Even if you're not blessed with naturally great skin, there are lots of options out there to help. Billy B. shares a few.

As a makeup artist who has been in the business a long time, one of the things I've learned is the need to constantly reinvent yourself and think of the same thing in different, new ways. For instance, the trend in makeup right now is toward a more natural look, so that skin—healthy, glowing skin—is what you see. Trust me, this is easier said than done. In this world of digital retouching, I have the benefit, editorially and in print, of knowing that this will be taken care of. But on the red carpet, I don't have that luxury, and neither does the celebrity.

Billy B.
Billy B.

Because of digital retouching, I'm often asked by photographers not to put anything on the skin, even if there's a blemish, zit or redness. This is what I mean about reinventing yourself: As a classically trained makeup artist who comes from the school of thought that you make the skin look amazing with makeup, not by relying on retouching, I have really had to learn to go with the flow. Today, at least 50 percent of the art of photography is retouching, so you need to tailor what you do for that. Yet on the red carpet, you again have to know how to shift gears, such as when I worked with Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross for the Chanel Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in May. Marcia has what is absolutely the most amazingly beautiful, flawless alabaster skin I have ever seen in my entire life.

I'm no expert on skin, but because of the position I'm in, people sometimes ask me about it, so I don't mind sharing a couple of things that have worked for me:
•Whether you're dealing with chronic persistent acne or occasional flareups, the best thing I've found is ProActiv (yes, you read that correctly, the one from the TV infomercial—www.proactiv.com). I'm usually skeptical of infomercials, but I know lots of models and celebs who have tried this, and it works. I see so many people my age who didn't have a product like this in the 70s and 80s, and now they're spending tons of money having their skin resurfaced. So do yourself a favor and try it.
•If you have any skin issues that you can't take care of yourself, do your homework and find a great skincare professional. My West coast skin guru is Kate Somerville, in L.A. (www.katesomerville.com). She has a great kit, Everyday Essentials, which consists of a cleanser, moisturizer, SPF lotion and a vitamin treatment for the skin. Those of us who have suffered from acne or sun damage over the years—myself included—are lucky that incredibly effective, noninvasive services are now available to us, and Kate is the queen of those services. Her signature treatment, the Titan, uses infrared light to tighten skin and reverse aging.
•In New York, I swear by the Tribeca Skin Center (www.tribecaskincenter.com), and Dr. Sherwin Parikh, who told me about Metrolotion, a prescription treatment for rosacea. Talk about another noninvasive choice—it took me years to discover it, and I've found it works the best.

•It's very exciting for me, at age 42, to learn that new "no-recovery" laser treatments are available for treating just about anything you can think of, from sun damage to red lines around the nostrils to other signs of aging. They're expensive, but they take just minutes and require no down time; you can do them on your lunch hour.

Before moving forward with any skin procedure, you should invest time and find the best professional help for it, not bargain hunt. People spend more money on shoes than they do taking care of their skin. And no matter what, people are going to look at your face before they look at your shoes.

E-mail Billy B. at [email protected], or visit www.billybbeauty.com