We’ve all been on a subway or in an elevator and there’s that really cool girl,” says Laney Crowell, founder of clean makeup brand Saie Beauty. “You want to know, ‘Who makes your shoes? Who makes your dress?’ Her makeup is never screamy. It’s a great brow, a lip that’s juicy but not obviously glossy.” And, it goes without saying, the skin is good.
Such is the essence of the no-makeup makeup look. It’s that maddening mix of a clear, bright complexion, a wash of color on cheeks, just-bitten lips, blackened lashes, and faintly tamed brows. (Saie’s four-product debut collection—mascara, brow butter, lash curler, and liquid lip balm—preaches to that choir.)
The whole thing is effortless. In theory. Pulling it off is often a result of healthy circulation and hefty skincare, and even that isn’t quite enough for most of us to feel polished and put together on a daily basis. So the continued desire for effortlessly perfect-looking skin has inspired a recent influx of reimagined tinted serums and moisturizers. Just don’t call them foundations.
Sisley’s new Phyto Hydra Teint protects skin from free radicals while blurring imperfections. Chanel’s Les Beiges Water-Fresh Tint is a light gel that shares technology with the brand’s groundbreaking Hydra Beauty Micro Serum. Laura Mercier recently relaunched its famed tinted moisturizer.
And Biologique Recherche just introduced Sérum de Teint, its first tinted finishing serum, which comes in five shades; it’s a sheer fluid that imperceptibly sinks into the skin, keeping moisture in and pollutants out. The OG of the group is Perricone MD’s No Makeup Foundation, which has recently spawned a full line of makeup, including No Makeup Lipstick, a sheer pinkish red that mimics the lush natural vermilion outline of the lips that fades with age.
All confer protective and moisturizing skincare benefits as well, giving them an additional appeal for those who dislike traditional foundation. You’re making your skin look better while actually making it better.
If even tinted moisturizer seems like too much, a new procedure from Korea called BB Glow combines tiny needles with pigment and serums to achieve the look of filtered skin, no daily application required. Aesthetician and makeup artist Christopher Drummond has been performing the treatment at the Manhattan office of dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank for several months.
First he uses tiny, 0.5 mm needles to create superficial holes, or channels, in the skin (he calls it nanoneedling; others say microneedling). He then chooses and applies a serum (depending on the client it can be for hydrating, anti-aging, or brightening) and ends with a custom-mixed tinted pigment that stays on until the skin’s natural exfoliation process makes it fade away, usually a week or two later.
“It gives a beautiful glow to your skin and makes it look healthier,” says Drummond, who attributes the hydrating, plumping benefits to the treatment as a whole. He adds that he is able to customize the tinted pigments when applying them, using darker tones to contour cheekbones or lighter ones to brighten the undereye area. It’s like getting a professional makeup application, but instead of lasting for one night it’s on for two weeks (and the skincare benefits last even longer). The price: $550 per treatment, or $1,350 for three.
Dominique Bossavy, however, who is known for NanoColor Infusion, a tattoo-like process used to cover scars, fill in brows, and flush lips with color, warns against BB Glow, saying people have come to her with allergic reactions and dermatitis. She also questions the long-term effects of placing such slow-to-degrade ingredients as titanium oxide–based pigments beneath the skin’s surface. Drummond counters that BB Glow’s success is technique- and technician-dependent (you have to go no deeper than 0.5 mm, for example, or color will fade unevenly over time).
As the treatment gains steam in the U.S., its semipermanence may come to be viewed the same way people see gel pedicures or eyelash extensions: something to do when it’s particularly important to wake up looking ready to walk out the door. Drummond views BB Glow as an ideal prevacation treatment for his patients, who can come in a day or two before takeoff and travel with a lighter toiletry bag and a primed canvas.
This story appears in the March 2020 issue of
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