Often when you have a birthmark, you are told that you could be pretty if it wasn’t there. The ever elusive idea of ‘being beautiful’ is always just slightly out of reach because of your skin. You can’t get rid of the birthmark, therefore you can’t ever be fully beautiful – at least that is what you’re made to think, anyway.
This idea leads a lot of people with birthmarks to use coverup makeup. I wish I had added up the amount of money I had spent on ludicrously priced makeup products over the years in a desperate attempt to blend my birthmark into the rest of my skin so I could ‘fit in’. I am not anti cover up – I use makeup most days and use strong coverup makeup to mask my birthmark if I am going into situations where someone might comment on it and would never tell anyone they to not to something if it made them feel more confident – but I just want to point out the flaws in these products that no one talks about. For those with birthmarks, I hope it helps you realise that you aren’t alone in your struggle. For those without them, I hope it highlights an issue that you were perhaps unaware of.
1. The colours don’t match your skin tone.
I have never, ever found a coverup that matches my skin tone and is strong enough to cover my birthmark. Either it is pale enough to match the rest of my skin but too translucent so my birthmark still can be seen, or it is dark enough to cover my birthmark and then I have to blend it down the rest of my face. Having an orange patch on your forehead is just as conspicuous as my birthmark is. This photo shows the difference in colour and tone between samples of three products I use to cover my birthmark, all of which were sold to me by makeup artists after being colour matched in places like Sephora and Debenhams.
2. You need a LOT of it to work properly.
When I was younger and going on a night out, I would use an anti redness primer, a layer of concealer and then at least three layers of thick coverup over my birthmark just to make sure you couldn’t see it and even then it sometimes showed up in photos. Putting this much makeup on your skin is obviously not good for it – I often get small spots around my birthmark which I put down to using all of these oily products on my skin.
This photo shows my birthmark makeup free and my birthmark after two (terribly applied) layers of my thickets foundation – the Estée Lauder Maximum Cover Double Wear Camouflage Makeup. You can still see my birthmark underneath both laters and how different this colour is to the rest of my skin.
3. The every day, high street products do nothing.
I’ve seen every high street brand promote a miracle foundation that promises to cover up all blemishes and I’ve tried them all – they don’t work. Not unless you use them with an anti redness primer, a strong concealer and are prepared to use lots of layers, anyway. I have found that to get a product that truly covers up your birthmark, you have to spend a lot of money. My favourite coverup that I have found is Estée Lauder Double Wear Maximum Cover Camouflage Makeup and it costs $58 here in Australia. That. Is. Not. Cheap. And even then, the issue of it not being the correct colour still happens.
4. You don’t look like you.
I know that this is the point of coverup makeup, but sometimes when you see photos of yourself with your Barbie like, completely flat skin tone, you realise just how much of your uniqueness and personality you have taken away in the desperate pursuit to be ‘normal’. I don’t dislike any of these photos of myself, but I know that I don’t really look like that. It’s tempting to look at them and prefer that version of yourself, but that version of yourself isn’t real. That version of yourself can be wiped away with a bit of makeup remover – the key is to find a way to like what you see when that happens too.
5. Hiding it is not a cure for your insecurity – it’s just a mask.
I can’t count the amount of memes I have seen of side by side photos of girls with makeup and without makeup and the horrified responses of people who realise how different they look from one image to the next. I’ve read comments like ‘this is why you take her swimming on the first date’, ‘talk about a Catfish’ and ‘when you go to bed with Shakira and wake up with someone that looks like her nan’. I know that these memes are jokes, but for someone with a birthmark these only heighten the worry that someone will see what you really look like and recoil. You know that coverup makeup is only a temporary ‘fix’ and that one day you’re going to just have to accept that it is who you are and how you look. You just hope that other people will be able to accept that that’s who you are too.
Having a birthmark or a facial difference doesn’t make you any less beautiful – if anything, it makes you even more uniquely beautiful.