No Makeup Makeup: How To Master Makeup Minimalism

Minimalism is in. Embrace the trend by sporting no makeup makeup. Top makeup artists show you how.

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Minimalism is all the rage these days, with just about everyone and their mother opting for a life free of clutter and embracing the less-is-more philosophy. And that trend has translated into beauty, with no makeup makeup becoming one of the go-to looks on red carpets and runways in the last couple of years. The thing is, while no makeup makeup comes across as relatively low-key, it actually takes a bit more effort to do than you might think. That doesn’t mean no makeup makeup is super complicated—it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. We talked to three top makeup artists to get their best tips for creating a no makeup makeup look that’s perfect for the office, date night, and more.

Wait, so what is no makeup makeup, exactly?

Contrary to what it sounds like, no makeup makeup isn’t the same as going makeup-free. “For the no makeup makeup look, it’s about attempting to look as natural as possible with product,” explains Camara Aunique, celebrity makeup artist. In essence, it’s about enhancing what you’ve got without actually appearing as if you’re wearing any makeup at all, says Sophia Porter, makeup artist and hairstylist in Chicago. A typical no makeup makeup routine requires a decent amount of products, but it’s not so many that a beginner will feel overwhelmed. Some of the products you’ll want to have on hand include a lightweight base (think tinted moisturizer or BB cream), brightening concealer, highlighter, sheer lip color, and a natural-looking mascara and eyebrow groomer. No cobalt blue eyeliner or vampy lipstick here! Makeup artist Mary Irwin says skin prep is also an important part of no makeup makeup because following a solid skincare routine will ensure your complexion is in optimal condition for makeup application.

Why is no makeup makeup having a moment right now?

There are a few reasons why no makeup makeup is surging in popularity these days. For starters, Porter says many of her private clients are turning to no makeup makeup because they’re sick of the overdone beauty trends they’ve seen on Instagram. (Think feather eyebrows, ombré lashes, and contoured-to-the-extreme complexions.) They feel as if those beauty trends are too clownish, and they just want to look fresh without looking like there was too much effort involved,” she says. Porter adds that no makeup makeup is timeless and won’t ever go out of style, so there’s no risk of looking like you’re not up-to-date with the latest beauty trends. Lately, women have been moving toward embracing what they’ve got (whether that’s freckles, acne, wrinkles—you name it) and away from hiding their faces under thick layers of foundation and concealer. “Women want to look like themselvesjust slightly enhanced,” says Aunique. “They want to see their freckles. Women are loving the skin they’re in more and more, and I love it.” Irwin cites Christina Aguilera (who had a “makeunder” for a recent Paper Magazine cover) and Alicia Keys (who decided to ditch makeup altogether a couple of years ago) as celebs who’ve embraced their skin, inspiring no makeup makeup to stick around. Finally, although creating a no makeup makeup look involves using a bunch of products, it’s something that can be done relatively quickly. “It’s simpleonly a few steps, and anyone can do it,” says Irwin.

How do you do no makeup makeup?

Want to hop on the no makeup makeup bandwagon? We’ve got you covered. Follow our step-by-step guide to doing a no makeup makeup look on your own.

Step 1: Work through your skincare routine.

The most important step is having a well-rounded skincare routine to prepare your canvas,” says Porter, who recommends keeping an emphasis on hydration so you end up with a glow. Porter likes using facial oil before makeup to get a dewy baseshe just recommends being careful about which one you choose. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, for example, you’ll want to make sure you pick a non-comedogenic facial oil, like Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Day Oil ($45), since that won’t clog pores. Porter is a fan of NOW Organic Argan Oil ($30) for dry skin, which easily absorbs for glowing skin sans grease. You only need to apply facial oil sparingly to the high points of your face (your temples, brow bones, cheekbones, jawbone, cupid’s bow, and down the bridge of your nose) to get a glow.

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Step 2: Lay your base with tinted moisturizer or foundation.

If you find your makeup regularly wears away by midday (this can happen if you’re oily), start with a primer, says Irwin, who likes the Heir Atelier Face Primer ($42). “It smoothes skin and makes a world of difference in how the makeup wears,” she says. Then, move on to applying tinted moisturizer, BB cream, or a small amount of foundation. For seamless coverage, Porter suggests buffing thin layers of your product into your skin starting from the center of your face and working outward for a seamless effect. You can do so with a makeup sponge, like the beauty industry favorite Beautyblender ($20). For a base, Porter likes Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Enhancer Concealer and Foundation ($48), which comes in 16 shades ranging in skin tones and undertones, as well as Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64), which comes in 24 hues and has a glowy finish and lightweight texture. Irwin recommends Laura Mercier because the brand offers multiple formulas and finishes for different skin types and tones. She says Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 – Illuminating ($45) has a particularly stunning finish.

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Step 3: Conceal.

You shouldn’t be heavy-handed with concealer because it can end up looking cakey, says Porter. Just dab on a tiny bit sparingly to any areas that need it, such as blemishes or dark circles underneath your eyes. Porter recommends Giorgio Armani Maestro Corrector ($40) for dark circles, while Irwin is obsessed with NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer ($30) and Aunique likes MAC Cosmetics Mineralize Concealer ($24). Aunique opts to apply concealer with her fingers and sets it with Dior Diorskin Forever & Ever Control Invisible Loose Setting Powder ($52).

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Step 4: Add a pop of color to your cheeks.

It’s easy to go overboard with blush, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it. Porter suggests using an itty-bitty bit of blush for the slightest hint of color. You can easily do that by applying a sheer cream blush with your fingers to the apples of your cheeks. Porter is a fan of Glossier Cloud Paint ($18), while Irwin notes that Stila Convertible Colors ($25) are a makeup-artist staple. “Just swipe a little bit on the apples of your cheeks and blend with your fingers,” says Irwin. “It can also work as your lip color. Pat it in with your fingers, just like on your cheeks.” If you prefer powder blush, Aunique says NARS Blush in Orgasm ($30) suits everyone—it’s a classic for a reason.

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Step 5: Highlight key areas of your face.

Next, highlight the high points of your face to really brighten up your appearance, recommends Porter. One of her favorite highlighters is RMS Living Luminizer ($38), which can be applied with your fingers for a super sheer highlight.

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Step 6: Groom your brows.

Once you’re done concealing, move on to your brows. “Don’t paint them on,” says Irwin, “but fill in any sparse areas and use a tinted gel to hold them in place.” Try Benefit Cosmetics 24-HR Brow Setter Shaping & Setting Gel ($24).

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Step 7: Go easy on the mascara.

Super black mascara is great for a night out, but when it comes to no makeup makeup, brown or black/brown will give you a more natural look, says Porter, who adds that you should stick to one coat for no makeup makeup. Aunique recommends Lancome for their wide variety of mascara formulas. Lancome Definicils – High Definition Mascara in Brown ($27.50) is a good everyday pick.

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Step 8: Swipe on tinted lip balm.

Steer clear of bright colors, and pick up something that looks like your lips but better. Porter says Perricone MD No Lipstick Lipstick SPF 15 ($30) fits the bill (and the name fits our theme!). Irwin loves Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 ($24) because there are a ton of shades, and the formula moisturizes while providing that hint of color.

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Step 9: Set your no makeup makeup look.

And now we’ve come to the end! Under 10 steps isn’t too bad. All you have to do is spritz your face with a mist to set your makeup and add a glowy sheen, says Porter, who likes Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist ($48).

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No Makeup Makeup Hacks for Busy Days

Even if you don’t have time for a full no makeup makeup routine, you can simplify things and still give the trend a whirl. Hit snooze one too many times? You can always pair clean skin with a little lipstick, says Irwin. For a bit more coverage, combine foundation and highlighter to get your glow in less time. Mix one drop of highlighter (Aunique likes MAC Cosmetics Strobe Cream) into one pump of your foundation, combining the two in your hands, and press it into your skin.

No Makeup Makeup: How To Master Makeup Minimalism

Christina Heiser
Christina Heiser is a beauty, health, and wellness writer with more than eight years experience working in digital media. In addition to contributing to HealthyWay, she also currently writes for NBC News, Total Beauty, The Pretty Pimple, A Sweat Life, and Vitamin Shoppe. When she's not working, you can find Christina hitting up boutique fitness classes in New York City, cheering on her favorite sports teams (Let's go, Mets!), and watching as many Broadway plays as she can fit into her schedule.