Makeup is a truly wonderful, transformative thing. But not all days call for a full face. And sometimes you just want your skin to be free; to not feel claustrophobic under layers of primer, foundation, bronzer, highlighter and all the rest.
The trouble is that sometimes we don’t always feel comfortable stepping out sans the coverage. Whether that’s because there’s a nice family of pimples setting up shop on your cheeks, pigmentation that’s leaving your skin tone looking less than even, or circles that tell the world you were, indeed, up all night binging on You instead of getting the requisite eight hours.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to ensure you feel a lot better about ditching your makeup for the day (or days, weeks, months – whatever floats your boat). The bad news is that some things take time (ugh) and you may need to exercise a little more patience than you’d prefer.
Make sure you’re exfoliating regularly
Using both physical and chemical exfoliants (face scrubs, and AHAs and BHAs respectively) can help those makeup-free days in two ways: 1) regular exfoliation sloughs away dead skin cells, leaving your skin looking bright, smooth and refreshed; and 2) exfoliating can help tackle congestion, pimples and breakouts in the long run. If breakouts are a particularly big issue for you, exfoliating ingredients like lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid can help up the ante on keeping your skin clear.
Just don’t go overboard with your exfoliation as this can do the opposite of what you’re after. You can read all about the downside of over-exfoliation here. As a general rule of thumb, aim for once or twice a week and don’t double-up on a physical and chemical exfoliation on the same day if you’re using two separate formulas.
For a product that ticks both the physical and chemical exfoliant boxes in one easy step, we like Murad Age Reform AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser.
Don’t skimp on ingredients that brighten
When we go makeup-free, we still want to look fresh and glowy, right? Right. So the best way to get that glow without reaching for a dewy foundation or highlighter is to use the right ingredients in your skin care routine. Vitamin C is one of the most well-known brighteners out there (and is also a good one to turn to if you’re trying to manage pigmentation and melasma). Ensuring your skin is sufficiently hydrated is also a one-way ticket to brighter skin.
Hyaluronic acid is pretty much the hero of hydration, so work it into your regular routine and you’re basically good to glow. Try The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% for an instant hit of both brightening ingredients.
Apply a sheet mask before you leave the house
Have you ever noticed how radiant and clear your skin looks after a 10-minute sheet mask session? And how soft, plump and healthy it feels? So why waste that glow at bedtime when it’ll work so well for you in the outside world? Take the time to sheet mask while you get ready in the morning so you can step out with skin that radiates. If you’re masking while multitasking, we recommend using one that *really* stays put as you move, like the 111Skin Rose Gold Mask (all those brightening ingredients in the formula will work wonders on your complexion, too).
Get tactical with concealing, if need be
Look, let’s get real. The majority of us have not been blessed with perfect skin tone, no matter what we do, and it’s ok to get a little help if you feel you need it. No one needs to be a martyr with this whole makeup-free thing. So, if you have dark circles that need a little coverage, then use a colour correcting concealer (we like the Giorgio Armani Master Corrector for its lightweight feel and excellent coverage), and if you have some blemishes that are a bit too prominent, don’t be afraid to conceal them, too. Our advice is to use a wet makeup sponge to dab and blend it in for as natural a finish as possible.
If you don’t want to go too hard on concealing, try Tatcha The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment – it works to care for eyes in the long term, but has a subtle tint to give you a touch of coverage and instant radiance under your eyes.
Add slight definition
A little definition in your lashes, brows and lips can go a loooong way in making your makeup-free look appear more polished. Coat your lashes in a mascara that adds a little lift and definition (rather than volume and intensity), comb a brow gel through your eyebrows for added colour and shape, and finish off with a tinted lip balm to give that perfect subtle finish to your au naturel vibe. If you’re looking for a mascara that’ll give your lashes just the right amount of definition without any smudging or flaking, we really rate CliniqueFIT ™ Workout 24-Hour Mascara.
Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.