Whether you’ve escaped the winter lurgies doing the rounds, or you’re on your 59th cold of the season (surely immunity kicks in around now?!), it pays to be prepared when battening down the hatches and making a blanket fort just isn’t an option. We’re not talking Kleenex and Lemsip, although both are pretty much vital for cold combat operations, but a few strategic makeup tweaks can temporarily take the edge off seasonal sickliness, so that at least you don’t look as bad as you feel, and perhaps not everyone you encounter will recoil and run for the hills (although don’t spread it around, obvs). I cornered the experts for their advice on tackling bunged up cold face, because even supermodels get snotty. Here’s your cold cover-up cheat sheet. Get well soon.
Start with a simple and comforting base of moisture before you go there with makeup. Chances are your skin is parched and looking and feeling more than a little depleted, while all of that Darth Vader style breathing will have dried your lips out no end. Exfoliate skin lightly with a gentle acid toner , apply a hydrating serum and moisturiser and seal the deal with an anti-inflammatory primer, both to keep makeup in place and keep peaky skin in check. Cover FX Calming Primer , £29, tones down redness and irritation, evening out skintone and smoothing even chapped areas, plus it’s free from common irritants and fragrance and goes down very well with the sensitive of skin.
If a serum, moisturiser and softening primer combo isn’t cutting it, consider calling in heavier cold armour, as makeup artist and beauty specialist Nathalie Eleni advocates:
“Use ice cubes wrapped in gauze and circle around your eyes or areas of congestion; it really helps to reduce any inflammation. Do some light lymphatic drainage movement around your eyes: use your ring finger and a cold eye gel (keep in the fridge overnight) and starting from just below the rear duct and bridge of your nose, do light pressure point padding motions to your temples, then inner corner of your eye socket up and across the brow bone.”
“Puffiness and redness are key giveaways to a cold. I recommend using a soothing balm packed full of vitamin E on any red or sore areas to help to soothe and protect from the cold and to prevent your skin from looking flaky.”
“It’s really important to have a balm to use around the nose to protect it from becoming extra sore and inflamed. You can mix a little of your concealer with a balm (or even a little Vaseline as a barrier if that works for you) and use a cotton bud to apply when needed.”
Concealer wise, Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer Crème , £20, is available in an impressive array of shades and won’t budge an inch during wear, while Bourjois' Blur The Lines Concealer, £7.99, knocks back shadows and blotchiness while keeps skin supple and hydrated. The shade range is distinctly lacking, but otherwise it’s a good egg, and you can layer it to achieve your desired coverage, depending on which stage of charming cold development you’re at. Once you’ve done the initial firefighting, you can get on with a bit of glow getting…
Whether you’ve gone grey, a kind of sallow yellow, pink or white as a ghost, colds do something very odd to the complexion. A bit of colour can prove very health giving indeed, even if it’s green. Bear with Nathalie here…
“Use a green based creamy concealer to help to counteract any red tones and follow with your foundation. Then dust on some light reflecting powder to brighten skin and reflect away from any redness.”
Suspicious of green concealer? Yellow can mellow things down too, as head makeup artist for Benefit Cosmetics Lisa Potter-Dixon explains:
“High colour on our cheeks and around our nose is a sure sign of a cold. Use a yellow colour corrector under your foundation to knock back any redness. Pat this on with your finger to ensure long wear.”
Eyes looking particularly small and tortured? Fret not, as Lisa has both sympathy and practical solutions to puff-gate:
“Puffy, red eyes are a real pain. To try to keep the situation at bay, apply cold, damp teabags to your eyes each night during flu season. Sounds mad, but the caffeine from the tea can help to shrink the blood vessels around the eyes, reducing puffiness and dark circles. This is pretty handy during non-flu season too…”
Open up the eye area by using lighter shadows (this is NOT the time for a full smokey eye), and if you’re yet to experiment with a highlighter, Nathalie encourages you to dive on in:
“Light reflection is key, so enliven up your face with highlighter and apply it in the inner corners of your eyes to make them appear wider and more awake.”
The MAC In The Spotlight range of Strobe Creams, £25, is the answer to your ‘meh’ skin qualms, and the range of undertones will ensure that your chosen highlighter makes skin look naturally luminous, rather than alien like (really don’t need that right now).
Define and conquer
If your eyes are still disappearing, despite your best ‘awakening’ efforts, a little definition will bring them more to the fore without highlighting the fact that you’re in a fluey fug. If nothing else, lift lashes with a good few coats of waterproof mascara ( Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara , £18, is a trusty wand for feverish times). If your energy and compulsion to point a black stick in your eye is amiss, take some preventative action as recommended by Lisa:
“If you’re prone to colds and seasonal illness, have your lashes tinted through the winter months. This means that you can avoid mascara on those streaming eye days, without looking like a mole! Ideal.”
From tinting to perming to more dramatic extensions , there’s a host of no-fuss lash treatments available that give you a medium-term boost that’s as welcome on Christmas party days as cold ridden ones (especially welcome if the two coincide). If you live in London, Daxita Vaghela is said to be one of the speediest and skilled lash specialists in town- I’m off to experience her newest, boldest and softest lash extension services this month so will report back. If Daxita’s services are out of your range, blink brow bar , Shavata and Lash Perfect bars will all go to great lengths to give you a no-faff fan of low-effort lashes, whether they’re your natural set or not. The need/inclination to wear eye makeup afterwards will be greatly diminished.
Got lashes sorted but still feeling rodent-like in the eye area? Try framing your eyes in a different way, following Lisa’s lead:
“Well-groomed brows are great for keeping you looking awake and wide eyed. Sweeping a touch of tinted Benefit Gimme Brow , £20, through your eyebrows makes all the difference.”
Get a facelift
Not actually, but small tweaks and shots of colour can distract from the outward symptoms of sniffles, as Lisa has herself learned:
“Nothing lifts your complexion more than a bright lipstick. Slap on your favourite shade, even if you can’t be bothered. It’s better than the ‘what’s wrong with you’ comment being thrown at you a million times in a day. You’ll look vibrant and healthy even if you don’t feel like it.”
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Balm , £20, is now available in a range of lifegiving tints that add both warmth and nourishing protection from the elements.
Another face saver is a dusting of apricot or peach hued blusher on apples of the cheeks, or if you’re a bronzer fan now is the time to go for a more sheeny finish. Your pallid pallor can handle a bit of sparkle, and if you go for bagsy x Savannah Miller Bronzed Brilliance Shimmer Powder , £20, the fact that 15% of the retail price goes towards international charity Women for Women should go somewhere towards making you feel better.
Follow Anna on Instagram @annyhunter , Lisa @lisa_benefit and Nathalie @nathalieeleni_beauty