A natural-looking woman standing in a field

Summer is the time for bare arms and legs and, the ultimate freedom (emotionally as well as physically) of a bare face. Daring to go without makeup or at least feeling that I can get away with just a dab of concealer is so liberating. It is also a testimony to good skincare and more than a nod to some little hacks and shortcuts.

So what are the hallmarks of skin that can go makeup free? I’ll leave aside wrinkles and sagging, since make up doesn’t help out much with these anyway. I am thinking about clarity, skin texture, even skin tone and, heck, a full on natural glow.

It all starts with a great cleanser and I think the one from LIFTLAB is a great choice for summer. Community member, Casey, put it better than I can: “I was pretty blown away by Lift Lab's product. It was very enjoyable to use on my skin, and I found that the consistency provided for a very light exfoliation and was gentle and creamy enough to use for a good facial massage.” LIFTLAB Purify + Clarify ($65 in the shop)

Toners seem to be more of a summer thing as my skin is a little oilier than usual – okay, sweaty. This time of year I find myself going back to an old favorite, La Vie Celeste Restorative Illuminating Toner  ($35 in the shop), which has anti-aging ingredients and is super refreshing.

This may sound a little strange, but I didn’t realize what a difference open pores made until mine miraculously closed. Well not miraculously, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta peel pads ($88 in the shop) take the credit. Step one uses alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), including glycolic, citric, lactic and malic, plus one beta hydroxy acid (BHA), salicylic acid. It is worth noting that BHAs go a bit deeper than AHAs and will loosen dead cells that are lodged deep in the pores. There are other “refining molecules” as well, such as yarrow extract. Talking of pore refinement, another savior is BRAD Pore-Tightening Resurfacing Replenish Serum ($95 in the shop) – it uses fermented plant acids to visibly tighten the skin.

BRAD also has an exfoliating gel that is a good multi-tasker that evens out skin tone, fading freckles and small sun spots as well as imparting that sort-after glow: BRAD Biophotonic Ultra Peel Maximum Performance Exfoliating Gel ($175 in the shop).

Don’t dismiss oils because it is summer. I find that lightweight facial oils are the best shortcut to a healthy glow. Check out Board & Batten Glowing Solution ($48 in the shop) and SkinOwl’s Beauty Drops in Geranium ($30 in the shop).

Red, irritated, prickly heat skin greatly benefits from Elena Rubin Serenity Calming Cream ($49). Those of us with ruddy cheeks see at least a short-term effect from the beta glucan, horse chestnut and turmeric.

My latest hack for no makeup skin is the quite amazing Deciem NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12% ($30). It has light refracting and redness reducing ingredients that (in less than a minute) give the skin an invisible coating that helps fade imperfections, fine lines and bring down my ever-ruddy cheeks. This really is no-makeup makeup. If you need a teensy bit more of a pigmented cover up, you could try mixing it with a little of your foundation. Or you can try a good CC cream that combines an SPF such as Dr. Dennis Gross CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF18 ($36 in the shop) or MD Solar Sciences Mineral Tinted Cream SPF30 ($32 in the shop).

Another no-makeup hack that is fun is plumping and darkening the lips. Of course, Your Best Face Define ($70 in the shop) is a regular fall-back that smooths out lip lines and gives the lips a slightly darker tone. A brand new find is Decium NIOD’s Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate ($60), which really does make the lips instantly redder and fuller (as well as providing some longer-term anti-aging ingredients).