I got a stunning compliment this past weekend.

“Your skin looks just amazing! What are you doing?”

Why was this stunning? I have TERRIBLE skin. I do, and have had crappy skin since age 14 when acne, large pores, and ghost-pale combined to torture my mirror and the world at large, and continues to this day, with 30+ years adding sun damage and wrinkles into the mess. So this is quite a big deal to me, this compliment, because it means that after all these years I am at least finding a good combination to make/fake good skin. Soon enough my aging face will look like an elephant’s ass, so I am glad for this last moment of relative semi-glory.

My interest in good skin is past the vain and eventually-useless. Good skin is not just a reflection of good genes and/or having lived on the ocean floor your entire life – it’s a indication of good internal health. And, too, my photographer’s eye is drawn to faces that have that “glow.” I can remember reading a quote from a photographer who worked with Marilyn Monroe saying that her skin seemed to be “illuminated from within.” When I went back and critically looked at her pictures, I thought, wow, he’s right. What a powerful quality.

With the advent of HDTV, we see more about people’s skin issues than ever before – close-up and personal, sharper than the human eye, it seems. Does everyone need expensive airbrush makeup and gear before going in front of a camera or just walking around? No, says Ryder Makeup Labs, a training lab for professional makeup artists working in film, TV, and print. Airbrush makeup and spray tans aren’t the fix. I totally agree with their quote here: “To be compatible with the new mediums, makeup artists need to use less makeup with more realistic coloring and greater attention to detail. As a general rule: if it looks like make-up to the eye, it will look like makeup on your print.

So, for what it’s worth, I am going to take my experiences as a woman who has wrestled with my own skin and as a steely-eyed loupe-totin’ photographer and make some suggestions for you about what you can do to get a HD-proof face. You don’t have to be a film star to want to glow. I will recommend only items/practices I have used personally, and god knows I ain’t getting paid to do this, so you can trust me and stuff. Let’s go, my pretties.

1. Begin on the inside. I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s all true. Your skin tells your story to the world. If you smoke, you will have crepe-y fine wrinkles 20-30 years before you should. If you drink too much alcohol, you dehydrate yourself and you get that charming ruddy/bloated look. Drugs? See “Faces Of Meth.” If you aren't getting enough sleep, your face will be sallow, baggy, and raccoon-eyed. If you eat a lot of poor quality foods, your skin will have a tougher time getting rid of excess waste and your cell turnover will be slower, which all equals dull, problem-prone skin. So my boring, common-sense answer is eat good fresh food, don’t smoke or drug/drink to excess, get plenty of sleep, and drink lots of refreshing cool water.

2. Move to the outside: If you don’t believe it now, you will: #1 preventable cause of prematurely aging skin = SUN DAMAGE. Sadly, the minute you are born (if you were born in a field during the day or something), you are getting sun damage, but you do also need the sun to obtain good Vitamin D and not go all Kurt Cobain. Make sunscreen a daily habit, year-round, even if you don’t particularly plan on being outside much. If you are too lazy to put on facial sunscreen every day, at least make sure it is in a product that you DO use every day, like moisturizer or foundation.

3. Clean it up. Wash your face twice a day, more if you are a mud wrestler or swine wrangler. I love the Clarisonic skincare brush. You can use it in the shower, recharge it every few days, and it really cleans the skin like nothing else. Your skin feels better and looks better. Everyone I know who owns one is a fan for life. It's expensive (from around $130-up) but this is one high-tech beauty gadget that does what it claims.

4. Fix the past. I totally admit it -- I didn't always follow my own advice. I didn't use sunscreen, smoked when I was a teenager, didn't eat well, and had the audacity to get older. When I got past 40, my skin started tattling on me, and I didn't like it. What was that mottle-y brown stuff under my eyes and by my jawline? Oh...right...THE SUN did it. I didn't like it, but didn't really want to have to go as far as the whole serious acid peel/laser options, worried about the cost and the healing process. I don't really have time to walk around looking like a movie monster for a few weeks. My local skincare place told me to give the Obaji Nu-Derm system a try. Oof, I said, this is really expensive too. Try it, my esthetician said, because if you follow all the steps and do it every day -- cleanser, toner, two different hydroquinone lotions, an exfoliator, sunscreen, and tretinoin -- it is going to work.

The results were amazing. After just a few weeks and some annoying flaking and peeling, this is what I can tell you: I HAVE NEW SKIN. All those years of sun damage? Almost completely GONE. GONE GONE GONE. My face feels as soft as MissSeven's. It is far more even and looks far healthier. I still can't believe it. Do I look 21 or like Marilyn Monroe? Well, no, because it isn't MAGIC PIXIE DUST, but damn. I'm very pleased. Note: the Obaji products that you purchase online are NOT the same strength as the ones purchased from a physician or a "medspa" like I go to that is overseen by a physician and nurse.

5. Prep for makeup: Besides sunscreen, always use some kind of light day moisturizer. If you have crappy breaking-out or sensitive skin, pay close attention to labels and get one tailored to your issues. I like this from the Olay Regenerist line, and includes SPF 15. Something you probably haven't even heard of are the silicone-based makeup prep products. They are clear, slick and very light, and do much to even out pores and lines and texture. They provide a better base for makeup to adhere to and also keep down the shine factor. I've liked all the ones I have tried: Smashbox Photo Finish, Philosophy The Present, and Bare Vitamins Prime Time. If you really want to look your best, this is a step not to skip...worthwhile even without using makeup after.

6. Makeup, not break up. Your makeup, as stated earlier on, should not overly look like makeup. Its job is to enhance, not to overwhelm, as we can see here from The Simpsons, via this terrible-quality clip that FOX won't bother to remove for copyright.

A great color match is essential. If you are lucky, your skin matches one of the better drugstore options out there and you can save some money. I like Revlon's new PhotoReady for liquid foundation, and for mineral powder makeup (my preference)Neutrogena Mineral Sheers (pressed or loose formulas) or Maybelline Mineral Power. If you are unlucky like me, your better color match comes at a slightly higher price. I use Smashbox High Definition Healthy FX liquid foundation or Bare Minerals Original. I dig the whole Bare Minerals line, matter of fact, which includes in a nice lil' starter kit the Prime Time primer, the foundation, a bronzer (use LIGHTLY), their Mineral Veil finishing powder, and a decent brush. Go light on the blush too, but don't skip it. I use Maybelline's Mineral Power in Gentle Pink, which I think would be just about right for almost any skin tone.

7. Spot work. For blemishes, undereye circles, scars, here is where I save you some time and money: use your foundation as concealer! The secret to making that work is to how you apply it, which is with a tiny brush like this or your ring finger. Not your pointer or pinkie or middle and definitely not your thumb...RING finger only. I don't know why the ring finger works so well for spot work; it just does. Try it and see. Pat pat pat, dab dab dab is your movement here.

If you require heavier coverage, I recommend Dermablend products, which can conceal everything except your inner torment or Mexican lunch gas.

8. Kiss me. Think balance here. A little gloss and color is just about universally-liked; a gloppy garish mess like what poor Marge had from Homer's makeup gun is yuck. I like Smashbox Photo Finish again for their lipsticks -- smooth, long-wearing, and pretty colors, or any of LipFusion's products -- a little plumper never hurt any mouth.

9. Eye see you. I am pretty much burnt on the whole dealing with makeup process by the time I get to my eyes, I admit. I apply eyeshadow like an ape with a crayon box most days -- imprecise and impatient -- and don't care if my mascara is a bit clumpy. That said, I know a few things here. DON'T ring your eyes in dark color. Instead of making you look like a sultry rock vixen, it makes your eyes look smaller and like you may live in a single-wide, and not one of those nice single-wides. But if you bother to use mascara, just use black. Brown is useless. DON'T match your eyeshadow to your clothes; always compliment your eye color. I've done well, for an ape, with drugstore eye makeup over the years. I've never found better than Maybelline Define A Lash for mascara.

10. Spritz and GO. Take two seconds to set your hard work with Cosmedicine Medi-Matte or one of the Skindinavia sprays. It feels nice, too. Ahhhh.

I promise, when I get to the Elephant-Ass stage of skin life, I will come back and write about how best to enjoy the hell out that, too. In the meantime, have fun trying out some of these products, with only one more piece of advice: there's no product in the world better than your smile, contentment, and confidence. Best glow ever.