Backstage at thefall shows, there was a strong emphasis on gorgeous skin. In some cases, in fact, even concealer was meant to be used sparingly. (SeeThe Row, Balmain, Stella McCartney, and Victoria Beckhamfor examples.) Skin took a leading role in most of the beauty looks, which meant that proper care was necessary, and for many makeup artists that meant whipping out an old staple: Gel moisturizers.
Gel doesn’t exactly entice consumers the way it should, but NARS senior artist James Boehmer insisted on it for the looks at Naeem Khan and Creatures of the Wind. “We take our time with the moisturizing process,” he said, smoothing a generous amount ofNARS Aqua Gel Luminous Moisturizerover a model’s cleansed skin. “We’re massaging it into the face, which plumps the skin and gives it a beautiful finish.”
In fact, there’s science behind Mr. Boehmer’s preferred moisturizer. “Gel formulas have a high water content,” explains Megumi Setoguchi, the director of Koh Gen Do Cosmetics. “Since foundations and primers have a high oil content, using an oil-based moisturizer will cause the makeup to slide or fade.” Instead of oil-based lotions and creams, a gel will actually deliver instant moisture to the skin. On top of that, “most gels have hyaluronic acid, which instantly improves the elasticity in the skin, creating the perfect base for makeup application,” says David Horne, director of Illamasqua Makeup School. You’ll also notice your skin has a bouncy, buoyant texture, which tempts some to eliminate base makeup altogether.
But—ouracne-pronereaders are probably wondering—isn’t moisture the enemy? In this case, water is what makes the difference. While lotions and creams are oil-based, with ingredients like shea butter or even chemical petrols, water provides an instant dose of hydration that won’t translate to grease, which will clog the pores. Setoguchi notes that this is an important distinction: “Oily skin doesn’t mean your skin is moisturized, or even soft,” she says. “It still requires moisture to make it healthy and soft to the touch.” (In fact, a shiny T-zone is often a byproduct of over-treating and over-exfoliating, which triggers the sebum to produce excess oil.)
Koh Gen Do’s Moisture Gelactually does one better than the very simple NARS formula, in that it contains various botanical extracts which soothe, replenish, and revitalize the skin. Meanwhile,AmorePacific’s Hydra-Gelis one of the cornerstones of the cult Korean beauty brand. And finally, Olay took a stab at the category with the wallet-friendly and instantly flatteringFresh Effects Dew Over Hydrating Gel Moisturizer.
All the aforementioned formulas are brilliant, but they have one thing in common: A dewy finish. To be fair, dewy is different thanoily, but that doesn’t exactly make it everyone’s cup of tea. That’s why the fine folks at the London-based beauty brand Illamasqua set out to completely reinvent the wheel withMatte Veil, a gel moisturizer that promises an instant matte finish.
“There are mattifying properties that absorb quickly into the skin, which preps it for a shine-free base,” Horne explains. “There are things like butylene glycol and aluminum starch which absorb moisture from the environment to leave skin silky, and glycerin, which traps water to keep the complexion comfortable and hydrated.”
At first glance, it sounds like another typical beauty product claim. But after a weekend test run, this editor can testify that the results are true. Foundation glides over the moisturizer nicely for an even application and any need to blot or powder is significantly minimized (though not quite eliminated).
With the warmer weather rolling around (and plenty of golden photo opportunities, withgraduationandprom), you might find it’s time to ditch your day cream and grab a gel instead. If you do, shop our favorites below and let us knowyourfavorites in the comments section.