Friday, July 26, 2013

Sick and Pretty - Beauty for the Chronically Ill Girl

Today's post is about how to make oneself fit for human eyes when in the throes of an Autoimmune flare-up - or maybe just a really bad cold.

Which is how this started out, to be honest.

The thing with having an over-active immune system is that it comes and goes in waves - and something as simple and lame as a nasty cold or too much stress can trigger it.
Much of the time, nobody would guess i'm dealing with chronic illness/pain.
I've learned to hide out on the really bad days as much as possible (i'm lucky that my job allows this), and when i can't, i make damn sure i am looking as good as possible so nobody is asking me "are you feeling OK??"
There is nothing that a Chronic Illness Person despises and dreads more than the Are-You-Feeling-Ok  questions.  We feel crappy, and suspect we look crappy. This question just confirms it.

Perhaps you would think the solution is spackling on inch-thick foundation, piling on blush and painting my eyes a la Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.  But no.  In fact, in a situation when one's skin is pallid and weirdly dry-yet-clammy, and one's eyes are prone to puffiness and redness, the last thing we want is to slather on the Warpaint.

                                                     Maybe this weekend...

Just as the extremely young can get away with unseemly amounts of makeup and still look good, the opposite holds true for the sick person.

Paint needs a smooth, fresh canvas to look decent.  And during my "flare-ups", my canvas tends to be - as i mentioned - flaky yet clammy and singularly unable to hold onto foundation very well at all.  Not to mention the bit about having absolutely no energy and being in all-over pain and generally feeling crappy.
These things are hardly conducive to a full-on face of makeup.  In fact, that can make you look even worse.

So, i have a System in place for days like today.

I know i need to keep it simple, and that my skin needs to somehow look less sallow, my eyes less sickly and tired.  I have limited time in the morning, not to mention stamina, and need to make the most of it.

A nice, warm shower will liven up my pallor a bit - i use a cleanser with peppermint in it if possible in order to sort of wake things up, but i skip even the gentlest of exfoliators because a) my skin is super-sensitive and painful right now and b) it can make any redness i have going on worse.
My skin is a histrionic beast right now and must be handled accordingly.

Then, i make sure to moisturize well.  I use a good serum - lately i've been really liking Lancome's Advanced Genifique.  I don't know what it does, but whatever it is, my skin really likes it.  It livens up my pallor, makes my skin look smoother and less grey, and does a beautiful job underneath moisturizer and foundation.
For moisturizer, again i like to keep things relatively simple.  I find anything with hemp seed-oil and/or German chamomile to be especially soothing and healing, regardless what sort of oily/flaky/red/patchy mess my skin might be in. In fact, if my skin is really freaking out, i will just pat in some good quality hemp seed-oil and skip the moisturizer altogether.  It absorbs right into the skin, helps heal blemishes (in my experience, anyway) and won't make exacerbate any oiliness, oddly enough.
 Then, i swipe on a good concealer,  paying special attention around my eyes and nose (which, for whatever reason, always looks a bit red when i'm unwell).  The dark circles are intense when one is ill and in pain, so i don't go crazy trying to make them disappear - i just try to diffuse the situation a bit, lest i end up with reverse-racoon eyes - which is arguably worse.

So, i begin with bit of well-blended, creamy-opaque concealer around my eyes and wherever else i may need it - preferably by the likes of Le Metier de Beaute or Chantecaille because they cover well without drying out or caking on unhappy skin, thus making one look made-up like the Aging Whore of Babylon.
And then - and this is crucial - YSL's ubiquitous Touche Eclat.
I swear by this stuff - it's been fooling people into thinking i feel great for YEARS. I love it and you will pry it out of my cold, dead, manicured hands.

While my skin is dealing with the serum/moisturizer, i leave it be and go ahead with my eye makeup, making sure to Visine the living Hell out of my bloodshot little peepers before i start putting anything pointy near them.
This is where eyeshadow duos are a bloody Godsend.  When you're not at your best,  both mentally and physically, the last thing you need to be doing is messing about with 5 different eyeshadows.  Just your basic light/dark palette, in some variety of neutral tones, is best.  You know exactly what to do with it and it takes hardly any time at all.
For this look i used Nars' Tzarine eyeshadow duo - a nice, creamy light shade paired with a pretty, dark grey, both with little flecks of colour shot throughout to keep it from being a monochromatic Bobbi Brown nightmare.
And define your brows, for the love of God.  Nothing looks more slovenly and peaked than an unruly or invisible (like mine) brow.  Blondes in particular can look washed out and sickly without a proper brow.  And if you ARE washed out and sickly, you'll look like Night of the Living Anemic without it.   I don't go crazy, i just fill in over my extremely light and thin excuse for eyebrows with an ashy-taupe blond pencil and move on.

Pardon the a-typically low quality of these pics - it's miserably ill-lit and i'm not at home

Next - a simple, clean tapered quasi-cateye with waterproof pencil up top - i'm addicted to Chanel Stylo Yeaux Waterproof in Ebene, at the moment - and a light, diffuse grey on the lower lashline will open up the eye with minimal effort.
One definitely wants to stay away from any red-tones, even undertones, in the eye makeup when one is sick.  You already most likely have redness around the eyes and you don't want to look like an 18th Century Tubercular Irish Wastrel dying of Consumption.

Now do you?

Right.  Next, we use a nice stippling foundation brush and work in a sheer-as-you-can-get-away-with foundation.  This is simply because a full-coverage foundation will, counter-intuitively, perhaps, emphasize your peaked, greyish pallor.
If you're like me and have a Winter as well as a Summer foundation (Pale and Slightly Less Pale), don't make the mistake of looking at your skin, which is probably somewhat tanned but somehow looking extra pale anyway, and just going with the lighter foundation to try and match your unhealthy pallor. Instead, mix the two together and blend in sheerly, taking care to conceal on areas that need it and leaving it at that.  I used my RBR Coconut Milk & Chantecaille Cream - using the darker, Summer shade of concealer in my stash - i.e. Chantecaille New Stick in Cream.

Next, you want to use a little blush.  I recommend blush as opposed to bronzer, only because ashen skin looks even more obvious with a face-ful of bronzer.  Instead, reach for something more in the pink-toned range.  Be it peachy-pink or a more cool-toned pink.  Since my skin leans more cool the paler i am, i used a pure, ultra-happy PINK shade a la Trish McEvoy Peony Pink - but sheerly applied.  I used a stippling brush to apply and blend it in, which gave my face a nice, Fake-Healthy bit of colour without overdoing it.

Finally, a quick outline of nude-pink lipliner and bit of moisturizing, not-too-opaque pink lipstick (because if you're already pale like me and ill, bright/opaque shades WILL look garish, trust me. Darker skins, conversely, should stay away from anything too pale and washed-out.  I still recommend staying away from anything too matte or BRIGHT)  - here i used Laura Mercier 60's Pink .  
Then lastly, a dusting of translucent loose powder to set things and Voila!  No more Night of the Living Dead Girl!

                      But i DO look cranky...perhaps i should smile at the camera?

        Right- although my hair could use some work, you'd never guess i'm actually a zombie!

And there we are. Not exactly going to win any Ms. America contests today (especially with that post-rainshower HAIR, for the love of God), but at least i look fit for human eyes and the ashy, peaked, red-eyed monstrosity i woke up with is gone.

Hopefully this post was useful to you all - even if you aren't dealing with chronic illness, everyone has sick days - this is how i deal with mine and it seems to work pretty well.

Thanks, and see you all soon!