When it comes to prepping the skin for makeup preparation, there is no 'one size fits all' product. Whilst essentially a good primer provides a layer between skincare and makeup, improving the last and finish of your foundation; there are a number of other factors which must be taken into account and which rest entirely upon the condition of your skin.

Firstly, if you have naturally flawless skin then the only additional benefits to your ideal primer are likely to be those which enhance your complexion; a little tint and a little glow in order to perfect the healthy dewy look we're all currently in pursuit of. In which case today's post may be rendered a little redundant, but keep your eyes peeled for something much more appropriate landing next week...

Those with other skincare issues [oiliness, discolouration, scarring, pigmentation, dryness, etc] will need a primer which goes the extra mile, and which in some way seeks to address and remedy the concern, whilst preventing it from taking its toll upon your makeup. Enter six makeup/skincare hybrids - it's time to think personally and choose wisely.

THE HYDRATION HIT : Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum A lighter, more affordable, and faster-absorbing alternative to the Racinne product below, you could easily be forgiven for assuming that Avène’s weightless gel-like serum would have little impact in terms of moisture. However it provides a layer of hydration which renders moisturiser application wholly non-essential [unless you're extremely dry-skinned!]. It absorbs with a matte sheen which smoothens the surface of the skin and leaves foundation looking flawless.

THE MOISTURE BOOSTER : Racinne Ultimate Hydra Advanced Luminous Gel* Those loathe to apply copious layers of makeup will adore this thick soothing gel. It promise [and delivers] intense hydration with a smooth matte finish, doubling as moisturiser and makeup primer. In the winter months this was my go-to base of choice, for even on days when my skin was at its driest and flakiest, it allowed for a flawless finish.

THE SKIN-PROTECTOR : Radical Skin Perfecting Screen* This delicate mattifying fluid seamlessly bridges the gap between skincare and makeup with its subtle tint, light-reflecting pigments [which serve to brighten the complexion and blur imperfections], and an SPF of 30 combined with Radical’s patented reparative antioxidant technology. Delicate enough to use around the sensitive eye area, and light enough so as not to clog pores and cause breakouts, what's not to love?

THE COLOUR CORRECTOR : KIKO Skintone Corrector Primer in Green* Cynics must prepare to be converted, for the principles of colour balancing are at their most practical when utilised in the world of makeup. If you have the slightest threat of redness lurking within your complexion, or suffer [as I do] from slow-fading blemish marks, then this is the primer for you. You’ll soon learn that going heavy handed with [essentially] smearing green goo over your face, pays off. Like a saturation filter for your face, this fast-absorbing lotion sucks the redness from your complexion; ideal for use with light-coverage foundations or tinted moisturisers as it really does half the job for you.

THE OIL-ABSORBER : Sisley Tropical Resins Complex* The perfect primer for those whose complexions sits on the oily side of the spectrum. This more than delivers on the 'smooth matte base' front, before going the extra mile to provide the skin with a purifying and restorative blend of plant extracts which help to regulate sebum production and restore balance to the skin's moisture levels. The formula's crowning glory however is the inclusion of a mattifying powder which absorbs excess oil and sebum, creating a blotting paper-like effect which prevents oily skin from impacting the appearance and last of your foundation.

THE AIRBRUSHER : Sisley Instant Perfect Primer* Operating in the spirit of Photoshop’s blur effect, this delicate lotion erases imperfections such as fine lines, dark spots, acne scars and blemish marks, as well as improving the skin’s texture and enhancing consequent makeup application. Like all Sisley products it contains a blend of potent natural ingredients designed to provide around the clock skincare [hydration, stimulated collagen production, improved texture to name but a few].

 What are your favourite skin-priming makeup/skincare hybrids?


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Over the last couple of weeks I've shared some of the skincare products which I've found most helpful in dealing with hormonal acne [see here and here]. At the end of the day however, as the cause of hormonal acne comes from within, the solution also stems from an inside-out approach. Good skincare practice can only do so much, and succeeds mainly in dealing with the after-effects  [under-skin blemishes, redness, scarring, etc] so a lot can be said for making a few dietary tweaks here and there.

Hormonal acne is caused by an imbalance of hormones, which can happen to anybody at any point in their life, and can be triggered by a number of stimuli, from stress to diet, birth control, and medication. It effects different people in different ways; for example, many women will experience hormonal acne whilst on the Pill whereas others will only experience it after coming off the Pill.  Some women won't experience it at all, others might find it effects them later in life, or during and after pregnancy; either way it's as a result of imbalanced hormones.

Typically consisting of large, painful, cystic blemishes across the cheeks, jawline, and chin, hormonal acne often flares up when you're on your period as your hormones are changing. Essentially the imbalance lies in an excess of testosterone [which is why breakouts are typically found on the jawline - shadowing male facial hair]. If referred to a dermatologist there are a number of medications which serve to balance the hormones; increasing oestrogen or decreasing the production of testosterone. I personally have never taken acne medication so I won't be discussing it in this post, but if you have, please share your experiences in the comments!

EAT There's a lot of conversation re. the correlation between cow's milk and hormonal acne [the hormones within cow's milk can aggravate acne and cause inflammation]. From personal experience, cutting dairy is no mean feat, especially if you have a deep love for two guys named Ben and Jerry, and have grown up pouring milk on your cereal/in your tea your entire life. Those who wish to eliminate every last drop of dairy from their diet will realise very soon that pretty much everything contains a trace of dairy somewhere. Whilst your local supermarket will host plenty of dairy-free alternatives, it can still be a difficult, expensive, and restrictive process.

For this reason I decided to cut dairy only so far as it wasn't hugely impacting my buying/eating habits. I've cut out all forms of what I've labelled 'pure dairy', so cheese, butter, cream, yogurt, and of course milk itself. I've then cut down on foodstuffs which contains fairly high dairy counts, e.g. cakes, chocolate, etc. Swapping out milk chocolate for dark, occasionally buying a dairy-free slab, or opting to snack on nuts [almonds are especially good for the skin] or a health bar when I'm feeling peckish has helped here, and has also meant that I've been eating less sugar [which has probably helped my skin as well]. I've found that having the occasional "cheat day" [i.e. succumbing to ice cream/carbonara] hasn't caused any sudden flare ups, but if I do allow myself more than one such day in a row then it does show in my skin.

In terms of dairy-free options, Sainsbury's have a really good 'free from' range, which is usually pretty extensive even in small stores. The have barely indistinguishable alternatives to everything from jam tarts to chocolate spread. The brand Alpro [stocked in most supermarkets] makes affordable soy alternatives to dairy items such as yogurts and desserts [the dark chocolate ones are seriously good]. They also have some non-soya alternatives such as chocolate almond milk and coconut yogurt. I've yet to find a substitute for cheese, but I did eat a dairy free pizza the other day [at Dough in Manchester] so there must be something out there!

DRINK Milk-wise my preferred substitute is almond milk. It has a slightly nutty scent but this doesn't really translate into the flavour when used in tea or over cereal. Oat milk isn't so subtle, but unsurprisingly tastes fine in porridge! When eating out, almond milk doesn't tend to be an option, but most places offer soy milk as an alternative to dairy. Alpro also make chocolate and strawberry milks with almond and soy, which are actually pretty tasty but do contain a lot of sugar. I've been picking up the M&S version which is a little more nutritionally virtuous.

I've cut out my morning coffee [caffeine is a known inflammatory] but I find that the occasional latte when I'm out and about doesn't do any harm. Instead I've been drinking a lot of green tea [a powerful anti-inflammatory]. I've always found that my skin is a lot clearer when I'm drinking a couple of cups of green tea a day so I can't recommend it enough. If you find the taste a little insulting, buy the lemon infused option and add a teaspoon of honey or agave nectar - it makes a world of difference.

On a similar note, my skin looks and feels a lot healthier when I'm drinking a good amount of water. You've heard it all before so I won't elaborate here, but I do find that I drink a lot more water when I'm drinking through a straw [just me??] so this bottle never leaves my side when I'm spending the day at my desk.

I also recently invested in a Breville Blend-Active, which allows you to make a single serving smoothie/juice in the bottle, pop a lid on and go. It's so quick and easy to use [and clean!] that I've been making and drinking smoothies on an almost daily basis. I can't say that this in itself has had a profound effect upon my skin but it's certainly contributing towards my overall health!

SUPPLEMENT I didn't want to go too supplement crazy all at once, but I've been taking two of the 'big guns' of the supplement world when it comes to skincare; Omega-3 capsules and Zinc tablets. You can find both in Boots and they're nearly always on a 3 for 2 offer. Omega-3 contains fatty acids which maintain and repair damaged cells, and also have very powerful anti-inflammatory effects - even calming the effects of eczema and psoriasis. Similarly, zinc helps to repair and heal damaged tissue, prevent inflammation, control sebum production, and also helps to balance hormones.

It's been almost three months since I adopted a more mindful approach to my diet and within the last couple of weeks the effects have really started to show. Breakouts are now few and far between, and tend to be the occasional one-off blemish rather than the angry red patches which I was previously suffering from. My main concern now lies in clearing up the redness and marks left behind, but between a carefully tailored skincare routine and the supplements I'm already seeing a difference. It's important to remember that you're never going to see effects straight away but that patience and  perseverance is key!

Please do share your skincare diet tips below!


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