Faking Perfect Skin

I was doing my makeup and casually taking some photos of the process for my personal reference. But as I was browsing through them on the computer, they inspired me to turn them into something for the blog. It’s something a bit different, maybe a bit personal even, that I felt like sharing.

I fully admit my skin is far from perfect. In fact, it’s very problematic – I’ve been suffering with face and body acne, and extremely oily skin since I was 10. Yes, suffering, because at 28, that means I’ve been dealing with it for 18 years. Apart from the fact that it often literally hurts, it also gets frustrating when you can’t fix it with a simple cream, and when all your peers have long outgrown that stage (or never been affected in the first place).

I know many people have a hard time believing me when I mention it, because it rarely shows when I’m out and about – but that’s the power of makeup. For those of us who have not been blessed with perfect genes (more like cursed with the bad ones), we can still fake it.

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Sharing your bare face online when there’s all this negative critique isn’t easy, but I thought it was important to do so anyway. Many other bloggers and instagrammers have began doing more before and afters, and I always find them quite fascinating. We always seem to think everyone else has it better off than us and that they’re just naturally perfect because we rarely see them without makeup; with skin, it’s something especially personal because it’s the first thing we notice and if it’s not beautiful, we can quickly start feeling our confidence drop or even disappear. I’ve been like that for years, and I still can’t fully get rid of the mindset; I guess that’s both a negative and a positive thing, though. Negative because it brings unnecessary shame about something I have little control over, but positive because I haven’t given up and I keep searching for new techniques and products that can help me.

I’m not “confident” showing off my acne, but over the years I’ve been consciously trying to not let it affect me how I feel about myself. Especially now that I know the reason behind it. For the longest time, doctors refused to take me seriously (“oh it’s just a few pimples, have you tried Vichy?”), but recently I got an explanation for my neverending problems. I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS.
I’m sure many have heard about the condition, but it basically means my hormone levels aren’t as they should be, causing inflammation that leads to oily skin and acne. That’s why all the potions my doctor lazily prescribed never helped much. There are other symptoms that come with it as well, but I’m not going to go into too much detail as it’s not relevant for today’s topic. I’m only mentioning my diagnosis because I often find people think acne can be easily solved with a proper skincare regime (it can help to a degree by healing them quicker, but never completely eliminates them because it’s hormonal).

Applying makeup

Again, I was inspired to do this post because my makeup turned out really nice today, and I’ve had a very bad skin month so I think the difference is very visible. I didn’t just focus on skin, even though that’s the main point here, I applied a full face of makeup to show how it can transorm both my external appearance and my mental state.

Stage one:

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The camera does hide some issues, but this is what my skin looks like without any makeup. I have lots of hyperpigmentation from years of damage that’s made my face look a shade darker (foundation can be so tricky to find because of this!), there’s a fair amount of redness, my pores are huge with plenty of tiny pitted scars, and there’s not a single place on my face that I could righfully call “clear”. Some days it gets better, some days it gets worse.

Stage two:

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Here I applied my eye makeup and eyebrows first (the latter are a whole other issue and will get a blog post of their own one day) and did my skin last to avoid messing it up. My foundation of choice for years when I need higher coverage has been the Clarins Everlasting Foundation in the colour 103 Ivory. It’s the best match I’ve found for my skin tone in terms of shade, it’s one of the lightest ones in our drugstores and surprisingly neutral. I would prefer it to be slightly more yellow, but as long as it’s not pink, I’m glad I at least have something and I just add the yellowness later on with powder.
It’s a medium to full coverage foundation, not too thick but well pigmented and blendable, and as you can see it covers a lot on its own. There are still some spots peeking through, mainly on my neck which is harder to see when working. For application, I first use a brush (either the Zoeva 122 Petit Stippling or the Etude House Secret Brush 121 Skin) and then bounce a wet sponge over to get rid of any potential cakeyness. After that, I take a tissue and blot away any excess moisture of the foundation that might cause issues later on. It mattifies the skin slightly and prepares it for powder.
I didn’t use any concealers here yet, and I also haven’t applied any powder or blush.

Stage three:

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Following liquid foundation, I use the technique of pinpoint concealing to hide individual blemishes. I take a small pointy brush like the Bdellium Tools 760 for tiny pimples, or a slightly larger MAC 219 for bigger ones, and carefully dot the concealer on them. The best technique I learned from Lisa Eldridge years ago – you don’t need to drown your whole face in layers upon layers of foundation, instead use one well blended layer and address the reimaining blemishes with a high coverage concealer. I use either the Vichy Dermablend or ArtDeco Camouflage Cream or Catrice Camouflage Cream.

Then I apply a generous amount of loose powder using a powder puff. Powder puffs work a lot better for me than brushes because I can load a lot of product on them and really press them into the skin with a firm hand. Lightly dusting something all over doesn’t do a thing for me, it just can’t last because my skin is so oily, it needs a lot for the liquid foundation to really set properly and stay on for more than an hour. It’s almost like the current trend of baking, but I do it on my entire face. It looks very matte, but with all the oils quickly coming in it doesn’t look flat on me, just velvety. As much as I love glowy skin on others, I take away as much shine as possible because it helps so much in disguising my large pores. My most used powders are the ELF High Definition Powder and the ELF Mineral Booster, both yellow coloured. As previously mentioned, I have a lot of redness, and yellow counteracts it perfectly without making me look ashy like a green powder/concealer would.

Finally, I define my face with a dark contour and some blush. At this point, some of the concealer might come off of the angrier blemishes as you’re brushing the skin, so I go back in with the tiniest bit more concealer and pat it over the blush – keeping in mind not to try and cover it completely, it can still stay a bit red to blend with the blush better!

Lipstick is something that also helps a lot in taking the focus away from skin, so I almost always wear it. I go for neutral or brownish reds most times because they don’t accentuate other red areas of the face like a brighter, more orange or purple toned ones might.

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Photography

For real life and daily makeup, the above is enough. But when you put something on the internet, you want it to look its best – especially if that includes your face. While I don’t Photoshop my looks too extensively (I do it to some degree; a photo is just not real life and colours tend to look different in 2D, so at least fixing the curves is a must), knowing good natural lighting and camera angles helps a lot when it comes to photography. I don’t own any professional lighting yet so I use the sunlight coming from my windows. I never stand in direct light, that accentuates pretty much every imperfection I have; instead, I look for a place in my room that’s somewhere in the middle of the lightest corner and the darkest. Having a white wall nearby helps bounce the light better. It takes some trial and error, but with the right light, my skin looks softer and healthier.

But the most important role, as I tried to show in this post, is still that of the foundation application. You want a good base before stepping in front of the camera so you don’t have to fiddle with editing too much later on, it can quickly look fake and overdone.
I follow the same technique shown above, the only difference is I apply two layers of liquid foundation (sometimes three) instead of one like I did here, and I put on a layer of compact powder after the loose to set everything even further. I can get away with that because for the camera, more is more. In real life, that would be too heavy for me and I’d rather have a blemish peek through than have that much piled on as I find it uncomfortable and too obvious. Settling for middle ground works best for me.

Confidence

A few quick words. I’ve been a bit down because of my skin lately, but as mentioned before, I try to reason with myself that it’s not something that defines me. I can go out with no makeup on, it’s not the easiest, but sometimes I really don’t care which is a good thing and shows I’ve come quite far. I don’t apologize for the state of my face to people, that’s something that annoys me so much when others do it, especially if it’s the first thing they do when you meet. There’s nothing to apologize for, you didn’t have acne on purpose to offend my eyes. I don’t really want people to tell me I look “beautiful even without makeup” like I often see in the instagram comments when someone else posts a bare skin photo. I think beauty is something else entirely, and using it to describe acne just doesn’t seem right to me. Acne will never be “beautiful”, but that also doesn’t mean I automatically have to feel ugly. I’m just trying to be “fine” with it. This Summer, it miraculously disappeared for a little over a month, and I can’t believe how free I felt. That’s never happened before. I still didn’t feel “beautiful”, but I was comfortable in my skin and that’s what means the most to me. I was on a wholegrain, sugarfree diet for other health related reasons, so unless it was a very strange coincidence, it must have helped with balancing the hormones. I’m trying to get back to that healthy eating plan, but it’s not as easy as it sounds when you’re a picky emotional eater and obsessed with chocolate (and you start eating that chocolate when you’re down because of your skin). I’ll also be going to the doctor’s to help me find a way to keep this at bay. The fact that I’m trying to accept myself doesn’t mean I’ll stop looking for a solution. It just means I’ll be fine if I don’t find one.

Thank you for reading! 😊

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21 thoughts on “Faking Perfect Skin

  1. Dear Beautiful:

    Even though it may sound strange initially – I think you’ve been fortunate both to discover your diagnosis, but also to feel free (and creative!) to express yourself through makeup, photography and writing..

    Your talent – especially when combined with your honesty (about personal things, as well as not being concerned to express positive or negative views on products, etc) – is a rare comodity. I wish to applaud those people who influenced you in these areas, and I am greatly encouraged by how you wish to be real. This is part of what true beauty is. (Now, I know you said that you aren’t seeking encouraging accolades, but sometimes it’s just best to hear them anyways: you ARE beautiful.)

    Unless you’re been concealling excessive criminal or sociopathic tendencies, your inner and outer beauty will continue to develop as you practice the thinking and character which has brought you this far. That kind of beauty will outlast the brittle ceramic “beauty” which we’ve all witnessed – the kind which is relied upon to gain favour or social prominence in the pecking order of superficial life. But without development (and reciprocal appreciation) of honesty, social graces and requisite skills, we’ve all seen these “beauties” degrade into jealous, bitter, wounded creatures who go on to wound others because of their insecurity. Certainly in growing up, we’ve all been guilty at times, but the test is in what we permit to continually define ourselves.

    I struggle with depression, and was relieved to be finally diagnosed. I take medication, and although my confidence or outlook cannot be fixed with makeup, it is definitely boosted when I witness others (like YOU!) who are overcoming their own challenges, and who are not afraid to share them with others.

    How will we ever know what is real, and what is not, if all we ever see, hear or experience has been edited to “perfection”? It is through people like you who are dedicated to remaining real. I think it is wonderful that you can experiment with visual personas while striving to continue to be honest.

    A day will come (and you may already have seen signs of it) when you notice that both your natural self and your personally developed “you” shall match and surpass many others who had it “easier earlier”. I pray that as you notice this, you will voluntarily extend your grace to refresh those who have yet to learn it – and that they may begin to learn it from you!

    You are a rare gem in a world full of dusty rocks.

    Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep shining.

    m.

    • Thank you very much for this comment. It truly means a lot. I don’t know how you did it, but you read me perfectly. Being real and true to myself is what I strive for, and will continue to do so.
      I used to be greatly concerned with expressing the negative aspects of life, in fact I still am. But I try to overcome that as it only ever brings ill results – it negates me as a person, and gives others a false perception of me, which is what I absolutely don’t want. I want to live in an honest world, so I try to contribute to that ideal when I can. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in all these years.

      I actually struggle with depression, too. If only makeup could fix all the problems associated with that! But it does help me express myself better, it helps me see myself through different eyes, it helps me transform into someone else when depression wants to take over. I’m glad I can be of inspiration to you, helping others is what makes me happy.

      I hope that day comes. I’m not quite sure I want to surpass others, I mainly want to surpass my own expectations I set for myself. For years upon years, they’ve been very low, and I’m determined to change that.

      Thank you again for those wonderful words.

  2. Odličen članek, zelo lepo prikazani vsi koraki, fenomenalne fotografije in pa končni videz je odličen, si pa zelo luštna in mladostna (me je presenetilo ko sem videla, da imaš 28 let, tako kot jaz :), sem mislila da si nekje v zgodnjih dvajsetih ali še mlajša :))! Drugače pa imam tudi jaz PCOS in kapo dol za tako odkrito objavo!! Se mi zdi pomembno da spregovorimo tudi o tem, ker kot si napisala, tega je kar veliko, eno izmed oblik PCOS ima veliko žensk, četudi morda še ne vedo..

    No jaz sem odkrila tako, da sem se začela na enkrat rediti in rediti.. pa brez vzroka.. pa hkrati tudi vedno več poraščenosti in neredni menstrualni ciklus itd.. meni so odkrili na krvnih preiskavah, potrdil pa tudi ultrazvok.. nekaj časa sem se grozno počutila, sem pa kmalu izvedela da ima še nekaj mojih kolegic to težavo, tako da tega res ni malo..

    Kar pa se tiče make upa- tudi meni pomeni kreativnost, z roko v roki s sproščanjem,.. Ko se ličim se povsem umirim, osrečuje me, ne pretiravam, če to rečem! Ker ponuja toliko možnosti predrugačenja videza, od le tiste pike na i, do bolj ‘glam’ variant, ki vsaj meni osebno vlijejo še dodatno samozavest.. Tudi meni je miselnost, da z ličili zavajamo, pravzaprav smešna.. pa saj to je le en del osebnosti kot takih, kaj pa vse drugo :)? Make up imam rada že od kar pomnim, zadnja leta celo bolj kot v najstništvu npr. 🙂

    • Najlepša hvala!!! 😀 Ja, to mi pa večina ljudi reče, da izgledam občutno mlajša. No, upam, da se mi bo sploh na starost obrestovalo 😀

      Se strinjam, meni se tudi zdi to izredno pomembno, da se takšne stvari izpostavi. Zelo namreč vpliva na samozavest, pa niti ne veš, da lahko kaj narediš, če ti ne odkrijejo težav in pomagajo. Velikokrat preberem kakšen komentar na spletu, kako so vse akne posledica slabe higiene ali neustreznih izdelkov – v nekaterih primerih že mogoče, v primeru hormonskih motenj pa razne kreme in čistila večinoma ne rešijo ničesar. Želim si izpostaviti svoje realno stanje, morda pa komu pomaga, če bo kdaj prebral, da se bo počutil manj osamljenega s svojimi problemi.
      Telesna teža je pri veliko ženskah res prvi pokazatelj, jaz pa s tem nikoli nisem imela težav, zato tudi nisem pomislila, da bi lahko imela res PCOS. Sem se potem pozanimala in izvedela, da obstajata dve vrsti in pri drugem se ne zrediš, ker je veliko povezano z inzulinom. Imam pa skoraj vse druge simptome.

      To je super pogled na mejkap 🙂 Jaz priznam, da me ne sprošča vedno, recimo zjutraj ko se mudi in se senčilo nikakor noče lepo zabrisati 😀 Ampak ko si vzamem čas pa res tudi mene osrečuje. Ko se pogledam v ogledalo in vidim svojo kreacijo, vidim tudi svojo osebnost, ki sem jo lahko izrazila na obrazu. Hahah, res je, saj če tako strogo gledamo, potem itak z vsem zavajamo (frizura, stil oblačenja, britje brade pri moških). Ampak zavajanje je tudi to, da se ti ljudje delajo, da so super osebe, v resnici pa so zelo površinski in gledajo le na videz – veliko hujša oblika osebnostnega zavajanja po mojem mnenju 😉

      • Ja, ni slabo zgledati mlajše, kdo bi se branil 😀
        glede make upa pa ja- čisto odvisno kdaj se ga lotiš.. če se ga navsezgodaj, zaspan.. potem je včasih res bolj v breme 😉

  3. Either way, you’re a beautiful person! I’m fascinated by how well this works. You do such a great job “faking” perfect skin that I’m tempted to try makeup again. The lipstick and eyeshadow combination is so gorgeous (drool).
    I suspect I have PCOS (those negative symptoms that almost feel embarrassing to type out), but I’m not sure how to address it or discover if that’s the problem, after all. How did you have it diagnosed? I’ve always been embarrassed with the things my body does.
    Anyway, I love reading your blog and I admire how much effort and thought goes into these looks!

    • Thank you so much! You definitely should play around with makeup sometimes! It might take some practice (I’ve been faking it for years so it almost comes naturally, haha) but it’s very therapeutic when you feel down. 🙂
      I know it can feel embarrassing, I’m not always entirely comfortable with talking about it out loud either, but when you think about it, it’s not your fault, you know? It’s just mother nature fucking up, so it is what it is. I’m trying to accept the symptoms as being a part of me, but not define me, if that makes sense.
      I was diagnosed by chance. I had an ultrasound of my abdomen for some other unrelated issues I was having (stomach and kidney pain), and the doctor said “I can see here you have polycystic ovaries, but I suspect you already knew that, right?” and I stared at her and was like “… NO?!”. Even though I had two ultrasounds with my gynecologist, one only a week before this, he never told me. No one ever mentioned it to me in all those years, even though it should have been obvious. If you suspect you might have it, go talk to your doctor, and don’t be afraid of bringing up the weird symptoms. Trust me, they won’t be the weirdest thing they’ve heard, many women have some form of PCOS and we all have at least one thing bothering us we’d rather not admit to. But having an explanation to why you’re overly hairy or acne-prone can actually help you feel better, at least it helped me when I found out I wasn’t just “made wrong” but instead, something is causing this. I wish you the best of luck in finding help 🙂 And thank you again!

      • I used to be super obsessed with makeup, and then it got away from me! And that does make sense. I hate being hairy. I think that’s the worst part of it! When I go to the gyno next I’ll bring it up. Thank you for being frank and honest with me! 🙂

        • No problem! I love to help if I can 🙂
          I went through a similar path, I was doing makeup looks and posting them online every day, and then I started neglecting it as years went by. But I’m trying to get back into it this year because I missed being creative, and I’m glad I picked it up again!
          Yeah, the hairiness is definitely up there on the list, I’ve had boyfriends that were less hairy, hahah … Oh well. Hopefully there’s some form of treatment to at least limit it.

  4. Jaz bom rekla najprej takole, da si lepa brez makeupa, ker naravna lepota presega umetno in šteje samo tisto kako veliko srce imaš, za kar pa mislim, da je tvoje velikooo:), vsaj čutim tako:). Sama ne bom nikoli razumela ljudi, ki mi kdaj rečejo, zakaj se rabim ličit, če v prvi vrsti sploh ne živim v mestu in mi ne rabi, pa si potem rečem, kako so ljudje omejeni sami s sabo, vidijo samo na ravnost in ne več še levo in desno, makeup nosim zato ker še bolj poudarim lastnosti, ki so že v osnovi lepe, ker zakrijem kakšen dan slabe kože, ker se z njim počutim še bolje. Če bi pred leti mi kdo razjasnil pojme o tem da se nepravilnosti lahko razkrije, me ne bi vsi zafrkavali kaka sem, da sem bleda kot smrt:). Ampak me priznam to niti takrat ni prizadelo, nekje v sebi sem bila vedno močna in mi je marsikatera beseda bila preslišana. Ljubim makeup in hvala bogu da obstaja na tono izdelkov, ki te polepšajo. Makeup ima neverjetno moč, ko nisem naličena se nihče ne obrača za mano, ko pa sem urejena se zame obračajo moški, čeprav se na 50000 km vidi, da sem mami, ki potiska voziček:). sama se z njim počutim še bolše in za njim ne skrivam svoje karekteristike. Sicer pa pravim tako, nič ti ne pomaga makeup, če sebe najprej ne sprejmeš brez njega:). Ti si pa svojega naredila fantastičnega, sploh obrvi me fascinirajo in na splošno celoten izgled. P.s in oprosti za tako dolg komentar:)

    • Dolgi komentarji so super! Rada slišim, kaj drugi mislijo o tem, in na kratko je težko razložiti, ker je kar psihološka tematika. 😉 Hvala! Me veseli, da se to vidi navzven oz. razbere iz mojega pisanja, ker se trudim delati na notranjosti. Kljub temu, da mi mejkap ogromno pomeni, mi bo notranja lepota vedno na prvem mestu.
      Jaz se včasih naličim tudi če vem, da ne bom šla nikamor, ker se enostavno tako počutim 😀 Veliko ljudi res težko to razume, ker je družbena miselnost naravnana tako, da vsi mislijo, da se moramo urediti vedno le za druge, ampak temu ni tako (podobno je recimo tudi pri pospravljanju stanovanja, ki se ga lotijo šele, ko so napovedani obiski, zase pa redko kdaj počistijo – tudi nase moramo večkrat misliti! 🙂 ).
      Mene so grozno zafrkavali in na žalost me še danes spremljajo te spomini, ki pa jih poskušam počasi ignorirati. Sem bila poleg aken tudi jaz označena za smrt in jogurt 😀
      Res je, in ko enkrat sprejmeš sam sebe, je tudi mejkap boljši. Še enkrat hvala! Obrvi mi vzamejo največ časa, jim bom vsekakor namenila poseben zapis 😀

  5. Zelo lepo napisano :). Jaz res obožujem makeup in vem kako lahko pripomore k samozavesti. Makeup me ne definira, je pa zabavno sredstvo za ustvarjanje in večkrat je sam proces že “zdravilen” za nas, ki v tem uživamo. Potegi mehkih čopičev po obrazu so kot jutranji wellness :). Včasih se mi zdi tako bedasto, ko nekdo trdi, da se za makeupom skrivamo. Makeup je še eno orodje, ki nam lahko izboljša počutje – kot so to npr. sveže oprani lasje ali majica v toplem odtenku, ki ti poživi dan.
    Nisem imela nikoli problemov z aknami sem pa imela kožno alergijo večino mojega otroštva in še zdaj se kdaj kaj pojavi. Vem kako je ko pustiš, da te vizualen izgled kože potare in ko se vidiš na fotografijah v šoli in si nisi všeč zaradi vseh flekov in rdečice. Če bi takrat poznala vsaj lahko podlago in korektor bi mi bilo veliko lažje. Sem pa tudi to preživela in čez čas začneš na te stvari gledati drugače.
    Super objava 😉

    • Hvala! 🙂 Me veseli, da enako gledava na stvar. Jaz sem z mejkapom začela ravno zaradi tega “zdravilnega” učinka in zaradi kreativnosti, šele kasneje sem ugotovila, da se da znjim tudi fajn kaj zakriti. 😀 Skrivala sem se za njim mogoče na začetku, ko sem bila še v srednji, ker je takrat zunanji videz itak najbolj pomemben in skoraj moraš biti vedno popoln; tudi jaz sem vedno videla samo akne na fotografijah in bila vsa depresivna. Z leti pa mi je res postalo vse skupaj bolj hobi in manj nuja. Kot praviš, se zdaj uredim predvsem zato, da si malo polepšam dan. Je pa res neumno, kako se (sploh kakšni moški) zadnje čase nekaj pritožujejo glede tega, da se kar vse po vrsti skrivamo, mejkap je pa že od začetka človeštva v uporabi in dvomim, da so se v vseh teh tisočletjih vse ženske ličile samo iz tega razloga, da bi skrile svoj pravi obraz in preslepile potencialne partnerje. 😉 Pa ne vem, zakaj ne bi izboljšala svojega izgleda, če že imam to možnost, to ne pomeni avtomatično, da se ne maram, kot veliko ljudi misli. Naravno je, da želimo vsi izgledati kar najboljša verzija sebe, pa naj bo to z obleko ali ličili. 🙂

  6. I think you’re beautiful either way dear! 🙂 I would also like to point out that you have amazing eye makeup skills! That is a lovely eye look! 🙂

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