Some days you want your makeup to look natural and not too “done” — at a low-key work lunch, during morning carpool, or when you’re wearing a really fancy outfit, for example.
But going bare-faced is probably not what you had in mind! With the right products and techniques, you can make the most of your natural beauty without wearing a ton of makeup.
STEP 1: Prep the Palette
Great makeup always starts with fresh skin. To fool them into thinking your luminous skin is nature’s gift, start by washing, toning, and moisturizing your face.
“Also, drink lots of water to plump the skin from the inside,” says Pittsburgh-based makeup artist Patty Bell. Skin cells are made of mostly water, and if you’re dehydrated, your skin will look and feel dry, too.
Bonus tip: Don’t skimp on sunscreen just because you’re going for lighter makeup. The best choice is a lightweight, oil-free sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
STEP 2: Step Off Base
Skip the heavy foundation and even out your skin with a healthy dose of sheer color from a tinted moisturizer or BB cream.
“Applying your makeup with your fingers or makeup sponges instead of brushes will also create a more natural look,” says Mary Schook, a New York esthetician and makeup artist. Use freshly washed fingertips! Next, finish by applying translucent powder — but only where you need it, mostly around the forehead, nose, and chin.
Bonus tip: Use a light-reflecting concealer pen on dark or red areas — around your nose, under your eyes, on your chin. Light-reflecting concealers hide small-to-moderate imperfections without caking up.
STEP 3: Fake a Natural Flush
Work with the tones in your skin. Find a creamy blush that matches your skin’s natural flush, like after you exercise.
Or you can use your lip tone as a guide. In general, powder pinks work for fair skin tones, peachy pinks work for medium skin, and brownish pinks work for darker skin.
“Blend a dot of the blush into areas where the sun would fall on your face — apples of your cheeks, chin, forehead, and bridge of nose,” Schook says.
Bonus tip: For the most natural-looking flush, avoid makeup with a lot of shimmer or sparkle, which comes off as overdone. Pat the blush onto your cheeks and other areas, and then blend outward. You could also use the same cream blush on your lips.
STEP 4: Open Your Eyes
Give lashes a subtle boost by curling them and then swiping them with one coat of brown or dark brown lengthening mascara. This is a good time to give your regular black mascara a break — you just want to add a little contrast, not drama, to your eyes.
For your lids, “you can still use a shadow and look natural,” Schook says. “Just use cream shadows in skin-tone-friendly shades instead of powders that can sit on the skin and make it look like you are wearing makeup.”
Bonus tip: If you have sparse brows or gaps to fill in, use a stiff brush to apply brow powder for a natural and subtle arch. And if you can’t leave home without eyeliner, smudge a little into the outer corners of your eye.
STEP 5: Pucker Up
Polish off your no-makeup look with a swipe of lip gloss in a color that’s just one shade brighter than your natural lip color. Even better? New York makeup artist Denise Del Russo recommends using a color-adjusting gloss. The shade changes to suit your individual skin tone when you apply it.
Bonus tip: Mist your skin with a weightless makeup-setting spray after you finish applying. Use the spray throughout the day to help your makeup stay fresh.
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