Every time summer rolls around, a few things seem to happen like clockwork: Many of us embark on detox programs or intensified exercise routines in anticipation of the months ahead when clothing becomes decidedly more minimal; we suddenly start paying fastidious attention to our toes—buffing, moisturizing, and polishing those nubby nails after months of hibernation beneath woolly socks; and cellulite becomes top of mind, as studies show nearly 90 percent of women will develop it at some point. It’s a subject that’s hard not to obsess over—not simply because denim cutoffs tend to leave it slightly more exposed than full-length skinny jeans, but because it’s about this time every year that we are bombarded with new potions and treatments claiming to possess the ability to eradicate those lumpy, bumpy spots forever more. But as anyone who has ever dutifully slathered on these firming gels or applied any number of molding and kneading techniques to their nether regions can attest, temporary results are usually the most you can hope for. So, what gives?
The fact remains there is no—none, zero—proven, long-term treatment for cellulite, which, to get a little scientific, is actually composed of fat cells that bulge up and through the web of connective tissue beneath the skin, causing dimpling primarily just in women since men’s collagen is angled rather than vertical. “Skin becomes less elastic with age, so cellulite becomes more obvious,” says dermatologist Dr. Sapna Westley. “Poor circulation can also be a factor—when blood flow slows, collagen separates, allowing fat to come up to the surface of the skin, creating an orange peel effect,” she continues, pointing out additional triggers like family history, the thickness of your skin, hormonal changes, diet, and lifestyle. All of those cellulite-focused creams with big promises? Faking it, according to Westley, who explains that said miracle salves are designed to tighten the skin and minimize the appearance of lumps by drawing out excess moisture, which camouflages dimples only temporarily. On the labels, you’ll find ingredients like blood flow-stimulating caffeine, which can have a diuretic effect, collagen-boosting and skin-thickening retinol, and DMAE, an antioxidant derived from fish that, when combined with amino acids, stimulates the muscles to contract. “But the question remains how much of any of these ingredients is really being absorbed into the skin to cause any long-term effect,” Westley says.
Lancôme isn’t lacking in the way of product diversity. The famed French beauty brand has a wealth of eye shadows, a bounty of lipstick, and antiaging skincare wonders out the wazoo. But somehow, a good, quality eyelash curler has eluded the company—which is ironic considering its multitude of award-winning mascaras (if you haven’t tried its Hypnôse Doll Lashes yet, we suggest you get on it stat). But that changes now. Lancôme has just unveiled its first-ever clamping tool designed with a silicone pad to cushion fragile hairs and protect against breakage. Directions for use of Le Curler include following a quick, stern pump with Lancôme’s Cils Booster XL serum to condition lashes before coating them with its Definicils Mascara—or your mascara of choice. But it’s the pre-mascara curl that’s most important. Just ask Lara Stone. The bodacious supe doesn’t leave the house without curling her lashes first, we recently learned. “It brightens the whites of your eyes and we all swear by it,” she told us a few months back—the “we” presumably being her supermodel friends. Sold.
Face primers, like serums, always seemed like an extraneous step in my morning routine—before I hit my mid-thirties, that is, and things like creases, dullness, and large pores became way more noticeable in pretty much any kind of lighting. Needless to say, now I’m all about primers. So when two newcomers arrived—Benefit’s Pore Professional and Tarte’s Clean Slate Poreless 12-Hour Perfecting Primer—my interest was more than piqued. Both promise to blur fine lines and fill in uneven areas to minimize pores while also delivering skin-illuminating ingredients, but the issue of which would do so more effectively, thus providing a truly flawless finish, was still in question. Being the intrepid beauty sleuth that I am, I have devoted the past few weeks to deciphering the ups and downs of pore perfection and am now ready to present my findings below. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
The Pre-Makeup Balm: Although Benefit’s Pore Professional has a slight, complexion-enhancing tint, it actually applies translucent with a nice silky texture and melts into the skin in seconds. Formulated with vitamin E to soften and fend off free radicals, this oil-free “pro balm” truly did help bounce light off my face so shadows and indentations looked less noticeable. It also left a super-smooth finish, which meant I didn’t have to pile on as much makeup to get that almost pore-less effect. Hours later, my face had a velvety glow and there was nary a blemish in sight.
The Natural Refiner: Designed to extend the wear of your makeup for 12 hours and impart an airbrushed kind of look, Tarte’s Clean Slate primer relies on botanical ingredients (echinacea root, hibiscus, and super fruits like goji berry) to mattify and tone the skin without any parabens. While the texture is a bit gummy at first, it blends into your face with the heat of your fingers. A pea-size drop also works as a waterproof base under makeup to lock it down, minimizing any streaking and deflecting shine, which can magnify the size and shape of pores. As an added bonus, it stayed perfectly intact despite my habit of resting my cheek against my hand and pressing my face up to my daughter’s throughout the day.
The Bottom Line: Those who have skin that’s on the dry side will appreciate Tarte’s richer consistency, whereas I preferred Benefit’s more lightweight finish, especially with New York’s rising humidity levels. But both performed equally well under makeup and helped refined the look of enlarged pores. Obviously, neither was able to eliminate those pin dots entirely (sigh…), but as a quick fix in the morning, it’ll serve you well to keep both of these tubes in rotation.