Your makeup looked great when you left home, but a mid-day bathroom mirror check reveals that your smooth complexion suddenly has patches of dry, flaky skin. They can be trigged by almost anything—the change of seasons, an allergic reaction, or some other mysterious irritant—and are hard to prevent. But when you’re stuck in the office bathroom without an exfoliator and face cream, you can still MacGyver your way out of any flaky situation, without ruining your makeup. Here’s how.
If you have your makeup bag on hand, then use…A concealer A creamy concealer is one of your best options, says Romy Soleimani, beauty director at large at Beauty.com. “Make sure not to use a brush to buff in the product because this will further aggravate the skin,” she says. “Gently press the concealer into the flaky areas, using your finger or a sponge until the product is absorbed and well-blended.” She suggests trying RMS’s “Un” Cover-Up ($36, rmsbeauty.com), a lightweight concealer rich in jojoba and coconut oil.
A tinted moisturizer or primer Tinted moisturizers or BB/CC creams and primers mask flakes in a pinch. Opt for a product with hydrating hylauronic acid and vitamin E to soften skin, says Soleimani. Pat a small amount onto the flaky area—rubbing will worsen the flakes. (Looking for more beauty tips? Get your FREE trial of Prevention + 12 FREE gifts.)
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If you’re stuck with nothing but the basics, then use…Lotion Rebecca Kazin, MD, of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and the Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology says to seek out body lotion if it’s available for a quick fix. “Apply a thin layer just to the driest areas, then blot gently with a paper towel to limit shine,” she says.
Water and paper towels But in a real pinch, you can reach for good old paper towels and water to tame unruly skin. “Dab some lukewarm water on the flaky area and gently stipple your skin with a paper towel,” says Amanda Sanzone, a NYC medical aesthetician at Dr. Matthew Schulman Plastic Surgery. Don’t rub the skin, as that will only make the area more noticeable. Following this method should buy you a couple of hours, she adds. “When you get home, you should cleanse your skin with a moisturizing wash and follow up with a hydrating serum likeDr. Schulman’s Nourish [$80, msmdskintherapy.com],” she says.
If you’ve got nothing but purse essentials, then use…
Hand cream Use this option only if you carry a hand cream made for sensitive skin: “Not all hand and body products are suitable for the more delicate skin on our faces,” Solemani says. She says she keeps Weleda Skin Food ($15, drugstore.com) in her bag at all times. “It works as a hand cream, but the natural and soothing ingredients make it safe to use on dry patches anywhere,” she says.
Lip gloss or balm “If it’s all you have, a clear gloss can save the day by dissolving flakes—as long as you use a very small amount,” Soleimani says. Just be sure to choose a gloss without menthol, which can cause irritation and watery eyes. Multipurpose lip balms will also get the job done, according to Sanzone, who says a small dab of classic Aquaphor Lip Repair ($5, cvs.com) will help reduce the appearance of flakiness while the clear formula keeps makeup in shape.