The pro makeup artist guide to looking like you’re not wearing any makeup

·5 min read

Beauty trends may come and go, but the “no makeup” makeup look will always be in vogue. Effortless, radiant and natural-looking makeup looks great on everyone — and it's an effective way to appear well-rested even when you’re not. You probably think that “no makeup” makeup is tricky to pull off, but it’s easily achievable for beauty aficionados and novices alike. It just requires a bit of finessing and a concealer or foundation in your-skin-but-better shades.

To help guide you, we’ve tapped professional makeup artists Bob Scott and Melissa R. Hibbért for their advice on nailing natural-looking makeup. Below, you’ll find their best tips and tricks, as well as their top product recommendations. From moisturizer to highlighter and mascara, these cosmetics work to enhance your features. Add these expert favorites to your makeup bag, and you’ll master “no makeup” makeup in no time!

Invest in good skincare

Prepping your face for makeup is especially important when you’re going for an au natural look. The skincare products you should have in your arsenal is a gentle exfoliant (to get rid of dead skin), cleanser, hydrating toner, brightening serum (to boost your natural glow), as well as a moisturizer suitable for your skin type. Celebrity makeup artist Melissa R. Hibbért personally loves Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer for people with normal, sensitive and dry skin. It leaves your face feeling super soft and hydrated without feeling weighed down.

You can also prep your face at bedtime with serums like Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Night Ampoules. Made with active ingredients, including cotton thistle extract, poria coros and the celebrity skincare guru’s signature high dosage of hylauronic acid, you’ll wake up with skin that’s hydrated and free of irritation or redness.

Use a matching base

When it comes to “no makeup” makeup, you want your skin to shine through, so keep base products to a minimum. And, more important, always make sure they match your complexion. “For me, the only true mistake one can make in trying to achieve a “no makeup” look, or just imperceptible makeup, is not having a base that matches their skin tone. That dissonance will be a dead giveaway,” says celebrity makeup artist Bob Scott.

Luckily, there are more brands today that offer a variety of shades, like Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. The new Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Fluid Powder Foundation SPF 20 comes in 28 different shades (including Warm Ivory, Honey, Cool Golden, Chestnut and Espresso) and boasts a waterproof formula and self-setting matte powder finish, making it suitable for those with normal to oily skin. Pro tip: After applying your base products with a brush or sponge, Scott recommends warming up your clean hands by rubbing them together and pressing them down on your face (before putting on blush) to remove excess foundation for a seamless, natural finish.

Apply concealer sparingly

A common mistake people make when trying out “no makeup” makeup is applying too much concealer. “For areas like the under eye or dark spots, use a concealer to target those specific areas only, and leave the rest of the face with minimal coverage from your base product,” Hibbért explains. Opt for a concealer that’s lightweight and has sufficient coverage, like Too Faced Born This Way Super Coverage Concealer. This multitasker, which wears for 12 hours, comes in 35 shades — from Swan to Chai and Ganache — and can be used to conceal, highlight and contour.

Keep your makeup light

“Be minimal with powder,” says Scott. “Apply it to your T-zone (and wherever you have applied concealer), but otherwise, embrace the dew on the perimeter of your face.” The same principle goes for blush — look for one that is complementary to your complexion to get a natural flush.

As for mascara, Hibbért suggests only applying two coats to both top lashes for a bit of definition. You can also skip mascara altogether, and just curl your lashes for a bit of oomph with a heated lash curler. “A heated curler is great at pushing your lashes up and opening the eye, and keeping them curled for longer than a conventional manual curler,” Scott adds.

Perfect your eyebrows

Keep your eyebrows pretty simple when doing a “no makeup” makeup. “It’s important to just do hair-like strokes in the same direction the hair grows so it looks more natural,” says Hibbért. When choosing an eyebrow pencil, go for one that has a skinny tip that allows you to lightly place down product one stroke at a time.

Apply a natural highlighter and lip color

Using a natural luminizer is an easy way to “bump up your dew,” Scott says. The BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter is a fan favorite — and for good reason. The highlighting powder is buttery-smooth and comes in 11 different hues that flatters a variety of skin tones. Once your highlighter is applied, it’s time to swipe on lipstick or lip gloss that enhances your pout, yet still looks natural.

Finish with setting spray

Nothing’s worse than when your makeup starts sliding off your face not even an hour after you did it. To avoid that mishap, Scott recommends using a setting spray to “help your foundation and concealer sink into your skin.” Hibbért adds: “Mist face with setting spray in a “T” or “X” formation while your eyes are closed.”

A cult favorite setting spray in the makeup community, and one Scott personally loves, is MAC Prep and Prime Fix+. Packed with skin-loving vitamins and minerals, this product gives you a pretty, natural glow while extending the wear of your makeup.

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