The Beauty Routine Makeup Artist Dillon Peña Has Been Using As Of Late
If you're looking for a dewy, "no-makeup" makeup look, celebrity makeup artist Dillon Peña is your guy. Peña always had a skin-first mentality when it comes to makeup, way before the "clean girl" aesthetic swept the masses—he worked directly under Bobbi Brown, after all, who's arguably the queen of a natural flush. But Peña also knows how to have fun with glitz and glam: "I had grown up painting," he tells me over the phone. "I fell in love with makeup because I realized it was a way that I could always paint." He always keeps a pot of iridescent glitter in his kit, just in case a client wants to play.
Still, fresh, natural makeup is his M.O. A healthy, hydrated canvas is the bedrock of any radiant makeup look, which is exactly why he started his own clean skin care line, Leland Francis (the name pays homage to his great grandfather, who established the Western Oklahoma farm where Peña was raised). Each nourishing formula serves as the perfect prep step for a stunning face beat—would you expect anything less from a seasoned makeup pro?
Below, Peña dishes all of his skin care secrets (from his own line and beyond), including the drugstore cream he reaches for in a pinch and the treatment that healed his sunspots overnight.
The tried & true: Face oils for acne-prone skin.
"I have used face oils in my routine for probably 15 years. That's just something I consistently have done. I grew up with really bad acne, and I'll never forget being in a Bobbi Brown training when I first started, and this girl was like, 'I had really bad acne, so I started using face oil every day.' She showed before and after photos, and her skin had completely healed.
"At that point, I had always been very afraid of face oils, and I was like, 'Well, maybe I should try this, too, because I had severely acne-prone skin.' So I just started using a little bit of face oil, and what I found out is that it kind of did heal my skin because I was using so much to dry out my skin to keep it from breaking out. From then on, I just became a lover of face oils.
"I have been using the [Leland Francis] 29 Botanical Serum and the Luxe Face Oil. Those are really the only two that I use religiously. I do like to try other brands, but I always just fall back to those because I know that they're tried and true, and they work well with my skin."
The surprise hit: A richer moisturizer.
"Because I was always acne-prone, I was always afraid of a super-rich cream. [But] I actually really love really thick balm or super, super-rich cream that just feels luxurious and gives comfort to the skin. I was always afraid of that, just coming from having [acne-prone] skin growing up.
"I'm super sensitive, so I can break out in hives at the drop of a hat. So I always look for something that's going to be a little bit more on the natural side, but I do like the La Mer [Crème de la Mer]. If I'm super, super dry, the Augustinus Bader Rich Cream is good, but I like something that has a little bit more thickness to it.
"I would say I like the mixture between the La Mer and The Rich Cream that I have [in my brand]. It's thicker, yet it goes on smooth."
Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream
La Mer Crème de la Mer
The secret: A facial roller & professional treatment.
"What I think is underrated is a face roller. I love the ReFa facial massagers. I actually take that with me every time I travel because I feel like vacation is always one of those times where you drink a little bit more, and so you get a little bit puffy. So I always take that with me if I'm traveling.
"I will tell you the one thing that I've actually become obsessed with is this thing called a stem cell facial. Basically, it is a microneedling facial, and they take exosomes, which are basically like stem cells, and they do a pass of hyaluronic acid into the skin with the microneedling.
"And then once they see a little bit of the blood through the microneedling, they use exosomes on your face. It's basically stem cells that help revitalize and heal your face. There's no downtime to it, which is amazing. The exosomes actually heal your face, and you can go to work the next day.
"[I go to] Nathan Ford, who is also my doctor now… I had sun spots on my nose and on my forehead, and I took a photo of me laying down in the chair, and then I took a photo the next morning just to see. I did it side-by-side, and you can see the difference in how much brighter my face looked and how it got rid of some of my sunspots. I was surprised by it."
The steal: A budget-friendly moisturizer.
"I love NIVEA cream in a pinch. I know that I can always buy that at a drugstore if I forget my moisturizer when I'm packing. And I can't tell you how many times that I've done that. I know that I can always go buy a Nivea cream, and it'll work.
"What's great about it is you can manipulate it to be as thin or as heavy as you want it to be. You just use a little bit less of it, and you heat it up more, so that way you can just press it into your skin. The more you heat it up, the more malleable it becomes.
"The little tin is so inexpensive, but it's actually a really good moisturizer. So you can always just take that and know it's going to work great for you."
What working at a makeup counter taught me: Invest in eye cream.
"Whenever I went to work at the makeup bar in Oklahoma City, [someone] was like, 'At the age of 16, you should start wearing eye cream.' I was well past 16, but I've worn an eye cream ever since. I like them a little bit creamier. There's a Drunk Elephant one that I've been using because it's light. It's the one with the pink top on it."
Drunk Elephant C-Tango Vitamin C Eye Cream
The travel staple: A lip & eye balm.
"In my backpack that I travel with, I always have a lip and eye balm, because I can manipulate that to however I need it. If I feel like my lips are super dry, I can apply that; I can use it on my cuticles; I can even heat it up and press it onto my cheeks if I feel like I need a little life in my skin.
"I have my Leland Francis Lip & Eye Balm, and I also have my little ReFa face roller that I keep in my backpack when I travel. I feel like that's good for flights when you're feeling a little dry. And it's solid, so you can always take it through TSA."
Leland Francis Lip & Eye Balm
The signature: No-makeup makeup.
"Whenever I think of my career, I think that people identify me with a more clean and natural look. That's definitely what I get booked on. I always carry glitters in my kit, and I'm like, 'Oh, I never get to do it.' But it's because I am booked for that super-clean, no-makeup makeup look."
"[Bobbi Brown taught me] not to overdo it. Simplicity is the best when it comes to makeup. So I think that's why when I do makeup, it's all about the skin. If you can get the skin right, most generally, everything else looks good."
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.