Glossier campaign + my own images
You've heard it before, and I'll say it again: skin is in.

"Lily, the key to clear skin is simple," Donna, my family's skin guru, said to me one Sunday evening. "Don't wear makeup."

The first time she said this to me was probably five years ago, a time in which I was struggling with an aggressive bout of acne and sought out her facialist expertise, needles and all. And, every time I come back, she drilled it into my head again, occasionally adding a "tell your friends" to the mix. 

While her relentlessness has paid off (I rarely ever wear face makeup), when I first heard those words, tears streamed down my raw cheeks. At 13 years old, I was in the peak of makeup experimentation; all the girls in my grade sported neon eyeshadow, lip gloss and, yes, the dreaded foundation. I felt robbed of an important life experience and so, as the rebellious tween that I was, I joined in, smearing drugstore concealer all over my spots, never forgetting to douse them in cakey powder afterwards. It was a routine that I enjoyed at first but soon resulted in acne so three-dimensional that it could not be covered up (and more tears than one). I battled with the aftereffects for nearly three years, time in which I visited the dermatologist monthly, tried almost every spot treatment under the sun, and had really, really bad eyebrows. 

Primed, poreless and glowing, the ideal beauty look has largely remained consistent with Donna's advice for the past year or so, placing much of the burden on skincare rather than makeup. Fashion week after fashion week, models have sported [seemingly] little to no makeup, allowing for the clothes to really stand out; the insanity following Korean skincare practices has spread to the West, and companies like Glossier have followed suit, building a cult of dewy-faced cool girls (and guys) in the process.

Yet, except for a select few blessed with impeccable genes, achieving this look takes a lot more than waking up and splashing one's face with cold water; it requires a specific combination of products tailored to your skin type--and a high degree of patience. Below are some of my tried-and-true products ("holy grails", if you will); whether you follow Donna's advice is up to you, but here is my routine, adding to the hundreds of other narratives floating around on the internet.