Natural, bare-faced makeup is always in style, but that doesn't mean throwing your makeup bag out the window. It’s time to lighten up your products and get fresh
We know you’ve been bombarded with ‘ no makeup makeup ’ for many a season now, but taking the stripped back trend to the streets rarely involves full-frontal facial nudity, if you get my meaning. ‘The natural look’ has always been either a lot more work to pull off flawlessly than it implies, or a euphemism for ‘washed out’, but savvy techniques and the profusion of beautifying yet ‘barely there’ products make bigging up your natural beauty easier than ever.
Here are 10 hassle-free ways to highlight your hotness, with tips from leading beauty coach Lina Cameron and makeup artist Alex Babsky .
1. Prime time
While modern face powders can be top performers, if you can skip the finishing dust, give it a go. Dewy, rather than cakey or floury, is the desired result. Choose a base-anchoring primer that will create a velvety canvas and blur from below rather than mask pores and shine on the surface. Becca Ever-Matte Priming Perfector , £32, is indeed, perfect, if a little pricey.
2. Create a base layer
Blending and layering are your natural beauty buzzwords. Lina advocates a relaxed approach for the most ‘real’ result’:
“Take your time when applying foundation, preferably using a sponge to press the product into the skin so as to blend it and create a more natural texture. Apply it gradually, building up thin layers which follow the angle of your cheekbones, leaving the foundation looking convincingly ‘skin’ like and also ensuring that it lasts longer.”
If you like your skin to look and feel... skinny, you’re highly likely to love Dior Skin Nude Air Serum Foundation , £35. The thinnest consistency I’ve come across, this sexy, silky base does a marvellous job at enhancing rather than concealing the complexion, although if blemishes and redness are a problem for you will a need a little concealer backup to achieve a completely even finish.
Application is akin to buffing on a cloud so if you hate the heavy feel of some foundations then this will please you no end, and added oxygenated oils, vitamins and minerals should please your skin too.
3. Conceal sparingly
Spot-applying concealer, rather than cloaking the face in something heavier than you need, is key to making sure that your best bits stand out. Blind onlookers to dark spots and shadows by waving the magic wand that is Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer , £24, over any elements you’d like to airbrush.
If fatigue is making you feel and appear anything less than fresh, a good ironing out with Benefit Puff Off eye gel , £24.50, will cool and smooth the under eye area, while the light-reflective formula bounces dark shadows far, far away. Pat under or over makeup to look like an ‘eight-hours-a-night’ angel. The iron applicator is especially cute - it makes going crease-free kitsch. You’ll relish doing the ironing in future.
4. Don’t bypass blusher
It’s hand-down my favourite makeup item, as readers of my column will know , thanks to its youth-boosting, hangover-busting and general complexion enlivening effect, but too much, or too powdery, and you risk looking more Dynasty than gorgeously outdoorsy. Making cheeks look healthy and peachy from within is easy when you’ve got juicy, blendable products to hand. There are many radiance creating cream blushers on the market, but swirl a dab of By Terry Hyaluronic Blush , £29, over the apples of the cheeks for a true-to-life tint and extra softness thanks to a welcome injection of hydrating hyaluronic acid. It aces the whole ‘your skin but better’ objective.
5. Go bespoke
There’s no better way to flatter your unique features and skintone than tailoring your beauty routine to your specific needs and preferences. Bespoke beauty is booming; take a trip to Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge to quiz the dedicated Beauty Concierge to ensure that each product in your makeup arsenal is in sync with your individual look and lifestyle.
For spot-on makeup mixology, personalise everything from your primer to your eyeshadow with the makeup magicians at Cosmetics à la Carte . Whether you’re hankering to recreate a discontinued favourite, need to avoid certain ingredients or simply want to discover your exact foundation shade once and for all, the team will not only make your wish their command but will also keep your makeup ‘recipe’ on file so that you can re-order to your heart’s content. It’s like finding your makeup soulmates, all in the same place (Match for makeup, if you will).
For a quick fix, Balance Me Gradual Tanning Drops , £30, are super smart - it allows you to dial up your tan according to your skintone , taste and the time of year. You can go sheer or sunsoaked - it’s totally your call; just blend as many drops as you like with your day or night cream.
6. Nail natural-looking liner
Cleopatra flicks have their place, but for definition that looks god-given, Lina has a deft way to achieve subtle yet seductive doe-eyes:
“To line the eyes use Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eyeliner , £19.50 (my favourite colour is Black Ebony but adjust according to your natural colouring). To make the most of the product, mix it with water so that it forms a paste, and apply it using a flat eyeliner brush in between the lashes. This makes the lashes look naturally fuller.”
7. Mascara minimalism
On spring/summer '15 catwalks lashes were either Barbie-esque or left bare. As usual, it’s best to meet the trendsetters in the middle in the real world. Lina makes light work of low key lashes:
“A very simple but effective trick to make your mascara look more natural is to use a tissue to blot excess product off the wand before applying it to your lashes. This is a wonderfully easy way of stopping the lashes from clumping together.”
For smoother lashes still, Estée Lauder Little Black Primer™ , £21, tints, amplifies and sets lashes - worn alone it looks a lot softer than mascara but still carries through on the colour intensity front. People will simply assume you’re blessed in the eyelash follicle department. Like the perfect LBD, it’s subtle but effective.
8. Low-key lips
Accomplishing a natural looking nude lip is actually extremely difficult - there’s a narrow margin between ‘slightly off’ kiss of death and too dark to be fooling anyone. To find a shade that matches your natural lip colour either go bespoke as above or visit a MAC or Bobbi Brown counter near you - the former has the most lip colours available on the market, while the latter is not too far behind, especially on the ‘natural’ spectrum.
For a more natural look still, Yves Saint Laurent’s Volupté Tint-in-Oil , £26, delivers quite the luscious lip - it’s barely detectable; you’ll just look like you were born with a plump, pillowy mouth. The unusual formula conditions and adds volume in addition to the merest hint of colour.
9. Invest in your eyebrows
They’re the coathangers that your face rest on, so to speak. I’ll let Lina explain:
“Nothing does more to frame the face than your eyebrows, so make sure you regularly see a specialist to shape your brows to keep them looking natural and beautiful.”
Check out our pick of the best eyebrow pencils here or how to shape your brows for a wedding or event here .
10. Intelligent illumination
Believable beauty thrives on tricks of the light. Alex is a master:
“If I want a look that's fresh and natural, I usually finish off by adding a few points of light to the face to distract from any visible makeup textures on the skin. Using my fingers I apply a cream highlighter to the usual hotspots; tops of cheekbones, the cupid's bow and the bridge of the nose. I also like to press a dot of highlighter bang in the centre of the eyelid over any eye makeup. It may not be that noticeable when you look straight into the mirror, but to everyone else it'll catch the light beautifully when you blink and look down, plus it prevents your eyeshadow looking too ‘made up’.”
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer , £38, does exactly what is says on the pot. It’s you, enhanced, i.e., exquisite.