The “no-makeup” makeup look is hard to master, specifically because it is a well-orchestrated act of deception. You’re trying to use makeup to make people think you aren’t wearing makeup. Going makeup-less won’t give you the desired result. Your features won’t be well defined, your lashes won’t look as long, and you won’t have that subtle glow that only makeup can provide.
The “no-makeup” makeup look requires you to be equal parts artist and magician. It requires a little bit of skill, some finesse, and maybe a subtle pair of magnetic lashes, but you only need to master it once in order for it to serve you for a lifetime.
It Starts With Great Skincare
We use foundation to cover blemishes, pimples, acne scars, fine lines, discoloration, redness, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, and so much more. If you have a lot to cover, you probably use a full coverage foundation. That won’t fly with a no-makeup makeup look.
Full coverage foundation has a time and place, and that time and place are when it’s balanced out with the heavy use of other products. When the whole face is done up dramatically, the sometimes mask-like appearance of a full coverage foundation is a lot less noticeable. Pair it with subtle makeup, and you’ll look like you’re wearing someone else’s skin. Creepy.
The best way to minimize the amount of makeup you feel like you should wear is to take excellent care of your skin. If you have acne, covering it up with makeup is only going to make the problem worse. You’re clogging your pores and trapping bacteria in your skin, which is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.
See a dermatologist about your acne. He or she might prescribe you a skincare routine designed to help you fight acne. Sometimes, you can even score prescription acne treatment creams like tretinoin. Tretinoin is excellent for your skin, acne or not. Retinoids can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles without surgery or cosmetic treatments. Score!
Discoloration and uneven skin tone can often be effectively treated with high-quality vitamin C serums. Post acne marks or scars respond well to niacinamide serums. Aloe, oatmeal, and chamomile products can be used to soothe redness that often occurs in sensitive skin.
All of these products will only work for you if you’re using sunscreen. Say it again. Sunscreen. Sunscreen is the absolute most important skincare product you’ll ever have. The sun is great for plants, but it’s terrible for you. Ultraviolet rays burn skin, cause dark spots to develop, and leave behind premature signs of aging. Even if you don’t see them right now, they’ll catch up with you eventually.
Apply a moisturizer with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or greater before you leave the house, even if you don’t think you’ll need it. You can toss it on top of your serum to help lock the ingredients into the skin and protect yourself from damage.
Your night routine should always involve thoroughly removing all of your makeup—every last bit. In fact, if you want to do a two-step cleanse with an oil cleanser to remove makeup and a normal, gentle, sulfate-free cleanser to remove the residue, more power to you.
When your makeup is removed and your face is dried, you can use a gentle exfoliant like AHA or peeling pads. Try to limit your use to no more than three times a week because even gentle exfoliants can be harmful in excess.
Make sure you stick to your skincare routine. Morning and night, never skip any steps. You may not see immediate results, but that doesn’t mean your products aren’t working. Your skin will take some time to clear up and heal. It might be six months before you feel your skin has completely transformed. It will be even longer (or never) if you’re inconsistent with your skincare routine.
There’s Actually a Lot of Makeup Involved
The no-makeup makeup look probably requires more products than you were anticipating. In fact, it requires just about an entire face of makeup. The key here isn’t to use a smaller amount of products but to make the appropriate product swaps. You might find yourself using some things you bought a long time ago and forgot about because they weren’t too exciting. They’re perfect for this occasion.
Hey, remember when BB creams were a thing? Tinted moisturizer was all the rage for about five minutes until luxury full coverage foundations came in and swept us all away. If you happen to have a BB cream lying around that hasn’t expired yet, now is a great time to use it. If you don’t have a BB cream or tinted moisturizer, your lightest coverage foundation will have to do.
Use a damp blending sponge to pounce the product onto your skin, stippling it lightly. You don’t want to build it up in layers. You want to make one consistent layer that covers everything equally.
Skipping the concealer would be great, even if it still allows some minor imperfections to show. If you just can’t handle it, gently dab a small amount of concealer onto a targeted area with your finger and pounce it in with your sponge.
Setting powder and contour powders don’t play very well with things like tinted moisturizer or BB cream. Think about putting baby powder on top of lotion— that’s not the look you’re going for. It’s best to skip these steps entirely.
If you can’t live without your highlight, a cream or liquid highlighter applied modestly and precisely and then blended in with your makeup sponge should do the trick. Just make sure you’re sticking to neutral champagney tones. Nobody will believe that your cheeks naturally have a pink shift.
You don’t necessarily have to use blush on a no-makeup complexion. If your skin products are sheer, your natural tones will show through. If you prefer to use blush, stick with a conservative amount of a neutral-colored cream blush.
Brows are one of the hardest areas to show restraint. We’re all so trained to have sharp and highly precise brows, but that’s contrary to our current beauty mission. Instead, using something like a brow product with a mascara wand will give you the results you’re looking for.
Brush your brows into place with a clean, dry spoolie to get a good idea of how you want them. Then, use your brow product on a wand to give them a little color and hold them in place. If you’re missing the tail of your brow from chronic over-tweezing, go ahead and use a pencil to softly draw it back in.
At some point in your life, you probably bought a ton of neutral matte quads. They’re easy impulse buys. They’re not as exciting as many of your other palettes, so they tend to make their way towards the back of the drawer. Start excavating. They have an important mission.
Use a preset or custom neutral matte quad according to the standard package directions. Use the lightest shade on the brow bone, the second lightest shade on the lid, the second darkest shade on the crease and lower lash line, and the darkest shade to add dimension to the outer corner of the eye. You remember those tricks from eyeshadow 101.
Then, use a peachy color or a soft brown on your waterline. Black will be too stark, and white will be too obvious. Use a very thin stripe of black magnetic eyeliner along your lash line and a small amount of mascara on your upper and lower lashes. Top it off with Cheeky Lash. They’re a small accent piece that mimics the appearance of gorgeous natural lashes.
The secret to no-makeup lips is in the way you define them. Bolder, brighter lip colors do a good job of defining your mouth area. When you don’t want your lipstick to be detectable, your lip liner is the greatest tool in your arsenal.
Choose a coordinating lip pencil and lip liner that are very similar to the color of your lips but about two shades darker. Going lighter will make your lips disappear, and if the color isn’t dark enough to provide contrast, your lips won’t be well defined. Two shades deeper is always the sweet spot.
Start by sharpening your lip pencil to a perfect point. Then, take your time tracing along your lip line. Be very patient, Make sure you’re getting the liner exactly on the border of your lips. You can fill in your whole lip with the liner if you desire, but make sure the detail work is done first. Then, apply your neutral lip shade and blot it.
Look Like The Most Gorgeous Version Of Yourself
The no-makeup makeup look will make you look like the most gorgeous version of yourself. It probably won’t save you any time or make it any easier to get ready, but it does take a lot of the trial and error out of the process. Whenever you need a look that will be appropriate for absolutely every occasion, opt for your no-makeup look. It will never let you down.