Yes, we’re beauty junkies, but if we could wake up every day with flawless skin without having to put on foundation, we’d be ecstatic. And we’re not the only ones who want our complexions to look incredible with little more than a slather of serum—you do too. “We’re experiencing a growing demand for products to help customers achieve natural-looking, flawless complexions—this emerging trend is commonly described as ‘real skin,’” Rachel Hill, Space NK’s buyer for colour, told us. So how can you you make it look like you’re wearing zero makeup? You just need to follow these six simple steps.
Use Acids (Yes, Really)
When our complexions look dull, it’s often due to buildup of dead skin cells. What we want is healthier, dewier skin. Our dead cells naturally slough off in a 28-day cycle when we’re young, but as we age, this period lengthens, which means you need to start manually removing them. Says skincare specialist Debbie Thomas, “I recommend using an acid-based exfoliator, as these smooth out the skin and instantly make pores seem more refined and fine lines softer.”
“My go-to products are Medik8’s Pore Refining Scrub (£22) and Exuviance Triple Microdermabrasion Face Polish (£47), as both are a type of scrub/mask hybrid that use several renewing ingredients to help slough off dulling dead skin which can also make other imperfections like lines look worse,” she adds. You want to look to alpha-hydroxy acids, products containing lactic, glycolic or fruit acids, to give your skin that coveted glow.
Massage Your Face
If you’ve ever been for a facial, you know that the massage technique your technician uses gives skin a lift. Since very few of us have the time or funds to book in for a professional treatment, you can teach yourself a DIY routine. Do this a couple of times a week, or on a Sunday night to reset your skin for the week—and even better, think about introducing a jade roller or gua sha facial scraper.
Makeup artist Naoko Scintu says she uses a specific type of massage that rejuvenates the complexion: “It’s good to learn a really great massage technique to get the blood flowing to the surface or the skin. After a good facial massage, you instantly look refreshed—as if you’ve been for a run and have a natural rosy glow in the cheeks. I love SUQQU’s Japanese facial massage called the Gankin massage. This technique is designed to stimulate the bones of the skull, and it actually lifts the muscles in the face. Instant face-lift.” [Ed. note: You can download a step-by-step PDF of the gankin massage here.]
Do a One-Minute Facial
Beauty brands are well aware that most of their customers are time-poor, which explains the popularity of one-minute masks in recent years. These potent formulas are created so you can put in little effort but get a big return. Celebrity facialist Nichola Joss uses Santuary Spa 1-Minute Flash Facial (£14) in her treatments. It contains kakadu plum, which has the highest source of vitamin C of any fruit (sorry, oranges). Vitamin C is well-known for its instant and impressive ability to impart radiance. We also love Ren’s 1-Minute Flash Facial (£32); it contains a high level of vitamin C, which is super potent since it’s only activated once you massage the product into the skin with water.
When it comes to ageing, it’s actually an uneven skin tone that can make us look older, not wrinkles, so look for serums that work over time to fade pigmentation and brighten your complexion. Bobbi Brown’s Intensive Skin Supplement (£46) contains grape extract to help clarify your complexion, while Skinceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector (£94) uses a cocktail of acids to target pigmentation in different layers of the skin.
Blur Your Pores
Light-reflecting particles in skincare bounce the light off your face. What this does is soften the look of fine lines, enlarged pores and rough texture to give a sort of blurred-out look—it basically tricks the eye into thinking your skin is flawless. So when a product is telling you it’s light-reflecting or blurring, take note.
“For under the eyes, La Roche-Posay’s Pigmentclar Eyes (£26) has reflective particles for instant ‘fake’ brightening, but then the other ingredients can have a more long-term effect in improving the under-eye area,” says Thomas.
Try Indeed Labs NanoBlur Instant Skin Finisher (£20), which was the first blurring product to hit the market in the UK, or try NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12% (£20); it contains particles that blur the skin IRL but also help to brighten and colour-correct the complexion so you look better in photos. Great for anyone who wants to be selfie-ready but makeup-free.
Cheat (We Won't Tell)
Some days you may feel confident enough to go makeup-free; other days you’ll want to call on some trusted products that can offer you support. There are plenty of skincare/makeup hybrids out there that contain skin tone–correcting pigments that will elevate your no makeup look but won’t look like you’re wearing foundation.
Le Métier de Beauté’s Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complexe (£117) contains light-reflecting particles, pigments and retinol to conceal and treat the skin. Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation (£45) was invented precisely for women who don’t want it to look like they’re wearing any makeup. It’s a sheer, buildable formula that offers SPF30 protection to ensure your skin is protected and perfected.
For anyone suffering with spots who wouldn’t dream of going makeup-free, we’ve got you. Oxygenetix Acne Control Foundation (£50) contains a super-smart ingredient called Ceravitae that essentially allows your skin to breath through the foundation, plus salicylic acid to zero in on existing spots and acne scarring to control acne bacteria and reduce redness.