Step away from the concealer: the DIY facial techniques that’ll replace your makeup in combating puffy, tired skin

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Amy Lewis
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Put down the foundation trowel, and lay your heavy-duty concealer to rest; we’ve uncovered the DIY facial techniques that’ll relegate them to the bottom of your kit.

With the current move towards fresh-faced looks and healthy, glowing skin in the beauty industry, makeup artists are increasingly employing the massage tricks of super-facialists to prep skin ahead of shows, shoots and red carpets.

The result being that they can get away with using far less corrective makeup, allowing complexions to look naturally healthy, well-rested and radiant.

“A five minute workout for your face can stimulate micro-circulation, de-congest puffy skin and relax facial muscles,” says makeup artist to the A-list Charlotte Tilbury, who regularly works her magic on celebrities from Kate Moss to Jennifer Aniston and Blake Lively.

Using the right techniques, Tilbury says, can lift your complexion and sculpt and define your facial framework. It will leave your skin glowing and youthful, without any makeup at all.

So if you’re regularly covering up dark circles, dealing with puffy eye bags and trying your best to illuminate dull, stressed or tired skin, it may be time to scale back on product and try a new approach.

From Tilbury’s contouring facial workout, to celebrity facialist Una Brennan's de-puffing eye techniques, Fashion Week pro Val Garland's quick wake-me up, and A-list makeup artist Lisa Eldridge's anti-ageing massage; here are four of the best rejuvenating DIY facials to start adding to your routine now.

De-puff eyes with Una Brennan

Swap cakey concealer for this soothing under eye technique from Una Brennan, facialist to the Primrose Hill set and founder of skincare line Super Facialist.

“There are a number of simple and old fashioned ways to treat temporary puffiness, the most effective being a combination of cold compresses (cold teabags, cucumber slices, ice wrapped in muslin or an eye gel pack etc). It’s the cold that diminishes under eye bags, by constricting the blood vessels in the area.

Following a compress, you can then help to disperse the excess fluid with very light lymphatic drainage.

Use your ring fingers for this light massage, as they are the weakest and give the correct pressure, and lightly move from your inner eyelid out to the temples. 

To get the right movement imagine your ring fingers are magnets, and that there is a little metal ball underneath your skin, that you want to move from your inner eyelid to your temples with your fingers - if you press or drag to deep, the little ball will not move, it will just get pushed down.

This visualisation really helps you to use the correct pressure, as getting it right can be super effective at ridding the eye area of excess fluid.

Use an eye cream enriched with energising and anti-inflammatory ingredients while you do this, such as Super Facialist Firming Illuminate Neroli Eye Cream (£12.99 from which contains caffeine to also brighten skin in the eye area.”

Contour with Charlotte Tilbury

Swap your full coverage foundation for Charlotte Tilbury's five-minute facial massage, which perks up tired skin and brings definition back to your face.

Step 1: Apply a rich face cream, such as the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream or Magic Night Cream, to the tips of your middle three fingers on each hand. Blend it into your cheeks first, starting from the lower cheek, near the mouth, and moving in a sweeping ‘up and out’ motion. Repeat this motion, moving further up the face to simulate blood flow, and penetrate the collagen-boosting ingredients in the cream deeper into the skin.

Step 2: Use the excess cream on your fingertips to de-congest puffed up cheeks, by tapping the skin with your fingertips in a pitter-patter motion (I call this the Tilbury Tap), starting from the top of the cheek bone and working down.

Step 3: To give your cheekbones more definition, place your forefingers under your cheekbones, starting from the sides of your nose. Push upwards, into your bone structure, and outwards, smoothing your fingers along your cheekbones, finishing at your ear. Repeat this step three times on each side.

Step 4: To add more definition to your jawline, use your thumb and forefinger to move along the line of your from jaw your chin outwards, gently pinching the skin for two seconds at a time. This drains puffy skin and sharpens your contours. Finish by running your thumb and forefinger along your jaw again, this time in a sweeping motion, to smooth out skin.

Step 5: To smooth lines and relax any furrows, apply face cream to the tips of your middle three fingers again, and starting from the middle of the forehead, massage it into the skin in three circular motions, moving outwards towards the temples. This relaxes the muscles and smoothes over wrinkles. Pat in any excess cream with your ring finger to stimulate the skin's micro-circulation.

Step 6: As a finishing touch, apply a light pressure on your temples for five seconds to help you to really relax.

Got all that? Let Tilbury give you a live run through...

Wake up skin with Val Garland

Swap caking on the foundation and blush for this reviving quick-fix from Fashion Week makeup artist extraordinaire, Val Garland.

From working with Britney Spears, Kate Moss and Gigi Hadid on Mario Testino's high profile shoots, to creating makeup looks at Fashion Week for Erdem, Giambattista Valli, Vivienne Westwood and more, makeup artist Garland has long been prepping skin with a pre-makeup facial.

“I like to prep my model’s skin before makeup with a lymphatic drainage facial,” she explains, “and I’ve found a wonderful tool to do this with that’s very easy to use.

Its’ called ReFa S CARAT Beauty Roller, and I literally just roll this over the face. It does all the lymphatic drainage for me.”

When skin is particularly tired, dull or puffy, Val suggests keeping the roller in the fridge, so that it has a cooling and instantly reviving effect, along with encouraging more drainage.

“That’s my top tip when it comes to prepping a model’s face for makeup.

I also think keeping all of your beauty products in the fridge is a good idea, because the cooler they are, the more refreshing they will feel on the skin, and the greater the rejuvenating effect.”

Wind back the clock with Lisa Eldridge

Trade line-blurring primers and concealers for the anti-ageing facial massage routine loved by A-list makeup artist Lisa Eldridge.

“This is something I’ve done for years, and while obviously there are lots of different types of facial massage you can do… I kind of do a mixture of different things,” Eldridge explains in her tutorial video.

“I’m also not too prescriptive about it, simply because sometimes I have 20 seconds available, like in the morning when I want to do something quick, and other times I might have five minutes to spend on it.

For me this really is the holy grail of skincare, whatever [product] you use, whether it's cheap or expensive, whether it comes from your kitchen cabinet or a department store, it is about the movement, and the psychological aspect as well.

Getting into the routine, toning the muscles; I personally think it will keep you looking young forever!”

Step 1: Using clean hands, spread a cleansing balm or oil over your skin. Starting on the cheeks, use your fingertips on both hands to gently massage your face in large, upward circles. Move from the cheeks to around nose, and then the forehead.

Step 2: Now focus on your eyes, and using your forefinger and index finger, move lightly around the eye area (from under the eye to over the eyebrow) in large circles. This reduces puffiness by stimulating and draining the lymph nodes.

Step 3: To tackle frown lines and muscle tension in your forehead, Eldridge uses both hands to create a scissors motion, gently massaging the muscles so that they relax and unknot.

Step 4: Using the same gentle scissor motion, move to the jawline and work from the centre of your chin outwards. If you’re a jaw grinder, like Eldridge, interchanging this with circular motions and gentle pinching can help to release tension build-up in your jaw.

Step 5: Now move onto your cheeks, and use upward circular motions to ‘lift’ the skin. Do this around the corners of your mouth, and on the cheeks, then, applying light pressure to the hollows under your cheekbones, move towards your temples gently pressing along the natural line - this will help to reduce tension build-up and clenching. Finish off the cheeks by stroking upwards using your fingertips, to lift the skin and stimulate blood circulation, which helps to speed up healing and repair damage.

Step 6: Finish off with some lymph drainage all over the face to reduce any lingering puffiness. To do this, use your fingertips and very lightly brush over your skin, encouraging drainage towards the temples and outer edges of your face.

For a full demonstration and to see Eldridge’s entire massage routine (there's a great green tea ice cube tip), watch her tutorial video:

Lead image: iStock


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Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis is a freelance writer and editor, a lover of strong tea, equally strong eyebrows, a collector of facial oils and a cat meme enthusiast. She covers everything from beauty and fashion to feminism and travel.