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The adult acne diary part 3: the power of makeup

June 30th 2014 / Olivia De Silva / 1 comment

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Adult acne sufferer Olivia de Silva gets to grips with high coverage foundation in order to get through wedding season

Wedding season: a time of wonderful, life-affirming days and weekends away from normal life, spent celebrating with friends. Season, also, of a good reason to dress up every weekend, to keep the pedicure topped up, and experiment with hat wearing (surely too few hat-wearing opportunities in modern life, no?). If you've recently developed adult acne, however, wedding season is also "how do I cover this up", "I'll always have that huge zit on my chin in those beautiful, keep-forever photos" and "this cupcake and champagne diet is definitely going to cause a major breakout" season.

The last few weeks and weddings have been something of a baptism of fire for my new makeup regime. When you have a skin issue like acne, makeup can of course be something of a double edged sword: hugely confidence-boosting, but often fraught with the concern that putting this thick, gloopy substance on your face is surely not going to be what the doctor ordered for your stressed out skin. I mentioned in my last diary entry, though, that Dr Bunting is one medical professional who fully endorses the benefits of makeup in helping people overcome skin conditions, so luckily for me she’s given me a list of products that will not only give me that holy grail of coverage that makes everyone think my acne’s disappeared overnight, but will also avoid aggravating things.

I’m going to test out a few of the different products that Dr Sam has recommended me over the course of my treatment (such is my new found enthusiasm for the wonders of makeup!). For the moment I’m loving the Vichy Dermablend Liquid Foundation, £16, and Foundation Stick, £15, which are both non-comedogenic (put simply: they don’t block up your pores). The Foundation Stick is super easy to apply and is pretty magical in its coverage. I’ve had a couple of bad breakouts over the last few weeks (probably due to my weekend gorges on cheese and cake at all these weddings), and it’s covered over even the reddest of red spots, and blends in very easily for days when that’s the only makeup you’re going for. The foundation itself feels super light when on, and I even received a “Wow, your skin looks great” the first time I wore it (really, the first time someone’s said that to me in a year, and, except for champagne and smoked salmon, probably the best start to the day a girl could have).

The only issue I’ve had hasn’t been the fault of the products, more my incompetence as a (very) novice makeup user… I’ve admitted previously that makeup application is not something I’m well-versed in. There are certain girlhood rituals that we’ve all been through - watching Grease repeatedly, spending all your money in Tammy Girl, falling in love with Leonardo DiCaprio, begging your parents to buy you a pony. I did all of the above with gusto, but somehow bypassed learning how to put makeup on (for the record, other girlhood rituals I never undertook and sometimes, entirely unfairly, blame my mother for, include ballet lessons, learning how to do a French plait, and The Brownies).

I learned quickly (and to comedic effect) that I will now have to get up five minutes earlier than I previously did to accommodate my new beauty regime; attempting to use a new foundation for the first time when you’re unpractised in the art, it’s 7.28am and you need to leave for work at 7.30am via a sweltering tube, does not a pretty picture make.

The Lisa Eldridge video I mentioned before has been hugely helpful. One of the revelatory secrets she offers up in the video is that you don’t need to slather your whole face thick with makeup. Most of the time, people who suffer from acne are still relatively young and so you have lots of ‘bits’ of skin on your face that are still glowy and lovely, so it’s worth making sure those will shine through. As Lisa says, it makes it less obvious that you’re wearing makeup, but it also had an unexpected effect: going through this process, figuring out the bits of my face that, actually, still looked OK when I stared in the mirror, was a weirdly positive experience. It’s very easy to write off your whole face when you have acne; to assume that the only thing anyone can see is acres of red blotches and mountains of pimples. Making myself find the bits that were passable, if not actually quite glowy post-moisturiser, was lovely, even if it was only my forehead, brows and just below my eyes. I will try to remember and be grateful for those bits when I’m next despairing with my cheeks and chin.

So - makeup aced (or at least aced enough to stand up to the scrutiny of wedding photographs), time to take on my next potential wedding-season nemesis: dairy. Whilst it’s not the cause of my acne, and it’s not dire if I sneak a spread of butter onto my sourdough at the weekend, I have found that cutting dairy out (in the week) and reducing it (at the weekend - a girl’s gotta live) has helped minimise breakouts. It’s not even proved that tricky - living in London there are a myriad of non-dairy options most places (almond milk my current fave).

Until, that is, the fantastic indulgence that is wedding food graces your weekend. I have had a mini-breakout each Monday morning since wedding season began, probably in part due to my fairly saintly new weekday diet coming crashing down so monumentally every Saturday and Sunday - cake, cream teas, cheese, more cake, and sometimes even cheese-cake, or cheese stacked up like cakes. I should caveat that this is, of course, all compounded by a fair amount of champagne, and often a little less than eight hours sleep (and in one case, inexplicably drawing moustaches on all our faces with felt tip pens - fun, but probably not part of my new beauty regime). In short, I have, at the not-so-tender age of 29, finally realised that my skin is a living, breathing organ, that gets tired, and hungover, and stressed out like my brain does.

I’m afraid there is no easy solution to the temptations of the good life, apart from being aware of what makes your skin happy and unhappy, and choosing when not to worry about it. I’m not quite restrained enough to turn down culinary delights at weddings, so I’ve concluded that being as good as I can in the week and splurging a little at the weekend is a-okay for me while weddings are in season. Your skin’s important, but sometimes, some things in life, like celebrating with friends, like letting your hair down a little, are more so. And I have some damn good makeup to help me through Mondays until my skin calms down again.

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  • Abigail Croft
  • July 1st 2014

Thanks for the great articles Olivia, so many women are suffering too - you are not alone. I look at clear skinned women and just hope they don't take their skin for granted! There are days I just want to work from home and not face the world.
Look forward to reading more from you xx

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