[BTW: This is a really long post ]
As I sit down to write this post, I am still in slight disbelief, and in all honesty a little proud too.
How have I gone from a skincare and makeup disaster to writing, what I hope will be a helpful how to article?
I have always loved lotions and potions that claim to fix whatever problem I seem to be having that hour, but for what was around 6 years of my life, I struggled with cystic acne, acne scarring, Roaccutane and excessively dehydrated and lacklustre skin.
It is safe to say that my skin has always worked against me. However, three years post an intense and rather uncomfortable Roaccutane treatment, my skin finally decided to not completely hate everything I tried to feed it.
The reason I am going into the nitty grits of my skincare journey in a flawless makeup base piece is because I am a full believer that “flawless makeup” is a result of good skincare and skincare treatments.
I just want to clarify with what I mean when I say “flawless makeup.” It’s not necessarily perfect skin without a single spot, scar, blackhead, blemish, etc.. but rather the makeup look that I have tried to achieve since I started wearing makeup and after six years of dealing with skin I wasn’t happy with nor that I was comfortable in , I am finally comfortable in my skin and happy with my appearance and am (as a result of the routine I have laid out below) now wear minimal makeup (probably the lease amount of makeup I have ever worn.) It’s hardly about perfection but rather healthy and glowing skin that I incessently and rather obsessively worked on over the last few years to get it to where it is now.
Dealing with Acne:
Before my treatment with Roaccutane my skin was in such bad shape that I couldn’t event wash it (from the pain.) I went from:
- Starting off with gentle cleansers, moistuerisers and no makeup (no help)
- Drinking more water and eating cleaner (no help)
- Exercising more (no help)
- Milder tablets that would minimise the acne, for a duration of three months which didn’t work
- Having quatrazone injected into the cysts to try to reduce the swelling which also didn’t work
- Finally (as a last resort) being prescribed an initial three months of Roaccutane (with monthly checkups due to the side affects of Roaccutane being so severe it has to be consistently monitored when taken.)
After the initial three months there was excessive dryness to the point that my lips would tear and bleed by just talking – but it was working slowly – it wasn’t the most pleasant experience with the dryness. acne and scabs (from the dried cysts and lip cuts) really taking a hit on my self-confidence. I couldn’t wear makeup to cover anything up as it would only make it worse and spread the bacteria more so I had no choice but to sit this one through (trust me my final year high-school class photo makes for a good laugh now)
Side note: I was never one to pick my spots / pop my zits. I would never touch them and tried to not touch my face a lot either. However, regardless of this all my spots seemed to leave a scar.
After those first three months some progress was made but it still wasn’t great. I was prescribed a further dosage of roac again under constant monitoring and frequent blood tests. This time once my treatment had finished (After 7 months) the acne had pretty much gone, however the scars remained. (see below – it’s not that clear but they were pretty deep, I just couldn’t find a close up image of them.)
Note: My skin at this point was also really dry and dull looking as a result of the treatment.
The scars to this day haven’t gone away, but overtime ( about 2 years) a fair amount of them have faded. I am looking into laser to get rid of the remaining ones but there is no urgency, as I think my skin has really recovered pretty well considering what I started off with.
That’s the gist of how I got rid of my acne – however, to achieve that glow that I now have with my makeup looks, was another process in itself which is what I wanted to highlight in this post , because it was something that I played around with trying different products to really get a finished result that I was happy with.
Note: Until I found this routine my makeup looked like the above image for about a year and a half / two years – as my skin remained dull, dehydrated and dry after the treatment.
(above image is a 1-2 months in with part of the below routine)
(above image is the result of the outlined routine below after 6 months)
A little under a year ago when I had interned at The Sunday Times Style, I was tasked with transcribing an interview with celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin ( think Meghan Markle and the royal wedding makeup) This article has since been published so go and have a dig if you are interested in reading it.
What Martin mentioned in his interview was that the key to a perfect base and as a result a flawless finish (heavy or light) is prepping your skin first by knowing your skin type and “getting it to a neutral place.”
Personally, my skin type has switched post my acne treatment from combination / problematic to dry and dehydrated (yes both.)
As much as I would love to try to cover all skin types, I can only really give off tips from my own experience which will be for skin that is dry and or dehydrated. However, if you have got a different skin type, try and do a bit of research into how to best tackle your concerns – Caroline Hirons and Cult Beauty are two of my go to destinations for skincare advice.
Alongside that, Lydia Elise Millen’s skincare recommendations are second to none when it comes to finding out about new products / or if you’re hesitant to try something new. I started getting into acid toning after seeing the results on Lydia, and much of why I have gotten into skincare so much is down to her skincare routines / product recommendations.
(but keep reading as there are products and tips here that will work for most skin types too)
This routine is based on a day-time routine (apart from one key product that is used at night)
Tip 01: Exfoliate
Martin reiterated in his feature that exfoliation will “plump up the texture of the skin” and really give that “K-beauty skin.”
Exfoliation can range from cleaners (Omorovizia’s moor mud cleanser is a pretty good shout) as well as face masks and direct acids ( Glycolic toners and Acid Peels – I use The Ordinary for both my Glycolic toner and acid peel)
Although I haven’t tried it myself yet, I have also heard incredible things about the Dr Denis at home daily exfoliating peel (if you are a skincare junkie like myself, it may be worth taking a look at)
- I use a Glycolic toner every night
- I use an acid peel once a week / or once every other week.
- I use a brightening (through exfoliation) face mask before special occasions / events in the morning before applying makeup to get the absolute perfect base. (Glamglow Flash Mud is still my OG.)
Note: If you are new to acid toning, try the glycolic toner first and see how your skin reacts. Direct acids can be harsh so be sure to start off mild, and wait for at least six months of acid toning before going in with an acid peel (they are very strong.)
Tip 02: Tone + Glow (pt 1)
A simple step in almost any beauty routine is toning ( it can help balance uneven complexion and hydrate the skin.)
A safe option for toners, personally is a rose-water toner (this is advice handed down from my mum and her skin is probably the best i’ve ever seen.) Rose water is renowned for balancing out uneven complexions whilst subtly hydrating the skin.
I follow-up my toning with a Vitamin C serum. This is also a relatively new step (I only started this around last October) and in all honesty, I cannot live without it anymore ( I seem to progressively be making my life more expensive)
Vitamin C is another way to really add a shot of brightness to the skin if you do suffer from dry / dehydrated skin whilst also firming it up.
A personal favourite is from Drunk Elephant (I find that some Vitamin C serum’s can be really strong and this one is on the milder side of the spectrum, although it does come with a hefty price tag, as much as I hate to admit it!)
Another Vitamin C product I haven’t tried yet but plan on trying out soon is the LixirSkin Vitamin C paste .
Tip 03: Hydrate + Glow (pt 2)
Hydrating is a step I only recently got right with a new product that has transformed how my makeup sits by adding that extra layer of moisture – a seemingly thick hydrating serum (now this is what works for me, if your skin doesn’t sit well with heavier products please adjust accordingly with a lighter serum or hydrating mist)
The revolutionary product I am referring to is the Sunday Riley Juno Essential Face Oil. If you aren’t familiar with the product I’ll give a brief insert below about this magical potion :
” Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil rejuvenates dull, lack-lustre complexions and delivers an intense radiance boost to leave skin looking luminous. With an exhaustive list of nourishing oils, it absorbs quickly to hydrate, whilst balancing sebum production for a healthy, dewy glow. Vitamin C, essential amino acids and omega-3, 6 and 9 together with natural UV shields and anti-inflammatory agents make this glorious oil-non-oil a potent, replenishing potion that restores the tired skin to its velvety best.” –
Do not be mistaken this oil really adds a huge shot of moisture and gives a beautiful healthy and glowing finish (a little goes a long way too.)
Tip 04: SPF + Prime + Glow (pt 3)
I like to go in with an SPF that has anti-pollution properties (London life.)
For the past five years I have used one from Clarins and it is by far my favourite one so far – it isn’t ridiculously priced (for a high quality SPF) and is non-greasy which means it instantly absorbs into the skin without leaving a streaky white residue.
I started using this SPF when I was on my acne treatment (it makes your skin very sun sensitive and direct contact with the sun should be avoided) I liked it because it had a non-greasy formulae which at the time (zits everywhere) was a godsend for me as it didn’t aggravate my skin with added grease and moisture.
Now you can leave your routine here if you want, however, because my skin is so dry I like to go on with one more product which doubles as a primer ( my makeup will not move for +12 hours)
I use the Embryolisse Lait-creme Concentrate and double it as a second moisturiser and primer which plumps, hydrates and primes my skin and (the best part) adds to the glow.
The best thing about the Lait-creme Concentrate is that it is so versatile (I interchange it between a primer and mosituriser) but it can also be used as a cleanser and face mask.
Tip 05: Glowy base holy grail
This is my last tip for really getting that glowy base to perfection and that is the Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter Foundation. (I am shade 04 – Medium)
This is an incredibly light weight foundation, so if you are looking for more coverage I would mix this in with another dewy finish foundation (Nars Natural Radiant Long-wear and Giorgio Armani’s Maestro Glow are two of my favourites.)
This is the mother of all glowing beauty products. I first found out about this product from a friend who was wearing it when I (rather abruptly looking back) asked her what on earth was on her face because she was beaming and I needed it ASAP.
Lord behold it was this godsend of a product.
This is more of a skincare focused side of really getting the perfect base – and in all honesty after countless years of failed attempts with trying to get my makeup to look the way it does now, I can with 100% confidence say it comes down to how I prepped my skin before hand (i.e. my skincare routine.)
The biggest tip I can give from this post is the rest will work out if you get the skincare right. Understand your skin and try out different products to see what it responds well too.
It took me about three years to find a routine that I am happy with and that works for me – so trust the process and don’t be scared to experiment a little.
Side tip: the products that I have seen the biggest difference with is:
- The glycolic acid toner from The Ordinary
- Vitamin C serum from Drunk Elephant
- Embryolisse Lait-creme concentrate
- (and the Hollywood Flawless Filter from Charlotte Tilbury! it’s honestly unreal.)
The other products I find enhance the work of the above mentioned products.
Most important note: The products outlined above are products that have worked for me over time as I started experimenting with different products and seeing what my skin reacted best with. These are quite pricey products (as much as I love them, this can’t be denied) so please don’t feel that you need them to achieve a certain look / look at certain way. There are plenty of (reasonably priced) brands out there (The Ordinary, The Inkey Set, La Roche Posay etc) that can be substituted and work just as well, if not the same. Just listen to your skin and play around with different vairations and mixes! It takes time.