10 easy ways to make your skin look better...right now

Ever wish there was a magical cure for making your skin look instantly flawless? Us too. Unfortunately, there is no um, Criss Angel of skincare--trust me, that's a good thing--but there are some products and techniques that can help your skin look better fast. Here's a handy cheat sheet...

1. Exfoliate


Removing dead skin cell buildup is one of the most instant ways to revive your complexion, but you have to choose your weapon carefully. I don't know exactly how many women out there are still scrubbing their face with that awful apricot scrub that's so dang popular, but countless derms have told me that those kernels are way too large and harsh on your pores. Another way to screw up your skin via exfoliant is to scrub acnefied skin like crazy. All you're doing is further irritating, and in many cases, helping to spread the bacteria that caused the breakout in the first place. An alternative to mechanical exfoliation (mechanical entails a physical agent such as beads), is a product that removes skin cells chemically, like in the one, the only,MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel, a blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids that many folks absolutely swear by. However, if you have extra sensitive skin, you're better off going with a product like Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 3% Facial Wash a couple times a week instead of daily.

2. Illuminate

An easy way to fake the healthy glow that accompanies skin in its prime condition is to use a moisturizer that contains light particles designed to reflect and conceal. Ever since Prescriptives came out with Magic back in the day, similar products have been a hit with consumers, and imitators abound. Again, choosing the right one is key. For example, you want to look for a formula that's light and looks natural on your face as opposed to say, a thick cakey number that resembles the kind of face glitter Christina Aguilera might wear on tour (or Brit might wear to um, the grocery store). Try one that's dermatologically-tested like Boots No7 Radiant Glow Lotion.

3. Focus

There is a treatment mask for every single skin condition these days, and a really good one, targeted for your exact needs, can work wonders right away. Red-faced? Try Mario Badescu Azulene Calming Mask with chamomile to instantly soothes and calm. Dehydrated? Get to know Nuxe Refreshing and Relaxing Moisture Mask. Oily? An old-fashioned mud mask is still a great way to soak up excess sebum. But road test a newer model like Epoch Glacial Marine Mud, for added benefits.

4. Lube up

Face oils are still regarded with suspicion here in the States, but women in many cultures swear by them, and for good reason. There's nothing like oil to smooth fine lines and render luminescence. And an oil does not always equal clogging. Even oily types can reap the benefits: Shu Uemura makes High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil Fresh, a version of their best-selling cleansing oil line specially formulated for normal to oily skin types and acne-prone skin. If you want to tread lightly into oil territory, first try a serum like Stem Organics Exquisite Face Fluid for a similar finish.

5. Don't ignore your eyes and lips

Your skin may look golden, but crackly, chapped lips and dried-out crow's feet can make you look a little rowed hard and washed up wet. Luckily, there are some products that combine two-in-one, which is ever so handy for carrying around in your purse for touch-ups. Decleor has a motherload of eye and lip-oriented products: Try Experince De L'Age Eye/Lip Cream for starters.

6. Get rid of zits fast


A lot of people ask me what I think of Zeno, the pimple zapping spot treating device that uses heat to essentially, burn away blemishes. I say, it seems to work okay, but it requires a freakish amount of time and attention, making even the most devoted Product Fiend feel like a shallow freak (like, even more than usual). A much easier and cheaper alternative is the Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel, which doesn't always make good on its purported "clears breakouts in eight hours" time promise (it's not made of magic and stardust after all), but does seem to get the job done faster than a lot of other so-called insta-vanishers.

7. Spackle

Sometimes, you wake up, take one look in the mirror, and there's no denying you're having a seriously BFD (Bad Face Day). Times like these call for more than your average concealing and correcting. Oily and uneven? I swear by BeneFit Dr. Feelgood, a vitamin-enriched mattifying balm that creates a perfect palette for foundation and concealer. Dry types will flip for the hydrating primer wonder that is Nars Makeup Primer with SPF 20, which not only helps to reduce inflammation, but also combines moisturizer and sunscreen for less-is-more ease. When you're ready to cover up, apply a light, yet fairly-pigmented foundation like Chanel Precision Hydramax + Tinted Moisture Boost Lotion SPF 15--I use this almost daily because it gives coverage but looks really natural--and touch up blemishes and other spots with Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer, which I ----- you not, makes your skin look perfect, if only temporarily.


8. Desperately seeking NOW


Some skincare lines are going out of their way to offer quick, cheap and dirty alternatives to plastic surgery that you can DIY. Joey New York even has an entire line called Instant Results with a little special something for just about every beauty emergency under the sun. There's the Botox in a bottle, Line Up, and they even offer an Instant Results Best Seller Kit which contains lip plumper, eye wrinkle corrector and a facial contouring serum among others, which makes a great gift for anyone you know who is neurotic about their skin. Speaking of kits, Frownies just came out with Face Lift in a Bag, which includes everything you need to quick fix at-home, including their signature facial pads, semi-scary, Band-Aid like adhesives you apply to your forehead, corners of the eyes and mouth "to gently re-educate the underlying muscles to assume their correct, relaxed and natural appearance." Very Hannibal Lector!

9. Keep it simple

Nothing puts the spotlight on problem skin like harsh makeup. Most face powder only serves to showcase irregularities by clumping on top of spots and emphasizing fine lines. The makeup that will make your skin look freshest is easy breezy, and I'm not talking about Cover Girl here. Emphasize your eyes with a slightly shimmery, gold-hued cream shadow, and open them up by curling your lashes. If your skin isn't looking its best, skip blush, and apply a subtle lip stain like Lorac Sheer Wash (which rules), for color instead. Wearing your hair down (bonus for a more polished style), is another trick for drawing the eye away from problem skin. I may have spent a fortune on blowouts during a particularly harsh cystic acne spell, but at least the good hair days made me feel like less of a social leper.

10. Seek professional help

All of the above remedies work in a pinch, but the best thing you can do for your skin is make an appointment to see a derm. (Most insurance policies cover visits!) They can help suggest some treatments that may or may not be covered, but if anything, they should easily be able to offer guidance toward a high-end, prescription and/or drugstore skincare regimen that with regular use, will make your skin so loverly you'll never have to rub faux-tox on your skin again. And wouldn't that be sweet?

--Erin


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