I'm from New Jersey, and I wear lip liner. I'm not the girl who daintily dots on tinted lip balm as blush or applies foundation "as needed." I like to dial it up to flawless and carry my whole vanity in an old-school Caboodles case when I travel.
There's only one problem: My approach is no longer on fleek. Scrolling through Instagram, I've noticed cool girls—model Bella Hadid, Leandra Medine of Man Repeller fame, fashion designer Isabel Marant— sporting blank canvases everywhere from the office to red-carpet events, making it seem downright gauche to show up in a full face. And instead of waiting lists for the latest nail lacquer and fan pages dedicated to mascara, there are lines for Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Cream and fawning posts about Glossier's primer, created by another often-barefaced beauty, Into The Gloss founder Emily Weiss. Even at fashion shows, where you can usually count on dramatic trends to emerge sure as a Kardashian at a photo-op, things have been more low-key since the no-makeup look at Marc Jacobs' spring 2015 show.Well-heeled women in major cities are drinking the Kool-Aid, too.
"I've definitely seen a less-is-more trend with my patients," says New York City dermatologist Dr. Anne Chapas. "I think people are realizing that certain types of makeup age you—think of Grandma's cakey powder." The craze might also have something to do with all the amazing hybrid products now available. Cosmetics companies like Revlon are launching makeup that resembles skincare, while complexion experts such as Algenist have introduced tinted anti-aging treatments. "These hybrid formulas are the future," says makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury. "Everyone is so time-poor; you need products to be even more hardworking."
I'm willing to give it a go. Maybe this experiment will even be good for me, since I've heard skin needs a break from makeup every once in a while to "breathe." Dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, who launched the Perricone MD No Makeup Skincare line last year, and Chapas both say there's some truth to that old wives' tale—though only for those prone to blemishes (heavy formulas can exacerbate acne). At the very least, it will save me some time in the morning.
First up, the "blur" products, a newish category of primers, concealers, and creams that typically contain optical diffusers like silica to scatter light so imperfections are less noticeable. Brimming with newfound optimism amid all the claims, I dab on countless formulas. Many of the non-tinted versions conjure a scene out of The Emperor's New Clothes—with my dark circles fully exposed, I feel as naked as he did. only L'oréal Paris Visible Lift Blur Concealer (available in three shades) pushes ahead of the pack for this makeup junkie; it blends in with the soothing hydration of an eye cream and provides medium coverage.
Feeling deflated (and looking more tired than usual), I move on to the glut of intriguing new foundation-meets-skincare products. Many seem like the tinted moisturizers we've seen before, but there are some breakthrough discoveries. Giorgio Armani Beauty's Crema Nuda blurs imperfections and delivers a luminous, effortlessly polished look. And La Mer The Reparative SkinTint SPF 30 makes my complexion appear to glow from within.
I'm also captivated by Cover FX Custom Cover Drops, a liquid pigment (available in 24 shades) that you can combine with anything from lotion to sunscreen for adjustable coverage. I put it to the test by adding a few drops to my favorite Kiehl's moisturizer and am rewarded with a skin-matching result that doesn't alter the moisturizer's feel or texture. Brilliant! And it's even better when painted on with EcoTools Skin Perfecting Brush, part of the company's new Complexion Collection of tools designed to apply hybrid formulas. The soft, densely packed bristles leave a smooth finish and none of the telltale stroke lines I often get from my regular foundation brush.
Arriving with the most fanfare is It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream; everybody and their mom has recommended this stuff to me, and I immediately see why. Chock-full of plumping peptides, skin-brightening niacin, antioxidants, and SPF 50, the lightweight formula glides on yet covers as well as foundation, making it the perfect skincare-meets-makeup blend for adult skin that has experienced life.
Of the color products that claim to be more than makeup, I am most impressed with Perricone MD No Mascara Mascara, which lengthens lashes and promises to make them lusher over time with neuropeptides and biotin. I had been dubious of its black-burgundy shade, which Perricone explained was more flattering than "harsh black," but I understand its merits when I begin receiving compliments on my eyes—and not on my mascara. I also excitedly try a few new tinted "lip serums," a supposed marriage of lipstick and skincare, but, ladies, they're just lip gloss with a new name.
In the end, will I be retiring my fully stocked Caboodles permanently? Not quite. For days when I'm well-rested or want to go light (weekends, warm-weather vacations), keeping things almost bare feels savvy and au courant. But when stress, late nights, and other uninvited guests are creeping through my pores, I need more coverage to feel and look like myself—or at least what I imagine "myself " to be.
1. L'Oréal Paris Visible Lift Blur Blush in Soft Peach, $12; Target.com
2. Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm in Pink, $33; Nordstrom.com
3. Algenist Sublime Defense Anti-Aging Blurring Moisturizer SPF 30, $75; Sephora.com
4. La Mer The Reparative SkinTint SPF 30 in Medium, $95; Nordstrom.com
5. Giorgio Armani Beauty Crema Nuda in Warm Glow, $200; NeimanMarcus.com
6. Cover FX Custom Cover Drops in N40, $44; Sephora.com
7. Revlon PhotoReady Prime + Anti Shine Balm, $11; Target.com
8. Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $69; Nordstrom.com
9. NudeStix Blue Pencil, $24; Sephora.com
10. Laneige Cushion Concealer in Medium, $30; Kollectionk.com
This article appears in the June issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.