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My struggle with Acne and how I overcame it

A little while ago, I wrote a post about how I was really struggling with my skin. Out of nowhere, I suddenly developed a horrible case of adult acne and absolutely nothing I tried seemed to help.

I tried everything from changing my skincare routine, to acne antibiotics and creams. I even tried blue light therapy to try and blast the acne away but nothing seemed to touch it.

Having acne feels terrible and my heart really goes out to people who are suffering with it right now, I had such low confidence and felt ashamed to even leave the house and I was convinced that everybody was looking at me and thinking how disgusting I was – and this was when I’d concealed the acne with my makeup. Taking my makeup off in front of my boyfriend was even more soul destroying. I felt horrific and I seriously didn’t know what else to do to get rid of the horrible acne and angry redness on my skin. Previously, I felt too worried to post images up of my acne, but this time I feel like I need to add one into the post so you can see exactly what I’m talking about.

My skin was sore, irritated and dried out in places

My skin was sore, irritated and dried out in places

As I struggled on with my acne and my self-esteem, I got even more stressed and upset and eventually ended up feeling poorly and run down. I had to take some time out to recover, and within that time I began to take care of myself better. Taking the advice of my Mum, I ensured I gained plenty of rest, drank plenty of water (three litres daily) and adapted my diet so that I was consuming more of the things that were good for me – such as lean proteins, fruit, vegetables and grains. I learned to de-stress to a certain extent and adapt my attitude from being uptight and anxious to learning to go with the flow (on certain things).

I also changed my skincare routine to Clinique’s 3 Step (number 2 in case you were wondering) so that I had a proper cleansing, toning and moisturising routine. I used natural facemasks twice weekly made purely of natural honey that really seemed to soothe and calm my distressed skin.

The Clinique 3 Step system really helped my skin to regain balance

The Clinique 3 Step system really helped my skin to regain balance

Something amazing started to happen…the acne actually started to clear! No longer was my skin breaking out in angry red spots or lumps and bumps, and once again I could run my hand along my jawline and feel nothing but the smooth skin that was once there. I carried on with the same routine and drinking more water and found soon that I would only have one or two small spots at a time. My biggest issue now was the redness that was left from the acne and I was seriously worried that I was going to have a lot of scarring. At this point, I started to use a small amount of Sudocrem before bed and slowly, with time, the redness began to fade.

Today, my skin is well on track to being back to how it used to be and I’m so relieved to say that I currently don’t have the worry of acne to deal with. However, this doesn’t stop me worrying that it’ll come back at the first sign of stress.

My skin today is much smoother and less prone to breakouts

My skin today is much smoother and less prone to breakouts

I wanted to put this post together in the hope that it might help others who are currently struggling with their skin. I’ve compiled a list below of the things that I’ve found have helped me personally.

Learn to de-stress

Stress is a major trigger of my acne and I’ve learned that it really benefits my skin if I take time out for me. This might be taking an extra long bath and treating my skin to a facemask, or just sitting and reading my favourite book. Do whatever makes you feel relaxed and learn how to switch off from work for a while.


Implement a good skincare routine

Skincare routines are a great way to ensure that your skin is cleansed properly to stop the build-up of product and pore-clogging excess sebum. Even if you have oily skin like me, it’s important to not to skip moisturiser from your routine. Clinique do a great gel moisturiser for oily skin types. If you find that you have to remove your moisturiser in order for your foundation to stay on, take a read of my post here that reviews a great product for mattifying your skin and beating the shine all day even after moisturising.


Assess your diet

I find that my skin can really suffer if I consume too much dairy produce, and if I eat junk food, I might as well just kiss goodbye to clear skin. Eating a varied, healthy diet works wonders. I’m no dietary expert, but I can tell you that after altering my food choices to fresh, healthy produce, my skin and general health has reaped the benefits.


Allow your skin to breathe

It’s so tempting to pile on the makeup to conceal your troublesome skin if you need to leave the house, but one of best ways to let your skin to recover is to let it breathe. It was hard work, but I learned to go makeup free on the odd occasion and take a long walk outdoors in order to get some fresh air. Not only do you feel a little better afterwards, but your skin will thank you for the little rest.


Keep your makeup brushes clean

Dirty brushes are a big culprit for spreading bacteria and harbouring germs. Ensure to keep your brushes clean in between deep cleans by spritzing a tissue with a brush cleaner spray, such as the Bare Minerals Quick Change brush cleaner, and gently rubbing your brushes into the solution to remove old makeup. I also really like the brush cleaner from KIKO for in-between washes. I deep clean my brushes every week with a gentle baby shampoo or Boots No7 Brush Cleaner which I dilute with water. I’ll write a detailed post on the brush cleaning process I use as I feel this is a really important factor to ensuring your skin stays in great condition.


I hope that you’ve found this post helpful and I hope it helps you along in your skincare journey. Have you found any little miracles that help with clearing acne?

© This post is copyright of Rachael Divers 2014.

Annalena - May 11, 2017 - 12:44 pm

I’ve been struggling with acne and thus far Dermalmd Blemish Serum is the only product that has helped at all. It’s a gradual process, but I’ve been using it for about a month and my acne has improved a ton. I have mild cystic acne on my jawline, cheeks and chest. I wash 2-3 times per day. My skin isn’t perfect, but the improvements have been pretty drastic.

Rachael Divers - May 13, 2017 - 3:41 pm

Hi lovely! I haven’t tried their serum before but I’ll certainly look it up. I’m so glad it’s been working out for you. I’m currently taking Accutane which is my last shot at getting rid of it for good seen as it came back in abundance and was also cystic which is so painful too. Really feel for you, hope it continues to work its magic for you xoxo

Claire - July 22, 2017 - 6:43 pm

My dermatologist suggested Dermalmd blemish serum I buy this and use it in my daily routine along with my acne cream, and WOW! I’ve never had such flawless skin. I’ve been struggling with acne for a while and I have had all sorts of red spots everywhere on my face, so this has helped it all settle down and go away. When I do have a break out, I use this and man, over night it does wonders!

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Oily skin savoir: No7 Beautfifully Matte Make Up Base review

Anybody with troublesome oily skin will know how frustrating it can be to find a foundation that lasts throughout the day  – you apply it in the morning and everything looks okay, then, an hour later, your skin is bestowed with the dreaded shine that screams ‘I’ve just had a heavy workout!’ I never used to have problems with my skin being oily, and I found that my MAC Studio Fix foundation lasted all day long no matter what I did throughout the day. Then, shock horror, suddenly everything started to change and not even the iron-will of Lauder’s Double Wear would stay in place for more than a couple of hours.

This was around the time I started to struggle with adult acne, but we’ll save that saga for a different post…

I tried every primer I could get my hands on but to no avail, and then one day while I was buying a replacement eyebrow pencil from Boots, I came across their Beautifully Matte Make Up Base. I tried a small amount on the back of my hand and knew right away that it was completely different to anything I’d tried before. It dried quickly and set to a strong, matte finish. I decided to take my chances and buy a tube to try.

No7 Beautifully Matte Make Up Base

After disappointments with other primers and bases that I had tried previously, I didn’t really hold out much hope for this little product. Anyway, the next day after cleansing, toning and moisturising, I applied the formula to my skin and buffed in my MAC Studio Fix in NC15 over the top. I set my foundation as usual with a little powder and went about my day pretty much forgetting about my skin for the next few hours.

Towards the end of day, I remembered my little product test and rushed to the mirror to take a look, and let me tell you, I was seriously impressed with the results. There was zero shine to be seen and my skin looked exactly the same as it had done once I’d set my foundation earlier. I was thrilled but still thought that maybe I just hadn’t exerted myself as much as usual throughout the day. I decided to put the makeup base on trial for a further week and still got the same, great results each time! It has now become a staple of my makeup routine and a product I would gladly use on my clients for shoots as I know it’ll withstand the heat of the studio lighting.

My makeup magically stayed in place - at last, a product that works for me!

My makeup magically stayed in place – at last, a product that works for me!

So lets get down to the details: the product contains Biopol that helps to minimize blemishes and blot away shine without blocking the pores. It also contains light-reflecting particles that help to disguise fine lines and flaws giving the appearance of smoother, younger skin. The thing I find great about this product is that it is also hypoallergenic, and with the addition of watermelon and cucumber extracts, the formula helps to soothe and cool the skin – great for sensitive skin types alike.

I wouldn’t recommend this product for dry skin, but I think it’s an excellent product for combination to oily skin like mine and it’s really helped the staying power of my foundation over the past few weeks.

Have you tried this product before? What is your favourite base for oily skin?

© This post is copyright of Rachael Divers 2014.


Serena - February 12, 2016 - 6:08 pm

I’ve been using this for years and it’s been discontinued! Have you found anything similar? I can’t cope without it! X

Morgan - February 26, 2016 - 8:13 pm

Hi Rachel I know this post is old but I hope you still view it!
I have used beautifully matte primer for so long now as its the only thing that keeps my makeup in place due to my oily skin!
Boots (uk) have now discontinued this product in the past few weeks and I am currently almost finished my bottle.
Is there any primer you have since tried that works as good as this??? It sounds silly but I am panicking as I’m so self conscious of my skin this works so well for me I need a replacement asap

I have tried ; the new replacement for this (completely different and oily), smash box (breaks me out so bad)

Rachael Divers - February 26, 2016 - 8:38 pm

Hi Morgan!

I’m so disappointed they’ve discontinued this too as it was the only primer of that consistency I’ve found so far! I’d recommend avoiding anything silicone based which will slide off your skin easily (like the Smashbox primer – it does nothing for my skin at all!) The next best primer I’ve found is by Tony Moly and it’s called Silky Smooth Balm – the only trouble is that it’s hard to get hold of in the UK and frequently sold out. I actually got mine from Oregon from a website PrettyAndCute.com Also, have you tried the Nivea For Men Post Shave Balm? It sounds crazy but it makes a fabulous primer! You’ll need to work it into your skin until it becomes tacky then apply your makeup on top.

Sadly, none of the above are quite the same as the No7 but they should help your makeup to cling on a little longer 🙂

I hope this helps – it’s always devastating when a company discontinues something you’ve loved for so long! xoxo

Rachael Divers - February 26, 2016 - 8:40 pm

Hi Serena!

The next best primer I’ve found is by Tony Moly and it’s called Silky Smooth Balm, the packaging looks like a big gold egg (very cute!) – the only trouble is that it’s hard to get hold of in the UK and frequently sold out. I actually got mine from Oregon from a website PrettyAndCute.com. The shipping was pretty fast and my parcel arrived in perfect condition so I’d not hesitate to use their site again.

Have you tried the Nivea For Men Post Shave Balm that I recommended to Morgan in the comments too? It sounds crazy but it makes a fabulous primer! You’ll need to work it into your skin until it becomes tacky then apply your makeup on top.

I hope this helps 🙂 xoxo

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Can you do my makeup for free?

In a word, no.

This is something I get asked all the time as a makeup artist, although not quite so bluntly. All too often I get asked to attend shoots for free or on a time for prints basis. Given, while I was still training in makeup artistry I used to work for free quite a lot and would find myself rushed off my feet with 12 clients to make over in a few hours. It was hard work and it taught me one thing: working for free was something I couldn’t afford to do anymore.

I spent time and money travelling, buying products and even rallying around giving lifts to people, and although I don’t mind this the majority of the time, there comes a point where you really need to start expecting payment for the hard work you put in.

Working on the lovely Lydia at the studio

Working on the lovely Lydia at the studio

Any makeup artist knows that time invested in a shoot, no matter how big or small, means using up our quality products that we spend a lot of money on maintaining or replenishing every so often. It also means wear and tear on our brushes and more time spent afterwards thoroughly cleaning our kit and making sure our brushes are spotless for the next job that comes along. It’s not simply just a matter of rocking up on set with a kit, applying the makeup then merrily skipping away home again. It’s a process and an art form that cannot be rushed along and that must be done properly to obtain the best results.

Don’t get me wrong, should Charlotte Tilbury call me up out of the blue and ask me to help her out on the catwalk makeup or La Chapelle needs an MUA at short notice, I’d be there in a shot, because this kind of work would advance my portfolio from what it already is and give me more valuable experience of working with some of the people whom I admire.

It always astounds me when people contact me asking me to travel miles to shoots where the model is being paid, and so is the photographer, but they “don’t have the budget for the makeup.” I think this is terrible for two reasons; for one, it really devalues something that is quite essential on a shoot – you can have the most gorgeous clothes, the best hair stylist and the most amazing photographer, but throw in a bad makeup artist and you may as well kiss that winning shot goodbye. And for two, it’s extremely insulting on somebody who has dedicated years to training and perfecting the art of makeup.

Even the smallest jobs mean wear and tear on brushes

Even the smallest jobs mean wear and tear on brushes

I’ve found a few things have really helped me in gaining recognition and building up my reputation in the makeup business, I’ve highlighted a few below that I hope will help you too.

Training and qualifications

Today, there are so many amazing makeup artists who have never received formal training and are in top positions right now. You don’t necessarily need a qualification to be a makeup artist, but it helps. I trained at The Beauty Academy where I received my Complete Makeup Artistry diploma – I found that this gave me a good grounding in makeup and also gave me knowledge on skin types and how best to treat them.


I gained most of my experience by working at my Dad’s photography studio, Divers Photography, and working for Illamasqua. Throughout my time at Illamasqua, I was trained by their fabulous team and the sheer amount of customers we got allowed me to experiment on a variety of different skin types, eye shapes and lip shapes. It also taught me how to deal with very different personalities!

At the studio, I made models over for Boudoir shoots which gave me a good understanding of how makeup comes across on camera, it also taught me how to apply makeup precisely due to the detail the cameras pick up. I’m fortunate to have an extremely loving, caring Dad who’s all too happy to bring a model in for me to make up so I can practice my work – he then does the photography and together we can critique the results.

Unpaid work

From time to time, you will be asked to work for free. It happens, and sometimes it’s okay to accept this. For example, if you truly feel that the work you are going to undertake will help you to develop professionally or improve your portfolio, then by all means, take it into consideration. However, if the results will be amateur at best and will not benefit you, it is probably better to politely decline.

Social Media and Advertising

Social media is your best friend in Makeup Artistry. See it as free advertising that reaches millions of people worldwide. You never quite know who is reading your blog or looking at your facebook or twitter pages. It’s worth uploading images of your work onto your social media channels and networking with the people who share your similar interests. A note of caution: if you do intend to use your social media as your virtual shop window, it’s important to uphold your professional image and ensure that you don’t share or write anything that can be deemed as offensive to anybody. I prefer to keep my facebook page mostly professional and I am always aware that companies that I want to work for may one day come across my page, and I want my image to be a positive one. Sure, keep your personality, but make sure to keep your integrity.

Making a profile on a website such as PurplePort is also great as it’s a virtual portfolio and social networking site in one.

Be approachable

Make sure that your potential clients feel that they can approach you easily. This works in two ways; number one, ensure your contact details are displayed prominently and are easy to find on your social media pages. Number two, be nice! Having a beautiful personality will mean that people will want to be around you. Make sure to always be polite and courteous and once again, treat people with the respect that you would wish to be treated with. There’s nothing nicer than feeling valued.

One of the beauty images we shot of Lydia at the Divers Photography studio

One of the beauty images we shot of Lydia at the Divers Photography studio

Setting up in makeup artistry can be a daunting task and sometimes it can take a while to see the results of your hard work, but it’s worth remembering that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And if it’s worth doing right, it’s worth being paid for.

© This post is copyright of Rachael Divers 2013.

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Blogging for free: should bloggers expect to be paid?

Blogging for freeEvery single day I check my email inbox and feel a horrible lull of dismay, once again, the PR emails have miraculously piled up within hours and once again; I need to plough through each and every one. From the usual press releases about new designer collections and preview invites, to informing me about a pair of self-heating socks or lollipops filled with bugs that I really need for Christmas…my inbox bulges with them. Maybe I’m not being completely fair here, once or twice I might come across something quite useful and relevant, which of course I’ll follow up, but this doesn’t happen all too often often.

Amongst these mostly irritating emails, I often find review requests sprinkled in between which sometimes spark my interest, but here’s the annoying part, hidden away in small type right at the base of the email is this: “We don’t have samples, but I can put you on the waiting list if you require some.” Well, of course I require them! How on earth could I review a product without even seeing it or trying it for myself? I’m proud to have built up a trust with my readers over the years that I have written online, and to write a ‘review’ of a product that I have never encountered would be counterfeit and a complete violation of that trust – this is not something I would allow to happen.

I’m certainly not alone in my aggregation, I know many people in the blogosphere who encounter the same problem daily.

Sometimes, I will even be asked to provide written work for companies or incorporate one of their site features into my own website. The problem I have here is not with the asking, I am very open to hearing from people and welcome every personal request with open arms, the thing that gets me here is that the companies expect me to do this completely free of charge.

This is something that really aggrieves me to the point of fury. Asking me to write for free is like asking your hairdresser to style your hair free of charge, or walking into Waitrose, picking up your shopping and then strolling out without paying for your goods. At the end of the day, you are asking for a professional writing service, and should expect to pay for this service just as you would expect to pay for any other service in this world. I have spent years perfecting my writing skills and I have also worked for free in order to build up my portfolio – I’ve been at the bottom and worked my way up, I’m not about to hit a snake and go tumbling back down on the board again. Sure, if the written work will complement my portfolio or will help me to develop my writing in any way, I’m all for it. But this hasn’t been the case thus far.

Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to encounter some lovely companies in the past who have sent me samples without the obligation to blog about them, or who have provided me with a service in the hope that I’ll write favourably about them. These are the companies who are business-savvy and who are also recognising the fact that the whole blogging phenomenon works both ways. It goes back to a simple saying that I’m sure we’ve all heard thousands of times but that plenty of people don’t take heed of; “Treat others as you would expect to be treated.”

Over the years, bloggers have become invaluable to companies – what with their savvy knowledge of niche industries and many devoted followers, in many a case, they can help to either make or break your brand. Bloggers have mastered the finesse of writing for the web and targeting the relevant audiences so much so that some of them have achieved an almost celebrity status.

The bloggers of today are a knowing bunch of dedicated people who are clued up not just on the writing side, but in their knowledge of social media, SEO and how to get the results they want out of their time online. For many bloggers this is their full time work, their profession, and so to ask them, or indeed me, to provide our services for free, is frankly, quite insulting.

Do you think bloggers should expect to be paid?

Should bloggers expect to work for free?

Should bloggers expect to work for free?

© This post is copyright of Rachael Divers 2013.


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