Summer’s heat and humidity make a face full of makeup feel oppressive. But how to go without? First, address the dark spots, redness and scars we conceal with foundation. All can be improved in the hands of a good doctor. But remember, dispensing with makeup altogether isn’t necessarily realistic. Perhaps you shelve the foundation for a while, but can you really abide going out sans concealer or blush? These in-office and at-home treatments will help you go as bare as you want.
Fade Dark Spots
Some go-to laser treatments for excess pigment, like melasma and dark spots left from acne, may make skin too sun-sensitive for summer, but there are other options. “The RevLite is my favorite laser for treating pigment,” said Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist in New York. “Some other lasers are too aggressive, especially for dark skin or during the summer months. But this one is safe.”
Acne hyperpigmenation scars, which are deeper inside the skin, are more resistant to corrective treatments. Fixing them can take several sessions at $750 each. “Don’t do RevLite with a suntan because the laser will remove that pigment instead of what you want to correct,” Dr. Jaliman said.
Visible blood vessels, commonly called spider veins, occur with aging and sun exposure. The weblike redness we see is caused by a dilation of the blood vessel. “Intense pulsed light treatments use light at a frequency that is absorbed by the lining of the vessels, which destroys the cells and collapses the vessel,” said Norman Rowe, a plastic surgeon in New York.
Enlarged pores are notoriously tough to shrink. But building collagen, the protein that supports the structure of the skin, tightens them. “A pore is a hole in the skin at the top of the tiny tube that sweat comes out of,” Dr. Rowe said. To increase the collagen surrounding the tube, which narrows its opening, he uses microneedling. A pen with several very fine needles is passed along the skin. This creates tiny wounds that encourage skin cells to go into repair mode and make collagen.
“You get the effects of a laser without the sun restrictions,” Dr. Rowe said. Hundreds of tiny needle punctures may sound like derm-office torture, but the procedure isn’t painful. The doctor numbs skin before the procedure, so it ends up feeling like an aggressive exfoliation. Plus, it’s safe for all skin tones, even the darkest brown.
Dr. Rowe also injects Botox into the skin superficially to shrink pores. “At the base of every pore is a sebaceous gland,” he said. There are muscles around the oil gland. I think the Botox prevents that muscle from squeezing and stops oil production. And when oil production decreases, pores shrink down.”
Brighten the Eyes
Volume loss under the eye and concavity is the usual cause of dark circles. Lara Devgan, a plastic surgeon in New York, performs up to 100 tear trough corrections every month. She injects hyaluronic acid filler under the eyes to smooth the eye lid-cheek junction. The results are instant. “It’s surprising how effective this can be,” Dr. Devgan said. “You can really create the appearance of a brighter, more alert under-eye area.”
In some people under-eye darkness is caused by excess melanin and won’t be corrected by tear trough filler. In those cases, a chemical peel designed for the eye area, like the Glytone Enerpeel Eye and Lip peel, will fade excess melanin, generally in four treatments spaced a week apart.
Define and Shape
We use makeup to accentuate beloved features and play down perceived flaws. Doctors can help with that, too, using semipermanent fillers to sub for your highlighter and contour. “If they’re used with a delicate hand and artistic eye, fillers can really be used in place of makeup,” Dr. Devgan said.
Cheekbones are an obvious choice for a lift. Adding volume here can also smooth wrinkles in the lower face. And though it sounds counterintuitive, Dr. Devgan can use a filler’s volume to smooth a bump on the nose or strengthen the bridge — a virtually painless “nonsurgical nose job” that reduces the need for dark contour on the nose. The procedure takes minutes, and though there may be swelling, it subsides in about a week.
Enhance Lashes and Brows
The prescription lash serum Latisse, when used every night, thickens, darkens and lengthens. (Stop using it, and all gains will be lost.) You can also try eyelash extensions. In a field that has become formulaic, Clementina Richardson, the founder of Envious Lashes in New York, suggests looking for a stylist who will customize your look. “Eyes most commonly slope downward, sometimes with a heavy lid,” she said. “When they’re done well, lash extensions can lift and widen the eye. It’s like contouring.”
Kristie Streicher of Stiiike, a Beverly Hills, Calif., beauty studio she shares with her makeup artist and hairstylist sisters, is one of the best in the brow-shaping game. After an initial grow-in period, Ms. Streicher creates a natural looking, softly angled arch that looks youthful and effortless.
“I urge clients to look at photos of themselves as a teen to get an idea of their natural eyebrow shape,” she said. Her “microfeathering” technique merges her brow-shaping philosophy with microblading, a procedure in which pigment is deposited into superficial handmade incisions on the skin, creating semipermanent “brow hair.” “It may diminish, or even eliminate, the need for makeup,” she said.