Sit down, everybody, and let’s talk about that most elusive of all makeup looks, the majestic, seemingly intangible unicorn that is Perfect Skin. One need not be born with — nor consume only omega-3 rich fishes, avocado, and $12 green juices to acquire — perfect skin to appear as if one has perfect skin, do you follow? One need certainly not spackle on layers of HD foundation, either, because that never seems to result in perfect skin but rather “whoa, that’s a lot of makeup” skin. If your skincare routine isn’t quite up to snuff, and your diet includes more Keebler elf cookies than kale, that’s your life, your choice, bro, and it shouldn’t stand in the way of you looking like the portrait of glowing health. Isn’t makeup the best?
I had the kind of no-makeup-necessary perfect skin that strangers commented on my entire life, including the quintessential 12-15 greasy years, and then suddenly, randomly, INFURIATINGLY started developing skin probz (acne, clogged pores, oiliness, scarring, redness, whatever), like, five whole years after I foolishly assumed I would be in the clear for life. I’ve always been fairly (lol) vain, and my skin had never been something I had to worry about, but when it did become a concern, I learned pretty quickly how to fake the same flawless skin I used to wake up with. I mean, is it as good as the real thing? No, definitely not, but it’s still pretty damn good.
Firstly, this is less about using lots of makeup and more about using the right makeup — and, most importantly, beginning with as solid a canvas as you can muster. (For starters, there is no way around it, you MUST have a face.) Cleanse, tone, and moisturize as you do. That last part is crucial! You want to begin with perfectly balanced skin, so moisturizing is the key to getting your makeup to look natural. If you have oily, combination, or acne-prone skin, go for a non-greasy mattifying formula, but one that is sufficiently moisturizing. If I’m going to be honest (and maybe even a little confusing, because I get it, it seems totally counterproductive), facial oils are the best thing for balancing oily skin, and Josie Maran’s new Argan Oil Light is made for that exact purpose. I haven’t gotten a chance to try it yet, but I love the original argan oil, so chances are it’s PRET GOOD. Anyway, my point is: no matter what type of skin you have, make sure that skin is moisturized and feelin’ good.
Give your oil or lotion or cream or whatever a few minutes to sink in, then start in with primer. The type of primer you use should depend on your skin type. Loads of people love Smashbox Photo Finish in its various incarnations, but the silicone formula performs terribly on my oily face. (I am so hot.) However, it seems to work real well on pretty much everyone but me, so if there’s a primer you already love, go for it! I personally prefer a more semi-matte finish, so if you do as well, my advice MAY BE WORTH LISTENING TO, YOU GUYS. Because I inexplicably own All of the makeup, I rotate between three primers depending on how my skin feels. These primers are Tarte BB tinted 12-hour primer, when I don’t have many acnes and everything is pretty normal, Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer, when my skin is clear but on the drier side, and Miracle Skin Transformer Acne Control Tinted Skin Enhancer when my skin is particularly oily or all hell has broken loose. You will note that all of these products are tinted. That is because this perfect skin procedure does not, I repeat, does not require any foundation. Come back, don’t run! EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE, I swear.
So this is why a really, really good concealer is really, really important. In fact, you may want to gather a few different concealers for this purpose. I always use both a creamy full-coverage stick concealer like Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer (expensive, but also the best, lasts forever, can be used for everything, bomb packaging, etc. etc.) and a sheer highlighting concealer like Yves Saint Laurent Touch Éclat (expensive, does not last forever, cannot be used for everything, not necessarily the best, but it’s pretty and French and I like it so WHATEVER). If I’m breakout-y, I also use Almay Clear Complexion Concealer on spots. I rub my ring finger all up on the stick concealer first, then dab it all underneath my eyes, on blemishes, on any redness, what have you. You could also use a brush for this, but I am a well-documented grimy person, so I will not. I layer and blend, layer and blend, until I’m like, “ok, this face looks fine, it is pretty much all one color,” and then I go in with my highlighting concealer. I hit my dark circles, the shadowy areas on the sides of my nose, and a bit on my brow bones and my cupid’s bow just for some xxx-tra glowiness. By eschewing foundation in favor of different concealers for different areas and purposes, you evade that mask-y, not-human-skin look altogether. You don’t even run the damn RISK.
Once you’re all covered up, you might want to use a powder to set it all. I say might because drier skin types will probably want nothing to do with powder, ever, and that is fine. But if you fuck with powder, there are a number of ways you could go: you could use a sheer tinted powder, like Jane Iredale PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation, or a fancy finishing powder, like Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder which exists to “recreate the most exquisitely flattering types of light” and is therefore BEYOND. Either way, what you’ll definitely want to do as your very final step is use some kind of setting spray or toner mist. Mario Badescu Facial Spray is nice and affordable and smells like roses; hold it about ten inches away from your face so that the resulting mist is very fine and spritz it a few times.
Check yourself out. You should now be boasting the kind of fresh-faced, dewy, even, “I just woke up this way” skin that nobody actually wakes up with aside from ten-year-olds and Jennifer Lawrence. Add color or just leave it all be. It’s so natural.
[Portrait of attractive girl without makeup via Shutterstock]