In the summertime, I barely wear any makeup — in part because the sweltering heat melts it right off my face. But I also find that my skin looks and feels its best in the summer. My complexion is a little more golden and sun-kissed. There’s a warm, rosy flush to my cheeks. And if the temperature is just right, I can achieve the perfect dewy glow without any bronzer, blush, or highlighter. I usually just dab concealer on any breakouts or dark marks, then I’m on my merry way.
The wintertime, however, is a very different story. My skin is incredibly dry, flaky, and practically colorless — sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and see Nosferatu staring back at me. So once cooler temperatures roll around, my makeup bag starts to see a lot more action. I rely on an arsenal of hydrating and lightweight makeup products to even out my blotchy complexion, fake a little glow, and add a touch of color here and there to warm up my pasty skin and make me look like someone who’s, y’know, alive.
Here are four makeup products I’ve been reaching for again and again now that it’s officially freezing outside, all of which are low-fuss, can be applied with just your fingers, and ensure that I’m out the door in under ten minutes.
Because my skin’s texture in the winter is dry, a little rough, and blotchy, I’m always on the lookout for natural, light-coverage foundations with moisturizing, dewy formulas. I want to give my skin a soft veil of coverage without feeling like I’m wearing a mask or caked-on product. As is the case with so many beauty products I purchase these days, I first learned about Covergirl’s Clean Fresh Skin Milk on TikTok.
As I watched a girl apply it on camera after calling it her holy grail, I was impressed by how easily the formula seemed to glide over her skin, leaving behind a soft, very natural finish. Shortly after, it seemed every beauty obsessive followed suit — my entire For You page was inundated with folks trying and loving this drugstore foundation. So obviously I had to try it for myself, and it’s a winner.
It costs about $12 and can be found at almost any drugstore. It’s incredibly lightweight and very sheer — the coverage sort of reminds me of Glossier’s Skin Tint, which is one of my favorites for daily wear — and the formula contains moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, aloe extract, and coconut milk, which help keep my skin dewy and hydrated. It won’t cover up big pimples, but it’s perfect for everyday daytime wear when I just want to knock off a little redness and even out my skin a bit.
When it comes to lipsticks, I’m partial to a smudgy, sheer matte formula. I’m usually going for a barely there blotted look that isn’t too fussy or overdone but adds color to my lips and makes me look a little more put together. After having this lip palette — from French “It” girl Jeanne Damas’s brand Rouje — in my cart for months, maybe even years, I finally decided to order it and instantly fell madly in love.
The quad palette has four different shades: a cherry red, a dusty rose, a brownish red, and a mauve. Unlike a traditional bullet lipstick, the palette format makes it easy to play with all of the colors — I rarely wear just one at a time, opting to mix them together to create bespoke hues, depending on my mood. I use my index finger to tap different shades from the palette and then press them gently into my lips. The formula blends and builds easily, so it comes out like one seamless new color.
Because the formula is powder-based, it’s extremely matte, which I love. It gives the perfect smudgy sheer lip with blurry, not-so-perfect edges, which I find adds a sort of effortless cool effect to the look. It’s also really versatile — you can really build up the intensity of the color depending on whether you want just a slight tint or a more impactful blotted lip. Sometimes I mix the pink and red for a bright pop; sometimes I combine the mauve and brownish red for a deeper, moodier shade. Occasionally I just throw on all four colors; the result always turns out different and always great.
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I’m pretty picky about highlighters: I like when they’re super balmy with a subtle pearlescent sheen yet have absolutely no glitter or obvious shimmer. I have always been loyal to Glossier’s Haloscope in Quartz, but I recently tried out this Merit highlighter (the brand gifted it to me when it first launched about a year ago), and it’s really, really good! The balmy formula gives the perfect, natural glowiness; I don’t think anyone would really recognize it as highlighter even if they were standing close to your face in broad daylight. Also, I’ve found that its illuminating effects actually last throughout the day, instead of just for the five minutes before I leave the house. I like to tap this along my cheekbones and brow bone to add dimension and dewiness to my skin.
At $38, this is a pretty splurgy product — but it’s also a truly excellent one. I generally steer clear of powder blushes during winter; historically, they’ve settled into the nooks and crannies of my dry skin and made the flakiness even more noticeable. But there’s just something different about this one. It’s a super-silky, creamy powder that melts into your skin once you apply it. It’s never left me with that patchy, weird look that can sometimes happen with powder formulas, and it’s incredibly easy to blend. It also lasts all day long, even with the friction of wearing a face mask! I love it in Divine Rose, a sort of mauvey shade that warms up my pale winter skin.
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