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Skin Deep: Here's why I've decided to stop wearing foundation

…most of the time.

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Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve stopped wearing foundation. It’s not that I’ve run out, I have several on the go, in fact. I just decided to see what it would be like if I stopped putting it on. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how many decisions we actually make in our life, and how many things we do simply out of habit.

Am I actually hungry when I eat my meals, or am I eating them because this is the time that I eat? Do I want to spend the evening watching TV, or is that just what I do every night? Do I need to wear a full face of makeup, or is it just that I’ve always assumed foundation was necessary under the rest of the product I wear?

I started wearing makeup when I was fourteen, and it was love at first application. I didn’t have much, but my best mate and I pilfered what we could from her mom and her sister, and the experimentation began. As soon as I could get my hands on a full arsenal of #product, I did, and so the foundation, powder, eyeshadow, mascara, lip gloss routine began.

Over the years, steps have been removed and added, but foundation was never something I considered losing. In fact, until recently, the idea of applying a full face of makeup without a full layer of foundation seemed like madness. Then I decided to do a cull of the makeup accounts I follow on Instagram, and everything changed.

You see, there is a particular look that has become omnipresent on Instagram and in YouTube tutorials over the last number of years, and it’s just not for me. I’m talking about incredibly heavy full-coverage foundation, applied heavy concealer, applied under heavy contour, applied under heavy eyeshadow and a heavy lip. Essentially, it’s a mask.

The process seems to begin with erasing all the features on your face so that you can carve new ones for yourself out of makeup. Now, if that’s what you want to do, absolutely do it. As I have said repeatedly in this column, makeup is about having fun and self-expression, and I would never tell anyone what they absolutely should or should not do, but a little bit of me dies inside when I see young women online with absolutely flawless skin entirely covering it up layers and layers of product.

At the same time, watching all of those videos had started to get under my skin, and I found myself starting to feel like maybe I needed to try some of the techniques they were using, and occasionally wishing I had the same poreless look the women in the videos had.

Then I started watching Katie Jane Hughes on Instagram. She’s a New York-based British makeup artist who frequently works with Glossier. As you might expect from someone who works with Glossier, KJH is not about the foundation mask. She is about glow. She is about healthy looking skin that looks like skin. She does the kind of makeup I’ve always loved: beautiful skin and exciting eyes.

She rarely uses foundation in her videos. She’s not the only one either, there are lots of makeup artists on the internet and, I daresay, in the real world, who don’t always use foundation. I heard one of them explain during an interview recently that it didn’t seem odd to her because during her training foundation was always referred to as something you used ‘if needed’. Because it’s not always needed.

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‘Do I need foundation all the time?’ I asked myself. The answer is no, and I bet the answer is no for a lot of you too. Do I have perfect skin? No, but most of it is decent, so why am I lashing foundation arbitrarily across my entire face?

These days, instead of foundation, I spend time carefully hydrating my skin with a light serum and moisturiser (current faves are Clarins Double Serum and Glossier Priming Moisturiser Rich), and then, when it’s mostly sunk in (but not completely, you want a bit of tack so there’s something to hold on to) I apply concealer (for these photos I used Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, but Nyx Professional Makeup Concealer Wand is also decent) to the areas which require it. For me it’s basically in a cross on my face: Between my eyebrows, on my nose and around my nostrils and on my chin.

I blend the concealer on and around my nose out across my cheeks to calm any excess redness there, but I also don’t worry too much about that because a bit of flush is natural. From there I lash on whatever highlighter I’m into at the time and a bit of contour if I fancy it. I then apply a little bit of translucent powder (my current favourite is IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores) to places I don’t want to shine, and most of the time, that’s it, skin done, and I can carry on with the rest of my makeup as normal.

I understand completely if you’re balking at this concept or you think I’m nuts. I especially understand it if you have skin you’re self-conscious about or is regularly problematic. However, I would encourage you to really give your skin a proper look and figure out if it’s all a problem or if there are simply a few problem areas. Then ask yourself if you want a heavily made-up look (again, grand if you do!) or if you’d like to let your actual skin glow.

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It feels good to skip the full mask sometimes, and especially good when someone compliments you on your skin or makeup, because you know that it’s your actual skin they’re complimenting. It’s not easy to make the initial leap, because most of us are so used to looking at our skin all covered up. You may need to be brave and try it a couple of times before you come around, but I bet if you give it a go you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

New Product

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I mean, after all that, it could only be a concealer, right? Mac have introduced Studio Waterweight Concealer, which is an ultralight formala which packs a punch when it comes to coverage. If you’re going for a glowy look it may be a little matte, but can be mixed with a little moisturiser (or the brand’s Strobe Cream) if you want to combat that.

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