If you need an efficient way to set up fast realistic skin shaders or simulate the effect of global illumination without costly rendering, subsurface scattering is the answer. It mimics how light is able to pass through skin in the real world.
There are many tutorials on this. The shaders themselves should be available in Maya under mental ray materials. They start with “misss”. Here are some tutorials:
There is no reason why we cant set up realistic skin to our characters!