MY JOURNEY WITH ACNE
I think my acne stems from two places: the constant ups and downs of hormones & my diet - I eat FAR too much sugar and I'm paying the price. My skin is the zone where sugar and hormones rule.
I have seen countless doctors and dermatologists, and have been prescribed almost every drug and product under the sun. I have leaped at every new ad campaign which claims it will be the one to finally rid me of my problematic skin. All to little, if no avail. (But big up to Destination Skin for genuinely helping better than anything else).
Having whittled through and spent a disgusting amount of money on various products and creams, I have realised that this is just what my skin is like, and that's okay. I hopefully will grow out of it, but who knows when that might be. So, although still attempting to cut down the sugar, I decided to switch my focus from curing my acne to make up.
Make up is amazing because it allows us to hide the bits we don't want to show - but I think with that, also comes the fact that we feel alone with our problematic skin. We all blur and edit our skin in photos to an extent, which is more than okay, and I certainly wouldn't upload a photo without editing out a spot or two, but this gives us all the impression that everyone has got truly, perfect skin. But in reality, this isn't the case at all.
People seem quite surprised when I say I have acne, and I am met with "no - not proper acne?" - but yes, I have "proper" acne. I've just got bloody good at hiding it over the last 11 years. But this made me realise that there must be SO many people who I admire and am envious of their skin, but we may not always be seeing the full picture. Instagram is great for inspiration, but I think it's important to sometimes show the true picture behind it all - as terrifying as that may be.
Despite years of trialling the "best" foundations, concealers and powders (all of which have massive claims, and shoddy results) - I have FINALLY perfected a foundation routine which I think yields an impressive finish.
In this post, you will find an honest account of the only make-up routine I have found to work wonders, complete with unedited, unfiltered before and after pictures (yiiikes - don't say I didn't warn you).
So, I hope if you're struggling with your skin this post may help you to a) know that there ARE products out there which work and will help you feel confident in your own skin, and b) you are not alone - we all edit and airbrush but the reality is that hardly anyone does have truly, perfect skin irl and it's more than okay to conceal it up if you want to.
The aim of my foundation routine: conceal redness, hide blemishes and prevent excessive oil and sliding throughout the day.
~ Primer ~
The primer in question is the Nivea For Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm that was doing the rounds across the blogosphere a few years ago. Weird thought, I know - a post shaving balm as a primer? Although not designed as a primer, it works incredibly well. After trying countless - and in my opinion extortionate - primers, my friend said screw the £20 bottles, and grab this at around only £5 for a colossal vat of the stuff. Its secret ingredient is glycerin - making a sticky surface for your foundation to lock to your face for the day without budging.
I'll be honest on two counts:
- This is exactly the same, if not better, than the expensive primers that I have tried to suit my problematic skin - we're talking primers by Make Up Forever, Benefit, MAC, Pür - all of which are blown out of the water by Nivea.
- If you have quite oily skin, this product alone will not keep your foundation in place all day. It will damn well try, but my problem zones for sliding are my nose, under my eyes and my chin, and this isn't strong enough to lock the foundation down in those oily areas. However, it stands up against the other products on the market which fail to do that too (and they are actually designed for that purpose).
Application: Slap a thin layer across your whole face and wait for it to go tacky before moving onto concealer.
~ Concealer ~
My discovery of the Clinique All About Eyes Concealer was the definition of a happy accident.
Hoping to find a new brightening, lightening under eye concealer - to rival the likes of Kim K and the rest - I went online, guessed my shade and clicked order (opting for the lightest shade Clinique do). When it arrived, I'd say it was a complete match, if not slightly darker than my foundation. So a complete no no for an under-eye brightener. But since I'd opened the bottle to test it, I knew I'd have to fight for a refund, so decided to bare with it as a general concealer and this has CHANGED the game as a blemish and redness concealer.
It is very thick, but it blends like a dream, is VERY long-wearing and the coverage is unlike any other "normal" concealer I have ever used. My spots genuinely vanish once I have applied this. So YES, it's for your eyes, but do I care? Not a smidge.
Application: After the primer/post shave balm has dried and gone a bit tacky, I add a few small dots (a little goes a very long way) of this across my reddest areas (including any breakouts), under my eyes, over my nose, across my chin, and then I blend these dots in with a damp Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge. Once applied, this gives you a much more even base to apply your foundation to.
~ Foundation ~
My grandma is, without a shadow of a doubt, the main investor in my skin. Having contributed to (ha, make that entirely paid for) the cost of countless trips to dermatologists, and various make up products to make me feel comfortable in my own skin, this foundation was just another to add to that incredibly generous list.
Last Christmas, this foundation had been doing the rounds across the beauty blogger scene. Tanya Burr uploaded a tutorial using it and, although not a skincare guru for me personally (because damn her perfect skin!), I thought I needed to try it.
The Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer is marketed as a 2-in-1 foundation and concealer, so it is understandably VERY full coverage (an instant win in my books), but it is very blendable and long-wearing. I wouldn't say it feels light on the skin, but it isn't thick enough to make me think otherwise either. It definitely can be used as both a foundation and a concealer making for an easy 1-product application (le point of le product), but I have such red areas thanks to both scarring and current breakouts that I do need to double up with a separate concealer. But I absolutely LOVE the combination of this foundation and the Clinique All About Eyes concealer - they merge and form an epic power duo, giving the illusion of flawless, even skin.
Application: After having blended in my concealer across my ultra-red areas, I swipe a few dots of this across my face and blend it all in with my Real Techniques sponge, leaving me with a semi-matte, even and very well concealed base!
~ Powder ~
The final piece of my foundation routine puzzle is the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder.
This powder is absolutely beautiful, and is worth every single penny of its £29 price tag.
The powder is very very fine, and completely transparent so adds no colour whatsoever. If applied properly (see below), it visibly blurs pores and keeps your concealer and foundation as locked in place as is physically possible at this point. Genuinely, if anything is going to be up to this task - it's this powder. It doesn't cake AT ALL, nor does it make your skin feel dry, but it does seal everything in place - features which should but do not always go hand in hand.
Application: This is crucial to its success. I used to apply this with a brush and sweep a bit of powder across my oily areas, but this really didn't do much at all and I still found my foundation slipping by mid morning, leaving me with a bright red, uncovered nose. I mean really - where does the foundation actually slide to?! SO after watching a friend do her make up on Skype and pinching her techniques, I have started dipping my Real Techniques sponge into this powder, and packing it onto my oiliest areas - my nose, across the sides of my nose, my chin and any current breakouts that I have. A little does go a very long way, so as long as it is pressed into the skin firmly, this will keep everything locked in place.
Before & After
Now I'm under no illusion that my skin is something to be desired - but it has taken me well over 10 years to perfect a foundation routine that makes the redness disappear, evens my skin tone and leaves me (at least from a safe distance!) with the appearance of clear, even skin. At this point, that's all I'm looking for. So I hope if you, like me, have struggled to find products which actually can do this basic job - give these a try and tell me what you think!