9 Steps to the Perfect No-Makeup Makeup Look, According to MUAs (2024)

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Faith Xue

9 Steps to the Perfect No-Makeup Makeup Look, According to MUAs (1)

Faith Xue

Faith Xue has worked in digital beauty for 10 years and is currently Bustle Digital Group's executive beauty director. She was Byrdie's editorial director for seven years.

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Updated on 10/31/23 01:01PM

Reviewed by

Ashley Rebecca

9 Steps to the Perfect No-Makeup Makeup Look, According to MUAs (2)

Reviewed byAshley Rebecca

Ashley Rebecca is an NYC-based makeup artist and a regular contributor for Byrdie covering makeup, skincare, and haircare.

Makeup Artist

9 Steps to the Perfect No-Makeup Makeup Look, According to MUAs (3)

No-makeup makeup has an enduring appeal, but its easy-breezy name is something of a misnomer. "There is a difference between a natural, no-makeup-makeup look and being 'au natural,'" makeup artist Jenny Patinkin has told Byrdie. "Faking the look of no makeup is actually tricker than it sounds. You still want to look polished and put together, bright and even, but not like you're wearing makeup." Wetapped celebrity makeup artist Erin Ayanian Monroe and Patinkin to show us exactly how to recreate the look.Check out a step-by-step tutorial on how to nail the no-makeup makeup look.

Meet the Expert

  • Erin Ayanian Monroe is a celebrity makeup artist based in Los Angeles, CA. After assisting Kevin Aucoin and Pat McGrath, Monroe became known for her minimal makeup aesthetic as seen on celebrities like Elle Fanning, Kate Bosworth, and Zoë Kravitz.
  • Jenny Patinkinis a celebrity makeup artist, beauty expert, best selling author and brand founder.

01of 09

Prep Your Skin

When it comes to a natural-looking complexion, Monroe suggests keeping it real —literally. "I love to forego foundation altogether for everyday life," she reveals. Instead of a makeup base, she suggests smoothing and brightening the complexion with a gentle exfoliant, like DermalogicaDaily Microfoliant, and then applying a matte, oil-free sunscreen like the NeutrogenaDry-Touch, which works well under makeup.

"Since no-makeup-makeup is all about having natural looking skin, prepping your complexion with a really nice moisturizer is often enough," says Patinkin, echoing Monroe's thoughts on foundation.

For those with drier skin. Patinkin advises prepping the complexion with a water-based primer such as Milk Makeup Hydrogrip. For an oilier complexion, she suggests a silicone-based primer such as Hourglass Veil. "If you do feel like you get a little too shiny but don't want to apply powder, you can use my Jenny Patinkin Blotter Babyto mattify the skin a bit," she adds.

02of 09

Conceal Smartly

Monroe says the trick to a fresh, even complexion lies in your choice of concealer brush. "A small, flat, brush [with synthetic bristles will] spot-conceal any blemishes or redness," she says. For dark circles, however, she suggests patting concealer in with your finger: "Then just finish with a light dusting of translucent powder in your T-zone and you're good to go with color," she says. Unlike foundation, concealer is best suited to targeted application.

For allover coverage, "there are so many sheer drops of color you can mix with your moisturizer to get a hint of color and lots of glow that you really can forego foundation if you want to," Patinkin reiterates. "I love the drops from Westman Atelier. If you want just a hint more coverage, you can apply a sheer liquid foundation like the Saie Slip Tint only where you need it—usually down the center of the face—and then use my Jenny Patinkin Green Tea Makeup Sponge damp to blend and blot away excess product so it looks like it just seamlessly melds with your skin."

03of 09

Choose a Cream Eyeshadow

"For bright, wide-awake eyes, start with a cream eyeshadow in a shade as close as possible to your skin tone," Monroe says. "It can have a touch of shimmer or not, depending on your taste." Monroe says to blend the shadow up from your lash line, fading as it gets closer to your brows.Creams tend to wear more naturally throughout the day, plus they are so easy and quick to apply.

04of 09

Brighten Up Your Eyes

Monroe's tried-and-true trick to instantly open up your eyes? Applying a lighter shade in the inner corners. We love the Laura Mercier Caviar Shadow Stick in Moonlight—a subtle, slightly shimmery champagne beige hue that's easy to apply wherever and whenever. Popping a color like this on the tear duct and blending in toward the center of the lid will wake you up faster than a shot of espresso (on the outside, at least).

05of 09

Groom Your Lashes and Brows

"A good eyelash curler is a must!" Monroe says. "The best ones are byShu UemuraandSuqqu." As for mascara, she suggests adding a coat to the top lashes only, and brushing your brows up and away from your face with a spoolie or clear brow gel like Anastasia Beverly Hills'Clear Brow Gel. (Speaking of which, here's a simple guide to getting thebest brows of your life). This will make your brows look fuller without needing to fill them in with a pencil, which can appear heavy when paired with light makeup.

06of 09

Recreate a Natural Flush

Monroe suggests reaching for acream blushinstead of powder to get a natural-looking glow. "You can apply it with a synthetic bristled brush or your fingers—whatever you're more comfortable with," she says. To nail the natural look, Monroe suggests imagining where your face flushes after exercise and using that as your guide. Glossier Cloud Paint is an amazing option for no-makeup makeup; it's a highly pigmented gel-like formula that blends right into your skin.

Byrdie Tip

Start at the apple of your cheeks and blend back and upward toward your hairline, keeping most of the color in the front of your face for a youthful look.

07of 09

Apply Bronzer

"I think bronzing drops are a great way to go with a no-makeup makeup look since you can get a lot of control over how much depth you want to build," Patinkin says. "To get control in the placement so that it doesn't look streaky or muddy, I recommend using my Jenny Patinkin Sustainable Luxury Angled Multi-Blender Brush to stipple on a little bit of something like the Kosas Glow I.V."

08of 09

Don't Skip Highlighter

"A dab of pearly highlighting cream on top of your cheekbones is gorgeous," Monroe says. It's also one of the quickest ways to liven up the complexion. A creamy formula that melts into the skin instead of sitting on top of it and leaving a trail of glitter the way some powders do is best for minimal makeup days. Monroe's favorite? Tom FordIlluminating Highlighting Pen[Note: this product is sold out; we're partial to MaybellineStrobing Stick, a true drugstore gem]. Check out more of our favoritebudget-friendly highlighters.

09of 09

Swipe on a Lip Tint

The last step to complete your natural-looking makeup look? Adding a tint of color to your lips. "A gorgeous, natural way to go with lip color is a tinted balm," Monroe says. She's obsessed with CliniqueChubby Sticks and Burt's Bees'Tinted Lip Balms. "They deliver the perfect amount of color straight from the tube—nothing could be easier!" A tinted lip balm or waxy stain requires way less effort and upkeep than your average bullet lipstick, but still brings color to the face.

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9 Steps to the Perfect No-Makeup Makeup Look, According to MUAs (2024)


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