I'll come right out and say it. I've been a little overzealous with Facetune recently, and it's been gnawing at my conscious. It's not that I think Facetune is bad, per se, but it poses some complicated conversations, and I feel conflicted. Plus, everyone has a different stance, comfort level, and opinion in regard to editing, and thus discussing the subject so publicly can feel sticky and scary. On the one hand, I know smoothing, blurring, and, heck, even reshaping is par for the course in today's social media–, image-, and 'like'-obsessed culture. Personally, I don't believe in reshaping or sizing my face or body, but if I have a bad hormonal breakout, stubborn acne scars, dark circles, or a yellower smile than I'd like, you bet I'll click into Facetune to blur, smooth, and whiten until I feel the image is up to snuff with all of the other edited images out there on the World Wide Web. It's a compulsion I never used to experience but has slowly but surely increased with some vengeance. Which, quite honestly, scares me.
As a beauty editor, I always want to be as authentic as possible to my followers and readers. I don't want to be deceiving when it comes to a photo or image I post, but I'm also very human. Sometimes I need to take a photo for a story, and I'm having a bad body image day or hair, skin, or what-have-you day. Sometimes, I don't want my pimples to be out there for millions of eyes to see and critique. Does that make me fake? Dishonest? A bad beauty editor? It's a conundrum I've been struggling with. That said, it's not only the beginning of a fresh year, but it's a fresh decade, so while I'm not sure if it's realistic for me to swear off the blur tool and editing apps forever, I'm going to do my best to work on my wellness, lighting, and product game so that clicking into Facetune doesn't continue to be the automatic reflex it's become. No one is perfect, and I wish we didn't live in a world that pushed that preoccupation so forcefully. (I also realize that by posting edited photos, I've played an active part in that.)
I'm all for going au naturel (in fact, most days IRL, you'll find me bare-faced without a stitch of makeup), but for those days when you do want to look as smooth and glowy as possible—whatever the reason may be—there are some strategic products for that! Below, I'm sharing all of the formulas I'm super into right now, which I'll be relying on more as I slowly wean myself off of the blurring train. Anyone with me? Keep scrolling!
I come back to this cleanser from celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau again and again. I like to use it in the morning after my face has had a chance to regenerate overnight, and I appreciate that Renée specifically formulated it to tackle a slew of issues like acne, bumps, blackheads, and clogged pores, while simultaneously lifting away the trademark discoloration and scarring breakouts can leave in their wake.
Since the above cleanser from Renée has exfoliating, biodegradable jojoba beads and a mix of salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids, I don't recommend being too overzealous with it. For something a bit gentler, I reach for this lovely serum cleanser from another celebrity esthetician, Shani Darden, at night. It's deeply hydrating but doesn't break me out or exacerbate my oil-prone skin.
The ease of camouflaging acne scars, redness, and other types of discoloration on my face is one of the main reasons I'm continually tempted by the blur tool. I just got my hands on this brand-new product from Dr. Brandt and have just started using it every morning and evening after I cleanse and before I moisturize. It's designed for all skin types and features three different kinds of acids (azelaic, phytic, and tranexamic) to help fade the look of stubborn dark spots—be them from age, sun damage, melasma, or acne.
Vitamin C is a known complexion-brightener, and I have two products right now that I'm rotating in the mornings. The first are these beautifying serum pads from M-61 to target dull skin. Each pad is steeped in a potent dose of 15% stabilized vitamin C to naturally support your collagen product, even out your skin tone, reduce the look of dark spots, and protect against other environmental perps that might damage the integrity of your skin.
The other vitamin C product I love is this expert-trusted formula from IS Clinical, which also has the added benefit of helping to improve acne. (You know a product is good when not one but two celebrity estheticians tell you to start using it every morning.) This serum combines time-released vitamin C alongside a strategic blend of non-irritating botanicals to treat acne, rosacea, contact dermatitis, and skin irritations.
I know this eye gel is ridiculously expensive, but considering it's basically an eye-lift and shadow-eraser in a bottle, it's definitely worth it if you're down to splurge. It brightens, tightens, and is the only eye product I've been reaching for lately.
Okay, so I know toothpaste isn't skincare, per se, but this new whitening formula from Colgate is seriously amazing. I'm definitely guilty of whitening up my smile using Facetune, but I'll be religiously brushing with this tubed formula instead!
This primer-moisturizer hybrid is the brainchild of Augustinus Bader and Victoria Beckham. Honestly, I don't know what more you need to know, but I'll go on. Simply put, this product makes your face look incredible. My foundation has never looked as immaculate and airbrushed and purely perfect than when I applied this scientific formula beforehand. It uses Augustinus Bader’s TFC-8 technology to stimulate your skin’s natural repair and regeneration processes, it fights external signs of aging, and it features wrinkle-blurring powders to minimize the look of any imperfections or texture-related annoyances.
This foundation is one of the few beauty products on the market that truly lives up to its name. It is full-coverage, but I've played around with the formula quite a bit and have found it's very easy to build or sheer out to your liking. And it's absolutely amazing on top of the Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader noted above.
Hourglass just launched this concealer, and I'm obsessed. I love how lightweight yet long-wearing it is. I have really sensitive eyes (that are prone to watering!), and this formula weathers the storm while keeping my under-eyes nice, bright, and crease-free. It's the best product alternative to swiping the blur tool underneath your eyes.
Powders are dangerous territory. If you find the right formula, they can make a huge difference in the longevity and finish of your makeup. But the wrong powder (or incorrect application) can veer disastrous very quickly. This limited-edition puff is from Estée Lauder's great-granddaughter, Danielle Lauder, as part of her new Act IV collection, and it's one of the most brilliant products I've tried recently. It really does have an airbrush-like filter effect on your face, setting your makeup and creating a soft and diffused glow that's seriously so flattering. Plus, the miniature puff it comes with could not be cuter or chicer. (Danielle says she wears it behind her finger during events so she can touch up any time, anywhere.)
This hybrid product from Charlotte Tilbury is so magical that I almost feel like it has to be real-life evidence of the extraterrestrial. It just doesn't make sense to me how it can *literally* filter away the look of pores or textural imperfections on your face while also offering the prettiest and most flattering of glows and highlight. Dabbing it across my cheekbones and temples with a rose water– drenched Beautyblender ($20) after my foundation application is maybe the most life-changing beauty tip I ever learned. Seriously, you should try it. (Chantecaille Pure Rosewater Mist, $74, is my favorite.) Of course, you can always apply it as a primer pre-foundation or simply mix it into your favorite foundation for equally flattering and filtered-esque results.
I'm a big fan of any lip treatment that will make my lips look plumper, softer, and all-around better. So it's no surprise this new liquid balm treatment from Thrive Causemetics is one of my favorite beauty tries as of late. I slick it on while I do the rest of my makeup and then blot it a tad before I apply whatever lipstick I'm wearing for the day. It's touted as having a special Lip Filler Technology, which entails plumping, line-smoothing mustard sprout extract, a powerful active the brand credits for its microcirculation-boosting properties.
Glossier's best-selling product might be the cult-favorite Boy Brow ($16), but as someone who's not a huge fan of pomades, I prefer the brand's newest brow product, Brow Flick. I'm all about super-defined and precisely filled brows, and I love how easy it is to use the brush-tip for immaculately groomed and even-looking arches. Plus, I appreciate that it's only $18—far less scary for the bank account than so many of the iconic brow products out there right now.
This top-selling lip liner from Charlotte Tilbury is called Lip Cheat for a reason—it truly helps you achieve a your-lips-but-better vibe that pretty much every beauty editor, celebrity, and makeup artist applauds. Oh, and if you're a fan of Pillow Talk (the brand's most iconic shade), it just launched two new iterations in deeper shades so that no lip tone is left behind. (Thank you for this, Charlotte Tilbury!) In addition to Pillow Talk, I'm also a huge fan of Walk of Shame, pictured above. It's a dark rosy pink that's universally flattering and beautiful for the pillowy, pouty aesthetic of your dreams.
This is a very expensive mascara. I realize this. But this also isn't your average mascara. First of all, Chantecaille is one of the absolute loveliest skincare and makeup brands out there. You can't go wrong with any of its products, but this mascara is truly on another level. It boasts cutting-edge lash peptide technology to enhance your natural flutter with an extra boost of length, thickness, and fullness. It conditions with rose oil and also has a double-helix brush to ensure you have clump-free volume and length.
One of my favorite features on Facetune is the Details feature which, if you swipe it over a glossy lip or glittery eye, makes it looks even more twinkly and eye-catching. That said, this new liquid eye shadow formula from Marc Jacobs is so shimmery and beautiful I haven't even felt the urge to crawl back to my app. The colors are stunning, and the application is fuss- and mess-free. I'm obsessed!