Most skincare pros will argue that patience and consistency are key if you want to see results. I call bullshit. While I won't understate the importance (or joy!) of establishing a ritualistic skincare routine, I am also a huge proponent of instant gratification. If I have an acne scar on my chin and a fancy dinner to attend tomorrow night, you better believe I'm going to pull out all the stops to excavate that thing from my face.
This has gotten me in trouble in the past. For example, I used to be a sucker for anything that I could feel working, but usually, those kind of products were merely A) too harsh for my complexion, B) a marketing ploy, or C) all of the above. But as I've fine-tuned my routine over the years, I've amassed a lineup of products I know I can rely on if I want a glowy, even complexion by tomorrow morning. Better yet, they contribute to healthier skin in the long run, too.
Below, find the seven products I swear by to get rid of under-eye bags, visibly brighten my complexion, nix acne scars, and more—all within a matter of hours.
When my skin is looking dull and dry…
When my complexion is dull, dry, or rough to the touch, my first plan of attack is always to scrape off dead skin and peach fuzz with my derma-planing tool. It's my most effective (and visually satisfying) form of exfoliation, and by removing all that buildup, I ensure that my skin can fully absorb any creams and serums I use afterward.
When I want to get rid of acne scars and discoloration in a matter of hours…
When time is of the essence or I'm feeling particularly lazy—usually both—these exfoliating pads are immensely handy. They're infused with glycolic and salicylic acids to instantly tone and resurface the skin like an expensive peel would but in a matter of seconds. And thanks to calming ingredients like chamomile and lavender, they're sensitive skin–friendly.
I like to whip these out when I have stubborn acne scars and an event on my calendar. One thing to keep in mind: They're pretty powerful, so I'd advise against using them with another exfoliant. I use these up to three times a week and exfoliate with other methods on the in-between days.
When my pores are visibly clogged…
During a recent visit to Heyday—a magical place that offers both incredible custom facials and, in my experience, some of the best product recommendations—my esthetician used a wonderful pineapple scrub that left my skin so unbelievably soft, I purchased it on the spot. I have traditionally steered clear of physical exfoliants out of worry that they might mess with my skin's moisture barrier, but this facialist assured me that my skin was tougher than I thought—and in fact, it might help with the chronically rough texture I experience on my nose. Sure enough, this scrub has become my go-to when my pores are clogged, and it always does the job.
When I want a celeb-worthy complexion, pronto…
I reach for the formula that glowy individuals like Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Chrissy Teigen all swear by. Celebrity esthetician Shani Darden's Retinol Reform has earned a devout following for good reason: This shit delivers, and you see results the following morning—the kind of results that inspire people to write glowing internet reviews even though they "never write reviews, I swear!"
The secret to this particular retinol is that it's stabilized in a way that allows it to penetrate the deepest layers of the skin, bringing new meaning to the oh so aspirational lit-from-within glow.
When hydration seems truly unattainable…
This is a common occurrence with my perpetually dehydrated skin. Sometimes I slather on what seems like a paycheck's worth of creams and serums only to wake up with a patchy and dull complexion. Exfoliation is essential in combatting this, but a hydrating oil is also a key player. I've recently become hooked on this Kypris formula, which is a cocktail of Bulgarian rose oil, CoQ10, and vitamins C and E. These ingredients all work in tandem to correct sun damage and boost collagen in the long term. But the instant gratification is in the petal-soft texture it imparts on my skin. It's my new favorite product to layer underneath tinted moisturizer for a truly dewy finish.
I am incredibly skeptical of the eye cream category as a whole, but when facialist James Vivian insisted on sending me home with this serum during a recent appointment, I figured it was worth a shot because my under-eye bags are a permanent fixture on my face at this point. I was hooked within a single use. It melted into my skin and immediately smoothed out those stubborn folds, finally allowing my concealer to glide on without creasing.
One of the starring ingredients is copper peptides—a buzzy compound that some dermatologists describe as "topical Botox" (say no more). But I also have to shout out the serum's holographic color, which is a nice touch.
When I want to skip makeup tomorrow…
I've tried a lot of really amazing moisturizers that get the job done but also leave a weird film on my skin. This formula is my go-to when I need a kick of hydration but also want a velvety texture. Better yet, the high dosage of vitamins C and E visibly brightens my skin, leaving the kind of luminosity that I usually obtain with the help of CC cream and highlighter. It's my weekend moisturizer for this reason—perfect for Saturday mornings when I'm hanging around my neighborhood but don't necessarily want to don a full face of makeup.