close-up portrait of woman's face with a no-makeup makeup look, clean skin and ponytail
Photo: see plus

For decades, makeup served as a tool for dramatic transformation. Bold colors, sharp lines, and full coverage were the hallmarks of a "made-up" face. However, in recent years, a particular trend has re-appeared – the famous no-makeup makeup look. This seemingly paradoxical concept prioritizes a natural, radiant complexion while subtly enhancing and sculpting the face's defining features. It's the perfect balance between embracing your natural beauty and adding a tiny bit of polish.

Tracing the Roots of the No-Makeup Makeup Look

The idea of a no-makeup makeup look or look "a la naturelle" isn't entirely new. Actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren were known for their seemingly bare faces that nonetheless glowed with health and vitality. However, the conscious creation of a "no-makeup makeup" aesthetic is a more recent phenomenon. 

The rise of social media, particularly platforms like Instagram, is often credited with popularizing the look. Influencers and celebrities began showcasing their "woke up like this" complexions, subtly enhancing their features without heavy makeup application. This sparked a movement towards embracing natural beauty and prioritizing healthy skin, over glamorous makeup.

Furthermore, the Korean beauty movement (K-beauty) played a significant role. K-beauty emphasizes a multi-step skincare routine for achieving a clear, dewy complexion – the perfect base for the no-makeup makeup look.

a portrait of Emily Ratajkowski with a "natural glam" face
Emily Ratajkowski with a "natural glam" face

The Concept and Main Features of the No Makeup Makeup Look

The no-makeup makeup look isn't about the absence of makeup altogether. It's about using minimal products strategically to create a natural, even-toned complexion with a hint of definition. The goal is to look like a more polished version of yourself, with a healthy glow and features that appear subtly enhanced. The whole concept is similar to the popular "clean-girl look", which also focuses on natural features with a little enhancement.

Here are the key features of the no-makeup makeup look:

  • Flawless, Dewy Skin: This is the foundation of the entire look. A good skincare routine is crucial, but you can also use lightweight, hydrating products like tinted moisturizers, BB creams, or CC creams to achieve a natural, even tone.

  • Minimal Concealer: No full-coverage products here! A small amount of light concealer is used strategically to cover blemishes, redness, or dark circles, but it's applied sparingly and blended seamlessly to avoid a cakey look.

  • Natural Blush: A touch of blush adds a hint of color and mimics a natural flush. Opt for sheer, cream, or liquid formulas in shades that complement your skin tone.

  • Defined Brows: Groomed and natural-looking eyebrows frame the face and add structure. Use a brow pencil or powder in a shade that matches your natural hair color to fill in sparse areas and create a natural shape.

  • Enhanced Eyes (Optional): While the focus remains on natural beauty, some choose to subtly enhance their eyes. This could involve a light application of brown eyeliner along the waterline, a touch of neutral eyeshadow to add depth, or a single coat of lengthening mascara to define the lashes.

  • Natural, Glossy Lips: Skip the bold lipsticks and opt for a sheer lip balm, tinted lip oil, or glossy nude lipstick to keep your lips hydrated and add a touch of shine.

close-up portrait of woman's face with a no-makeup makeup look, clean skin and ponytail
Photo: Katsiaryna Endruszkiewicz

How to Get the Popular No Makeup Makeup Look

Ready to achieve the effortless beauty of the no-makeup makeup look? Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1 - Prep Your Skin: No-makeup makeup goes together with a skin minimalism routine like toast and marmalade! They are the best buddies. So, begin with a clean, moisturized neck and face. Apply a lightweight moisturizer or a hydrating primer oil to create a smooth canvas for makeup application.

Step 2 - Even Out Your Skin Tone: For a natural, even base, use a tinted moisturizer, BB cream, or CC cream that matches your skin tone perfectly. Apply a small amount with your fingertips, a damp beauty blender, or a foundation brush and blend it out thoroughly.

Step 3 - Conceal Strategically: Use a concealer that's one shade lighter than your foundation to target specific areas like blemishes, dark circles, or redness. Apply a small amount and blend it outwards with a damp makeup sponge or a small concealer brush for a seamless finish.

Step 4 - Define Your Brows: Fill in sparse areas of your brows using a brow pencil or powder in a shade that matches your natural hair color. Use light, feathery strokes to mimic the natural growth pattern of your brows. Brush through your brows with a spoolie to blend out the product and soften the look.

Step 5 - Enhancing Eyes (Optional): This step is entirely optional, depending on your preference. For a subtle definition, tightline your upper waterline with a brown eyeliner pencil. You can also apply a light wash of neutral eyeshadow in a matte or shimmery finish to add depth to your crease. Finish with a single coat of lengthening mascara, focusing on the top lashes.

Step 6 - A Touch of Blush: Apply a dab of cream or liquid blush (powder blushes don't look as natural on the skin) in a shade that complements your skin tone to the apples of your cheeks. Blend the cream blush up, towards the temples for a natural-looking flush on the skin.

selfie of a beautiful asian woman with no makeup makeup look, glowing skin and blushy cheeks

  • What Makeup Products to Choose?

The no-makeup makeup look thrives on creating a natural, radiant base, therefore you'll need more lightweight makeup products with subtle action, buildable textures, and natural finishes.

The heavy foundation may create a flawless look on the skin, but for a more natural, clean girl vibe it is best to opt for tinted moisturizers, BB/CC creams, or even a sheer liquid foundation with a dewy finish. These provide light coverage while often incorporating skincare benefits like hydration and SPF.  If your concealer is too heavy, simply re-apply a few spots of your foundation or BB cream, to conceal blemishes. Remember, the goal is to enhance your natural beauty, not mask it completely.

Cream or liquid blushes also come into play here, offering a more natural flush compared to powder formulas. The key lies in mimicking the healthy, natural flush you might get from a brisk walk. The same goes for the lips – pick a sheer lipgloss or lip balm with a natural hue to it.

Let's summarize...

If you are contemplating giving your every look a downshift, think no more! Consider this makeup trend dissection your green light to switch your glam face to a more natural, low-key look. The no-makeup makeup look isn't about hiding your features – it's about enhancing them with a subtle touch. Ready to reveal your natural radiance?