How to feel confident in your skin

Kendal_Jenner_Model_Acne

Do you feel comfortable in your skin?

For a really long time, I didn’t. More specifically, the skin on my face.

When I first read this article on The Pool about living with acne it made me feel quite emotional.

And (to my surprise), so did seeing Kendall Jenner looking amazing that time she had a bit of acne on the red carpet.

The relationship you have with your own face is a complex one. In many ways, more complex than the one you have with your body. Your face is synonymous with who you are, because that’s how people determine it’s really you. Only your closest companions recognise you for your distinguished sense of style or your shapely bum. The rest of the world goes by your eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hair and skin.

So, on days where your face feels particularly imperfect, it really comes as no surprise that we harbour those feelings on the inside, too.

Acne has been depicted an ‘ugly’, ‘dirty’, ‘unhealthy’, ‘geeky’, ‘teenage’ misfortune, historically, since forever. And so, thanks to the nature of our society, sufferers risk associating those traits with who they are.  Which, of course, is categorically untrue.

BUT. The world is changing. Namely, the beauty industry. And ‘real beauty’ has become a primary focus. With the anti-airbrush movement, more and more brands are depicting the reality of acne and imperfections in a kind, helpful, empowering way. That tutorial from Fenty was a great start. Yes, she’s still covering it up, but she’s confident, she has real acne, and she’s helping to empower others.

Brands are working harder than ever to show real women. Missguided pretty much nailed it with their Keep Being You and Make Your Mark campaigns. It’s the unapologetic attitude and sheer confidence that make them so empowering.

I genuinely think that if such positive representations of ‘skin’ had been around when I was a teenager, I would have felt very different about myself. More than that, I would feel very different about myself today. Not because I still have acne, but because the relationship I have with my skin was irreparably damaged from a young age. I assimilated beauty with perfect skin, and rarely felt beautiful because of it.

I was 13 when my skin started to change. Teenagers change enough at that age without the added onslaught of painful red spots all over your forehead and a never-ending layer of grease. I started covering my skin with thick foundation and layers of pressed power from then on. I wore make-up to school every single day. Not because I hated my face. I always liked my face. But because I was desperate to gain control of my unruly, painful skin.

This is kind of gross but I’ll tell it anyway. I remember hanging out in Mcdonalds with a group of boys two years above (I know, I’m even cooler than you thought). I went to the toilets, looked in the mirror, and to my horror, a painful, under-the-skin spot, had broken though my chin with a pronounced bubble of yellow pus. Yum. I squeezed it, and it bled. It bled and bled and bled. I must have stayed in the toilets for about 20 minutes, waiting for it to stop. Eventually feigning illness as I quickly ran past the boys and darted home in despair.

I literally LOL thinking about that sort of thing now, but, without the right guidance (and sense of humour) being a teenager with problem skin is just not all that fun. Fortunately, my mum introduced me to tea tree oil and a gentle cleansing routine before taking me to the doctors.

Acne sufferers will know, you’re often met with a feeling of having no control of your destiny. Who knows what the next day of pimples will bring. And for about 10 years, I woke up to a new spot, pretty much every bloody morning.

Not only are there psychological associations around the ‘ugliness’ of acne, there’s also a significant physical aspect. Pain, blood, pus, bruising, headaches, the works. The combination of the two can honestly feel totally debilitating. No wonder lots of acne sufferers cancel plans or call in sick to work on particularly bad days.

I feel so unbelievably grateful that now, aged 29, my spots are few and far between. My skin is still sensitive and quite oily, but rarely red or painful. I grew out of it, and I’m one of the lucky ones.

But I still have a precarious relationship with my skin. It’s hard to shift after years of inspecting my pores with a magnifying mirror each morning. I still have to remind myself that I don’t have to opt for the high-coverage products I reach for out of habit. Foundation is still my comfort blanket, but I’ve learned to live without it, too.

And the viral campaigns that Missguided have been owning this year, which celebrate even more than just imperfect skin, make me happy. Happy for the teenage me that needed to see them. And for the teenagers that will grow up with a different, well-rounded understanding of what real skin and real beauty looks like, as more and more brands begin to evolve.

I wrote this post because actually, right now, my skin is the best it’s been in ages, and I can’t help but notice how different I feel, which is sort of sad. I’m still learning to keep hold of that ‘I love how I look’ feeling, no matter what my skin is doing.

I’m slightly tanned (which helps) but I haven’t worn foundation this month. Just a little CC Cream and powder.

And on that note, here are the products I’m loving right now – recommended for sensitive, oily skin.

 

Mabel_and_meg_beauty_serum.jpg

Mabel + Meg Lumilixir Serum, £29

 

3337872413025_La_Roche_Posay_Effaclar_MAT__40ml_3

La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat, £16

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 16.50.16

The Body Shop Instaglow CC Cream in Peachy Glow, £15

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 16.49.16

Estee Lauder Double Wear Powder Make-Up, £35

 

 

Advertisements

3 beauty products that will change your life

Living out of a single bag for 6 months and not having a great deal of extra time or cash to spend on my face has taught me two major things: 1) you don’t always have to spend a fortune, and 2) you will discover amazing new products. Here are 3 new additions to my daily routine that I need to share with the world.

White Flower Oil

£6.65, Amazonwhite_fl_OilA potent blend of eucalyptus, lavender and menthol oils, this is honestly the best thing on the planet when it comes to multi-purpose products. It has so many uses. I discovered White Flower in the Philippines. A kind taxi driver pulled over and handed me a bottle when I was feeling ‘car sick’ (hungover). The calming aromatherapy helps prevent dizziness. Reading the box a bit later, I noticed a long list of ailments White Flower claims to relieve: sickness, headache, muscular pain, blocked nose, itching, insect bites, and (best of all) acne. Inhale the oil for calmness and rub a small amount onto red bites and spots for a powerful anti-inflammatory. It. Really. Works. And although it did only cost about 50p in Asia, it’s available on Amazon.

 

Natural Collection ‘Barley’ Eye Shadow

£1.99, Boots

Barley nat collect

Before I went away, I treated myself to MAC’s Extra Dimension Eye Shadow (£16) in ‘A Natural Flirt’. I wanted something that wouldn’t crease on my eyelids or slide off my face in humid climates. It was rubbish. My backup, a pale gold, shimmery eye shadow from Natural Collection was a million times more resilient. It stays on all day, blends well with other eye shadows as a base and even doubles as highlighter for your cheeks. The colour also looks lovely with a tan. I still wear it every day now.

 

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue

£26, Boots£26, Boots

i-022234-complexion-rescue-gel-spice-8-1-940

This ‘Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream’ is the answer for anyone looking to wean themselves off foundation. The silky, light formula manages to hide spots and dark circles whilst boosting skin tone. Plus, it won’t dry out your skin or clog your pores. I have oily skin, so I still apply a touch of Smash Box primer to my T-zone and around my nose beforehand. I then finish with a sweep of Max Factor ‘Crème Puff’ pressed powder. Using this combination rather than thick foundation has dramatically reduced the amount of time I spend applying my face, and it’s 100 times better for my sensitive, oily skin.

I would love to hear about any amazing new products you’ve come across recently! Please feel free to share your discoveries below.

Giving up makeup (more or less)

no makeup double

Four months ago, the night before my flight to Bangkok, my sister helpfully went through my backpack in an attempt to reduce its embarrassing size. I’m proud to say that I agreed to leave a pile of clothes behind, but after bulk-buying my favourite beauty products for my six-month trip, I struggled with the idea of being without my lifeline: foundation.

“You’re taking two full bottles of foundation, four pressed powders and how many bronzers?!” she demanded in confusion.

“I don’t want to run out..”

Actually, I was terrified of not being able to buy my favourite and trusted brands abroad. It hadn’t really occurred to me in a serious way that I might turn my back on them altogether. That I would finally let my skin properly breathe for the first time in years. That my skin would behave normally of it’s own accord, without smoke and mirrors, if only I’d just let it.

A while back, I wrote a post about feeling comfortable in your own skin, detailing my experience with acne as a teenager and the affect it can have on your confidence. In the past, I’ve put a huge amount of pressure on myself to look ‘perfect’ all the time. I hoped from the bottom of my heart that travelling would help me confront my dependency on makeup, but in all honesty I never really believed I would be happy looking at barefaced me in the mirror. Now it feels weird to think that I never used to leave the house without a thick layer of high-coverage foundation. No wonder my skin was so unpredictable.

OLD MAKEUP ROUTINE:

Primer > concealer > foundation > pressed powder > loose powder > bronzer > blusher > various eye shadows > eye liner> mascara > eyebrow pencil > lipstick

Which is a fairly typical daily concoction for a lot of us. The result? Your face purposefully looking completely different. I’ve only recently come to realise what a shame that is. That so many of us want to look nothing like ourselves. I’m not sure at what point I started wanting to hide my normal face, but it was a very long time ago. It wasn’t enough that my boyfriend professed how ‘beautiful’ I am without makeup. Why wouldn’t I want to look better if I could? Even when it meant getting up at the crack of dawn to apply my face, spending a small fortune on products and feeling strange and ugly without them. Beauty is an addiction. So many of us have become obsessed with our own faces. Only now I’ve taken a step away from my old life do I realise how much time I was spending trying to make myself look ‘right’. And for who? Do people really notice or care if you’re not wearing a full face of makeup?

Those of us who wear makeup every day tend to have a fairly psychological relationship with it. Before, if I didn’t wear makeup, I didn’t feel like me. I felt as though I was being lazy, akin with not bothering to get dressed. Which, when you think about it, is completely ridiculous. It’s just my face. It’s nice to look nice, and I will always make an effort with my appearance, but nobody should feel like a slave to their makeup bags every single day. Nobody should feel less like themselves just because they’re not wearing mascara. It’s hard to think that way when you wear makeup every day. Which is why I’m so glad I’ve learned to like my face again.

So how did I do it?

Quite simply, makeup and travelling do not sit well together. You live out of one bag, you’re always on the go, you’re active, you have to be practical, you’re often sweating, swimming or in the rain, and there are 100 more interesting things to be looking at than your face in the mirror. I am so very glad that travelling forced me to stop feeling so dependent on makeup, I just wished I’d realised all this at home years ago.

I reluctantly gave up foundation first. Thailand’s humidity made sure of that. At first I felt hard-done by, moaning that even my expensive foundation was melting right off my face. Pretty soon however, it became a blessing. My morning routine was so much quicker. I felt self-conscious about spots and dark circles under my eyes, but my skin soon responded by being less shiny. I persevered despite feeling uncomfortable and pretty soon I wondered why I’d ever worn foundation at all. My skin could breathe.

Next came mascara. The longer I went without wearing mascara, the more I came to like my natural eye shape and long blonde eye lashes.  A few weeks in and I was going about each day without any eye makeup at all and feeling completely normal. It sounds ridiculous, but I honestly never thought I would be able to do that. I’m actually quite ashamed at how much I used to hide my face. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just convinced myself there was thanks to an ongoing obsession with thinking I should be looking a certain way, to please nobody but myself.

CURRENT MAKEUP ROUTINE:

primer > powder > eyebrow pencil

Giving up makeup is like giving up any addiction; you absolutely have to be in the right frame of mind to be able to do it, and you’ll surprise yourself by how much better you feel without it. You’ll wonder why you ever depended on it so much and how it could possibly form such a big part of your identity, your confidence, your ability to go about your day.

I can’t help but think that with the new obsession with contouring, beauty filters and lip fillers, we’re not used to seeing natural faces any more. If we all give in, we’re in danger of all morphing into the same person. I’m not sure who she is, or why so many of us want to look like her, but she exists as nothing but a symbol of our insecurities. I don’t want to be her, I want to be me. Real beauty stems from having the confidence to be yourself. Makeup is a wonderful confidence-boosting tool, and one I could never turn my back on entirely, but there is simply more to life than wanting to look perfect all the time.

I still want to wear makeup and will never be the kind of girl who rolls into work barefaced. It’s polite to make an effort. I also love being part of a generation that has access to so many life-changing beauty products. It’s more that now the idea of having to go without them from time to time doesn’t completely terrify me. Makeup gives us an element of control over how we wish to look, but choosing to forego it sometimes surely gives us the most control of all?

Winter beauty remedies

Static hair, scaly hands, eczema and terrible circulation are generally what Mother Nature blesses me with this time every year. And let me tell you, it’s not a good look. Having moved back in with my mum near Brighton before I go travelling after Christmas, I’m also commuting to London every day, which means an extra two hours of recycled air to dry out my already suffering Winter complexion. Constantly searching for products that ease the redness and replenish a bit of vitality, here are five of the best Winter beauty remedies I’ve been using this year.

Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream, £14.50
Best for: very dry hands and eczema flair ups

bm6009_12
Not only does this hand cream smell amazing, it’s made using nearly 100% natural ingredients and won’t irritate your skin. I suffer with quite bad eczema on my hands and found this more soothing than lifelong favourite, E45. It really is worth spending that little bit extra on a good-quality hand cream when it’s cold. I was lucky enough to receive a free sample at work and now I’m obsessed.

Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil, £3.99
Best for: chapped lips and loss of lip pigment

Pomegranate_Lip_Balm_380
When I am cold, my lips go blue. And when I’m sitting in an over-heated office all day, my lips dry out. On days where I can’t be bothered with lipstick (most days then), I wear this. It is much, much more moisturising than Vaseline, Carmex or Lip Salve and has a nice subtle hint of colour that lasts. Better still, there are different shades to choose from. Infused with antioxidants, this great little beauty buy is 100% natural.

Bumble and Bumble Styling Crème, £20.50
Best for: giving dull hair a bit of a lift

BB styling cream
I’m a huge fan of going to bed with damp hair coiled in a top knot. My hair is naturally very straight. Too straight. When it’s exposed to extreme weather, all it wants to do is hang limply on my head. This styling cream from Bumble and bumble adds just the right amount of texture without weighing my hair down, for an almost-messy natural look that’s really quick and easy to do. I apply to damp hair before bed.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, £15.50
Best for: wiping off the grime of a long day in London

000147598
I was given a mini version of this for Christmas a few years ago and it is just divine. This year I’m so happy I’ve got the full-size bottle in my life. I have incredibly sensitive skin. I battle on and off with acne and this cleanser doesn’t cause breakouts, which is rare. I usually only use Simple products, but Liz Earle’s are all completely natural and incredibly soothing. The muslin cloth really feels like you’ve treated yourself at the end of the day.

Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Night Cream, £5.25
Best for: Sensitive skin that needs gentle but powerful hydration

44777011_0_640x640

If, like me, you have oily, sensitive skin, there’s the temptation to avoid moisturizing. Too thick and your face is shiny, the wrong ingredients and your face is red. However, avoiding moisturizer will leave skin dehydrated and too dry for foundation. I only use Simple moisturizers and natural oils on my face. This night cream is thick without being greasy, with soothing green tea. I really notice a difference in the morning when I use it.

I would love to hear your beauty recommendations for Winter, so please feel free to comment below with any tips or suggestions!