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Superskin: mastering makeup that looks like skincare

February 16th 2016 / Anna Hunter



You’re short on time, contouring averse and want to appear ‘cared for’ rather caked in makeup. Welcome to the ‘bare but better’ club…

It all began with the BB cream (although tinted moisturiser held up the fort for a very long time pre BB); skincare/makeup hybrids broke through the flat foundations and heavy day creams to synchronise both our beauty and makeup regimes, in theory lightening the load on our wallets, bathrooms shelves and vitally, faces, for the foreseeable future. Except, it turned out that some BBs could look as patchy and mismatched as their cosmetic counterparts; if you weren’t a ‘universal’ beige, you went to the back of the line and waited patiently and politely (no pushing) for product development. Plus, if you’re truly honest, did your first BB buy really replace your beloved serum, moisturiser, primer, sunscreen and usual coverage of choice? You’re almost certainly one of the fortunate few if it ticked all of your ‘treat and beautify’ boxes.

Not to put a downer on the birth of the BB; the concept was cutting edge, but the execution sometimes left us feeling and appearing a little lacklustre. Luckily, the beauty industry has had its head down working on more seamless skincare/ makeup fusions, and the latest crop of face flatterers are capable of achieving catwalk worthy radiance and rawness without the telltale tidemarks or compromise on effective skincare ingredients. In fact, the emphasis falls more heavily on the ‘skincare’ side, which suits SS16’s aesthetic perfectly, as the experts at MAC confirm:

“Skin quality is at the core of contemporary “no makeup makeup.”

Just as ‘strong not skinny’ has become our body image aim, so healthy, ‘real’ looking skin is at the forefront of our beauty ideals. A little shine, redness and pigmentation doesn’t bother us too much, as long as our skin is smooth, refined and generally glowing. These days, thankfully, that’s not quite such a tall order. The following makeup mimics the effect of nourishing skincare, rather than corrective base layers. Some are infused with ‘skin-proving’ components, others take luminosity, bespoke coverage and skin texture to another level. All hail the facial fakers…

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a primer oil…

If you’re a facial oil fan, you’ll know the instant beam that a good going over with a drop or two of hydrating elixir can bring. If you’re tired, under the weather or flaky of face, give it a go and you’re unlikely to go back to your bog standard cold cream. But do you start your day with an oil? Many of us might fret about fry-up levels of grease, especially when you throw makeup into the mix, but Smashbox have gone and done it and designed a lightweight, plant extract packed oil that preps your skin for the day ahead, both enhancing the appearance and addressing the condition of your canvas. I haven’t got my hands on this one yet, but given that the likes of makeup artist Arabella Preston rave about the transformative ‘prep’ effects of a luscious oil (Arabella has even gone on to create her own line of facial oils), the ‘50% primer, 50% oil’ Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil, £28, holds a lot of vitamin enriched promise. You might want to consider layering it under one of these…


To glow: good skin on demand

‘Glowing’ is no longer equated with tanning in beauty circles. In fact, full on bronze is en vacances for the time being according to makeup artist Lyne Desnoyers:

“It used to be a tan was considered the luxury summer beauty statement...now it’s incredibly good skin.”

‘Good skin’ is somewhat more ambiguous than the bottled bronze of old (Mintel reports that the self-tan market is on the decline), but really that’s a good thing as it sets us free from any expectation to change our skintone, and encourages us to play up whatever we’re particularly proud of, be it freckles, cheeks like marshmallows or simply skin that’s happily hydrated and looking fresh for it. Clearly no one on the planet is granted good skin at all times, however, so for a new way to glow, dabble in Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation, £35. An impressive spectrum of shades should ensure undetectable ninja style blending, while the sheer yet buildable pearl mica powered formula manages to highlight your plus points while throwing fine lines and pores into soft focus. There are non cloggy oils at work, along with purified water for a light texture and refreshing feel.


Lighter still is Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow Nourishing Fusion Makeup, £40, a remix of the pipette delivered, gossamer like cult original Maestro. If you’ve done your skincare groundwork, a drop or three of this as a final step will take your complexion to ethereal highs (it really does glow; matte fans need not apply). You’ll barely feel a thing, but gleaming, plump skin is the payoff, unless you have blemishes or other niggles you’d rather disguise, in which case I’d suggest blending well with a full coverage concealer or considering an alternative foundation altogether. Otherwise, this oil-rich unction will work wonders for dry skin in particular, and the addition of SPF 30 seems almost inconceivable given its weightless, water-like texture. Both protection and perfection are getting very clever…

For similarly nourishing, glow-giving yet veil-like foundations see also Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation, £34 (it conjures up ‘gym skin’, in a good way) and Stila Aqua Glow™ Serum Foundation, £30. The words ‘glow, ‘aqua’ and ‘luminous’ all indicate that this lot are about as far away from the classic pan stick as you can get; the foundation future is light, bright, and a bit watery apparently.

Low key lustre

Glitter, shimmer and less than subtle strobing have no place in the ‘makeup as skincare’ stakes. For a post steam room gleam, look to sheeny but not glitzy radiance boosters. New RMS Mix Master, £30, is au naturel on many counts; first, it’s certified organic with a coconut oil and beeswax base, and second the illuminating rose gold tone flatters all skin tones without swerving into disco ball territory. As the name implies, you can blend Mix Master with either skincare or other makeup (even powder) to highlight where desired, or simply swipe onto cheekbones for instant, imperceptible definition. As faux face lifts go, it’s up there.


Powder fans on the other hand will favour a swirl of MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade, £24. In the pan it looks cosmic, on your face it looks polished, and the addition of vitamin E and a secret mineral complex can’t hurt as far as skincare goes.


Speaking of skincare, if you want TLC with your finishing touches, a high-tech highlighter such as Lancer Dani Glowing Skin Perfector, £80, will help skin to maintain its radiance both for the day and, ideally, the long term. This is another one I’m in line to try for now, but firming botanical extracts and a smart sebum regulating formula add more than a little interest. Also, the fact that it’s named after Dr Lancer’s wife suggests that it’s a top performer in the range; I’ve no doubt Ms Lancer gives candid feedback. Dot it wherever you desire definition or use it to give your day to day moisturiser superpowers. The lines of skincare and makeup are beginning to blur beautifully; where you go on the coverage continuum is up to you.


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