Complexion Perfection: An Expert’s Guide to Skincare and Makeup

By Francine Szerer


I’m springing forward and leaving winter behind, yet my skin feels so dry. I wish I could say that winter is finally over, but the only thing that has changed for good is the time. This dreadful cold does not seem to be coming to a close and my skin is feeling dull. The constant inconstancy of this weather has my skin alternating from bleeding and chapped to splotchy breakouts. For the most part, I know my skin and how to tame it, but lately, we just haven’t been getting along.

From the many rules I have made to enjoy life, self-care is one of them. Your face is your most important accessory, and learning how to take care of it should be a top priority.

I must confess, I have a bit of a problem when it comes to beauty products: I can never have enough. Makeup is fun, but skincare takes on a whole new world of excitement. Those who know me know that if they need a new product to combat acne, add that no makeup/makeup glow, or even get rid of a nasty curling iron to the cheek burn—I am their girl.

From all of my skin-care-tee’s, let’s talk the no makeup/makeup look to brighten you up.

What is the no makeup/makeup look? Well, as Beyonce describes it, it’s the “I Woke Up Like This” look. A look that yawns “I just rolled out of bed” while exclaiming “Don’t I just look marvelous.” And it’s a popular misconception that the no makeup/makeup look takes hours to produce; you can pretty much roll out of bed into the bathroom, do a minor primp, and get on with your day.

Prepping your skin may be the most important aspect of skin care. There are many different types and steps to prepping. Here are the two most important steps for cleansing skin:


  • Find a cleanser that works well for you. Try to avoid those filled with dyes and unnecessary chemicals.


I have two favorite cleansers that I constantly rotate between depending on my needs

For when everything is pretty much great and all that is really troubling my complexion is a bit of dryness, I reach for Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18). Milky Jelly Cleanser is a conditioning face wash that leaves my skin glowing. For me, this is the ultimate daily face wash. It’s perfect for all skin types, but especially for my sensitive and dry skin. It works as both a cleanser and makeup remover as it dissolves all makeup and grime. At night I like to rub it into dry skin to really work at those impurities, then wash it away with warm water. In the morning I massage with cool water to wake me up. No matter what I do, this cleanser leaves my face dewy and ready for any look— be it a full face of makeup, enough to get by, or fresh makeup-free face.


Now, when my acne starts to act up, I turn to m-61’s Power Cleanser ($34). The Power Cleanser is a pore-purifying glycolic face cleanser. I am no scientist, but I do know that this powerful face wash is capable of clearing up my skin without disrupting my sensitive pale complexion.


Sometimes when dryness and pimples strike simultaneously, I cleanse at night with m-61’s Power Cleanser and then Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser to work through both issues.


  • Finish off with some toner. Toner is always the last step in cleansing the skin and is used to remove oils and other traces of dirt and grime that your cleanser (no matter how hard you scrub) leaves behind.


My personal favorite is Dermalogica’s Multi-Active Toner ($40). Especially after a long day, this toner removes all impurities and leaves my skin extremely clean.

If you’re looking to hydrate, Fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner ($44) will leave your skin feeling baby soft. Rose water and real petals give off a delicious smell, sparkling glow and will transport you much needed relaxing spa day. Like most toners, the Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner reduces the appearance of pores, but it is infused with real rose petals, which provide a gentle formula that really preps and cleanses the skin for the next steps of your skincare routine.


  • So, now that we’re clean, it’s time to get to the good stuff: Primer

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Before you do anything, prime your skin to smooth out your face and blur those pores for a nice suave, clean finish. I like to use No Pore Blem Primer ($18).

If you’re not interested in the no makeup/makeup look, you can stop reading here. Just swipe on some moisturizer and/or face oil and you’re ready. My favorites are Fresh’s Seabery Moisturizing Face Oil ($52) which leaves skin in a supple glow and Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer ($22) (go for Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Rich ($35) a decadent night cream that can be used daily for very dry skin). Perfect skin starts with exceptional skincare; never forget to moisturize and put on some SPF before leaving the house.


If a minimal no makeup/makeup look tickles your fancy, do read on.


Here are 6 products you need if you want to achieve effortless perfection:


  1. The Perfect Concealer


Before you start, take a look at your beautiful dewy self. Cover up any blemishes with a dab of concealer. For  maximum coverage without all that cake, try Laura Mercier’s Secret Concealer ($27). It’s important that your concealer matches your complexion, so make sure to try some out first–your shade may surprise you.



  • Just a Hint of Tint


Next, Swipe on some tinted moisturizer. The fan favorite that pairs great with the concealer mentioned above is Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer ($45). This lightweight moisturizer offers flawless coverage with a broad spectrum of SPF 20 sunscreen. It may seem pricey, but the long tube goes a long way. Pro Tip: go a shade darker and skip the bronzer.



  • These Lashes, All Mine


Now for the lashes. Sometimes I like to go au natural, but, for those times that I’m craving a little glam, Benefit’s Roller Lash ($24) provides a much desired natural yet glamorous effect. I love how the brush curves upward, instantly giving my lashes a boost. To lengthen lashes while still keeping that natural look, only apply mascara at the ends and slightly move the applicator in a horizontal upward motion.

For many, prosthetic lashes are a solution. Don’t get me wrong, I love fake lashes and I get eyelash extensions every now and then to amp up my glamour. But, I do believe in saving the falsies for when you’re in the mood to feel special.



  • Sugar Lips


For me, my face sometimes seems incomplete without some sort of lip color. To enhance my look, I like to finish off with a party on my lips. What you do with your lips is solely up to you. For some lip balm is enough. Do try Fresh’s Lip Treatment ($24), it comes in a multitude of colors that will nourish, plump, and–if you choose–subtly tint your lips.


5+6. Make ‘em Pop


If you’re looking to take it to the next level with your lip fiesta, I like to combine Glossier’s Generation G ($18) sheer matte lipstick with Glossier’s Balm Dotcom ($12). For a more subtle glow, pick your favorite shade of Balm Dotcom and just swipe it on your lips. Pro tip: treat your cheeks with the Balm Dotcom for a delicate highlight and shine.
Whether you want dewy skin or are concerned about your overall face health, skin care is extremely important. Your face is what you project to the world and what you choose to display says a lot about you. So in the spirit of an increasing strive for perfection, know that whatever you choose to do with your look is perfect.


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