People often claim to be surprised when I say that my skin is volatile. I am, you see, extremely good at applying base products just so to give the illusion of healthy, glowing skin. Once freed from a cocoon of concealing products, the result of my PCOS is all too evident: 50% of the time my skin is plagued by eruptions of redness and cystic spots.
As well as the more understandable ups and downs that come and go each month, my skin also decides every now and then – seemingly for no reason – that it is miserable, cannot possibly continue to behave well and that the only answer is to stage a violent protest on my face. This is common to PCOS sufferers; our skin is exceedingly sensitive not only to hormones but also to sugar fluctuations, stress and a whole host of other variants.
This has been both a blessing and a curse; as a result, my knowledge of how skin functions on a cellular level, and which products and dietary offerings will be accepted gratefully by my mercurial skin, is encyclopaedic. On the other hand, I often have to attend important occasions wearing strategic make-up to conceal redness. When others profess that they believe my skin to be without flaw at soirees, I feel fraudulent.
Last month, however, I was getting ready for a wedding when my husband turned to me and said my naked skin looked extremely good that day. He entreated me not to wear any base. My first response was not, as you may imagine, joyful. I felt lost. Where does one start with make-up without a base? What if it gets hot and I flush red? The idea of venturing out the house nude of skin made me feel vulnerable, despite the fact that my complexion was indeed as clear as ‘light unblemished by shade’ (yes, I did just quote Wordsworth – those of you with angry skin will understand why I’ve employed the words of a Romantic poet at this point in my tale).
I took the plunge. Sort of. I wore an extremely light BB cream and tucked my trusty Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage into my Chanel clutch. Ambivalence characterised my feelings towards my skin on the day: I alternated between being proud of its smoothness (and that it has, over the past year, so steadily recovered from episodes of extreme spottiness) and missing the base make-up that lends me confidence.
I now sit somewhere in the middle. I believe foundation to be good for the skin. Unlike yesteryear’s efforts, modern formulas are infused with skincare and provide protection from our polluted cities. A shield, if you like, from both the eyes and the environment. It is also the quickest pick-me-up I’ve found and, when skin is bad, being able to cover the worst of it really does boost confidence.
Equally, I have misgivings about the compulsive need for any make-up and subsequent sense of self-consciousness when habitual wearers are stripped of it. I didn’t like that an earnest compliment from my husband inspired anxiety rather than happiness, or that I spend an undue portion of my time socialising concerned that my make-up may be looking odd or in need of a touch up.
Today, I’m wearing a Vichy BB Cream. Tomorrow, I may need to step it up a notch and put on a proper foundation. On days off, I try to keep my face free of make-up to inure myself to my unadulterated appearance. Regardless of what I may or may not put on my face, I have made myself a promise that I will, in future, take whatever compliments come my way about my skin in the spirit in which they were made. And, if it so happens the compliment really ought to be directed at my make-up skills, I won’t let on.
The base products I currently have on the go:
Light Coverage //
– Sisley Tinted Moisturiser in Beige, £58 here / About as lightweight as base comes, I use this as a finishing skincare product in the morning (because it’s Sisley, and that’s what they excel at) that happens to have a brightening touch of colour in.
– Murad Skin Perfecting Primer Blemish & Shine Control £29 here(for a full review click here) / This is the base I use when my skin is oily but unblemished – it provides a light wash of colour and works a treat at reducing oil/combatting spots (for this reason I find it preferable to powder). If I need a little extra coverage, I just apply a foundation where needed.
Medium Coverage //
– Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser in Nude SPF 20, £34 here / This is the most famous tinted moisturiser on the market and the one worn by those in the know. It offers medium coverage with a subtle sheen and, as with all Laura Mercier products, seems to have a colour for all skin tones.
– Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream SPF 30 in light, £23.33 here / This oil-free CC cream is my favourite base for days when I need to look relatively polished but don’t have much time – it covers redness, isn’t shiny but also doesn’t dry skin out, is the perfect colour for my skin and doesn’t budge once on.
– 3LAB Perfect BB SPF 40 in 02, £72 here / The shades in this range could be better, but the formula is just dreamy: creamy, buttery and sheer all at once. Beautiful.
– Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Eclat in BR30, £30.50 here / Yves Saint Laurent took all the powder out of this foundation and replaced it with gel. The result is a foundation that makes your skin glow and appear in soft focus. Not one for greasy days, I use this when I’m going on an evening out and want my skin to look radiant.
– Shiseido Sheer & Perfect Foundation SPF 15, £29 here / While this offers coverage for redness and pigmentation, it seems to miraculously disappear where not needed. Which is really exactly what a good foundation ought to do.
Full Coverage //
– Lancome Miracle Air de Teint SPF 15, £29.50 here / This is my favourite foundation at the moment which I’ve put in the full coverage bracket due to its matte finish and ability to blur/cover imperfections despite looking natural and feeling weightless. A one-stop shop for perfect skin. N.B. It is extremely watery in texture so apply caution when you pipette a little onto your hand/brush.
– Becca Radiant Skin Satin Finish Foundation in Sand, £32 here / I’m quite the fan of Becca make-up, as those of you who read this post may have gleaned. This foundation does all the stuff I like about Becca – perfects skin, doesn’t look caked when on and lends skin a glow.
– Vichy Dermablend Compact Creme in Nude, £14.99 here / Dermablend can cover tattoos so a spot/under-eye circles are child’s play for this stuff. If you’re going heavy on covering skin up, make sure you set this with a touch of powder so it doesn’t wipe off on other people’s shoulders/your clothes.
– Jane Iredale Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream SPF 25 in BB5 and BB3, £39.95 here / I’m always banging on about this BB Cream. More of a foundation in terms of coverage, the added bonuses of light exfoliation, moisture and soothing aloe vera mean that my skin is in better condition when I remove this.