Q. Can I conceal freckles?
A. ‘You have to accept that if you’re going to cover up freckles, it’s going to look like a mask – and I always prefer the natural beauty of the skin to show through,’ says Mary Greenwell. ‘There is one unique product that will cover up absolutely anything, even a strawberry birthmark – Estée Lauder’s Double Wear – but only use it if you really hate your freckles. Instead, I’d advise using a lightweight foundation mid-way between the colour of your freckles and the colour of your complexion, with concealer on the bigger age spots, if you want to disguise them. The best way to apply concealer is with an 1/8-inch brush and dab it onto the sun-spot, then set with powder. The rule is: always start with a little product, then build up. It’s easier to add than take away.’
Q. I haven’t used concealer before but I want to hide my ugly spots before my foundation (I don’t like my foundation). Can you tell me which foundation and concealer would be good for me? My skin type in normal, and I’m 27.
A. Our response to this question starts with some advice to cut yourself some slack. You say ‘ugly spots’. Well, you may not love them (and there’s a lot you can do to conceal them), but ‘ugly’…? If you feel like that about your skin, it’s going to continue to make you feel unhappy – which in turn creates stress, which in turn produces stress hormones, which in turn makes spots… Starting to see a link here? So: it may not be conventional to start a skincare response with advice to take up Yoga, or Meditation, but that’s what we’re going to do. Yoga is all about self-acceptance, about making you feel at peace with your world. Funny thing is, it works the same way when it comes to your skin. It will also have the effect of calming you down – and calming those spot-triggering stress hormones. (And enhancing blood flow to the face – which happens a lot in the upside-down ‘inversions’ of Yoga – is also good for skin.) There are good spot-zappers out there (ones our testers rate include The Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Gel and Essential Care First Aid, which is an all-natural option. When it comes to concealing – and foundation – the important thing is to look for a product that is ‘non-comedogenic’ (non-pore-blocking). To be honest, it’s hard to advise on a foundation because the best one for you is the one that matches your skintone (that’s the absolute golden rule). As for concealer, we recommend Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Clearing Concealer, which is good for any blemished skintype, and of the three shades there should be something to suit. Oh, but one last tip. Apply your foundation first, and concealer second, or you’re just wiping the concealer away when you blend your foundation. Dab on, then pat with a finger to blend. And r-e-l-a-x while you’re doing it…
Q. How can I cover a tattoo?
A. ‘Professional beauty stores usually stock a tattoo concealer kit by Dermacolor, which delivers the kind of dense coverage you need to disguise even the brightest tattoo ink. The palettes feature a selection of colours to custom-blend for the right level of coverage, which I like to apply with a stiff brush. Then I set with loose powder, at the end, applied with a velvet puff – and hey, presto, nobody knows the tattoo’s there…’
Q. I’m 28 years old. Although I have a naturally light, sallow complexion, I have a perpetually pink nose. It’s not rosacea; I just happen to have yellow cheeks and a pink nose! Because my skin is usually blemish-free, I typically wear tinted moisturiser with just a touch of powder to conceal my red nose. Unfortunately, powder doesn’t sit well on my skin. Can you recommend any liquid or cream products that would conceal my rosy nose – or any powders that wouldn’t look unnatural on my skin? Thank
A. The received wisdom is that green pigments counterbalance redness – which is why, on the market, you’ll find quite a few green ‘corrector’ products. We say: don’t go there. They look truly weird on the skin, in our experience. Much better for counterbalancing redness are yellow pigments. So, we suggest that you head either for the Bobbi Brown counter or the Giorgio Armani counter in a large department store near you. (Other options are Clinique or Lancôme, if you haven’t an Armani or a Bobbi counter near you.) Their foundations, we’ve found, are great for counteracting redness. You may want a thicker, cream-to-powder texture (which will eliminate the need for powdering on top), or you may find that a matt formulation does the trick. Generally, we recommend testing foundation on the jaw-line – but you want to try it on your actual nose. Explain the issue to one of the consultants and enlist her help to find the perfect product for your skin type and the skin tone on your nose. But what we would say is that we always recommend investing in a really good quality foundation. There are other products you can skimp on (why pay loads for lip gloss?), but foundation calls for a splurge.
Q. I have dark skin with dark blemishes, particularly at the corners of my lips, and have tried numerous concealers over the years with varying degrees of failure: Dermablend (too heavy), Clinique (just doesn’t cover up dark patches), Bobbi Brown (only lasts about 2 hours), Sheer Cover (‘runs’ so that I look like an old woman – I’m in my late 20s), Fashion Fair (so heavy I only used it once). I’m sure there ust be a decent concealer for dark skins out there, but where?? I have solved many beauty problems with ‘The Bible’ and if you can’t help me, then no-one can. Please help!
A. It’s always baffled us why most companies offer a spectrum of foundation shades, but just a couple of concealers. There are, however, a couple of companies which are exceptions to the rule – first of all, Becca, an Australian brand created by make-up artist Rebecca Morrice Williams, with a staggering 28 shades of Compact Concealer. The best place to try these out is at Becca’s Biba-esque flagship beautique in South Kensington (find it at 191a Pelham Street, London SW7). Origins are also to be applauded for their wider-than-usual range of concealers, and have just introduced an ‘Extra Deep’ shade of Quick, Hide! Concealer, making six shades in all; you can now buy Origins on-line again in the UK (at last!), from www.origins.co.uk, which is great news for anyone who doesn’t have an Origins outlet nearby.
Q.I have quite a dark (50p-sized) strawberry birthmark on my shoulder and am always wary of wearing strappy tops which reveal it. Is there a concealer I can buy which would definitely cover it up?
A.The concealer which pros swear by is Dermablend, which even covers tattoos (a boon for tattoo-ed brides!), and offers the dense but natural-looking coverage. It¹s a no-budge formulation (they even sell a special ‘remover’), but the key is to get the colour that perfectly matches your skintone. So you¹ll be pleased to know that Dermablend offer an eight-shade Trial Kit, so you can find your ‘perfect match’. Dermablend is available from specialist pharmacies nationwide, where fully trained staff can advise you. Call 0800-169 6193 to find your nearest stockist.
Q. What’s the best way to cover a spot?
A. Karen Mason’s spot-concealer-of-choice is Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage. ‘It’s got a high pigment concentration so it gives dense cover – perfect for spots – and comes with two different shades in each palette, for custom-blending to your exact skintone.’ The technique: after you’ve applied your regular foundation or tinted moisturiser, with clean hands, use a spatula to transfer the concealer to the back of the hand – then dab onto the spot with your finger and pat into the skin. ‘The warmth of your fingers helps blend the Secret Camouflage perfectly. Then set with powder on a small brush, for precision.’
Q. How can I camouflage a cold sore?
A. As a rule, believes Stila founder and make-up-artist-to-the-stars Jeanine Lobell, cold sores should be left well alone. ‘But for a special occasion – or an important meeting – you might want to cover a cold sore,’ says Jeanine. ‘What’s most important is to use a Q-Tip rather than your regular concealer brush, so you don’t contaminate or spread germs on your brushes. Touch the Q-Tip to your concealer and lightly tap onto the sore. Using the other – clean – end, blend the concealer. If you need more concealer, use a fresh Q-Tip, but use sparingly to avoid caking. You can set with a light blot of pressed powder – applied with a cotton wool pad.’
Q. Could you please tell me the best method of using Touche Eclat?
A. Charlotte Godden – a former winner of the beauty industry’s coveted Supreme Consultant Award – is the ultimate expert on this; she’s sold hundreds of tubes of YSL Touche Eclat, every month, at the Yves Saint Laurent counter in Harrods. ’For optimum benefits, Touche Eclat is applied over foundation. Pump the tube and apply with the brush, then blend lightly with the fingertips.’ When it comes to disguising dark under-eye circles, make-up artist Sara Raeburn advises: ’tip your head down and apply the concealer where the shadows are, using a light touch. Then blend. Less is more.’ Touche Eclat can also be stroked along deep lines – like the forehead furrow and the nose-to-mouth lines – to help ’blur’ their appearance, too. Always pat with a finger, afterwards, to blend.