Skinimalism: the skin care and make up hybrids you *need*

Last Updated: 27/07/2022

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been marvelling at the memories of my bus-journey make up routine. How I managed to apply a full face of {concealer}, {bronzer}, {blusher}, and then a (seven times out of ten) perfect cat eye in a huge moving vehicle, a sequence which feels very strange to the person I’ve now become: the ‘skinimalist’.

My make up routine is sometimes full on, fun, and explorative to lift dull days and take a million selfies, but mostly naturally polished for virtual meetings. If it’s staying on my face for most of the day, it needs to employ some double-duty action to qualify. Instead of full-coverage {foundation}, it’s my growing collection of nearly-bare tinted serums I count on as my complexion safety blanket, adding a healthy translucent glow while delivering shots of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide for good measure. Tinted lip balm gives a rosy respite on days when I can’t bear to put on {lipstick} for a 15-minute Zoom, plus I don’t have to do any hurried wiping before popping a mask on. And I can feel good about slicking on {brow gel}, knowing that the plant oils are helping the little guys grow up big and strong.

“The benefits of {skin care/make up} hybrids are extensive,” agrees Georgie Cleeve, cosmetics researcher and founder of {Oskia} – more on the brand’s genius hybrid serum later. “Firstly, and in my eyes, there’s no room for topical products, including make up, that don’t have a positive effect on one’s skin health. Secondly, our busy lifestyles make it difficult for long, extensive {skin care} and {make up} routines every single day.”

As a disclaimer, it’s still important to do all your skin care before applying any hybrid formulas. “People definitely shouldn’t replace their skin care routine with what is essentially still make up,” advises Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe, medical and cosmetic doctor and founder of Skndoctor. “By having separate ingredients you can quantify what you’re putting on, plus you should be controlling the measure of actives in your skin care products rather in make up-type formulas. I would personally prefer to have more basic ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin in a foundation, than more potent ones like AHAs – there’s a significant risk of irritation.”

With that in mind, our first rule is to have realistic expectations about how much a hybrid product can do for your skin – look for hydration and collagen-boosting powers over more extreme transformative ones. And secondly, consider how your new hybrid hero fits into the rest of your {skin care} routine to ensure you’re not overdoing it in any area. Scroll on for my picks of the best formulas that beautifully blur that skin care/make up boundary.


If you start with a prepped and primed base, you’ll end up using less of the consecutive products to even out skin tone. NIOD’s {Photography Fluid, Opacity 12%}, does what it says on the tin, blurring out the microdetails of the skin much like a photo filter, colour-correcting both redness and sallow yellow tones and depositing light-reflecting prisms that are anything but shimmery. For more of a glass skin vibe, reach for Glow Recipe’s new Watermelon Glow {Niacinamide Dew Drops} – the mica and glitter-free formula is touted as the first ever skin care-highlighter, giving major luminosity under or over make up, or simply on its own.


This step is all about the base. With less time outdoors and the consequential lacklustre skin, adding a dose of synthetic sun has never been more in demand. For the most barely-there wash of glow, the four shades of By Terry’s {Cellularose CC Serum} range from pale pearl to warm bronze, each depositing just enough pigment to lightly cover imperfections, while gently and gradually lightening up hyperpigmentation.

Next up, we have two choices: the ultra-bronze or the higher coverage. Just one pump of Drunk Elephant’s {D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops} will fake a ‘just landed’ glow that’s perfect for synchronising any faces that are lighter than the body. Packed with a chronopeptide to replicate vitamin D’s antioxidant powers, plus marula oil, fatty acids and even more protective antioxidants, it works wonders on your skin when used alone or mixed into a clear serum (add to a creamy moisturiser to lighten up the colour).

And then there’s Oskia’s {Nutri-Bronze Adaptive Sheer Tinted Serum}, a slightly thicker formula with niacinamide, bakuchiol and vitamin E, plus milk peptides to boost collagen production. “We wanted to create a mix of immediate and longer term effects on the skin to support its health all around,” explains Cleeve.


Mascara feels a little too done for ‘skinimalist’ make up. Instead, focus on shapely, full brows to create definition – bonus points for any nourishment factors. Saie’s {Brow Butter} hosts cacao and jojoba butters to feed both hairs and roots, and comes in four shades including clear. And as for tinted lip balms, there are two clear winners for both efficacy and prettiness: Versed’s {Silk Slip Conditioning Tinted Lip Oil} and Glow Recipe’s {Watermelon Glow Lip Pop}, which uses fruity and floral-derived AHAs to gently exfoliate while leaving behind a pH-determined rosy stain.



Writer and expert