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You Look Moist: A Graphic Designer’s Cheap & Simple Approach to Dewy Skin

Welcome to You Look Moist, a column in which Man Repeller asks cool people with glowing visages how they achieved their supreme hydration (amongst other things). Today’s story features Domino junior designer Madeline Montoya.


How would you describe your skin?

I’m an oil queen, which means that although I can look glowy, breakouts come with the territory. I’ve struggled with acne since middle school, and while I’m lucky enough that it never got super out of control, I have to keep my skin very clean. Despite the acne, my skin is unbelievably strong. I can do intense skin treatments, and she never stings, burns, or turns red. But my favorite part of my skin is seeing how similar it is to my mom’s. She’s Puerto Rican and gets so many compliments on how youthful she looks. While I used to struggle with not being around a lot of people who had my skin type, seeing how beautiful she looked gave me love for my own skin. 

How would you describe your skincare approach in general?

I used to pay more attention to regularly using blotting tissues, powder, and other methods to keep my skin looking more matte, but now my routine is all about keeping my face looking clean and happy. This does take maintenance, though—it’s around four steps morning and night, and keeping it clean throughout the day if need be. It sounds crazy, but despite my normal routine steps, sometimes I even clean my face with just a regular bar of soap for a quick post-workout wash. Bad, I know, but my skin doesn’t seem to care about the quality of soap.

Which skincare products are integral to your routine for achieving your ideal, glowing, well-moisturized complexion, and how/when do you use each of them?

I’m not super picky when it comes to products. I’ve used so many different kinds of face washes, exfoliators, moisturizers, etc., and I liked them all. Honestly, the holy grail of my routine is my prescription retinol. I’ve been on it since I was 13, and it’s what took my skin to the next level of clearness. I know it can be expensive—but seeing a dermatologist is really worth it if something is going on with your skin that over the counter products aren’t addressing. Retinol has also become accessible over the counter! Differin was a retinol prescription I used for years and it’s over the counter now for $12!

Right now I’m using Kiehl’s Blue Acne treatment cleanser, and then follow it with Glossier’s Solution to exfoliate. I know that exfoliating every day isn’t good for some skin, but being on retinol and having thick skin (literally), it responds great to it. If I am a little red or having a little more acne than usual, I spritz Tower 28’s SOS spray on my face. It it helps ward off bacteria. Then I moisturize with an oil-free moisturizer (any drugstore brand works) and pop on Invisible Sunscreen by Supergoop on a light sun day, and Neutrogena Oil Free sunscreen on a more sunny day or if I’m going to be outside more. Both sunscreen and moisturizer brands I use purposely don’t add any sheen, I don’t need it! My skin is a well-oiled machine.

My routine is the same at night, except I put on my retinol after moisturizing. 
I never really got on the serum train, especially when my skin is so oily I don’t need extra moisture, but I will do a mask every few days. I like this Clinique charcoal mask and this Amore Pacific Cleansing mask, which is discontinued 🙁 It was the most expensive part of my routine though, so a blessing in disguise maybe. I’m proud of my current product lineup because nothing is over 40 dollars! I’m a believer that when it comes to cleansers and moisturizers, as long as I use oil-free ingredients, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. I’d rather spend that money on a dermatologist or the occasional facial. Before quarantine, I’d get a monthly facial at HeyDay. I love how it’s a quick but relaxing appointment, the same feeling as getting your teeth cleaned.

What about makeup products?

I’d like to be more adventurous with makeup, it’s something I’m working on! My skin makeup is probably the one thing I’m willing to spend more money on. I usually just use powder, since it helps control oil and gives a light layer on my skin that I can wear all day. I love this powder by Jane Iredale. It’s oil-free, vegan, SPF 40, and has a reusable compact, so you only need to buy refills. If I have an event and want more coverage, I use super-light matte liquid foundation. I’ve used quite a few over the years, ranging from Benefit to Armani, but right now I’m using Sephora brand matte tinted foundation. It’s oil-free, keeps my glow in check by having a matte finish, and is 18 dollars. The most expensive part of my makeup routine is my concealer, Cle de peau concealer. It lasts literally FOREVER, and is the best for covering up blemishes.

If I could only do one makeup thing before leaving the house, it would be my eyebrows. I use a Bobbi Brown palette my mom gave me a while ago, and just use a Sephora flat brush to slowly fill them in. If I want more definition, I’ll gloss over them after with a quick brush of Glossier boy brow. I almost always feel like my eyebrows look sort of fake after filling them in, so I brush on powder foundation to tone down the coloring.

I love wearing eyeshadow, and always do a dramatic look at night. I use the same old Bobbi Brown palette on my eyes every day that I use on my eyebrows, that they don’t seem to sell anymore, but this Charlotte Tilbury Palette and this MAC Palatte are similar. I usually do light shadows during the day, then top it off with Tom Ford liquid eyeliner. It’s expensive, but is the gold standard for eyeliners. For mascara, I’m a drugstore stan, and use various Maybelline wands. Under eyeliner usually always happens at night, and I love how soft Clinique eyeliner is. I feel like I channel Jennifer Connelly from Requiem for a Dream or Effie from Skins‘ super-intense eyeliner night looks, but at a wayyy softer level (I can’t fully pull it off). Sometimes I play with color, like this Marc Jacobs purple.

I don’t use blush and highlighter often, but when I do, this Dior highlighter is i n s a n e. Like I can probably be seen from space when I wear this. I love this Claudio Riaz palate that has blush and bronzer tones to create a natural cheek look because I always end up looking unnatural when I try to apply singular tone blush, but it is pricey, so I also vouch for a very light layer of this Bobbi Brown blush, or some cloud paint.

Lip balm and that’s IT. Maybeeee some gloss if I want some extra spice.

What’s the cheapest product you use regularly and love?

This 8 dollar Neutrogena moisturizer, which comes with and without SPF depending on if it’s a morning or night cream. Oil-free works best for me.

Is there anything you try to avoid, skincare- or makeup-wise?

Cakey makeup!!!!!!!!!! My skin will sweat it off bad and I’ll look like a shiny clown.

Any next-level tips, tricks, or services that you swear by to help you look “lit from within”?

Keep your skin clean in ways you don’t usually think about! Clean your makeup brushes regularly, wash pillowcases when you can, and don’t use dirty washcloths or towels to dry your face! All those sneaky ways your skin can get bacteria on it make a bigger difference than you think.

What’s your go-to product or trick for fixing a skin disaster?

Dry that pimple out. Mario Badescu drying lotion always works well for me.

Do you do anything differently skincare-wise when you travel?

I might be a little lazier about my routine and exfoliate less etc. My skin gets more stressed out when I travel anyway, so I try to take breakouts less seriously. Traveling is about fun and excitement anyway!

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I’m 24 today 🙂

A post shared by Madeline Montoya (@madtoya) on

What’s something you wish your teenage self knew about taking care of your skin?

I’m lucky that dewy skin is admired now, but when I was younger, I was really insecure that my face always looked shiny no matter what I did. Although it doesn’t affect how your skin looks, loving your complexion no matter what is more important than any treatment or product.

I also used to freak out whenever I would break out, and get really frustrated with my cleaning routine, when in reality there’s a million different reasons for breakouts to occur. Before throwing out products or changing my routine, I ask myself, are my hormones changing? What am I eating? Am I stressed? Usually, my skin acting up has nothing to do with my routine. 

Also, for real, your mom wasn’t kidding when she said you really gotta wipe ALL that makeup off when you get home at night. Your skin will thank you, and your pillow cases too!

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