We have all seen women with skin so smooth in tone and texture that they appear to have walked right off a magazine cover.
Their skin looks flawless and holds the perfect blend of color and glow without looking oily.
But such women are not all born with great skin. Skin and cosmetics experts say the flawless look is possible for most everyone.
"Your skin definitely tells a story," says Melanie Kith Young, a local makeup artist who creates the flawless look for models in local fashion shows and photo shoots, and has worked for MTV.
The ingredients for getting an unblemished palette are:
After cleansing your skin, use a Facial moisturizer.
Veteran Baltimore makeup artist Trena Makell says people with oil-prone skin should use an oil-free moisturizer.
"You want to use moisturizers because they are vitamin-enriched," says Makell, who is a freelance artist for Bobbi Brown cosmetics.
The moisturizer does not have to be a high-end product, she says, as long as it works on your skin type.
If you aren't convinced that facial moisturizers are for you, Makell says, at least wear an eye cream.
The eye area is often where the first signs of aging appear because there are no oil glands around the eye. Dark circles around the eyes can stem from dehydration, allergies and genetics. A concealer is the fix, but don't overdo it.
"When women want to use concealer, they often go overboard," says Bailey Orenia-Sessoms, owner of Bo Studios in Crofton and a former WBAL-TV beauty expert. "Too much concealer starts to sit in the [skin] creases, which makes lines more enhanced."
In some cases, it may take more than one shade of foundation to give your skin that smooth, polished look. That's because women of color often have lighter skin in the middle of their face and darker skin around the perimeter, says Orenia-Sessoms.
"If there's a big contrast, you need two foundations matched to your cheek and jawbone," she says.
Women should be sure the shade blends with the color of their neck to avoid looking as though they are wearing a mask.
Various skin types may also need a different texture of foundation depending on the season.
Liquid foundations work especially well in winter when the wind chafes the skin, experts say.
Powder foundation works best on oily skin, and applying it with a brush instead of a sponge gives a lighter effect.
"Less is always more, unless you're performing on stage," Makell says.
Foundation will give skin a nice even tone, but blush helps accentuate the cheekbones and gives the skin a little color, Makell says.
People with golden or lighter complexions should select colors in the raisin family. For browner-toned skin, Makell recommends plum shades.
"You want to start from the apple of your cheek and blend downward," she says. "You don't want to look like a racing stripe when you turn sideways."
The average person should keep it simple and use just one shade of blush, she adds.
Eyeliner and shadow
Eyeliner gives definition to the eyes.
If you line the lower edge of the eye, the upper edge should be lined, too. Otherwise, the eyes will appear drawn downward. If your eyes are small, Orenia-Sessoms says, you can line the lower inner edge of your eye with a white liner to get a bright, open look. Black liner, Makell says, is too stark for someone with brown or light lashes. A dark-brown liner is going be more natural.
Makell recommends two looks in eye makeup:
For day, go for a lighter shade on the lid, a medium tint of the same color in the crease and the darkest tint as a liner.
At night, try using a dark shade on the lid for a smoky effect, a medium tint in the crease and the lightest shade on the brow bone as a highlight.
To help create a younger look, Orenia-Sessoms recommends using an illuminizer.
"It has a shimmery finish that helps reflect the light off of your skin," she says. The illuminizer should be the finishing element, after the concealer and foundation applications.
Lipstick selections should be made carefully. It's not just about grabbing the popular shade of the season at the makeup counter.
While red makes teeth look whiter, it is not for everyone. More subtle shades like raspberry and brick red may work better, depending on one's complexion.
Women with darker complexions don't have to stick with dark shades. Medium shades will work well.
Similarly, lighter-skinned women do not need to define their lips with a dark liner. "Go over the lips with a lip brush and blend the lipliner into the lipstick. When [you] are done, there should be no defined line around the edge of the lips," Orenia-Sessoms says.
Experts agree that a flawless look begins not with cosmetics, but with great skin.
"You have to help the process out by taking care of yourself," says Makell, who runs Live Love and Dream LLC, a Baltimore makeup-artistry company.
Here are some healthy-skin tips:
Use skin-appropriate facial cleanser instead of soap.
Drink plenty of water.
Start exercising; it will increase circulation and bring more nutrients to your skin.
Exfoliate two to three times a week.
"Make sure the grains [of the exfoliation cream] are not too big, or else they will rip the skin," Young says.
Avoid soda and greasy or fried foods, which can cause breakouts.
"Once your skin looks good, everything else will fall into place," Makell says.