Thursday, 18 January 2018

Make up and ACNE // Story time..

Hello lovely people,

Last week, I had an experience that I feel is important to talk to you about.

I was at a make-up counter looking for a new foundation. I told the make up artist that I was looking for a medium to full coverage foundation because if I wear a light coverage foundation, it doesn't cover my acne and looks as though I'm not wearing any base make up. As I have pale skin, even with concealer, I find it best to apply a fuller coverage foundation first to build upon, otherwise the concealer alone tends to oxidise to a darker shade than my skin and leave me looking like I have some terrible oompa-loompa-type-plague.

BUT you're meant to be body positive and accepting of your acne etc. etc. why would you want to cover it up?!?!

Good question. Let me clarify what I'm saying. I am working hard to develop a healthy relationship with make-up. Most days I don't wear any. However, I actually find it quite relaxing to apply make up and enjoy experimenting with different products. So, when I'm wearing make up, I lean towards a fuller coverage base that I can build upon because that's what I enjoy creating. It is important to note that unless I Photoshop my face, my acne will always be visible on some level and that's OK. Ultimately, what I'm creating is a mask and as long as I am aware of that and the fact that creating a mask out of make up does not make me look more beautiful, just different, then I see no issue. As long as I can see make up for what it is, a tool for creativity and expression, and am comfortable removing it and going mask free, then I see no problem with make up application in itself.

Saying that, the societal pressures placed on women to wear make-up, to meet unrealistic beauty ideals, to force something as trivial as appearance to the forefront of every conversation to the point where make-up reflects professionalism and even career prospects: this, I do have a problem with. The idea that a woman's primary function is to look beautiful is highly problematic to say the least and furthermore, this definition of 'beauty' is so narrowly and superficially defined that it creates an impossible standard that only a few 'winners' of the genetic lottery can hope to meet.

Anyway, going back to my story...

I told the make up artist that I was looking for a medium to full coverage foundation and also perhaps a colour-matched concealer. As she was testing the product on my face, she told me that her friend, who was also a make up artist, had 'bad' cystic acne that was much 'worse' than mine. She went on to tell me that whenever her friend ate lots of 'bad' food, whenever she didn't drink enough water, or wasn't diligent with her spot cream application and skin care routine, her acne got 'worse'. Then she asked me about my skin care routine and whether I carried it out religiously.

I was fairly taken aback by this. This was everything I didn't want to hear. My acne is not a result of eating 'bad' foods (labelling foods as 'good' and 'bad' is v. unhealthy FYI), not drinking enough water or a lack of skin care products, it is entirely hormonal (like most acne). Also, due to my weird hormone 'journey', as a result of my eating disorder years, my hormones are just really excited to be back in action and doing all the things they wanted to do before. So mood swings, lots of acne, painful periods - you name it, it's like someone pressed factory reset and my hormones are relearning how to function. Moreover, there is nothing 'bad' about my acne; in simple terms, it is just my hormones (perhaps over-zealously) expressing themselves on my skin.

I realise that this girl was totally well-intentioned and probably thought that she was giving great advice, so I don't hold any grievances against her. Remember I was that girl not so long ago. In fact, more than anything, I felt sad and overwhelmed by the scale of the problem on our hands; the subtle ways that our culture reinforces negative body image (alongside 'miracle' solutions) and the sheer banality of our conversation.

The reason that I'm writing this blog post is to illustrate how our cultural values surrounding food, beauty and our bodies are so deeply ingrained in our everyday lives that mostly, we don't even notice it. I haven't found the miracle solution to this, and I still struggle with body image issues on a daily basis. However, I have noticed that, as I continue to educate myself about diet culture, I have a heightened awareness of potentially damaging ideas as they enter my life and therefore a greater chance of buffering the effects that they have.

Even when I apply a full face of make up, my chest and back acne is still highly visible.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. Have you ever received unsolicited acne advice?

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More acne related posts here!

Until the next time,

Niamh xxx

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