how to fake perfect skin

How to Fake Perfect Skin Without Foundation

Our beauty editor shares her secrets.

By: Hannah Baxter

I’ve never really been one to wear foundation. Call it a genetic blessing (my mom has exceptional skin), or call it a dedication to a very thorough skin-care routine since I was nine years old. I lean more towards pure, unadulterated laziness. However, I, too, have mornings when my face is looking lackluster and my skin can no longer hide the fact that I drank half a bottle of wine and ate an entire bowl of fettuccine alfredo. When I roll up to the office (ah, remember those days?), I need a few products to help me appear like my most glowy, even-toned, responsible self, aka faking the look of perfect skin and full foundation without actually wearing any. It’s possible—here’s how I do it.


Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash, $38

First things first—a good old-fashioned exfoliation to rid your skin of any buildup and create a smooth, seamless canvas. I love this foaming wash from Kate Somerville, which has alpha hydroxy acids and fruit extracts to gently eat away at lingering dead skin on the top of the epidermis. The slight tingle helps wake up my skin, and when I pair it with a face massage in the morning to get my blood flowing (and bring much-needed oxygen to my complexion), I’m left looking like I did really sleep ten hours the night before.

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence, $215

A facial essence brings a concentrated dose of moisture to the skin, and when you’re looking significantly less glowy than normal, that’s exactly what the doctor ordered. I love this totally clean formula from Tata Harper, which has more AHAs in it to buff my skin to perfection, but is still gentle enough that I don’t feel like my skin is being burned away. White mulberry fruit and phytic acid encourage cell turnover so dark spots are minimized, leaving your face looking even-toned and healthy.

Odacité Crystal Contour Gua Sha, $45

I am a gua sha devotee, and for good reason—I can actually see my cheeks and eyes looking lifted and more contoured after a five-minute session in the morning. I use this tool after I apply the essence for some added slip (you never want to pull at your skin) and then go in along my cheeks, jaw, and eyes to move any puffiness down to my lymph nodes. Then I drain it down my neck and repeat on both sides. Hello, cheekbones, how ya been?

Caudalie Vinosource SOS Deep Hydration Serum, $49

It’s all in the name—when it’s a skin-care SOS, I apply a thin layer of this hydrating serum to bring back some bounce. Organic grape water and olive squalane team up with hyaluronic acid to deeply moisturize my dehydrated skin all day long, so my face doesn’t show how tired I really am by the afternoon.

iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex, $105

The eyes give away everything, so if you want to look like a well-rested spring chicken, don’t skimp on the eye cream. Antioxidants form a protective layer for this sensitive area, while copper tri-peptides stimulate collagen to add firmness and elasticity—meaning no sagging puppy-dog eyes. There’s also more hyaluronic acid to prevent any dryness, which can then cause your concealer to crease.

Tatcha The Liquid Silk Canvas: Featherweight Protective Primer, $52

I never thought that I needed a primer if I wasn’t going to wear foundation, but all that changed when I tried this new lightweight version of the cult Tatcha Silk Canvas. When my skin is misbehaving, my pores tend to appear more pronounced (are they screaming for nutrients and hydration?), so the blurring properties of this formula help provide that much-needed airbrushed effect. That’s courtesy of the bibroin, sericin, and silk powder, which, along with a blend of botanical extracts, creates a thin barrier between your skin and additional makeup or environmental stressors. Fine lines are softened, and you’re left with a perfect base for additional products.

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Concealer, $32

It’s time to bring out the big guns when it comes to concealers, and you can’t get any better coverage than with Pat McGrath. I apply this under my eyes, bringing it down lower than I would on an average day so that the product touches the top of my cheekbones. Then I spot-treat around my nose and on any blemishes with the same shade (it seamlessly covers anything), but switch to a slightly lighter color and add a dot on my chin and in the middle of my forehead and blend out with a damp sponge. It’s like contouring, light. Trust me, it will add a personal spotlight and glow to your face that will have strangers asking “Why are you so perfect?”

Tower 28 Beauty BeachPlease Tinted Lip + Cheek Balm in Happy Hour, $20

If you know anything about my makeup philosophy, then you understand that blush is the best product in the entire world. Period, full stop. It brings you and your skin back to life no matter how exhausted, hungover, or just plain blah you’re looking and feeling that day. A cream blush is my go-to, and this clean formula from Tower 28 is especially dewy and delicious. This summery watermelon shade is universally flattering and truly makes it look like you just ran five miles on your way to work because you are both healthy and responsible. Blend out a thin layer on the apples of your cheeks and along your cheekbones. You’ll thank me later.

GlamSquad Enlightened Highlighter in Moonlit, $22

This highlighter is my secret weapon always, but especially when I want to fake perfect skin. It’s buildable, lusciously creamy, and it never leaves you feeling sticky or like your flyaways will get caught on your cheekbones. Tap it along your brow bone and along all the high points of your face to replicate an otherworldly glow.

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $39

I know that when my skin is looking a little worse for wear, I tend to get a five-o’clock shadow of sweat on my chin and upper lip every hour on the hour. It makes me look sweaty in a not cute or glowy way, so to banish that unwanted effect for good, I use a medium fluffy brush to swipe this Laura Mercier powder on both areas. It keeps your skin matte where you want it to be, and allows the highlighter and blush to shine, literally. It’s the cherry on top of your healthy, imperfection-free skin. Go forth and enjoy all the compliments!

Sponsored by Laura Mercier

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