Soon after entering my 30s, my skin changed dramatically. After getting through my teen years relatively unscathed, I found myself coping with a chronic case of cystic adult acne. I never realized how closely my confidence was tied to my skin until I found myself avoiding the mirror every morning. I always thought acne was a teenage issue, and here I was dealing with a serious bout at the tender age of 32. It was majorly disheartening and super embarrassing.
As someone in a profession that requires plenty of face time (think meetings, presentations, and events), all of a sudden I found myself wanting to cancel everything and work from home.
Every time I tried a new product, and though I had finally gotten my breakouts under control, another one would rear its ugly head and stay for weeks at a time. Without much choice, I knew I had to suck it up and get to work. I spent many, many hours trying tons of products that would allow me to conceal my breakouts, redness, and inflammation, while also targeting my other concerns like fine lines, sensitivity, and combination skin. Here’s what I learned – and the top five products I discovered in the process that let me fake great skin until I finally made it out the other side.
Stila’s One-Step Correct looks like a science experiment with its unique packaging, but it is the most important and reliable product in my make-up bag. The purple, green, and pink tones in this primer and serum in one combine to combat redness, sallow tones, and dull skin for the ultimate prep before applying foundation and concealer. One pump is all it takes – apply with a damp Beautyblender sponge and prepare to be floored by the difference in your base application.
A hybrid between mousse foundation and a tinted moisturizer, Hourglass’ Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint offers medium coverage with a flawless, dewy finish, never dries out, and helps plump fine lines. The thick mousse texture does take a bit of getting used to (hint: a little goes a long way, so one tube will last months at a time), but it never feels heavy on my face. Even when my skin was at its worst, I got a ton of compliments on my natural glow whenever I used this product. I’m obsessed.
My very fair skin and night owl tendencies mean that I have pretty obvious dark circles. I have tried dozens of concealers and none of them ever met my expectations, until my favourite make-up artist Jasmine Hoffman introduced me to NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. The colour options made it easy to find a match (often impossible when you’re fair with freckles), the texture blends easily without rubbing off, and it sets itself – but never settles into fine lines or fades from covering my blemishes. Yes, please.
I literally had never used a pressed or loose powder I liked until I discovered Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder. Used in combination with the brand’s Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint, this product duo packs a one-two punch unlike anything I’ve ever seen! Available in a range of tones inspired by different lighting effects, this finely milled finishing powder captures, diffuses, and softens the look of the skin. My favourite shade is Diffused Light, which offers the same effect as soft morning lighting, complete with a soft, pale yellow undertone that warms up my fair skin and helps neutralize redness.
NARS Blush, $38
I’ve feared blush ever since watching Cher Horowitz freak out in Clueless, but everything changed when I decided to switch up my usual bronzer routine with NARS Blush. Though Orgasm is the most popular shade, I like Sex Appeal. The cool cotton-candy pink leaves my skin looking just flushed enough, and the texture blends easily for a picture-perfect finish that lasts throughout the day and into the evening.