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Natural makeup looks for fresh, glowing skin

There’s a time and a place for graphic eyeliner and a punchy red lip, and it’s not in a natural makeup look. Instead it’s all about taking a softly-softly approach.

What is a natural makeup look?


Recent years have seen a real shift towards what the pros call “no make-up make-up”. What this means to the laymans among us is yes, we’re still very much wearing makeup, but in a way that looks very natural. So natural, in fact, that it isn’t immediately clear whether you’re wearing any at all.


Natural makeup looks should enhance your natural complexion and features. It should be subtle and muted — it’s a whisper, not a shout. For the most convincing finish, choose colours and tones that are already present in your skin. That means a base that blends seamlessly into your jawline and neck, a blush in the same shade that you naturally flush and a lip colour that softly mimics your natural lip shade. If you’re unsure about what colours work for you, Match2Me, our personalised makeup cheat sheet, can help.


The texture of the products you use matters too when creating a natural makeup look. Anything too thick, or heavy won’t sink into the skin for a flawless finish. Instead it will sit on top, and can make your complexion appear unnatural, or mask-like. Lightweight, tinted serums with light to medium coverage are the best base, creating a hydrated canvas for cream-based blushers, bronzers and highlighters to melt into. Applying a natural makeup look shouldn’t take lots of time either, so it lends itself well to cream shadows and lip colours that can be patted on with fingers.


How to find the perfect balance between natural and glam makeup


They might sound like they sit at completely opposite ends of the makeup spectrum, but actually, a look can be both natural and glamorous all at once. We like to refer to this middle ground as soft glam, with elements of both natural and glamorous playing a part.


Just like natural makeup, soft glam is still about looking like you’re wearing as little makeup as possible. The focus should be on application techniques, taking time to buff and blend the products so that the lines are diffused and seamless. Ideally, you should be barely able to detect where your natural skin ends and the makeup begins.


So what does this mean when it comes to selecting and applying products? For the eyes, stick to a neutral palette of soft browns, golds and copper shades. Flecks of metallic will catch the light, adding glow in a way that still feels low-key. Brows should be soft and fluffy, not heavily structured or aggressively arched. Use the brush of your brow mascara to tease them upwards in light strokes, in order to enhance and build your natural look. Lashes are in a similar vein, and adding length, lift and volume will reward you with a fluttery finish. Lip colours with a glossy finish are instantly glamorous, but a sheer finish that’s not too pigmented will keep them in a softer territory. By adding shine, lips will look fuller and plumper.


Skincare is the secret to gorgeous natural makeup looks


What if we told you that one of the biggest elements of creating gorgeous natural makeup looks was nothing to do with makeup at all. It’s skincare that holds the key to a complexion that consistently glows. With a good skincare routine in place, everything you apply will go on smoother and stay put for longer. Not to mention you'll likely need less base too.


“I would say that your canvas is the most important thing,” says Katie Levy, Pro Makeup Artist at Trinny London. “If your skin isn’t good then your makeup isn’t going to sit well. Instead of using more makeup to try and cover up your skin, think about what you can do to improve your skin overall.”


Incorporating the following steps into your routine will help your skin to look at its best, allowing your natural radiance to shine through and enhance your makeup.


Cleanse


Good skin starts with good cleansing. And we’re not talking a speedy swipe of a wipe or a slick of micellar water. For your skin to really reap the benefits of cleansing, you need to be using an efficacious cleanser and running water. At night, consider double cleansing: once to remove daily grime and makeup, and a second time to give pores a thorough cleanse.


Exfoliate


Over time, the speed at which our skin lets go of old skin cells starts to slow. Which is why some people notice that their skin looks duller with age. Exfoliation is the key to unlocking your hidden glow, sending those redundant cells on their way. Liquid exfoliants do this by breaking down the glue that holds the cells to the surface, and the speed at which this happens varies depending on the type of acid you choose. Poly-hydroxy acids are larger in molecule size, so work in a slower, gentler way, whereas alpha-hydroxy acids are smaller in size and more potent. Beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid are great for oilier complexions, helping to reduce the risk of breakouts.


Serum


Your serum is the part of your routine that contains the highest concentration of active ingredients, so is the perfect opportunity to target any specific bugbears. A vitamin C serum will help to brighten and illuminate, niacinamide will help with oil flow and hyaluronic acid can help with hydration. If you’re keen to help plump and soften fine lines and loss of elasticity, retinal and peptides are the ingredients to look out for.


Moisturiser


Moisturiser is the cherry on top of a good skincare routine. It creates a protective layer over the skin, supporting its function as a barrier to help keep bad stuff like pollution and bacteria out, and good stuff, like water and oil, in. A good moisturiser will keep skin supple, healthy and hydrated. What a great moisturiser will do, is go one step further. When supercharged by actives such as niacinamide and peptides, as well as barrier building ingredients, moisturiser can take you one step further towards your skin goals.


SPF


In the quest for naturally healthy skin, all of the previous skincare steps are futile if you’re not taking your SPF seriously. Aim to wear an SPF of at least 30 every day, even during the winter months. Although it might not be sunny, UVA rays, which are responsible for the majority of premature ageing, can still penetrate through clouds.


Step-by-step: Natural makeup looks for beginners


These step-by-step tutorials prove just how easy it is to create a natural makeup look in just a few simple steps.


Natural makeup look for dry skin

Step 1

Prep the skin by massaging in a nourishing moisturiser like Bounce Back, our intense peptide moisturiser. This will give the skin all the nourishment it needs, creating a fresh base for makeup.


Step 2

Take your BFF De-Stress Tinted Serum, and use your fingers to apply a soft veil of product to the skin. It’s very buildable, so can be layered in areas that need a little more coverage.


Step 3

Use the tinted brow gel end of Lash2Brow to gently brush the brows upwards to add a dimension and depth, creating a fluffy brow. Coat your lashes with the mascara end, amplifying length and volume. One coat is enough for a natural look.


Step 4

Pat and tap a little Sheer Shimmer Lip + Cheek onto your cheeks. For a youthful flush that lifts the face, take the placement slightly upwards. The light-reflecting finish will make even the driest of complexions look fresh and dewy.


Step 5

For continuity, and to keep the look understated, apply the same product to your lips. Smoothing it on with your fingers will create a sheerer finish, while using a brush will allow more precision and pigmentation. You might want to use the first option for day, and the second for night.


Natural makeup for oily skin

Step 1

Even if your skin skews on the oily side, it’s still important to prep skin with moisturiser. Energise Me, our niacinamide moisturiser, helps to balance oily areas, so skin feels fresh and recharged.


Step 2

Using a brush, swipe and press BFF Rebalance, our tinted serum onto the skin. The pressing motion will help to push the product into the skin, for longer lasting results. The soft matte finish means the product is perfect for minimising shine on oilier complexions. Depending on your skin, you might want to add a little more coverage across your t-zone.


Step 3

Use the tinted brow gel end of Lash2Brow to gently brush the brows upwards to add a dimension and depth, creating a fluffy brow. Coat your lashes with the mascara end, amplifying length and volume. One coat is enough for a natural look.


Step 4

Gently buff a little Sheer Shimmer Lip + Cheek onto your cheeks. Being gentle will prevent causing movement on the base beneath.


Step 5

For continuity, and to keep the look understated, apply the same product to your lips. Smoothing it on with your fingers will create a sheerer finish, while using a brush will allow more precision and pigmentation. You might want to use the first option for day, and the second for night.


How to keep your makeup looking fresh all day


Creating a gorgeous natural makeup look is one thing, but maintaining it is another. Depending on your skin type, you may have slightly different concerns when it comes to keeping your makeup at its best all day long.


First up, dry skin. Skin that is excessively dry absorbs moisture like a sponge, which can mean that your lovely, hydrating base is soaked up until it's no longer visible. Make sure that you’re keeping on top of your skincare, by cleansing with a comforting cleanser and whisking away dead skin cells with an exfoliant. Moisturiser is arguably the most important step in your routine, creating a smooth, comfortable base for your makeup. It will form a barrier too, helping to keep moisture in the skin to prevent your complexion, and your makeup, from drying out throughout the day.


“If you are someone who is very dry, and find that your base is not enough to bring you a glow, as your skin soaks up all the moisture, you can use things like highlighter and cream bronzer to pick up shine on the face,” says Katie Adamson, Pro Makeup Artist at Trinny London.


On the flipside, if your skin is oily, you may find that your makeup slips and slides around your face. The aim of the natural makeup game is also glowy, not greasy, so you’ll want to keep shine to a minimum. “If you’re oily and put loads of glow products on, then there is the worry that you will then look more oily,” explains Katie Adamson. “I’d recommend balancing the oil in the areas that really catch the shine with a mattifying balm. Focus on the middle of the forehead, nose and upper lip – as these can all look a bit sweaty.” Sweep your mattifying balm on before applying your base, as well as over for top-ups on the go.