When a middle-aged celebrity turns up to Paris Fashion Week without any makeup, you know a revolution is afoot. Pamela Anderson’s bold move got tongues wagging about her bravery but it signals a cultural shift gaining momentum: We’re finally embracing a more natural makeup look.
We want skin that looks like skin. But we still want good-looking skin.
By good I mean plump, smooth and even-toned. All of which (disappointingly) tends not to happen without some form of intervention. The natural makeup look either requires regular skincare effort or (ironically) makeup to pull off, but nothing complicated. It should look like a second skin, just enough to add more lustre and glow than we naturally wake up with.
“Sometimes all you might need is a primer that just smooths out the skin, or a really sheer concealer to tidy up any redness,” says Priceline Hair and Makeup Director Sarah Laidlaw. “Team that with a cream blush, a brow mascara and a lip balm that really plumps up the lips and you’ll just look super glowy and effortless. That’s what we all want, isn’t it?”
Picking the right base for a natural makeup look
A thorough skin drink with a hyaluronic acid-based serum like Hada Labo No.1 Super Hydrator, followed by a rich moisturiser like Weleda Skin Food or Cosmetics 27 Baume 27 Bio-Energising Cell Repair Balm, makes for a gorgeous glowy base – add a drop or two of liquid bronzer and you have a custom-made tinted moisturiser. Some makeup primers also have a light tint or added luminosity that can make your skin look even-toned, but that won’t cut it alone if you’re looking tired.
“For dark circles, use an under-eye corrector with a bluish or purple undertone,” says Ciaté London CEO and Founder Charlotte Knight. If your eyes are looking sunken (which happens to us all eventually), take the corrector a little lower. “Apply eye brightening cream downwards towards your cheek to brighten and lift your eye area to look fuller.”
That might even be all you need if you’re otherwise happy with your skin tone. “If someone has amazing skin I won’t use foundation,” says celebrity makeup artist Hannah Martin, who recently launched a line of excellent makeup brushes in a collab with Ciaté London. “That isn’t as taboo as it used to be. It felt illegal 10 years ago.” If it still feels risqué to you, there are plenty of ultra-light colour correcting options.
The most natural-looking is a skin tint (usually the texture of a skincare serum but with added colour) followed by a tinted moisturiser (creamier in texture) and then a light or sheer foundation (which you can apply just where needed).
“The texture is the most important thing. If it feels lightweight, then it’s right,” says Lori Taylor Davis, Smashbox Cosmetics Global Pro Lead Artist, who has made up celebrities including Sandra Bullock and Paris Hilton. “You want texture that isn’t overly matte or too radiant as that can accentuate fine lines. It should set to look skin-like.”
It’s fine to apply foundation with fingers, but a foundation brush (not a sponge) is your secret weapon for an au naturel finish, creating a beautiful airbrushed effect. “I start by applying in the T-zone because that’s where 90 per cent of discolouration is,” says Lori.
“Blend out and up for a more natural application.” Take a good look at your skin before adding more and, if you need another layer, think of painting a wall – thin coats look best. “When you nail it,” says Lori, “it’s like a superhero-costume vibe.”
The power of blush
“Cheek colour has the power to help you face the world with confidence,” says Lori Taylor Davis, who favours a neutral coral – not too orange and not too pink – for a natural makeup look.
“Just a light flush, something that looks like your skin but better.”
If you’re in the mood for brightening and lifting, a deeper raspberry tone creates a lovely sun-kissed effect that looks more natural than baby pink or coral. “Blush is an instant dose of glow that can boost lacklustre skin,” says Terry de Gunzburg, makeup artist and founder of By Terry.
“It leaves the face looking sun-kissed and radiant and can brighten and sculpt.” Rather than smiling, a resting face is best when applying cream blush otherwise colour sits too low, which is ageing.
“Blush placement should create lift, especially for mature women,” says Lori, who favours patting cream blush on the cheekbone (roughly in line with the corner of the eye), before working it forward and backward until it looks seamless. “I love it high on the cheekbones; you want everything to lift up.”
Hannah prefers a brush for the ‘clean girl’ look. “You get the most natural looking finish from liquid formulations. I load a blush brush with blush to apply, then use a clean blush brush to blend the edges,” she says. “Anyone can do this and feel happy and confident.”
“Blush is an instant dose of glow.”
Keep the eyes simple
Keep it super simple. A nifty trick is to swipe any remaining foundation on your brush over the eyelid to even out skin tone, then tap on any leftover blush on your ring finger over the eyelids too – it ties everything together in a hard-to-detect kind of way. Highlighting the eyes with a soft brown gel eyeliner can really add definition but isn’t essential if you feel a light coat of brown mascara adds enough oomph.
“Keep a spoolie brush with you when applying your mascara,” says Hannah Martin. “After applying mascara, comb your lashes through with the clean spoolie to separate them and keep your lashes looking defined.” If your brows are very sparse, it can be worth putting in the effort to carefully pencil or powder in the gaps, otherwise a tinted brow gel is all you really need.”
“It will be your best friend because it holds the brows in shape and gives you a little bit of definition and colour without looking like you did your brows,” says Sarah Laidlaw.
Finish with the lips
Many women have a bottom lip that is deeper in tone than their top lip, something that can be quickly evened out with a neutral lip liner. Top with your favourite tinted gloss for moisture and shine.
10 natural makeup must-haves
Essano Hydration+ Daily Facial Moisturiser
Holme Beauty Base Primer
Westman Atelier Complexion Drops
Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand – Peachgasm
Tarte Maracuja Juicy Blush
Benefit Gimme Brow
Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Universal Volumising Mascara
Lanolips Original 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm
Ultra Violette Sheen Screen™ SPF50 Lip Balm