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8 Foolproof Tips for Barely-There Makeup That Looks Effortless

The IRL version of #wokeuplikethis.
natural makeup tips
Courtesy of puhhha/Adobe.

Everyone wants the “no-makeup” look. Surprisingly, getting that “I woke up like this” face can take a lot more work. Unless you’re Beyoncé or Lili Reinhart. They’re just gifted. Finding the right products to wear when you’re going for natural-looking makeup can be more complex than you think. You don’t want anything too cakey, too bright, or too dark. You can’t go too heavy on the contour, either. Basically, you don’t want your makeup to be noticeable enough that you’re getting complimented on your shade of lipstick. The “natural” look does indeed require some makeup application—and some skill, too. The good news is that it shouldn’t take as much time, especially if you have a many-step makeup routine. 

For starters, we always recommend wearing colors close to your natural skin tone, or ones that enhance it. You don’t want a situation where your face looks like it’s a different shade than your neck. You should have a trusted concealer and a light-weight foundation, preferably powder. When it comes to eye makeup, it should also be subtle—you’re going to need to leave the eyeliner in your cosmetics bag for this look. 

Below are more beginner-friendly tips and tricks along with some of our favorite beauty products for getting your no-makeup look just right.

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Moisturize First

Creating a clean base for your makeup is very important. After washing your face, moisturizer benefits your skin by hydrating and promoting anti-aging benefits. By bathing your skin in nutrients before applying coverage, you’re creating a smoother palette that your foundation or concealer can seamlessly blend into.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
The Ordinary.

cerave facial moisturizing lotion

Keep Your Coverage Minimal

Erase dark circles, fine lines, or blemishes with a medium coverage concealer. This will disguise imperfections and leave your skin looking flawless, or in other words—like you found a secretly amazing Instagram filter for your selfie.

NARS Mini Radiant Creamy Concealer

Benefit Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer
Benefit Cosmetics.

Stick to powder or light foundation

When your goal is a barely-there finish, we recommend using a powder or an airy liquid foundation. Thick, cakey makeup doesn’t exactly support the illusion we’re going for. Be sure to apply evenly with a brush or sponge for an even, non-streaky, finish.

bareMinerals ORIGINAL Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15


Covergirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk

Keep your blush subtle

Cream blushes work well because you can build and blend as much as you like for dramatic or subtle color payoff. Depending on your skin color, blush colors will vary, but peaches tend to look great on everyone. Apply to the natural cheekbone line where pink undertones normally show. For most of us, that’s just under the outside of the eye and going toward the temple.

MILK MAKEUP Glow Oil Lip + Cheek
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush
Fenty Beauty.

Opt for neutral shadows

Sweep a neutral color over your lids for a muted but beautiful eye moment. Choose a color that is just a shade or two darker than your skin tone; anything too dark will take you into dramatic territory.

Naked 3
NYX Ultimate Shadow Palette
NYX Cosmetics.

Find your favorite nude lip color

When choosing a lip color, go for the light pinks, peaches, and sand colors. You could also nix the lipstick and swipe on a little gloss for an even more pared-down pout.

NYX Butter Gloss on Amazon
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizing Lip Gloss

Swipe on just a little mascara (if any).

A thin layer of mascara is all you need. You still want your eyes to stand out, so if you have light lashes, a layer of mascara may be a good idea. If you naturally have dark, full lashes you might want to skip altogether.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara

L'Oreal Bambi Eye Mascara

Step away from the liner

While eyeliner is great for a dramatic eye, it doesn’t fit with the natural makeup look. Don’t apply any eyeliner on the top or bottom. Not only will your face look naturally stunning but you’ll love how easy taking off your makeup is!

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Image: Adobe

An original version of this story was published in May 2015.

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