I don't look like Mrs Angry but I do have a small patch of spider veins on each cheek, particularly the left one. Telangiectasia (a.k.a. spider veins and broken capillaries) are dilated small vessels near the surface of the skin. Typically they are caused by sun exposure or inflammatory conditions (such as acne or rosacea). Mine are due to rosacea and I am always on the look out for ways of treating them.

The key weapon in my arsenal is LED (light emitting diodes). There's actually a plausible explanation as to why this should work. Hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying pigment in red blood cells, absorbs light within a specific range of wavelengths (500 - 600 nm). Under high energy light, the dilated vessels heat up and close and eventually fade away. I have a monthly LED facial at my esthetician's salon and a weekly top-up at home with my Baby Quasar.

This isn't a permanent solution and fading veins can reemerge with too much sun exposure or a reaction to something that irritates my skin (my esthetician regularly tsks when I return to see her with blotchy cheeks). So additional help is required. Apart from a protective sunscreen, there are some potions that can help if they have the right ingredients.

Quick, but useful aside: vitamin K is not one of them. I've tried vit K creams and they don't work. The reason is fairly straightforward - vitamin K is a blood clotting agent and is better suited to treating, say, a bruise than a dilated vessel.

One of the ingredients that may work is horse chestnut extract. Horse chestnut trees (particularly the seeds) contain a saponin called escin. This is supposed to strengthen veins and capillaries by blocking an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which can breakdown of proteoglycans (part of the structure of capillary walls).

Derma-E Clear Vein Cream Spider Vein/Bruise Solution ($25) has a good dollop (3%) of horse chestnut extract. It also contains grape skin extract, which is also supposed to strengthen capillaries. Generally Derma-E makes good products for a reasonable price  so this is worth checking out.

Last year, I gave a pot of Osmotics Anti-Radical Age Defense ($111 in the TIA shop) to a friend and she wrote back to tell me it had done wonderful things for her thread veins. After a month or so she said: "I have two other red patches that I always automatically dab with concealer, but the other morning, I realized that one of them had pretty much disappeared. All in all, it does seem terrific.”

Ingredients in Derma-E:
Purified Water, Horse Chestnut Extract (3%), Witch Hazel Extract, Grape Skin Extract, White Oak Extract, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Rutin, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Bilberry Extract, Jojoba Oil, Green Tea Extract, Caprylic Triglyceride, Polysorbate 20, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate & PEG-100 Stearate, Pycnogenol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Citricidal, Phenoxyethanol.

Ingredients in Osmotics:
Purified Water, Vegetable Squalane, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Xanthan Gum, Tripeptide-1, Glycerin, Citrullus Lanatus Fruit Extract, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Soybean Sterol, Squalane, Vitamin E Acetate, Ubiquinone 50, Dimethylmethoxy Chromanol, Carnosine, Ceramide, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Linoleic Acid, Allantoin, Stearic Acid, Carbomer, Diazolidinyl Urea/Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Disodium EDTA, Tromethamine.