Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Photo Tutorial: A "No Makeup" Makeup Look

I was recently spending a lazy evening perusing YouTube's latest offerings and, as usual, I ended up spending a great deal of time on Lisa Eldridge's channel (which can be found here: Lisa is a professional makeup artist who has provided makeup looks (ranging from bold, to classic, to uber-natural) for a variety of magazines, photo shoots, and celebrities. Her tutorials are inspiring and helpful, and her down-to-earth demeanor keeps me watching!

One video that particularly caught my intention was Lisa's "No Makeup Makeup" look, which outlines how to achieve a natural, makeup-free look (with the help of some makeup, of course!).

You can watch the video here: .

Because most of the looks and tutorials I've included on my blog have tended to focus on quite bold and colourful looks, I decided to switch things up and demonstrate how a simple, polished, "your face but better" look can have just as much impact!

Here is the final look, after which I've broken everything down into steps:

1) Prep and Perfect Skin

Because glowing, natural-looking skin is key to this look, it is important that your skin is looking its best before any makeup is applied. This can mean giving yourself a mini facial (exfoliating or using your favourite face mask), or simply using a moisturizer or foundation primer that leaves your skin even and glowing. I chose to use Purederm's Rose Essence Sheet Mask, as rosewater has been known to minimize redness in the skin and witch hazel (also in the mask) works to tighten pores. Here's a scary picture of me wearing the mask, as well as the its ingredients:

2) Even out Skin Tone and Conceal Imperfections

After your skin care has been applied, the next step is to even out your skin tone so that it looks flawless, but natural. If your skin is already quite even-toned, you can simply apply a concealer under the eyes and to any areas of redness or discolouration you might have. If your skin has any uneven, blotchy, or blemish-prone, you can start with a tinted moisturizer or sheer foundation before applying concealer. I used a mix of shade #21 and #23 of Missha's Perfect Cover BB Cream, which covers most of my imperfections and leaves a glowy finish. Next, rather than using a traditional opaque concealer, I used a brightening concealing product under the eyes and on patches of redness, as was recommended in Lisa Eldridge's video. The one I chose was Boots No 7 Radian Glow Concealer. Here's a picture of it:

Concealers such as this work to mask areas of darkness or redness via light-reflecting pigments, rather than thick, opaque formulas. This adds to the the natural-skin effect, while still camouflaging most of what you want to hide! For a more luxe version of this product, try Clinique's Airbrush Concealer or Yves Saint Laurent's Touch Eclat

Here is what I looked like after this step:

3) Find a Blush that Complements your Natural Flush

Next is it important to find a blush that mimics the natural colour of your cheeks when they're flushed. As you can see from the previous picture, my cheeks have a natural pinky hue, so I chose a blush that accented this (NYC's Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink).  If your skin is very yellow-toned or more olive-toned, you can choose a peachy or coral shade- whatever imitates your natural flush!

I think that cream blushes work best for this "no makeup" look, as this type of formula melts right into the skin, then can be subsequently toned down with a touch of powder. If you prefer a powder blush formula, it's best to apply it after face powder, rather than beforehand.

Here's what I looked like after applying cream blush:

4) Light Dusting of Powder (and Bronzer)

If you do not have problems with oiliness or shine, it is perfectly ok to skip this step- the more natural skin that shows through, the better! As my skin tends to be oilier, I applied a very thin layer of translucent powder (MAC Blot Powder in Medium). It is important to use a light hand with powder for this look, as the goal is just to tame shine, without leaving skin to matte or cakey. Bronzer is another optional aspect of this look. Because we're still on the tail end of summer, I went with it! Also using a light hand, I applied Hard Candy's Hula Hula Bronzer to my forehead, cheekbones, and down the bridge of my nose.

Here's what I looked like at this point:

5) Define your Brows

Because the rest of the makeup is fairly soft in this look, it is important that brows be defined, as to provide some structure to the face. At the same time, you don't want the brows to look too harsh, so it's best to stick with a brow powder, rather than a pencil. I defined the natural arch of my brows using Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Ash Blonde.

To add further, subtle definition to the eyes, you can apply some of the colour you have used to fill in your brows to the crease of the eye. Lisa recommended this in her video, and I found it did a great job at giving the eye some shape without screaming "I'm wearing eyeshadow!". Here are some pictures of what my eyes looked like after applying some of my Anastasia Brow Powder in Ash Blonde to my crease:


6) Eyeliner and Mascara

Eyeliner is definitely an optional aspect of this look, but for those who can't go without, Lisa recommended a helpful trick for lining the eyes without having to use a thick, noticeable line. She suggested applying a soft brown or grey liner directly on the lash line, pressing the colour gently in between the lashes. Although I went with a black liner (NYX's Eyeliner in Black), the look was still incredibly soft and natural. Here's what the eye looked like after finishing this liner technique and applying one layer of black mascara (Boots No 7 Maximum Volume Waterproof Mascara):

And in the context of the whole look:

7) Lip-enhancing Lipstick

Adding colour to the lips really finishes off this look nicely, and the goal is to choose a colour just one shade darker or brighter than your natural lip colour. I chose NARS Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita, which adds a natural blush to my lips without giving an obvious lipstick look. My lips are quite pale naturally, but if yours are more pigmented (i.e., naturally dark or rosy), you may just want to apply some clear lip balm, rather than a lipstick.

Here's what NARS Dolce Vita looks like on me:

And that's it! Here are a few pictures of the final look, in various lighting:

I hope that you found this tutorial helpful! Looking forward to your comments, suggestions, and ideas! :)


  1. I like the hint about using the same shadow on brows and lid creases.
    I often go for the "no make-up make-up look" and would suggest MAC Special Reserve Highlight Powder to the mix.

  2. Oooh, I'll check out that MAC powder for sure! Thanks for the recommendation, and thanks for reading! :)

  3. Pretty!

    I also checked out Lisa Eldridge's channel, and will be going back regularly.

  4. That blush looks really gorgeous on you :) x

    1. Thanks so much, Coco, for the kind words and for checking this out! :)

  5. I am a redhead with extremely fair skin and freckles. I usually have an awful time trying to find a concealer that isn't too yellow or pink and is fair enough to use under my eyes. I've heard rave reviews about Yves St Laurent Touche Eclat, and I tried it at Sephora. I loved that they had 3 different shades for very fair skin. I found the perfect match for my skin!! I didn't even mind paying $40US for it since it was perfect.

    I grew up at the beach and even though I've been very careful about skin care and sunscreen since my early teens, I still developed a nickel sized Basal Cell Carcinoma on my forehead at my hairline (I wore my hair like yours, Jennifer, and didn't have bangs until I started covering up this spot) The Touche Eclat really hides the spot, and I'm sure it will help hide the scar while it heals after I have MOHS surgery next month.

    So be careful girls to make sure your sunscreen goes all the way to your hairline! I also layer products with SPF now, and I carry a stick of mineral SPF45 powder in my handbag for touch ups.

    I love this unmade look. I just bought my mom the Urban Decay Naked Basics eye palette for my mom for her birthday in May. She loves the unmade look, and she's been asking me for a while to show her how I do my eye makeup. So I bought this palette and a small set of brushes for her. She was so excited. I can't wait to show her this blog so she can see the steps of how to do other looks. It's so fabulous!

    1. Thanks so much for leaving such a sweet, thoughtful, informative comment. So much appreciated, Micah! xo


All of your lovely comments make my day! Thanks for taking the time to share your musings, ideas, and opinions. Feel free to leave a link to your blog- I'd be happy to check it out :)