My skin and I have gone through some tough times. As a child, I can clearly remember my mum bribing me (with sweets, t.v…who knows?) if she could ‘just nip that blackhead’! Clearly, I was blemish prone from a very young age! I was never what you would describe as acnaic, nor was I prone to eczema or redness. But, the misery I felt when I looked in the mirror caused a very real complex that, if I’m honest, has never truly left me. My skin has always tended towards the oily and I am particularly predisposed to blackheads, milia and a general unevenness of texture. These issues have seen me sat in a doctors waiting room more times than I would like to count in furious pursuit of a flawless complexion. I have been prescribed The Pill, Zineryt (a topical antibiotic that I used for literally years without realising that antibiotics have little to no effect on skin problems) and a particularly harsh and drying Benzoyl Peroxide gel. I should at this point make clear that at no time did I have actual acne. As such, doctors didn’t seem to really know what my problem was and yes, I felt dismissed and at times was made to feel like a vain and silly little girl (one doctor (male) told me that I really should stop wearing make up if I wanted good skin…patronising much)?As I’ve gotten older, my skin has improved though it is certainly not perfect. I wage a daily battle with blackheads, milia and nowadays a few fine lines thrown into the mix! But, with age comes both wisdom and experience and so I thought today I would share my thoughts and some tips as to how to achieve a flawless complexion in real life on real skin (i.e not the unobtainable airbrushed standard we are bombarded with daily)!*
Start with your skin
The first and biggest tip I can give you when in pursuit of a flawless complexion is to start with the health of your skin. This is the boring bit. If you aren’t already, try upping your intake of water and fruit & veg, cutting back on the booze and it should go without saying that smoking is a big no! My second tip is to visit the blog of skincare expert Caroline Hirons and read every ‘cheat sheet’ that applies to you. I discovered Caroline’s brand of no nonsense skincare advice when I was preparing for my wedding and I haven’t looked back. Thirdly, get yourself into a good cleansing routine. If right now you are relying on face wipes or micellar waters I can guarantee you will see the biggest difference by simply taking a little extra time in the mornings and evenings to look after your skin. (And really why wouldn’t you? Your skin and your face are visible to everyone and everything 100% of the time. Isn’t it worth giving it a little love)? Finally, I personally have seen amazing results from taking (quite large quantities of) fish oil. Yep, sounds repulsive but taken with food it really isn’t that bad and does seem to have quite a magical effect on the texture of my skin!**
Getting The Foundations Right
So, you’ve upgraded your skin care routine and overhauled your diet, whats next? I wrote about my Post Pregnancy Skincare Routine HERE where I talk about what goes into prepping my skin but I have a few stand out products that I simply adore for helping me create that flawless complexion.
- Hylamide Glow Radiance Booster – Since having the baby I have come to rely on this little bottle of sunshine on an almost daily basis. Hylamide is a (very watery) pre-serum serum that is essentially a fake tan (albeit a very, very, very gradual fake tan). It’s pretty much fool proof in that it gives no streaks whatsoever (it really is super subtle) but it’s the glow that’s the real selling point here. After a couple of days use, I can look in the mirror in the mornings without recoiling in abject horror – that ladies and gentlemen is a game changer in my sleep deprived mind!
- Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme + Global Anti-Aging Wake Up Balm – This is my go to product after I complete my morning skincare routine. It’s a little bit of a skincare hybrid. Part serum, part moisturiser, part primer, part highlighter. You can absolutely use this on its own on no make up days or, as I prefer, as a bit of a pre-prime before my make up. I like to think of this as bridging the gap between the end of my skincare routine and the beginning of my make up application. Simply put, this does what it says on the tin and together with the Hylamide creates a pretty passable impression of actually having got some sleep.
- The Body Shop Instablur – This is the only primer thus far that I have managed to get away with. I find many silicone based primers bring me out in little whiteheads but this one (miraculously) doesn’t. The visible difference in my skin from an application of this wonder product is nothing short of magic. It literally blurs and mattifies the skin creating the most immaculate base for applying make up – and make up that lasts. For a girl with oily skin tendencies, this is indeed the stuff that ‘flawless complexion’ dreams are made of!
Getting The Right Foundation
I love a foundation. I don’t seem to hear that very often as BB, CC, DD, EE creams are all the rage these days. However, as someone with a bit of a skin complex, a full coverage foundation was always my go to. Now, that’s not to say that I want to look caked in the stuff – a great big tide mark around your jawline is so not sexy! I have three hero bases in my stash…
- Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Make Up SPF 10 – This is the UK’s No1 Foundation and I wholeheartedly agree with the masses! I know a lot of bloggers seem to dislike this formulation, deeming it to be too heavy and dare I say cakey? Personally, I absolutely adore this base and love how it glides on and evens out the surface of my skin. You only need a small amount and it takes a little more ‘working in’ than other bases I’ve tried but the effect is so worth the time you put into the application. The other plus for the Double Wear is that it just DOES. NOT. BUDGE! You absolutely need a good skincare routine in place with this product as it definitely requires a double cleanse to remove it in the evenings. Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation is available to purchase online HERE. I wear shade Ivory Beige.
- Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation – I fell in love with this absolute beaut of a base when I was trialing products for my bridal make up look. At the time I was reading an awful lot about certain ingredients in SPF causing ‘flashback’ in photography so I was on the hunt for a foundation without sun protection (harder than it looks believe me) that would still create a flawless complexion. This creates the softest, dewiest most ‘luminous’ (funny that) base you can imagine and together with my trusty skin prep products the final finish is just dreamy. (FYI I ended up with a mix of the Estee Lauder and the Giorgio Armani for my final bridal look – if anyone would be interested in a wedding day beauty guide then please do leave me a comment). Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is available to purchase online HERE. I wear shade 5.25.
- It Cosmetics Full Coverage SPF 50+ CC Cream – I know, I know I said I wasn’t into CC creams but hear me out. This does not behave like your average CC cream – the texture is reassuringly substantial and you do get an excellent yet surprisingly lightweight coverage for a product that boasts not only full coverage but also a very high factor sun protection (and we all know how claggy those can be)! Now I absolutely would not recommend this as your go to sunscreen if you are heading to the beach in the South of France. Firstly, full coverage make up on the beach? Eww, that’s just not my bag at all! Secondly, I would have to question how well this would work as a dedicated SPF. As I mentioned in my review of the Tili Beauty Box (read about that HERE) as I’ve gotten older I have become religious about protecting my skin from the sun but I really don’t enjoy the feel of an SPF on my skin on a daily basis. This is where the IT Cosmetics CC cream comes into its own. It is literally my perfect day to day base as it affords me the protection I feel I need for the British seasons (minimal) with the full coverage look I love! Like the Estee Lauder Double Wear, it takes a little extra buffing into the skin but is so worth the extra time for the final effect. It Cosmetics CC Cream is available to purchase online HERE. I wear shade MEDIUM.
Juicylicious (I don’t think this is a word but I’m going with it)
When I was a teenager sat in that doctor’s waiting room I would have laughed in your face if you had told me that one day I would be seeking ‘highlighters’ and products with ‘glow giving’ properties. “I don’t need any help in the ‘glow’ department” I would have said while pulling my powder compact out of my bag and dabbing furiously at my T zone! Aint time a funny old thing? These days while, yes I still love my powders and yes, I still seek to ‘mattify’ my skin, it’s now very much on my own terms. As you get older you realise that hey a little bit of shine might actually be o.k. Maybe I won’t end up looking like I’ve been hanging around the fryers in the local chippy. In fact, it might even (whispers it) give a more youthful finish to my look. 99% of the time I choose to mix some form of highlighter into my foundation. At the moment its Charlotte Tilbury’s ‘Wonderglow’ which gives a beautiful, subtle sheen to my base. I follow this with a sheer dusting of the Charlotte Tilbury ‘Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder’ – super light, non-cakey and with a slightly illuminating finish that keeps the whole look fresh and dewy.
Bronze, Pop, and Highlight
Onto the final flourishes in my pursuit of a flawless complexion. I’ve prepped and plumped, juiced up my chosen base and set with a sweep of finely milled, brightening powder. At this point, I will usually bring out the bronzer. Now bronzers often get a bit of bad press. Yes it’s easy to go overboard, yes you can end up looking like your style icon is Madge from Benidorm but there is nothing like a few strokes of a carefully chosen bronzer to bring life to your epidermis. Ditto blush. I love nothing more a quick pop of blush (coral in summer, pink in winter) to take you from peaky to perky! O.k now we really are at the finish line…highlighter. Highlighter is the hero product of our time. The effect of a few dabs on your cheekbone, above your cupids bow or in the corners of your eyes can be simply mesmerising! At the moment I’m using the highlighter from the Charlotte Tilbury ‘Beauty Glow’ Face Palette which is a-maze-ing. A great highlighter, in my opinion, is an absolute must for anyone in pursuit of that flawless complexion.
Wow, this has turned into a bit of an essay! I hope you’ve found this look into my make up routine helpful and can see how you can maybe take inspiration to try and create your own flawless complexion. We are all different and what works for one might be a complete nightmare for the next person. It’s all about trial and error but after a lot of years hating the skin I was in, I finally feel at peace with it and importantly I feel I have learned to work with it in order to make the best of what I have. Lumps, bumps, blackheads and all. I’ve purposely omitted the concealing stage of the routine as I kind of feel that deserves a post in its own right – how to conceal the effects of one too many sleepless nights (leave me a comment if that’s something you would like to see)! What products do you use to create a flawless complexion? Are there any tricks you have learned to create that elusive perfect base? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear your tips and experiences.
*all observations and recommendations are based on my own skin type and my own experiences. If you are in any doubt please refer to your doctor and where possible test products before using on your skin.
**always consult a doctor before adding supplements to your diet.