Reactions often leave behind permanent reminders, but one range makes camouflaging imperfections a piece of cake
Looking back over the years since I discovered makeup and skincare, it would be easy to point the finger and accuse me of being vain. In fact, I think a few people have. But while to others it may look like I'm glancing in the mirror yet again to admire my reflection or just can't help myself from looking at my legs, what I'm probably doing is checking for redness, rashes and unsightly bumps and marks.
When I look down at my arms I'm not comparing my tan to those around me; I'm studying the skin tone and analysing whether I'm about to break out in itchy red bumps or whether that patch of redness is just from feeling a bit hot.
It becomes almost obsessive, looking for these signs of irritation; but while being on the alert for new reactions is a necessary habit, feeling self-conscious about remaining marks, blotches and pigmentation from previous sensitivities can be a daily struggle, particularly when the sun comes out and skin is suddenly on show as it has been this week. Long after a reaction has been and gone, a trace of it can be left behind in the form of some kind of hyperpigmentation , which results in a patchwork-like body or face that kills your confidence.
"A skin reaction is usually due to what we call irritant dermatitis; true allergic contact dermatitis is much less common. As a direct result of contact with the culprit, inflammation is triggered," explains Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. "Those with thin sensitive skin have less effective barrier function so are more susceptible. It's this inflammatory process that can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The longer the skin is irritated, especially if also exposed to UV, the more likely skin will develop pigmentation. It's also more common in darker skin types."
Makeup, however, can be transformative both for the looks and the mind; good coverage is the difference between wishing you could go about your day with a paper bag over your face and feeling ready to face whatever's thrown at you with a confident smile.
It's exactly that kind of skin confidence that Vichy's Dermablend was created for; high coverage, fragrance-free, non-comodegenic products, designed to hide away flaws and camouflage that which you're not ready for the world to see. The brand's latest video campaign highlights the issue with impressive sensitivity (pun intended, naturally), as women with various skin imperfections take to the camera to reveal what they're covering up, from vitiligo to acne; not only is it inspirational thanks to their fearlessness but encouraging, too, to see what can be achieved with the right tools.
Whether you're checking the mirror because of rosacea, scars, thread veins or, in my case, the remnants of a reaction from seasons past, the new hard-wearing products from the Dermablend range are nothing short of life-changing. Adding to the existing pan stick and fluid foundation is the new Corrective Compact Cream Foundation , £22.50, which is creamy in texture and supreme in staying power; a more compact Corrective Stick , £15; and, my personal favourite, a super smooth Total Body Corrective Foundation , £29.75.
It's not just that the product's formula is so ingenious (high coverage, 16 hours hold, water, sweat and rub-resistant, plus non-greasy) but that it answers a real skin need. I've lost count of the times, especially when on holiday and forced to embrace the dreaded bikini, that I've had to apply my tiny concealer to multiple areas of my body to hide the result of a previous sunscreen allergy or prickly heat outbreak, and been left with a patchy mess and very little left to apply to those under eye circles.
Though there are many 'airbrush' products out there that claim to create the illusion of perfect legs, I'm yet to find one that's high coverage and, crucially, suitable for those of us who need it most - the sensitive types - which is why Vichy's innovation is so welcome in my beauty stash. Make-up artist Kenneth Soh is a fan for the same reason: “I love how Dermablend body covers up what you want to cover really well, but respects and doesn't aggravate sensitive skin - it feels hydrating when I apply it.”
It's important to note, though, that coverage is aftercare; it's not wise to use right away. Until a reaction calms down, it's a case of doing your best to minimise the damage, as Dr Bunting advises: "Acutely irritated skin allows more of anything applied topically to penetrate the skin. So a barrier cream is really the best thing whilst the irritation settles - hard to beat good old Vaseline!"
Once your irritation is long gone, or if your eczema or psoriasis is not active but those marks and scars remain, this is the range to reach for when you need a bit of beauty bravery. Importantly, your skin still looks like skin - you won't wind up looking like a mannequin with a mask on, but simply you, on a good skin day. If that's not worth checking out the mirror for then I don't know what is.
The new Dermablend range is available now at feelunique.com and launches in Boots on Monday 7th April 2014
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