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TikTok’s Smooth Skin Hack Works So Well, I’ve Put Away My Makeup

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Another year, another avalanche of viral TikTok beauty hacks. There are the tricks which some might say are genius (rainbow contouring for razor-sharp cheekbones or a frozen beauty blender for a pore-minimising base) and the more questionable clips (using lube as makeup primer and drawing on concealer in the shape of glasses to banish dark circles).
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As we steam right into 2022, a handful of the most-viewed beauty videos are those which champion makeup minimalism. Our collective desire to strip things back could be down to a selection of things. Though it feels like a distant memory, it's likely you wore a little more makeup than usual during the festive season — and skin always needs a break. Perhaps your WFH schedule means you'd prefer more time in bed over getting ready, or maybe one of your New Year's resolutions is to nail a skincare routine. Either way, a lot of us are after clearer, smoother skin.
TikToker and makeup artist Charlotte Hyatt-Willis recently went viral for sharing a hack that makes her skin look "better than it actually is" — and it doesn't involve expensive facials, treatments or heaps of makeup. "I've got pores, texture and blemishes," Charlotte tells her followers, "and I used to have acne, so I know how it feels." Before we get into the hack itself, a caveat: skin texture isn't a flaw. It's entirely normal — and beautiful. Pores are important, too, and serve such purposes as moisturising skin with your natural oils (which feature antioxidants like vitamin E, which deflects environmental stressors such as pollution), not to mention getting rid of daily gunk. Pores are friends! But that's not to say everyone is happy with their skin all of the time.
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For plenty of people with excessively oily complexions or acne-prone skin (I fall into both camps), texture can be a point of insecurity. If TikTok is anything to go by, most people aren't looking to completely iron away skin bumps or pores — in 2022, it's safe to say we're very much over the unnatural, air-brushed look. Instead, we're looking to strip back makeup like heavy foundation and thick face powder. Charlotte's hack is a great place to start, as the goal isn't to Photoshop your face but rather to feel more comfortable and embrace real, natural skin.
Charlotte's first step is to go in with a micellar water or a cleanser on a cotton pad, which she explains exfoliates skin gently and gets rid of any dead skin, as well as old, leftover makeup. Try Garnier's SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water, $6.97. The next move is moisturiser and Charlotte suggests using something substantial to hydrate the skin, like Bobbi Brown's Vitamin Enriched Face Base, $88. If you're on a budget, try The Inkey List's Peptide Moisturiser, $23. Charlotte then applies a blurring primer (Revolution Pro's Blur Stick, $24) to areas where her pores are most prominent, like the nose, and a glowy primer or highlighter to areas she wants to accentuate, like the cheekbones and forehead. Lastly, she applies a slick of concealer to any blemishes and under her eyes. In a matter of moments, Charlotte's skin appears more even in tone and texture — all without foundation.
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For the sake of my dry skin, I'm trying to wean myself off lots of makeup so this seemed like the ultimate trick — and the thousands of views and likes on Charlotte's video suggested this might be true. Could my face look just as good without foundation? I just want more uniform skin! I started with a glug of Olay's Micellar Water Cleanser, $6, on a cotton pad, removing all traces of oil and makeup I might have missed from the night before, then followed with a heavy helping of Face Theory's Amil-C Whip with 5% Niacinamide and Vitamin C SPF 30, $31.99.
Where my skin gets oily (my forehead, nose and cheeks) I tapped on a little of benefit's Porefessional Primer, $56. Makeup expert and founder of STUDIO10 explains that primer makes for a Velcro-esque base underneath makeup but notes that it locks in moisture, too — brilliant in winter. I then swiped on Supergoop's Glow Stick SPF 50, to accentuate my cheekbones and Cupid's bow. Beauty editor tip: I'd recommend applying a moisturiser that contains SPF (or a separate SPF product) all over rather than solely using a sunscreen stick to highlight certain areas of the face. Just ask Gwyneth Paltrow. The final step is a dab of concealer where you want it. I applied a little Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Concealer, $68, in the inner corners and underneath my eyes to mask dark circles and on a couple of new breakouts, blending with my finger rather than a brush to melt the product into my skin.
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I thought only foundation was the answer to more uniform-looking skin without splashing out on treatments but this is a great temporary hack. To my surprise, the products worked so well together: the blurring primer acts as an invisible foundation, the concealer cloaks blemishes without appearing cakey thanks to the thick layer of moisturiser and the highlighting stick lends a subtle, believable glow. You can add a touch of blush or bronzer but I didn't really need it — my skin looked a lot smoother than usual. It pays to get your products right, though. If your skin gets clogged easily, you might prefer a moisturiser labelled non-comedogenic (less likely to block pores), like The Ordinary's Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, $12.90, or Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, $52. Also try NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, $30, which is rated by dermatologists like Dr Anjali Mahto, and NYX Professional Makeup's Smoothing Marshmallow Root Infused Super Face Primer, $29.95.
Thanks to Instagram and TikTok, we're slowly starting to look kindly on skin texture. But for the days when you'd prefer a little extra coverage (without the chore of taking off sheets of makeup of an evening), this hack is smart and effective. It's my new go-to routine for Zoom calls.
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