When the first Twilight movie came out, I spent an unfathomable amount of time googling what makeup Bella wore. I watched video after video on everything the makeup artists on set used to make these people look naturally beautiful—you can tell they’re wearing a little makeup but like they slapped it on in the car mirror and tousled their hair before walking outside. Little did I know all of that googling would lead me to the very trend that has dominated the makeup industry in the latter half of the last decade: “no makeup” makeup.
Whether you’re calling it glass skin or Sir John’s “boy beat,” makeup that looks like we’re just naturally radiant and put-together has been everywhere in the last few years. As much as I love trending watercolor eyeshadows and blush draping and all those makeup trends that act like a piece of artwork on your face, there’s something about a natural face once in a while. And for those of you who prefer to keep it minimal at work or don’t like the heavy feeling of makeup, this trend was practically made for you.
Effortless makeup looks are almost entirely about the products. Ahead, I’m detailing my favorite products that help me achieve the look—from brushed-up, feathery brows to tinted, balmy lips to highlighted skin.
A “no makeup” makeup look should always be started with a fresh base, and that begins with your skin prep. It starts the canvas so you can get away with using less products and going easier on the coverage. These facial pads are perfect to swipe on first thing in the morning to remove dead skin and oils from the night before. They’re supposed to help regardless of skin type and are gentle enough to be used in the morning under makeup. Swipe one of these on before going in with any serums or moisturizers for truly glowing, soft skin.
This product acts like a serum and primer in one, giving your skin radiance before you apply makeup while also acting as skincare. This product can be used at night, but I recommend adding it to your daytime skincare routine to help your makeup go on smoother. If you want a similar look for a smaller price tag and less skincare/more primer, we also love the Glossier Futuredew.
I once read that Karlie Kloss uses this moisturizer, so I bought it immediately. It’s one of those French pharmacy cult-favorites, so it makes sense. On nights that I really want to wake up with plump, moisturized skin, I apply this before bed; but, I typically focus on using this before I apply primer and foundation. It’s the perfect base to keep your skin moisturized all day. If you find your foundation looks dry and dehydrated by the end of the day, applying a thicker moisturizer in the daytime might keep your hydration levels up.
If you have skin that leans more on the oily side, you’ll still want to moisturize, but instead, focus on products that won’t make your skin get shiny quicker. This water-based moisturizer is perfect for oily skin because it sinks in right away and doesn’t leave a residue.
It might seem counterintuitive to apply an oil first thing in the morning, but hear me out. This vitamin C oil is best applied in the morning because it’s lightweight and sinks into the skin unlike other oils you might use in your nighttime routine. It makes the skin look brighter, more hydrated, and doesn’t mess with the finish of your foundation.
I recently stated this might be the best foundation I’ve ever tried. Does it have the fullest coverage and make my skin look flawless? Not at all, but that’s what I love about it. It makes my skin look just like a brighter, more even version of my actual skin. It doesn’t have too much luminosity or radiance, so it would definitely work well for those who have an oily skin type. It also wears very well—I’ve worn it for entire work days, nights out, to the gym, and beyond and never needed to touch up.
Trust me: I get it. Not everyone can wear a tinted moisturizer every day and feel comfortable with their skin. I love a lot of coverage in my products most of the time and prefer to feel like my skin is covered for dates, work meetings, and other events. So in those cases, this foundation has me covered (no pun intended!). It has a very thin formula that requires very little blending to look even but has more coverage than the Bite I love. It was specifically made for a “no makeup” look, and it definitely accomplishes that claim.
I picked up this concealer after hearing every beauty blogger I followed raving about it, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. If you have super intense dark circles that only some strong coffee and prayer can fix, this might not be the product for you. But when used with my favorite color corrector (more on that below!), this gives me all the coverage I need on a good day. The shade range is dismal, but I’ve found I can get away with a shade much lighter than my skin because the formula is so thin and blends away into my foundation so easily. @First Aid Beauty, please help a girl out and make more shades.
I never believed in color correctors until I tried this one. I have fairly average dark circles, and the only color correctors I’d ever tried were dark orange and just added to my cakey, creasy undereye situation. This Becca one is the complete opposite from what I’d used before. It’s a hydrating, emolient consistency, and you need the smallest amount for impact. I apply a tiny bit to my undereyes with a brush, blend it out, and go over it with a thin concealer. Perfect undereyes for days, ladies and gents.
A liquid or cream highlighter is basically the cornerstone of a good effortless makeup look. Creams sink into the skin better than a powder, which can look cakey and add to the texture of the skin if you’re not using the right shade for your skin tone. Cream products make highlighting so easy and look absolutely natural. This one has just the slightest hint of a champagne color and only adds to the “dew” to your skin. It’s sweat in a tube, and it’s truly glass skin goals.
Beaming, blinding cheekbones are slowly on their way out, and in its place comes natural, dewy highlighted looks that add to the overall look instead of being one on its own. This liquid highlighter adds a very subtle luminosity versus the higher-impact of the Becca stick. On your chillest of makeup days, this makes your skin look actually perfect. There is no shimmer, so it mostly just looks like the perfect gleam on your cheekbones.
Cream Cheek Products
Along with cream and liquid highlighters comes blushes and bronzers. This clean-beauty lip and cheek tint is a must in the makeup baskets of off-duty models and celebs everywhere. Swipe it on your cheeks and lips with your fingertips, and you immediately look like Harry Styles ex-girlfriend.
Did you really expect us to not include our cult-favorite product on this list? Our entire office is obsessed with this product, from the no makeup lovers to us who like to go full beat. It’s a dream to apply—use your fingers, a damp sponge, a brush … you could use your elbows if anatomy allowed it. Pro tip: mix and match your favorite shades to get the perfect color for your skin. I also love mixing “Dawn” and “Dusk” to use as a warm bronzer!
Lash Slick gets a bad rap sometimes because it’s VERY minimal; however, when you’re going for a makeup-free look, this kind of formula is exactly what you want. It’s a very wet formula that pretty much only adds separation, black color, and length to your lashes. If you want to pretend you have the longest lashes ever, people would believe it with this mascara on. It barely looks like you’re wearing anything, and that’s what we’re going for here.
After trying all of the cult-favorite brow gels, this one has made it to the top of my list—and it’s a quarter of the price of my other favorites. It adds a lot of hold without being crunch, and it makes my brow hairs actually look thicker. The product has little fibers, similar to a fiber mascara, that coats every hair and adds that thick, fluffy appearance we thought only Lucy Hale and Cara Delevigne could have.
Adding little hair-like strokes to your eyebrows can get difficult when you’re using even the thinnest of pencils. Enter: the brow pen. This has a brush tip similar to a liquid eyeliner that adds the finest hair-like lines to your eyebrows without looking fake. The trick to using this is to make sure you stick with your actual brow shape. Also, focus the majority of your strokes at the front and middle of the brows; the tail of your brows is naturally going to be thinner than the rest and can be a dead-giveaway that your brows are drawn-on when the tail matches exactly from side to side.
If a brow pen sounds a little daunting, opt for a brow powder. Makeup artists swear by brow powder on movie sets because it just adds extra color and dimension to the brows without adding thickness or anything harsh. Go in with your brow gel first. Then, use a thin eyebrow brush to lightly fill in the sparse areas with the powder. You can use the lighter powder at the front of your brows and the darker color more toward the middle and end to give natural dimension.
If you’re not ready to give up matte lips but are sick of those drying formulas, this might be your new go-to. It’s almost like a tinted balm in a liquid form with more pigment. It adds color to the lips, similar to a satin lipstick, but it glides on (as the name suggests) in the same fashion as a gloss. It’s one of the most unique, innovative lip products I own. I’ll usually line my lips and apply this in a natural shade on days when I want to look put-together without going the extra mile of wearing a lipstick.
You can’t expect me to talk about lip gloss without bringing up my absolute favorite in the world. As far as I’m concerned, the Fenty lip gloss pretty much started the lip gloss craze of the last few years in the first place. It was the first lip gloss I tried that wasn’t sticky or thick. It plumps your lips whether you’re wearing something underneath it or not. It’s also so hydrating that I’ve used it as an overnight lip mask before (and woke up with amazing lips, NBD).
Achieving the “no makeup” look is truly easy if you have this tool in your arsenal. There’s just something about the way a damp sponge can blend in liquid and cream products over a brush. It blends seamlessly and can almost change the texture of a product, turning matte foundations into satin, natural finishes. I’ve thought about ditching all of my face brushes and switching to my beautyblender full time, but I have commitment issues.
When it comes to contouring, I swear by this brush. It makes achieving a natural, sculpted contour so easy. It’s the only tool I’ll ever use when it comes to nose contour because it allows you to place the product in the exact place and blend with your sponge. Love, love, love.