How to Master the "No Makeup" Makeup Look

For every skin tone.

Natural Makeup Looks
Photo: Courtesy

Beauty in the time of COVID has gotten a lot more simple.

With so many of us working from home and having to wear masks whenever we actually do leave the house, full-face makeup can feel like a pointless task. But for those of us who don't exactly want to go bare, a well executed no makeup makeup look seems to hit home.

It's a look that works on everyone and for every occasion, whether it's a Zoom call, an outdoor socially distanced outing, or a wedding. But mastering getting your makeup to look like second skin takes a few tricks of the trade.

Here, we chat with two celebrity makeup artists — known for their clean beauty skills — on how to master the art of no makeup makeup. Take notes and thank us later!

It Starts With Good Skin

We all know by now that the key to dewy and radiant barely there coverage begins with clean and moisturized skin. But actually achieving a glowy canvas is where it can get tricky.

"For me it's all about the prepping of the skin. I spend at least three to five minutes massaging each product onto the skin," says makeup artist Stephanie Flor. "This allows the pores to open and the blood to start circulating to even out the skin tone naturally, so I don't have to use too much makeup." This is a technique she learned in Japan. It helps you to be mindful of self-care prior to doing your makeup.

Keeping that in mind, the makeup artist starts off with cleansing the client's face using The Body Shop Drops of Youth Youth Gentle Foam Wash. She then applies The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner, often followed by a K-beauty sheet mask for extra hydration. A face oil like her Around the World Beauty 100% Moroccan Argan Oil is usually applied to the skin before a moisturizer.

"Skincare is one of the most important steps when creating a no makeup look," makeup artist Ricky Wilson adds. "The amount of skincare used directly affects the look of the foundation and concealer which makes it really important. After washing and toning the skin, I go with a serum moisturizer and eye cream."

If you have dry skin, Wilson recommends grabbing a hydrating serum and cream. For those with oily and acne-prone skin, he says to go for products that are oil-free. When working with mature skin, he always works with skincare that is rich in hyaluronic acid to help with moisture and plumping.

The Primer is Everything

Wilson uses different primers before foundation based on the client's skin type.

"For dry skin, I use a hydrating primer because typically primers are a bit drying," he says.

For a hydrating primer that's going to prolong your foundation wear, try Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Primer or Tatcha The Liquid Silk Canvas Featherweight Protective Primer." As for maturing skin, Wilson likes to use a glow boosting primer to add radiance like the Dior Capture Totale Dream Skin Perfector.

Natural Makeup Looks

Choose Your Base

"My preferred base for the no makeup makeup look is a glowing foundation without a ton of coverage," says Wilson. "The key component is to have a color that is spot on so that the foundation is smooth and skin-like."

Some of Wilson's go-to picks are the Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation, Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, and the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Foundation.

Wilson normally doesn't opt for BB or CC creams when creating no makeup makeup looks, due to the limited shade offerings available by most brands.


"The key to concealer is not stopping at the outer part of your eye, but extending it towards the temples to lift the whole eye area," says Flor. "We forget that makeup is truly a shape shifter and it's an illusion creator. It's meant to lift and pull up while also lightning areas of the face like dark circles." Her go-to is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, which comes in a variety of shades for all skin tones.

"Concealer should be the same color as the skin for this type of look. Going four or five shades brighter simply won't work," says Wilson. "The more contrast you have versus your natural skin tone, will result in a more made up look. I usually apply concealer with a fluffy foundation brush to keep it looking natural and I am normally mixing the concealer with an eye serum before application. This dilutes it and makes it disappear into the skin."

Use Highlighter For a Glow

For a natural-looking, sun-kissed strobe, Flor recommends mixing The Body Shop Drops of Glow Lustre Finish Creator with your foundation, or mixing your foundation with your day cream for an all-dewy look.

"Highlight your cupid's bow, get your cheekbones chiseled, accent your eyes by using a topcoat on eyeshadow — the possibilities are endless," she shares. "It's perfect for that overall no-makeup look with a glow. "For darker complexions, I use Danessa Myricks Illuminating Veil Liquid Highlighter. It's a highly pigmented cream highlighter that gives the skin a gorgeous glow."

VIDEO: Katie Holmes Goes Makeup-Free to Reveal Her Skincare Secrets

Add a Soft Touch of Blush or Bronzer

A little bit of blush or bronzer can make all the difference. But you want to make sure you don't go overboard, because you can easily take what should be a natural look to a full-on face of very obvious makeup.

The trick is to highlight the high planes of the face — think cheekbones and temples.

"I like bronzer but not in a traditional way of all over bronzing and heavy contour," says Wilson. "I like to softly enhance the structure of the face with bronzer that isn't too shiny. I am in love with the new Dior Bronzer that just came out: Dior Forever Natural Bronze. They have eight shades, which are great on all skin tones. From the lightest to dark skin tones, which is cool because it's often hard to find a good bronzer for brown skin."

Don't Forget the Lips

If you want to add a little bit of subtle color to your lips, go for a nude shade like InStyle's Peachy Keen, which works across all skin tones. You can also opt for a clear gloss or Vaseline.

Set and Seal

To finish off the look and seal it all in, Flor likes to dust a little bit of translucent powder to the T-zone areas of the face that are prone to oil build up and shine. She's a fan of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Loose Setting Powder.

"For darker complexions, I'm currently obsessed with Danessa Myricks Evolution Powder Trio, that also absorbs oil, sets makeup, reduces shine, and minimizes texture with skin-blurring technology," she says. "To finish any beauty look I always use Skindinavia The Makeup Finishing Spray. This holds the look in place for 16+ hours!"

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