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What does good skin really look like?

(21 Posts)
Penthesileia Sat 01-Oct-11 16:09:19

I have debated about whether to post this is Feminism as it does cross-over with feminist issues, but I do genuinely want an answer from a Style and Beauty perspective, so am posting here.

All this has been prompted by my lurking with curiosity on Jodie's BE thread.

Everyone who is raving about this make-up is rejoicing in how perfect it makes their skin look. This got me thinking about my own skin. I don't wear make-up at all. Once in a blue moon - so, for instance, once this year, back in Feb - I will wear some face powder, some mascara, and some lip gloss, but normally I just cleanse, tone, moisturise and go. I think I have decent skin and look ok. Admittedly, it doesn't look like the skin of someone in a make-up ad (i.e. totally consistent colour all over, no shadows, no hint of line or pore), but I am wise enough wink to know something about air-brushing, so this doesn't worry me over-much. I think I look healthy enough, though with dark shadows, and not so hideous that I want to devote time or money to make-up.

Moreover, I've never seen anyone in real life look like they've stepped out of an ad. I've seen people with what I thought was good skin, who may or may not have been wearing makeup, but it still didn't look as "perfect" as a make-up ad. I've also seen people with perfectly made-up faces, but they are most definitely and visibly wearing make-up (so, apart from, say, eyeshadow or lipstick, one can discern foundation/powder on their faces). And they still don't look like make-up ads. They look polished, but not "perfect" in the way that, say, Julia Roberts does in that Lancôme ad, where her skin appears to be as flawless as a child's.

OK, so where am I going with this? In short, am I deluded about my appearance? Do people look at me in pity and think that my skin is not as ok as I think it is? Would most other women, were they me, wear make-up to improve my appearance? Are the people I see out and about who have nice skin actually wearing "natural" makeup? Do the people on Jodie's thread now all look "perfect" in the manner of a make-up ad? grin

I've realised that the advertising industry and the "natural" claims of makeup wearers have meant that I have no clear sense of what normal, non made-up skin (on a 33 year old, note) should look like.

Anyway, enough rambling. smile I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this.

brighthair Sat 01-Oct-11 16:16:30

For me good skin is clear and glowy, radiant maybe? But I kind of link that in my head with naturally good skin so freshly scrubbed out the shower kind of look

WantToGetBackToNormal Sat 01-Oct-11 16:24:07

Small refined pores
Clear ie no spots/blackheads
Supple and elastic
Wrinkle free grin
I don't think it necessarily has to be an even colour all over - pink cheeks are nice

PastGrace Sat 01-Oct-11 16:37:47

My sister's friend had a girlfriend who was a diabetic, coeliac vegan. She came to a party we had and my mum was worrying about how she would know who the special food was for - my sister said "she's the girl who is glowing". She genuinely looked like an advert. Her skin was perfectly smooth, fairly pale with a natural flush on her cheeks, small pores... She is the only person I have ever seen to look like that though, even when others have had make up on.

My friend was ill and her mum was trying to encourage her to get better - she said "see how PastGrace's skin is just all glowy and lovely? She's not caked in crap, her skin is just naturally healthy looking". I was not naturally healthy looking, I was wearing bare escentuals. But I was very pleased she thinks I'm naturally a glowy, dewy person grin.

higgle Sat 01-Oct-11 16:51:41

Wearing make up may mean people can't see your lovely dewy skin au naturel when you are young, but the makeup wearers amongst my friends of 50 + have much better skin now - it probably keeps off the sun, but maybe it protects it in other ways.

kerstina Sat 01-Oct-11 18:06:09

I think young skin really does not need layers of makeup it is beautiful naturally but as we age we need a bit more help. Although I have posted on the BE s thread and even ordered some blush I don't really believe it will make much difference to my skin and a bit alarmed at wearing that much make up. Also I cant help but think some of these threads are definitely instigated by the brands themselves trying to create a hype or am I being paranoid ?? Also BEs seems to be more for people with certain problems such as shiny, redness and blemishes. But they persuaded me with the words dewy and glittery .There was a thread on AIBU the other day about someone mourning the loss of their looks as they age. I think this yearning for this makeup such as BE s plays to that rather than wanting perfect skin if you see what I mean.

TattyDevine Sat 01-Oct-11 18:16:53

Aesthetically perfect skin to me would be obviously free of visible blemishes or bumps like spots, scars, pocks or craters, or warts/skin tags.

It would have refined pores and an even texture - i.e it wouldn't be dry in one spot or oily in another but have a uniform apperance in that regard.

For me, even pigmentation looks more ageing or wrong than wrinkles per se. Some wrinkles, depending where, don't look like flaws to me, for instance crows feet, if the skin is dewy and plump in other ways. However, sunspots, redness round the nose, ruddy cheeks, etc would draw my eye in far more than wrinkles, in context.

That said, there are certain types of wrinkles that are distracting or make the person look tired or angry or even masculine (so the same wrinkles would work fine on a man - might enhance his appearance, even). Tear troughs are one of them, as they underline your bags and define eye bags even that are not too bad, and create shadows under the eye, and I think the ones between the eyebrows can make the owner of them look angry and tired as well. Yet crows feet and smile marks and bunny lines and that kind of thing are not necessarily a flaw, as such.

Finally, dewy texture - not shiny, not matte like a powdery old lady, but somewhere in between. My new way of creating this is to apply Becca Shimmering skin perfector all over the face, then use mineral powder foundation in a light touch over my forehead, cheekbones, nose, and chin to take the shine away, leaving the high points of my face dewy but still allowing a very subtle dewy irridescence to shine through where I have applied the powder. I was in a photo the other day where the flash went off and it almost looked airbrushed, I couldn't believe it, because it diffuses the light back I guess?

Nobody has perfect skin but if you have a lot of those attributes you are probably doing okay!

jessicaalbastwin Sat 01-Oct-11 18:43:22

My skin is not perfect, but I dont wear any make up, and so many women have asked me what foundation I am wearing when I haven't got any on. I haven't got pigmentation or wrinkles but I do suffer from blackheads, but overall My skin is radiant and plump, but then I am only 30.

NotADudeExactly Sun 02-Oct-11 06:28:58


After suffering from really obvious cystic acne for most of my teens and twenties I am over the moon with what my skin looks like.

No it's not perfect as in those ads. Not at all. I have large pores, the occasional spot, some blackheads and dry patches. But it's not full of angry red bumps, though, which is all I ever wished for in the past.

I used to feel double shame for a) having atrocious looking skin and b) being some kind of a feminist failure for caring so much about what it looked like and hence single handedly keeping a mid-sized cosmetics firm in business. Strangely, as my skin finally improved (thanks to I stopped caring so much about the make-up thing.

mumzy Sun 02-Oct-11 07:45:27

Sophie Dahl IMO has tone most perfect glowing dewy complexion!7

SeymoreButts Sun 02-Oct-11 08:40:08

Like NotADude I had a bad skin in my teens, cystic acne is enough to make anyone weep, man or woman. I spent a lot of time caking myself in make-up, feeling really low and hiding away. Friends and family tried to convince me that it's not important, it's just your face, but I couldn't get past that. I didn't view it from a feminist perspective (I'm not saying that is wrong though). I remember feeling sorry for my male friends suffering from acne, because it wasn't socially acceptable for them to cover their spots with concealer. Although some of them did anyway....

Now my skin is clear I use make-up sparingly on problem areas (dark circles, nose redness) rather than all over my face because I prefer the look of bare skin. I really like BE because I can just apply a bit to my "t-zone" and there's no discernible difference between my bare cheeks and my powdered nose. On a night out I might do a full face though! I hope most people know that the make-up ad airbrushed look is unachievable and would look a bit surreal actually.

babycham42 Sun 02-Oct-11 20:05:26

People say I have good skin. It"s not an even colour,I get a few blackheads on my chin and it is sensitive,combination so I can look shiny on my T zone - but despite this I do seem to get comments on my skin although it is less than perfect (oh - also forgot dark circles and bags under eyes and a few fine wrinkles!)

I don"t wear make up except on "special occasions". When I do it"s just powder as foundation doesn"t look right on me - it looks so fake,like I have a mask on.

I think I seem to get comments when I have no make up on rather than when I do. It seems, therefore,that in my experience,people"s perceptions of what is a good skin are that it looks clean,clear and natural.

Personally I don"t think that someone with make up on looks like they"ve got a good skin necessarily.If it"s overdone it looks dull,flaky and dirty.

NinkyNonker Sun 02-Oct-11 20:26:55

I think not spotty or overly dry etc. I think a little uneven skin tone is normal.

snoozingbeauty Sun 02-Oct-11 21:05:01

Mama Mio’s new skincare range promises ‘the best skin of your life’, which sounds a bit of a bold statement but I can’t help thinking they might be right. I’ve never had so many compliments. I’ve been using Mama Mio Clean Slate ( and their Mighty Moisture too. And I’ve been going without make-up some days too... ;-) x

yummybunny Mon 03-Oct-11 07:47:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotADudeExactly Mon 03-Oct-11 11:37:47

Oh, yummy, don't! Though I know exactly how you feel.

I used to fantasize that if only I could get every spot I was ever going to have within one week I'd suffer for a short while and then it would all be over for good. Never happened, of course.

Go speak to your GP or try - both way better than getting depressed!

yummybunny Mon 03-Oct-11 12:40:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JodieSwirlTapBuff Mon 03-Oct-11 12:47:09


This is such a good question, and I'll answer it by saying what new makeup has done for me and what it hasn't done...

It has covered scars from spots, and seems to be preventing new ones
It has evened out angry red patches from sensitive skin, and seems to be preventing new ones
It has stopped me getting shiny, red and sweaty

It has not erased my incipient laughter lines
It does not eradicate the sleepy look (I don't have bags precisely, but this morning you can see I am a little tired)
It does not make me look poreless.

So from my perspective I look as if I have normal skin of a woman in her early 30s. I have fine lines around my eyes, which as it happens I rather like (I am not particularly scared of ageing as long as it doesn't happen prematurely!), and I have pores, of course, because I am human.

But it has prevented the problems - the hormone spots, the redness from sensitivity and crap makeup.

Does that make sense? I wanted to look like a normal 31 year old with nice healthy bloomy skin, and not a raw-faced spotty sweaty creature who could do with a lie down and a week drinking mineral water and eating green apples grin

Pippaandpolly Mon 03-Oct-11 12:54:09

People always tell me I have perfect skin (not bragging, honest, my hair's a right frizzy mess and I'm about 3 stone overweight so I deserve one thing not to worry about!) and I think it's mainly due to not having any spots and having small pores. That said I do have pretty bad dark circles under my eyes.

Penthesileia Mon 03-Oct-11 13:32:59

Thank you all very much for taking the time to post. It's interesting to read these replies. Sorry not to have replied sooner: was unexpectedly busy because of the nice weather.

It's funny, but that picture of (the very beautiful) Sophie Dahl kind of illustrates my problem exactly. I agree that her skin looks lovely in that photo, and certainly "natural", but is she wearing makeup there? Is that what "normal", "natural" skin should look like, or is that the beauty industry's version of natural which people cannot possibly hope to achieve makeupless, and which makes people feel insecure about their otherwise perfectly normal, acceptable, as-good-as-it-can-be own skin, iyswim?

NotADudeExactly Mon 03-Oct-11 14:03:32

Hmm, she's definitely wearing foundation, presumably concealer. There's blusher and I think a little bronzer on the cheeks. I think there may also be some highlighting going on but can't tell as well in a relatively small picture.

So, no, definitely not a makeup free picture. Also definitely not a picture of a person with a massive acute acne/rosacea/psoriasis/other skin condition break out well covered by makeup.

She'll have decent skin underneath, reasonably clear, maybe a minor spot somewhere and some dark circles. Presumably not quite as dewy as in the picture.

Dewiness, by the way, is one of the things that a good foundation reasonably competently applied fakes easily. Unlike, say, an even skin surface.

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