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YouTube Beauty Star Em Ford Shares Her Secrets for Feeling Confident and Concealing Acne

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You’ve most likely seen photos of Em Ford, the 26-year-old beauty blogger who has been bravely sharing her acne battle with the world, captivating the attention of Kylie Jenner and the rest of the Internet. And judging by her before-and-after photos, it’s safe to say that she’s very good at doing makeup. We spoke to Ford about her journey, and exactly how to cover up stubborn breakouts that she’s learned to masterfully conceal.

Em Ford
Em Ford/Instagram

Ford started her blog, My Pale Skin, on a whim — she simply needed a hobby, and fell in love with beauty. Her popularity grew so quickly that fans encouraged her to start a YouTube channel, but a few months after she started vlogging, at age 24, she began to develop acne for the first time — and instantly transformed from being a traditional beauty blogger/vlogger to an acne-covering expert. Now, with over a million Instagram followers and over 600,000 subscribers on YouTube, London-based Ford is not only teaching women how to apply makeup, she’s also making strides against bullying with a video that has over 19 million views, as well as encouraging women everywhere to be confident with or without acne. Here are her tips.

1. Full coverage foundation is not always the answer
“I receive many emails asking which full coverage foundation is the best for covering acne, but over the years I’ve found that you actually want to do the opposite and go for a light to medium coverage formula to get the most natural look,” Ford tells PeopleStyle. “So consider tinted moisturizers, BB creams and light foundations your new best friends. A couple of my favorite base products are the PIXI h20 Skin Tint, which is a gorgeous tinted face gel, and the Illamasqua skin base Foundation. The trick to a natural acne coverage look is to ensure that areas of skin which are blemish free are covered lightly in foundation so you can still see the natural skin texture.”

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2. Quality over quantity
Ford says that “When it comes to the blemish areas, a good quality, high strength concealer is a must. I swear by the Kryolan Dermacolour range. It’s the product which changed my life, and helped me find my confidence again. When it comes to finding the perfect concealer shade, the most important thing is knowing what undertone you are. If you don’t know, go to a makeup counter and ask for help.”

3. Never contaminate your products
“When you’re trying to cover acne with a product, always take some of the product out of its container and put it on the back of your hand first,” she warns. “Don’t put the brush in the container, then onto your skin, and back and forth. That could contaminate the product. Make sure your brush handle is clean, and use the end to transfer some onto the back of your hand. And always clean your makeup brushes!”

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4. Keep a visual diary
“Acne can affect a person, not just physically but mentally too,” Ford explains from first-hand experience. “Sometimes it’s hard to see any progress when you’re so focused on problem areas. Try keeping a visual diary. Take photos of your skin — makeup free — once a week. Keep them in a folder, and look back through them occasionally to keep tabs on your progress! You may surprise yourself.”

5. Attitude is everything
“Acne can appear, seemingly out of nowhere,” she says, which is exactly what happened to her two years ago. “It can affect your confidence, and how you see yourself – but know that it does get better! Your skin may not be where you want it right now, but that doesn’t mean it won’t ever be. Open up to your friends about what you’re going through, a good support network and a positive mental attitude can make the world of difference.”

For Em’s full story, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands now.

— Jillian Ruffo, with reporting by Jackie Fields