Model & Instagram activist shares her skincare story

If you struggle with spots, pimples or acne, you might feel a little cautious when it comes to wearing make-up. From finding the best foundation to reduce the appearance of scarring to going completely product-free to protect your skin from further breakouts, it can be difficult to really know what will help you feel the most confident.

Meet Lou Northcote, the model-turned-activist who founded the #freethepimple campaign back in 2017. On a mission to empower those with acne-prone skin and prove that make-up isn’t bad for your complexion, Lou’s social media movement is a way for people to share their breakouts with confidence.

As well as contributing to the positive skin movement on Instagram *applauds*, Lou wants to break the conventional boundaries of the modelling industry. She hopes that seeing acne skin on billboards and in magazines will one day be the norm, and we couldn’t agree more!

We sat down with this trailblazer to discuss all-things-acne. From acne-prone skincare to foundation hacks and self-confidence advice, here’s what Lou had to say:

Tell us about your personal experience with acne & make-up

“I used to wear make-up as a mask – I literally had to cake myself with foundation to even get out of bed. It would be one of the first things I would do. I even put foundation on to go downstairs and see my parents.

“I would literally not show anyone my skin and felt that without having foundation I couldn’t do anything. I really wanted to get rid of that and actually enjoy make-up and not wear it as a mask.

“It took me a long time, but I’ve got to that point which is amazing. I totally understand what it’s like to feel like you have to cover something to get on with your day, and that’s okay if that’s what makes you get up, but try your best to have those days where you aren’t wearing make-up.

“You need to let your skin breathe and definitely try and go make-up free, even if you have acne. It’s like ripping off a bandage, do it once when you go out and it’ll be easier the next time.”

How do you prep acne-prone skin before applying make-up?

“I prep my skin by using the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Supercharged Booster and then I use La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ Blemish Treatment.

I think it’s really important to understand that even if you have acne, it’s important to put moisturiser on. People think you have acne and you have oily skin so you should leave it, but you should definitely prep your skin first especially because make-up can be drying, so make sure you use something that will hydrate your skin first.”

What one tip would you give to anyone applying make-up to acne-prone skin?

“I know it’s sometimes hard to cover redness (even with foundation) so you should use NYX Professional Makeup HD Photogenic Concealer in green. It may sound scary using green concealer, but it’s like colour correction. Put it on your blemishes, wait for it to dry a little bit then put your foundation on. It’s a clever little trick.”

Do you prefer cream or powder foundation formulas?

“I personally prefer cream formulas when it comes to foundation. My favourite is the Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup. I prefer cream because it makes you look more dewy, more alive, and with powders I feel like it completely dries me out.”

Which three products are always in your make-up bag?

“The Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup because I love their cream foundation. I also have the Stila Convertible Colour cream blush, again I love cream products. It’s really easy to apply and it makes you have a really nice rosy cheek.

“And then also Sleek MakeUP Highlighting Elixir Illuminating Drops. I love highlighter, it’s probably one of my favourite make-up products. I prefer liquid highlighter because it’s easier to apply with your hands and it makes you look glowy and fresh.”

What advice do you have for anyone suffering with acne & their confidence?

“Go on social media. It can be a dark place, but it can be a very positive place. There are some amazing positive spheres within social media, especially the acne community, we’re very nice people.

“Search #freethepimple or search 'acne' and you’ll find us and we’re all kind of in the same group, so if you talk to one of us we’ll know the next person and we'll actually message you back. We’re very positive and it’s a nice place to find someone who actually relates to you.”

What’s your favourite product pick at Boots?

“The IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF50+ in matte. I’ve used Clinique’s Anti-Blemish Foundation for years and it’s amazing for acne-prone skin, but I did want to try something new. I’m very excited to say that it’s been great on acne-prone skin and it’s top of my list at the moment. You should definitely try it.”

In a world where so much of our Instagram feed is filled with heavily face tuned and filtered photos, Lou’s outlook and #freethepimple campaign feel like a breath of fresh air.

If you think you’d like some support with acne, you may be able to access treatment through our Boots Online Doctor Acne Treatment Service.* After completing an online consultation, a clinician will review you answers and provide advice and prescribe treatment if appropriate, so you can face forward with confidence.

*Access to treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Charges and eligibility criteria apply.