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As an oily-skinned gal, mattifying powder products have always been my best friends. Shine control primers, drying foundations, and moisture absorbing powders were all that I’d allow into my makeup bag. It took my entire makeup wearing career to refine the best products that would make my face into a completely arid, matte surface that I’d then use even more product to add highlight and dimension to again. I know, make it make sense right?
As a smooth faced teen and 20-something my skin could take layer after layer of product like that, but I’ve found it’s a whole different story at 36: my wrinkles and texture love to grab onto powders. I chuckle a little when I think how much my past self would recoil in absolute horror if she could see what I use now, as I’ve made the switch from full powder to full cream makeup. I love the glowy, shiny mug that looks back at me from the mirror these days; wrinkles and texture and all.
A selfie I took in 2018 started this process, as in it I really noticed my forehead lines for the first time. As I’m clearly a glutton for punishment, I zoomed in on the picture and saw that the powder I had been using was just sitting there: clinging to every wrinkle, line, and pore on my face. My uneven skin was highlighted and powder had settled in my forehead lines making them look more pronounced. I’m painting a delightful picture here I know, and I was absolutely fixated on this perceived issue for a long while.
I started out with a quest for a new primer, thinking that if I could find one that would ‘fill’ pores it would also fill wrinkles, and then the rest of my face could be business as usual. Sadly, that wasn’t much of a success, and I can confidently say that pore filling primers do not work as I’ve pretty much tried them all.
After a little more research I shifted my focus to treating the underlying problem: my skin. I found a simple routine that I was able to keep up with so that my skin would be as smooth and hydrated as possible – especially as I was going to move toward cream products which tend to be more sheer. Now I’m really hydrating my skin I don’t need a primer even though I’m oily, so I’ve been able to ditch a layer which I’m super happy with.
Cream makeup convert I may be, but I’ve found I still need to make two small concessions to the oily nature of my skin. First off, I have one powder product left in my arsenal, the IT Cosmetics pressed powder [affiliate link], which I use to set my undereye concealer (with a small eyeshadow blending brush) for a night out and to powder my nose (with a big fluffy brush) in the summer. Similarly, I can’t leave the setting spray behind, and I hunted high and low for one that doesn’t leave my skin too matte but still works. I didn’t think such a thing existed until I got Pixi Beauty’s Makeup Fixing Spray [gifted / affiliate link] in a PR mailout and it’s fab!
Pictured below is my full face of powder products from 2018, and then my new cream-based routine.
The Cream Makeup Swaps
PRIMER: I got rid of my Smashbox primer [affiliate link] completely. Now I treat my skincare routine as a primer and wait about 15 minutes before putting on my makeup.
FOUNDATION: I switched from a Lancôme one [affiliate link] that was really drying, to the much lauded IT cosmetics CC cream [affiliate link] which is hydrating and gives really good coverage.
CONCEALER: As I was already using a cream concealer, the Collection one [affiliate link], this was one switch I didn’t need to make!
BLUSH: I switched from the MAC [affiliate link] and Sleek [affiliate link] powder blushes that I had in heavy rotation, to the holy grail of cheek colour that is Glossier Cloud Paint. I’ve reviewed some possible MUA dupes and noticed a Maybelline cheek product [affiliate] that may be worth a gander, but Glossier has my heart.
HIGHLIGHT: My Pixi fave highlight palette [gifted / affiliate link] has been hard to leave behind as it’s exceptional, but I love my new Make-up Atelier Paris Iridescent Highlighting Fluid which is everything! I struggled to find a neutral non-glittery glossy highlight and this delivers all of that perfectly.
What’s In My Makeup Bag? [affiliate links]
From beginning to end, it’s taken me around 2 years to let go of my beloved powder products completely. The feeling that I needed to use them was so ingrained, it took me by surprise just how hard I found it. Without going into it too much, I had to acknowledge that I was scared of looking shiny because I didn’t want anyone to interpret it as sweat rather than oil. As a fat woman, showing any evidence of bodily function – especially one related to moisture – terrified me as I worried about it being interpreted as ‘fat and sweaty’, y’know? I got there, but it took time.
I really enjoy the face I have now and I can pull it all together so quickly, the most time consuming element is my brows which I’m forever fussy about (but terrible at). I like how cheerfully glowy I look and I never thought it could be something that me as an oily skinned person could have. Working on it from the ground up, starting with making sure my skin is hydrated, has been revelatory.
I’m so, so happy that my made-up face isn’t as congested and powdery any more. My signs of ageing are what they are, but by powdering them I was only drawing more attention to them: now I feel relaxed about them, and switching to cream makeup has helped with this shift unfathomably.
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