Cream products for crummy faces, OR – how I make up when I’m ill

I don’t know about you, but when I’m ill, the thought of a powder product coming anywhere near my skin is just horrendous. I’ll be puffy, dehydrated, itchy, red – powder needs to stay the hell away.

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I’m sure conventional wisdom would suggest not to wear any makeup at all when you’re ill, but I live in a flat full of mirrors. Not vain, the landlord put them there. So seeing my horrendous droopy face from all angles as I walk from room to room gets a little tiresome. Makeup is needed.

Enter the cream products. No dragging, no cracking, no muss no fuss. I’m not aiming for perfection with these, just to look a little less hellish. And given I’m more sickly than your average, I thought I would share with you my steps to looking a little less scary for the neighbours. (Who’ve walked past our ground floor flat’s bay window and seen me in bed looking sweaty and horrible like a thousand times a day during this past week while I’ve had tonsillitis. They know I work from home so I don’t know if they think I’m skiving, rather than actually off sick… who knows. Back at the desk today.) Anyway.

Step 1: Prime.

Smooth out all the weird bumps and rough patches. I like this Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Reviver as it’s brightening as well as smoothing.

Step 2: Cover.

I go for tinted moisturiser/BB cream/CC cream, as it sits most comfortably on the skin and I don’t care about a flawless finish, just an easy, evened one. These past couple of days I’ve been using the REN BB cream, which has no brightening properties, it’s just very smooth and quite matte and doesn’t make a fuss, crease, or highlight flaws.

Step 3: Conceal.

This is where things get tricky. Even the creamiest concealers will cling when I’m ill and dehydrated. Generally, I would conceal my undereyes and around my nose (futile, as it will be rubbed off with tissues later, but ho hum), and leave the upper eyelid well alone. My upper eyelids are bright red at the moment due to eczema and my being unwell, and I would just let people look. Better than the flakiness. And at home I would pile on a cream, usually Aveeno’s Skin Relief, and let it do its thing. However for the photo at the end of this I wasn’t quite that brave so slapped some concealer (Maybelline Eraser Eye) on there too.

Step 4: Add in some colour.

This bronzing BB cream from Bourjois SUCKS when used as intended. Unless you have very dark skin already, you will look awful with this applied all over the face. I hung onto it though, this not being America and not being able to return it, and eventually found a couple of uses. One was for my legs – it’s ace. The other was – take a teeny amount on a stippling brush and use it over a base as a very light bronzer. I took it under my cheekbones and over my temples.

Step 5: Get a bit of life in the cheeks.

I have very mixed feelings on this Stila palette, but I’ll address that another time. I take the pink colour on my cheeks with the stippling brush to add a pop of faux-blood flow.

Step 6: Add a nice glow. Not sweat.

From the same palette, and using the same stippling brush – because illness means not having to change brushes – I take the highlight across the tops of my cheeks, along the brow bone, in the inner corners of my eyes, and on the cupids bow.

Step 6: Brows.

Comb through with (gross and discoloured) brow gel. Add in colour with the only powder product I can face here.

Step 7 (getting there): Curl lases

No way no how am I putting mascara on, but a bit of a curl opens up those sleepy eyes. A bit.

Step 8: Tinted lip balm

This is a Burts Bees sweet violet one I got for my wife and occasionally steal (then wipe my germs off, no fear).

Step 9: Nap, wipe it all off on pillow, shrug, close blinds and cover all mirrors with sheets.


Ta da! Okay, I still look like crap here (#nofilter), but if you’d seen the before, or the inside of my throat… (and yes that’s the duvet on the sofa – see, evidence of illness.) What do you do to your face when it’s falling apart?


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