Which one of these scenarios do you think is realistic?
- Your college roommate loses 20 pounds and 8 inches off her waist in one week by working out and eliminating gluten.
- A former coworker opens a new business on a Monday and is millionaire by Friday.
- Your funny neighbor does three open mic nights and has an HBO comedy special by month’s end.
- Your sister, who sporadically uses moisturizer and sometimes washes her face, takes 5 minutes to apply her makeup and has the dewy look Jennifer Lawrence had at the Oscars.
Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight will admit that it takes a lot of time, discipline and effort. Entrepreneurs understand that you are lucky to turn a profit after a year in business, never mind a week. And if you’ve ever known an aspiring comedian or seen interviews with someone who made it big, you realize it’s often a decade before they have a solid career. I think most people would agree there are no overnight successes in these areas.
But when it comes to beauty, many people expect results quickly and with little effort. In a world of celebrities who don’t disclose their actually beauty routines and Instagrammers who use filters and editing to achieve perfection, it’s not surprising that many people think it doesn’t take much to look flawless.
There is going to be a follow up to this post to help you understand what goes into red carpet makeup, the photos you see in magazines and all kinds of advertisements. But for now, I want to talk about what non-celebrities can do to get good skin.
If you want your makeup to look great, you have to start with The Basics. Amazing in-person makeup always starts with good skin. There is no way around this. A picture, as we all know, can be edited into perfection but I think most of the readers of this blog want skin and makeup that looks good during actual human interactions.
Unless you are someone who is genetically blessed with soft, even-toned skin and no undereye issues (aka the unicorns of the beauty world) you are going to have to put some effort in. I want you to re-read that sentence and let it sink in. If you are not willing to put some time and effort into your skincare routine, this is not the post for you. But before you leave, please know that your makeup will never look its best if you don’t take care of your skin. Okay, bye!
For those of you who know it takes work to get results in life, this is for you. It doesn’t even take that much time out of your day, so you can drop that excuse. Here is the bare minimum of what you need to do to keep your skin in good shape.
- Cleanse Your Sins. You absolutely have to remove your makeup and cleanse your skin every night. Sleeping in makeup–or even just the dirt, oil and other junk that makes its way onto your face every day–is a great way to cause breakouts. And sleeping with eye makeup on can contribute to undereye puffiness and cause eye infections. If you are not using an oil cleanser, I recommend using an oil makeup remover, like Dermalogica PreCleanse, first. Then use your cleanser. In my opinion, nothing breaks down makeup like oil. You can also save a step and do what I do–use an oil cleanser. My favorite is NUDE Perfect Cleanse Nourishing Cleansing Oil. Unless you have very oily skin, cleansing once a day before you go to bed is enough. Total Time Needed: 5 minutes.
- Be A Softie. Your skin needs moisture. Dry skin peeps often inherently understand this, but if your skin is oily or normal, that doesn’t mean you can skip this step. When oily skin is stripped of its oils (which can happen during cleansing, especially if you are using an oil-free cleanser), that sends a message to the skin to produce more oil, thus making the skin even more shiny. If you have oily skin, use an oil-free moisturizer like Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture with SPF 35 to make sure that you nourish that epidermis. That’s a great moisturizer for combination skin as well. Dry skin benefits from a thicker formula like Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre, and normal skin does well with a moisturizer like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. In terms of makeup, a dewy look will never work on un-moisturized skin, nor will a matte look, as the foundation will cling to dry patches and not apply evenly. Apply moisturizer once a day and you can check it off your To Do list. Total Time Needed: 30 seconds.
- Protect Ya Neck. And your face. If your moisturizer does not contain SPF, you must must must apply it separately. Skin cancer is real–take it seriously. And in terms of beauty, nothing ages a face faster than sun exposure. UVA and UVB rays break down collagen, which is what keeps skin smooth and firm. When collagen diminishes, skin sags and fine lines and wrinkles form. The sun also causes hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation (that’s light spots and dark spots). Uneven skintone is just as aging as fine lines, so keep that in mind while you’re people watching at the beach. I live in an area of the country where we have seasons, so the sun is merely an acquaintance during the winter. Even so, I use a moisturizer with at least an SPF 15 to guard my skin during the three hours of daily sunlight we get in January. Come springtime (oh, joyous springtime) I bump it up to an SPF 35. In the summer, I sometimes use a separate sunscreen with SPF 30 (SPF 50 if I’m going to the beach). I currently use Aveeno Protect + Hydrate which absorbs nicely and does not cause me to breakout. Total Time Needed: 30 seconds.
- Slough It Off. Skin cells die. It’s a fact of life. But unless you remove them from your skin, they hang around like that last party guest who just doesn’t get it. And when they hang around, they absorb your moisturizer, which is meant for your living skin cells (so rude!). They also grab onto makeup, causing it to be uneven. Dead skin cells give an overall dull look to your skin, which does you no favors whether you are barefaced or wearing makeup. Luckily, there is a super easy solution–exfoliation. This really deserves its own post, so I’ll put that on the list. Until then, please get yourself an exfoliant and use it twice a week. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate is bomb, as is Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant (that one is a mask but does the same thing). Disclaimer: If you use prescription retinol or any other product that is contraindicated with exfoliation, skip this step. Retinol exfoliates on its own so you’re not messing anything up by omitting this. Total Time Needed: Anywhere from 3-15 minutes, depending on the type of exfoliant you use. An enzyme exfoliant usually needs to sit on the skin for a bit to work, but the only active work you have to do is apply it and rinse it off.
- Oil Based. Unless you have truly acneic skin, you will benefit from using a face oil. The exact oil you use is going to depend on your skin type and needs, but I believe that like soulmates, there is one out there for everyone.* Check out this post for more info on face oils: https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/how-about-an-oil-change/ Total Time Needed: 1 minute.
- Treat Yo Self. I’m going to heavily generalize here and call everything that is not mentioned above a skin treatment. The treatments you use are to address your individual skin concerns. That could be rosacea, fine lines, dull skin, pigmentation, etc. I suggest finding a product that addresses that concern and use it consistently. Vitamin C is a great choice for someone who doesn’t have a specific concern but wants their skin to look its best. Total Time Needed: Varies by treatment.
- Cut the Crap. Even if you do all of the things I mentioned, your skin will never look its best if you smoke, regularly overindulge in adult beverages, skimp on sleep or eat unhealthy foods. You may not want to hear that, but I speak the truth. Total Time Needed: N/A. This isn’t so much a time thing as an effort and lifestyle thing.
- Pay Attention. Often times, the things not working as they should inside your body will show up on your skin. The skin is an organ that can outwardly show there is a problem on the inside. A breakout, for example, can indicate a hormonal issue or a food allergy. So if you notice changes, get your ass to a doctor. Skincare can address what I consider surface-level issues (i.e. dryness, dullness, some types of breakouts) but a systemic issue can not be resolved with salicylic acid or a good moisturizer. Total Time Needed: N/A. This is my way of sneaking in some information I wanted to relay.
If you do not fully remove your makeup and cleanse your face every night and you never use moisturizer with SPF (or moisturizer and a separate SPF), you should really lower your expectations for how your skin and therefore makeup will look. Consistently doing all of the steps I recommend doesn’t guarantee your skin will be in great shape, but it will give you a solid base. As you can see, none of these things take a huge amount of time but they do make an impact. Very few good things in life come with no effort and no time spent, and your skin is no different. (That one should be in fortune cookie.) But you can definitely do it. I have faith in you!
Have a beautiful day 🙂
*Not sure I actually believe that. My personal jury is still out on soulmates, but I stand behind that theory for face oils.