For the past couple of months, I've been blessed with good skin. You know how some people are blessed with it, period? Well, I am happy to be temporarily blessed - such is the frequency of my breakouts. So when my recent period of good skin ended with a volcanic bang, I decided to show you exactly what I do in terms of skincare and makeup. Hopefully this will be helpful, if not interesting.
Below is the offending acne spot. It's huge. The full diameter of the spot actually extends past the red circle, so it's about the width of my pupil o.O. And it's one of those firm, hard cystic ones, I think. My front-facing phone camera is not that great, so the skin looks a bit more evened out than usual. But trust me, it's baaad.
|No makeup, taken with slightly blurry front-facing camera|
Step 1: Damage control & treatment
What you can't see in this photo is that there were actually two spots. Before I went to bed, I applied tea tree oil to both monstrocities, and one of them thankfully had died down by morning. Woohoo!
Applying other topical solutions including BP, AHAs and BHAs would undoubtedly help, especially overnight. I had none of these to hand, so instead I applied copious amounts of tea tree oil to my spot. As with all products, do be careful and try a patch test in case of sensitivities.
Step 2: Textural improvement (prepping for makeup)
Textural improvement can encompass many things. I have normal-oily skin and the skin around my pimples can tend to be a little dry, which is why I like to exfoliate. If your skin is dry but not flaky, the only textural improvement/prepping you'll need is a good moisturiser.
I exfoliate for two reasons - for one it improves my skin texture, thereby making me look more even-toned and glowy. It also helps to create a smooth canvas (especially on and around the pimple) so that concealer will go on smoothly.
The product I am using here is Kose's Seikisho Perfect Clear Gel, though you can use anything. In the past I've also enjoyed using Asian drugstore Watsons' Collagen exfoliating gel, which is cheap and effective without being abrasive.
|A closer look reveals tiny non-abrasive particles which you can't feel at all on the skin.|
|After 30 seconds or so, the scrub forms a dry film on the face. Upon gentle rubbing, the film comes off, taking dead skin cells with it.|
|All smooth and primed for concealer!|
Step 3: Conceal
This is actually a bunch of mini steps. Concealing can be the most time consuming part of makeup, especially if you want it to look flawless. I don't bother trying to look flawless anymore because it's tiresome, and because I've learnt to make peace with my acne.
Here are some application tricks which have always worked for me:
- Pat concealer on with fingers
- Use a cross-hatch application to minimise fingerprint concealer marks (a damp Beauty Blender / dense sponge often works better than fingers in this case)
- Apply concealer both around and on top of the pimple
- Blend liberally around the pimple to blend the concealed area into the rest of the skin
KEY: Do not disturb the makeup on the pimple itself. Just make sure it's covered, and don't be tempted to go in to blend out (you'll most likely blend away the coverage). It'll look more harmonious once you blend the concealer around the pimple anyway.
|Here I am dabbing copious amounts of Shu Uemura Nobara Stick Foundation over *and* around my pimple|
Step 4: Give up
No, seriously. You've tried your best, but a pimple is still a pimple in all its red, three-dimensional glory. Settle for a decent coverage, because there's a wafer-thin line between concealed and cake-y.
Step 5: Set the concealer with powder
This step is just to fix and prolong the wear of the concealer.
By this, I mean lightly pat powder on top of the concealer, making sure not to disturb or move the product around. I like to use a powder puff for this, because the flat surface area means that any pressure is evenly distributed and won't move the concealer.
|T-zone and spot both powdered with Guerlain pressed powder|
Step 6: Finish the rest of your makeup!
Onto the fun part. :D
My makeup aesthetic during breakouts is as follows:
- Minimising flaws is good enough
- Accentuate good points, and THERE ARE GOOD POINTS. Watching Lisa Eldridge's acne tutorial fundamentally changed the way I viewed makeup and acne; she taught me to appreciate aspects of myself which I overlooked, and also taught me that acne never looks as bad to others as it seems to ourselves.
- Draw the eye away from the flaws. I avoided strong blusher in this instance because my pimple is right on my cheeks. ^^
- Don't confound makeup with concealing. Have fun with makeup! Having acne doesn't stop you from having fun and playing around with colour. It also helps you not to feel defeated if the concealer doesn't really work out, or if it just doesn't look as good as you hoped. Makeup should still be fun, and just because you have acne doesn't mean you can't enjoy it for its creative aspects. :)
- Choose the right colours and textures. If the spot is very red-toned, I'd refrain from blushes that have an obvious red undertone.
- Don't disturb the skin on/around the pimple. I'd keep colour and product away from the concealed pimple as much as possible.
Below is how I chose to do my face today - simple, natural but not entirely flawless. It still lets my natural and perfected skin texture and luminosity show through. Since the makeup is not particularly different, I haven't listed all the products but do let me know if you're curious about anything in particular!
|Both pictures taken in daylight, this one is a better depiction of my skintone|
Makeup worth mentioning:
- MAC F&B samples (probably N2 and C2) to even skintone
- Shu Nobara Foundation Stick 564 as pimple concealer
- Guerlain Meteorites and Guerlain pressed powder
- SUQQU Sumiredama on the eyes
- Kanebo CHICCA Lipstick in 65 on the lips
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the pimply side, albeit in slightly different lighting. Make no mistake, the pimple is still there, and anyone who looks closely can see that the area stands out. You can click on the images to enlarge them at your own risk. :P
It does however minimise the appearance of the angry red pimple, and that's all I can hope for when I am faced with acne this prominent.
Alright, I think that's it. The other thing that I try to do when I can is to use a Nexcare acne patch. You can probably find reviews and tutorials on the blogosphere for these, they're awesome. I currently don't have any, but next time I do I'll share it here. They basically drain away all the white pus from the pimples. Best to apply on clean, dry whiteheads and let it work overnight. Note - this will not work for cystic pimples.
I hope you found this helpful. It's nothing ground-breaking, and I stand to improve a lot of my existing techniques. What are your favourite acne-fighting products?