Your 3-step plan for looking good—or at least, not like death—when you’re sick and feeling gross

woman with a cold

Today’s post is kind of all about ME. Not that that’s anything unusual, but in case you haven’t noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated in days, all because I fell victim to some kind of evil flu virus. So much for starting off 2012 all gung-ho with my beauty resolutions.

But now, as I ease back into the land of the living, what’s top of mind is how I can reasonably look like I spent the past few days on some kind of ski vacation (read: fresh and glowy) instead of throwing up in my pajamas (think: pale, dark circle-ridden and flaky). Here’s my beauty Rx:

Step 1: Deal with the flakies

The number one thing—let me repeat, NUMBER ONE THING—that you need during sick times is an insanely hydrating lip balm. I mean, wintertime in January in Canada is not kind to lips to begin with. But when you’re ill, you’re likely breathing through your mouth, and all that air spells Chap City for your lips. Few things are more annoying.

I’ve got more lip balms in rotation than is probably sane, but one I’ve been reaching for lately is a newbie from Rodial:

Rodial Glam Balm Lip Your 3 step plan for looking good—or at least, not like death—when youre sick and feeling gross

It’s called Glam Balm Lip and reminds me of a runnier version of my beloved By Terry Rose Lip Balm, which I (sadly) believe was discontinued in Canada. The rose scent/flavour won’t be for everyone, but I think you’ll find its moisturizing abilities quite incredible. (I don’t mind a generic waxy balm on regular days, but you need something more powerful, like the Rodial, in times of crisis.)

The other flake problem, as I’m sure you know, occurs around the nasal area. Not cute. I’ve got two go-to products for dealing with this, depending on the severity of the problem at hand. One is Weleda’s indispensible Skin Food:

Weleda Skin Food Your 3 step plan for looking good—or at least, not like death—when youre sick and feeling gross

This is a pretty big statement, but get ready for it: I think everyone needs a tube of this in their medicine cabinet. It’s not for regular, everyday moisturizing (WAY too greasy), but it repairs dry skin like nothing else. I’ve slathered it all over my red, flaky, chapped nose and had practically brand new skin 24 hours later.

If your skin issues aren’t as traumatic—maybe you have a few flakes, but also just general dullness—I suggest you get acquainted with another friend of mine:

NeoStrata Smoothing Cream Your 3 step plan for looking good—or at least, not like death—when youre sick and feeling grossNeoStrata pretty much own it when it comes to glycolics, and unlike my recent battles with glycolic in a gel, this is a CREAM format that combines hydration with gentle exfoliation. Note: it’d probably be a touch too tingly if your skin is very raw and tender from blowing your nose.

Step 2: Hide the evidence

And now it’s time to camouflage the telltale signs: a red nose, pale complexion, dark circles, the aforementioned flaky skin… yikes! For post-sick times, my motto is “less is more,” so I find foundation a bit much. Instead, I tend to reach for a glowy tinted moisturizer. My current favourite is this guy from Perricone MD:

Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation Your 3 step plan for looking good—or at least, not like death—when youre sick and feeling gross

And yes, the bottle is really that tiny. Just FYI. But seriously, any tinted moisturizer will do the trick—you just want something that is simultaneously easy to apply (i.e. hydrates and gives you SPF) AND imparts a bit of colour and glow.

Of course, concealer is a MUST: get a creamy one and apply it all the way around your eyes and nose. (You can check out this list for some of my all-time faves.) But be very, very careful about setting it with powder. One false move and too much powder is only going to exacerbate the flakiness situation.

Feel free to go crazy with mascara, but go easy on the eyeshadow. (Or at least, stick with one of my go-to shimmery neutrals.) And finally, you really cannot leave the house without the twins: bronzer ‘n blush. Both essential if you’re looking a little too Cullen family to leave the house. Again, my preference is cream, not powder, formulas. Revolution Organics makes these great ones called Beauty Balms that come in chunky tubes like this:

Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Beauty Balms Your 3 step plan for looking good—or at least, not like death—when youre sick and feeling gross

Just swipe on with fingers, blend and go—they’re totally portable for touch-ups, too.

Step 3: Distract ‘em

Your last move, and it’s a very important one, is to fool people into thinking you were not actually sick at all. (Unless the sympathy vote is what you were going for, in which case, carry on.) Like I said, I don’t think heavy eyeshadow, or eyeliner, is the way to go here. It really is all about the bright lip gloss.

Notice I did not say lipstick, because lipstick is less kind to chapped lips. Gloss you can layer over your balm and the shine and slight goopiness sort of smooths everything over. And here is where I give a plug for one of my all-time favourite beauty categories: the gloss-balm. There are many to choose from, but for the best combination of colour with sooper incredible moisturization, I’m going to recommend that you go with Givenchy:

Givenchy Gelee dInterdit Your 3 step plan for looking good—or at least, not like death—when youre sick and feeling gross

Last but not least, perfume. (Did I not say I’m making an effort for it to be a bigger part of my life?) Fragrance can make you feel alive again, and let’s face it—at this point, it’s a welcome change to have the smell of flowers (or whatever) instead of chicken soup or Vick’s VapoRub.

My choice is something light, not too strong, but pretty and fresh and slightly citrusy. Enter Le Couvent des Minimes Fleur d’Oranger:

lecouventdesminimes orangeblossom Your 3 step plan for looking good—or at least, not like death—when youre sick and feeling gross

That means Orange Blossom. It is probably the loveliest inexpensive fragrance I’ve tried. Not sure where you can buy this stuff anymore—it used to be at Bath & Body Works, and I heard Shoppers Drug Mart carried it at one point. Anyone know? Few products meet my “I’d buy it again” standard, but this is one of them.

Tell me:

How do you deal with the beauty aftermath of a cold or flu?
Which beauty prodz do you reach for during such times of crisis?
Tried any of these ones?


Conny M
Wednesday, January 11/2012 at 3:11 pm

I would love to try this orange blossom. Hope someone is able to lead us in the right direction!


Conny M
Wednesday, January 11/2012 at 3:17 pm

I also wonder if this fragrance compares. The 7 Virtues orange blossom.


Wednesday, January 11/2012 at 3:27 pm

Oh dear! I hope you are feeling better! I have been lucky and avoided any major lergy (although have started to get a cough, eeeek!). Just like you, there are staples in beauty that help me to look less rough. I completely agree with you about Skin Food – it is the best balm out there for incredibly dry, sore and flakey skin. I also love La Roche Posay’s Cicaplast B3 Balm, it helps to repair flakey and chapped bits with no stinging and it stays put really long – great for lips and face as it’s non greasy. To reduce puffy eyes and dark circles, I swear by Soap & Glory’s You Won’t Believe Your Eyes (contains the same ingredients there is in Prep H!), Soap & Glory’s KickAss Concealer. I stick with Alpha-H for exfoliation, as anything too grainy will probably make my skin flare up. The biggest “beauty tip”? Nose spray! I don’t need to blow my nose as often so it won’t go as red. I am still looking for that ultimate lipbalm – will check out Rodial. I also make sure my eyebrows are still in good shape, they somehow grow really fast whenever I’m ill!


Thursday, January 12/2012 at 1:42 am

Yes! Nose Spray! Even just something as basic as saline will do the trick nicely. It keeps your nasal passages hydrated in the right way (the goop you blow out doesn’t do much) so they can cope better, and there is much less chance of a nose bleed too.

For cold/flu-induced flakiness, I use a coconut and honey moisturiser. Can’t rave enough about honey – soothing and healing!

Best of luck with the flu season!


Wednesday, January 11/2012 at 11:55 pm

Got to try ‘skin food’. I couldnt find anything that helps with dry choped skin on my nose whether I have allergies or cold. Hope u feel better soon!


Marina (Makeup4all)
Thursday, January 12/2012 at 4:48 am

I was ill myself, just got better on Tuesday!
I should definitely get Weleda’s Skin Food, heard so many great things about it.


Thursday, January 12/2012 at 4:54 am

i so need these… the changing weather is giving me the colds and i’m having a hard time looking good.


Thursday, January 12/2012 at 8:15 am

I ♥ Weleda’s Skin food: really high quality & long lasting!


H. Shar
Thursday, January 12/2012 at 10:03 am

How creepy is it that we are sick at the exact same time?! This post is PERFECT for me ‘cos I was in bed for a week thanks to a nasty flu and throat infection. And I have to start going ‘out into society’ soon, eventhough I still feel quite crappy. Great post!!

I’ve been dealing with the extreme chapped-ness of my nose & upper lip area with jojoba oil & Avene Skin Recovery Cream. Works well but I have to reapply often ‘cos I keep blowing my nose. LOL! And so true about the chapped lips. I’ve gone through about half a tube just slathering it on while in bed.

The Perricone MD No foundation Foundation sounds intriguing. I wonder if it gives any sort of coverage and if comes in colours??


Thursday, January 12/2012 at 10:20 am

LaRoche Posay’s Cicaplast is amazing! It’s brilliant for dry patches, cracked skin, etc. I even used it last year as an all over primer under my makeup when my face went through a huge post-sickness cracked skin phase. It was the only thing that wouldn’t sting yet would still protect the skin. For lips, I’ve been all over Nuxe’s Reve de Miel lip balm. Super hydrating, smells great, pretty inexpensive, and readily available at Shoppers. For those days where “you feel like crap, but not look like it”, Clarin’s Beauty Flash Balm is a great under makeup to add some “glow”. I’m going to have to try Perricone’s No Foundation Foundation, but I’m wiery to stray away from my beloved Origin’s Vitazing.


Thursday, January 12/2012 at 2:08 pm

i’m reading this post in bed, surrounded by a mountain of dirty tissues and greasy hair. how apt. thanks for the suggestions! i wish i had some of that skin food, my nose hurts so much from all he blowing/wiping. i’m using some olive oil and honey based balm right now from worker b, a small little operation here in the midwest usa. it’s pretty amazing, especially since i’m so exhausted and cannot be bothered to use several products after every sneezing fit. i just smear the balm on the dry patches on my lips and face and go back to sleep…. it’s the first product i’ve found that’s good for both lips and skin — usually other such balms i find do a fine job on one or the other, but not both (end up too greasy, not moisturizing enough, etc.). i’m really happy with this, despite the fact that my pup seems to think it is food and i have to shoo her away from it. any ideas on what to do with the greasy hair? i feel like my klorane dry shampoo is too expensive/precious to waste on me being sick, since i’m not really going anywhere.


Friday, January 13/2012 at 12:23 pm

Cornstarch is a good, cheap subsitute. Rub into your roots, wait a bit & brush out. I use it on my bangs all the time, looks a touch lighter, but I’m blonde, so you can’t really tell.


Friday, January 13/2012 at 12:24 pm

Sorry, that was for Melissa, had a power failure & screwed it up when I came back!


Friday, January 13/2012 at 12:26 pm

Sweet almond oil is lovely for kleenex-burned noses.

I’ve almost been having amazing luck mixing a little bit of mineral powder foundation into my regular rich The Secret cream (From the Meadow). Great for covering up dry patches & my regular winter-dry skin, very soothing & area stops flaking really quickly.


Saturday, April 6/2013 at 9:35 pm

I love the smell of Orange Blossom, I think it is one of my favorite fragrances. It reminds me of being a kid since we had a orange tree in our front yard. I found this fragrance here, a


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