Skin woes: I am intimately familiar with them. I enjoyed the first two decades of my life with a face as smooth, pale, and unblemished as an egg shell. I fielded endless compliments about the condition and clarity of my perfect skin, as well as many an elderly person croaking in my general direction that I “SHOULD NEVER GO OUT IN THE SUN.” And when old people tell you things, you listen. Then, about a year ago, everything changed. (I would appreciate if somebody could please hold my hand while I talk about this.) While in the past I hadn’t weathered much more than a whitehead or two every so often, I started developing swollen, excruciatingly painful cystic acnes (not a scientific term) that would never come out from underneath my skin. They would just linger there, taunting me, until I hauled ass to the dermatologist and got them injected with cortisone for the small price of an insurance copay.
The story does not end here. I guess my previously perfect skin had just had it with me, or the fact that all I ever seemed to be doing was eating Chinese food and chain-smoking (ugh, I know, I was sick of me too), because it hasn’t been the same since, even despite my having made some significant Lifestyle Changes. I definitely don’t get as many terrible cysts as I used to, praise god, but my face is full of texture and other stuff that I don’t like. Because my number one priority is always, without fail, presenting what I like to refer to as “a united front,” I got really, really good at concealer instead of sitting around looking in the mirror and crying about it. Just kidding, I sat in front of the mirror and cried about it first, then I got really good at concealer.
When you’re dealing with live acne, the ultimate goal is to dry it out. This is what benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid treatments are for. They don’t, however, always layer well with concealer, which is all fine and good when you aren’t going anywhere and you’re just chilling tough with a glob of Clearasil on your face hoping it doesn’t burn your skin off. Fortunately, for those times when one needs to venture into the Outside World (like, why?), concealer exists that contains these ingredients! I like to use medicated concealer after I apply primer and before I apply foundation, then again as a penultimate step before I powder. This might be overkill, but I’m all about the overkill.
I’m also generally firmly anti-drugstore foundation and concealer, but strangely enough, I’ve never been able to find a satisfactory high-end acne-fighting concealer. The best offerings in this category come straight from your local CVS or Walgreen’s or whatever you have, I don’t know. The drugstore, okay? I love Almay Clear Complexion Concealer, but their lightest shade is too dark for me in the winter, so I also fuck with Neutrogena SkinClearing Blemish Concealer. If your acne is no longer living, and has passed the point of dryness, steer clear of an acne-fighting concealer in favor of a more moisturizing one. An acne-fighting formula will just dry the spot out more and then it’ll be flaky and weird. My favorite concealer for this purpose is Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer, which is legitimately moisturizing, as in you can put it on dry skin and it will actually improve the appearance. Amazing! It’s also pretty expensive, but it works really nice and lasts forever, so what can you do?
I never apply concealer with a concealer brush, because, newsflash, I never do anything the way I’m supposed to, but if you’re less oppositional-defiant than I am you can go ahead and use a fine-tipped brush. I generally just use the applicator, dab it on, blend with my ring finger, and hope for the best. The objective is to get the concealer just on the spot and not the surrounding area — it looks more natural this way. Once you’ve got the concealer on, you can go ahead and powder over it for staying power, but make sure you use a soft, fluffy brush that won’t disturb what you’ve already put down. For the final step, spritz your entire face (from an arm’s length, not trying to get soaked up in here) with a toner or other makeup-setting spray. I like Mario Badescu Facial Spray because it’s nice and refreshing and smells like flowers. This might seem like an unnecessary step if you’ve never done it before, but no. This just makes your entire face look more real and less made-up, which is especially important when you’re trying to draw attention away from some unsavory activity… which I almost always am.
Is there a celebrity beauty look you want to steal? A new product you want to learn how to use? Don’t know which foundation, moisturizer, volumizing spray, or novelty eye glitter to invest in? Want to see how many Momofuku birthday cake truffles I can fit in my mouth at once? If you’ve got a beauty question, concern, or demand, any at all, hit me up on my videophone. I mean, uh, my email. Or Twitter! firstname.lastname@example.org or @frigidbardot — make it ring, or rain, or something like that, babes!
[Photo of foundation tone cream via Shutterstock]