusty and there were these pustules all over the place. And I was super self-conscious, wanted to cover my face all the time. I wore a mask when I was at work and a bandaid over my nose. It was difficult.” [3:10]

“You just have to be consistent with a good skincare regimen, with a good prescription from your dermatologist, and try to remain positive and know that it will get better eventually when you find the right things.” [9:22] 


Healthy Skin Show ep. 136: Alternative Solutions For Rosacea w/ Dr. Peter Lio

Healthy Skin Show ep. 131: Mindset: What To Do When Nothing Seems To Help Your Rashes

Follow Gabrielle on Instagram

158: Rosacea Warrior: Thriving with Granulomatous Rosacea w/ Gabrielle Buckman, LE FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi everyone, welcome back. I have a guest with me today that I am very excited and honored to have on the show. And one of the main reasons why is that I have been trying for over a year to get someone to come on the show to share their story of living and ultimately thriving with rosacea. And I came across our guest today's profile and Instagram, and I was really touched by her story and her willingness to share everything that she has gone through and asked her to be here.

Jennifer: And so she's going to share her story with you today, and I think it's important for those of you who are listening to all of these different episodes, especially where we dive into the science, or we talk about food. To hear someone who has gone through this personally and what her experience was like. And so I'm just deeply appreciative to have our guest today, Gabrielle Buckman, with us. She is a licensed aesthetician. She is a licensed esthetician in st. Louis, Missouri. She was diagnosed with gran … Well, you're going to have to probably help me with this. granulomatous rosacea, is that correct Gabrielle?

Gabrielle: It's granulomatous.

Jennifer: Granulomatous rosacea a year ago in May. So that was May, 2019. And she uses her training and skin, and fortunately with the help of a very wonderful dermatologist she was able to get her rosacea under control. And so she also helps her own clients in the St. Louis, Missouri area overcome obstacles of their own skin conditions. And many of the reasons which you share is because you can relate to them. So, Gabrielle, I just want to thank you so much for being here.

Gabrielle: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Jennifer: So since we're talking about rosacea, would you mind sharing with us, how did rosacea pop up in your life? When did this happen and what was going on? What was this introduction into rosacea like for you?

Gabrielle: Yeah, so like you had said, it's been a little over a year now. I had just switched birth controls. I just went from the name brand birth control to generic, and all of a sudden I started breaking out and I was just like, “Oh, this is hormonal with the change,” so I didn't think much of it. But it started getting worse and worse and it almost looked like an infection on my nose area.

Gabrielle: So I did go to the doctor and they thought that it was a staph infection. I went to two separate doctors and they both thought that. So I got on antibiotics right away and nothing was changing. So finally I found my dermatologist that I'm going to now and she realized that it was actually granulomatous rosacea. But it's such a rare form that they didn't realize that that's what it was at the time. So it was hard. I had perfect skin beforehand.

Gabrielle: Being an esthetician, I really take care of my skin and take pride in it. So all of a sudden it was red and crusty and there were these pustules all over the place. And I was super self-conscious, wanted to cover my face all the time. I wore a mask when I was at work and a bandaid over my nose. It was difficult.

Jennifer: And for you, as you're looking at yourself in the mirror, did you have any guesses as to what you thought was going on? Did you just think it was like a weird acne issue or maybe an infection at first?

Gabrielle: I did agree with them that I thought it looked like an infection. It did look very similar to like a staph infection or impetigo.

Jennifer: And what did you try? Because I'm going to guess being an esthetician. You're like, “Okay, I can probably try some different things,” but like, what did you try that you thought might, but ultimately didn't?

Gabrielle: Yeah. So I originally thought it was acne at first, before it started turning into an infection. So I was trying the wrong things for rosacea. I was doing like salicylic acids and all of these harsh things on my face and it was not working. It was just exacerbating the rosacea.

Jennifer: And so it sounds to me like what you've learned from this experience. And I would guess if any listeners are really interest … They're like, “Oh my gosh, this sounds like me.” It's like, you have to know what you're dealing with. Right?

Gabrielle: Exactly.

Jennifer: Because that can make it worse.

Gabrielle: It's very important to get a diagnosis for what you're dealing with instead of just treating at home.

Jennifer: And when you finally got the right diagnosis, what did the dermatologist tell you at that point?

Gabrielle: So she actually put me on a sulfur face wash, and I started taking doxycycline 100 milligrams a day. But she honestly told me that this type of rosacea, the chance of it going away, the chances were slim to none. That I would probably live with it forever in some way, shape or form, but I'm here today and it's completely almost invisible to see.

Jennifer: At the moment when she told you that you might have to live with this for the rest of your life. Like you might not get rid of this. How did that feel?

Gabrielle: It was absolutely crushing. I felt so depressed. I was like looking online for support groups. And it was so rare that I couldn't find anyone who was a struggling exactly with what I had. It was just horrible.

Jennifer: And it's on your face. So it's very difficult. Right. Even with makeup, it would have been difficult to cover up.

Gabrielle: Oh yeah. It was almost impossible to cover up because there were those crests and everything on there that you could still see, and the redness alone is hard to cover.

Jennifer: Yeah. Did she give you any sense of why this can happen? Your dermatologist that is, why this type of rosacea may form in some people?

Gabrielle: Really, she said that they don't know very much about granulomatous, but they do think it has a genetic component to it.

Jennifer: And what do you think are maybe some of the reasons why? I don't know if you have any thoughts or suspicions, but do you have any thoughts at this point in time being on this journey for the last year or so of why this might have popped up? It's interesting because you did mention you switched the birth control pills. So there was a hormonal shift there, but what are your suspicions?

Gabrielle: Yeah, so I think that hormonal obviously, it's triggered by stress. I do think, and diet, I think my diet has affected it a lot as well.

Jennifer: And so what about your diet? Because I mean, we talk about a lot of food things on the healthy skin show. We talk about gut health and all sorts of things and how it's connected to skin. So in your particular instance, what did you discover? I'm sure you did some trial and error.

Gabrielle: Yes. So my big triggers are anything greasy, pizza, if I have ice cream, even chocolate, things like that, cheese. I found they're pretty common with everyone that those are kind of food triggers.

Jennifer: And did you try any other types of like remedies that you found online that maybe didn't really work?

Gabrielle: I didn't actually try anything else.

Jennifer: You're lucky. A lot of people try all these different salves and creams. And I'm sure you see that though as an aesthetician, right?

Gabrielle: Oh I've seen it.

Jennifer: People go online. They're like, “Oh wait, I found this mask,” and this woman, like her skin is beautiful and I want to look like that. And now my skin's all messed up.

Gabrielle: Yes. The common one that people use is horse paste. I haven't tried that. I do kind of want to try it just to see if it works, but-

Jennifer: Horse paste?

Gabrielle: Yeah.

Jennifer: What is horse paste?

Gabrielle: There's an ingredient in horse paste that is supposed to help with the inflammation and redness.

Jennifer: Oh wow. I have never heard that before. And is that for those who have rosacea?

Gabrielle: Yeah, it's very common.

Jennifer: Okay.

Gabrielle: A lot of them use it.

Jennifer: And so in working with a lot of women with rosacea, what are some key points that you try to impress upon them when they're coming to you now as their aesthetician, but also as someone who is like, you're a rosacea warrior. I mean, you've been through this and you are living with this every day and you have this sort of, it's almost like it's your friend and reminding you like, “Hey, we're a little out of balance here, got to get back in balance.”

Gabrielle: Exactly.

Jennifer: But what are some things that you could share with people who are still in the midst of dealing with this and feeling really self conscious and really maybe even embarrassed about the way they look.

Gabrielle: So it's definitely something that there are so many other people that are going through it right now and with the right skincare and the right treatment, it can look better if not completely disappear altogether. But you just have to be consistent with a good skincare regimen, with a good prescription from your dermatologist, and try to remain positive and know that it will get better eventually when you find the right things.

Jennifer: And so you were saying before, like the acne type of approach with these, like I think they're like the harsher almost like I think of them as like kind of stripping ingredients, but you can correct to me, you know more about that than I do, is probably not your friend.

Gabrielle: No, that's not the way to go when you have rosacea you really want to give it all the love that you can. The main ingredients that I recommend to my clients are the loving moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, anti-redness ingredients. They're going to be like niacinamide, glycerin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid. And then of course you're going to need a good SPF.

Jennifer: And why is that? Why would someone think to put SPF on their face I would assume every single day if they have rosacea?

Gabrielle: Yeah. So the sun is not your friend when you have rosacea, the heat that just causes extra inflammation in your face. So it's best to do like a mineral based or a physical sunscreen, as opposed to like the white chemical sunscreen that most of us use in the summer. Because that chemical sunscreen is going to pull in all of the heat from the sun and it's just going to redistribute it throughout your face. So it's going to cause extra redness and inflammation. So if you're using a good physical or mineral sunscreen, it's going to bounce those rays back off. So you're not getting that extra heat in your face, which causes the redness.

Jennifer: And when you say a mineral sunscreen for someone who doesn't, they might say, “I don't know what that means.” Like, are there specific types of brands or products or is there a label that we should look for?

Gabrielle: Yeah. So you're looking for a sunscreen that has titanium dioxide and, or zinc oxide in it. That's what makes it able to bounce those rays back off.

Jennifer: Okay. But when I think of zinc oxide, I'm thinking of like at the beach super white nose, is that what a sunscreen, like, should you look very whited out from this? Or is it something where it has such a low level where you're not going to de-pigment your face to that real intense degree. Like we think of at the beach, so to speak.

Gabrielle: Yes. No, so it shouldn't be … A lot of times the physical and mineral sunscreens are actually very liquid. They're kind of runny almost. You can get them that are white, but a lot of the brands they make tinted. So I would always recommend that route, just so you're not white ever, give you a little bit of tint.

Jennifer: Okay. And do you ever recommend any sort of like hydrosols or like … And actually I think this is a great question because this is so like your face is … We all like to think that we're … I've had so many clients tell me and I've even said, “I'm not vain.” I know it sounds like I'm being vain, but let's be honest. We all like to show up feeling our best. And when you don't feel like you look your best because I've had other issues on my face where I've had to have like, things burned off because of sebaceous gland hyperplasia.

Jennifer: So I get it, I know what that's like. But, what would be a good skin care routine for someone who doesn't know, who maybe was just buying for many years, Noxzema or Cetaphil or they didn't know that they're supposed to even put moisturizer on their face. I mean, frankly, I'm 40, and I didn't know until like two years ago that I was supposed to wash my face, use a toner, then do the moisturizer. Like, I didn't know.

Jennifer: So if you're talking to a total newbie who now has rosacea, what would you recommend as an aesthetician? And as someone who has gone through this is what would your skincare routine look like?

Gabrielle: So when you have rosacea, you're going to want to keep it simple. So obviously the aesthetician in me doesn't love that. Cause I love the 10 step skincare routine where you use everything. But with rosacea, you have to keep it simple. You just need a few products. It's going to make it to where you don't have as much of a chance for that irritation, if you're keeping it simple.

Gabrielle: So you're going to want to look for like a creamy or a milk cleanser. After that you're not going to want to use a toner or anything. You would just want to go straight into a serum where that's where I say do like a hyaluronic acid serum or they make specific like rosacea relief serums. That's where you do that. And then you would just do a really moisturizing moisturizer with like ceramides in it. A niacinamide, that's a good place to have your niacinamide at. And then there's the mineral SPF. And that would be it that's all you should be using.

Jennifer: Okay. And then another quick question for someone who, you know, they've got rosacea, but they're also at that point where they're dealing with the I want to throw a little bit of anti-aging in there. And so they try and do like anti-aging products on their rosaceous skin. Could there potentially be a conflict there where anti-aging products could exacerbate the rosacea?

Gabrielle: Yes. It's really common obviously with the retinols. So that's the number one go to for anti-aging as well as the vitamin C. It can cause a lot of irritation and redness for you. So a way to combat that with the vitamin C is just to look for a brand that has a lower L-ascorbic levels. So you'd want to do like 15% or lower. There's one that I really like is Clinical makes the vitamins C, that's specifically for people with rosacea. It's got that lower level of the antioxidants in it, or percentage like a 0.5% product. You'd want to make sure that like all of your [inaudible 00:15:41] and that your stuff from your good skincare and your prescriptions.

Jennifer: Okay. And that's really helpful to know, because I think sometimes like we straddle two different worlds and you're like, “Well, I got to pick one. Do I have to pick one?” And “Oh, okay. If I have to pick one, where should I go?” And so it's good to know that probably opting out of the anti-aging skincare may be really helpful. And might help people who are dealing with this every day, realize that the skincare that they're using is actually, it's really not helpful. Right?

Gabrielle: Yes.

Jennifer: Because that's what I discovered with my own issue, which is totally aside from this. And some of you guys heard myself and Rachael Pontillo talk about that on the Healthy Skin Show. I was using cleansers and oil-based toners, or no oil-based serums and oil-based moisturizers, it actually made my skin way worse. And I didn't know that I was like doing it to myself and it was very expensive, so very expensive and very painful. And so it's important that we understand these different things.

Jennifer: So I was just thinking to myself and listening to you, cause you're so knowledgeable about all this. And that's what happens when you don't always realize how much education you end up getting until you're in it, right?

Gabrielle: Absolutely.

Jennifer: Where you're just like faced with this problem. And you're like, “Oh my gosh, I need to figure this out.” And you already know a lot, but you start to learn a lot more as a result. So you ended up with this issue and you started working on it. And I want to just be clear before I ask you this question. I am not implying for everybody listening that your experience is going to be the same as Gabby's, but I'm going to ask her the question of, so you started dealing with this, right? You go to the dermatologist, you start swapping things out, you start removing these dietary flares from your diet.

Jennifer: How long, more or less did it take you to get from looking your worst, all the way to looking … I mean, right now, I frankly wouldn't really know that you had rosacea from looking at you. How long did it take to get to a healthier state of skin for you?

Gabrielle: So it was a lot of trial and error, it was not an easy journey by any means. So it took me at least six months to see any kind of difference whatsoever. And at least nine to 10 months before I was really confident in my skin again.

Jennifer: Thank you. Thank you, thank you for being very honest about that, because I don't know about you, but when I had eczema, I didn't like the “I took this out of my diet and I'm eczema free.” And I'm like “What?”

Gabrielle: Exactly.

Jennifer: You know, telling everybody that like, it's a quick fix, bam, you're better tomorrow. And you're like, “That's not my experience.” So the fact that you really, this was a journey for you, even though you found the right things to do, there was some trial and error. But it took time for your skin to rebalance. And so was this a lesson in a sense of impatience?

Gabrielle: Yes, absolutely. I wanted it right now. I wanted my skin to look better, especially with having to go to work. And I wanted my clients to think I knew what I was doing and yeah, it really took a lot of patience to love my skin again and get it to a healthy place.

Jennifer: Do you, if now let's just say like tomorrow you wake up and you start to see things going in the wrong direction. What are some signs or clues for you that a flare could be headed your way?

Gabrielle: When I slip up and don't follow all of my stuff to a T, if I forget a step in my skincare, or if I eat something that's a trigger for me. If I was out in the sun, if I participated in any of my triggers or eating something that's my trigger, I know that it's coming.

Jennifer: So it has helped you in a sense, it sounds like stay on a path because there is a certain motivation there to want to keep your skin healthy, which I can completely understand.

Gabrielle: Yes.

Jennifer: Yeah. Yeah, been there, done that. We understand. Everybody listening understands what this is like. And I just want to thank you so much Gabrielle for sharing your story. Because I know number one, for everybody who's listening. This is Gabrielle's first time ever on a podcast. You'd never know she did a great job and I really appreciate you being here, and being bold enough to share your experience.

Jennifer: I want to make sure that people can connect with you. You're over on Instagram and Tiktok. It's _gabrielleBuckman_, but I'm going to put links to those in the show notes. That way it's easy for people to get in touch with you. Is that okay if people reach out to you if they want to connect with you.

Gabrielle: Oh yeah, absolutely, I encourage it.

Jennifer: Awesome. That is great. And of course you are in the St. Louis, Missouri area. If people are interested in coming to get some support from you as a licensed aesthetician, where can they find you?

Gabrielle: Yeah, so I'm located at Salon De Christe and the address is 3901 Mid Rivers Mall Drive.

Jennifer: Awesome. That's great. And of course, obviously you guys, you can always to stay in touch with Gabrielle on Instagram or Tictok, or wherever that I found her on Instagram. And it was really helpful to see her pictures and also to read her experiences. And I hope that for those of you out there who are struggling with rosacea it's helpful for you to know that you're not alone, that this is a long journey. It can certainly be, there can be ups and downs. It can be trial and error.

Jennifer: And you know there's a value sometimes in the reminder that our skin can be like a friend and say, “Hey, you're not doing what's best for you as a whole. And we're going to remind you of that.” We don't always, I know I don't always love when my skin does that, but it is a good reminder to say, “All right, take a step back.”

“Being an esthetician, I really take care of my skin and take pride in it. So all of a sudden it was red and crusty and there were these pustules all over the place. And I was super self-conscious, wanted to cover my face all the time. I wore a mask when I was at work and a bandaid over my nose. It was difficult.”

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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