10 lightweight products for a 'no-makeup' look
Let your natural beauty shine through with these top-rated items.
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If leaving the house wearing zero makeup makes you feel naked but you don't feel like always rocking a dramatic cat eye and a red lip, there is a solution—the "no-makeup" makeup look. It's exactly what it sounds like: You get to wear makeup as you normally would, but the finished product looks natural and subdued, not all made-up.
From a lightweight tinted moisturizer to a barely-there lip stain, these subtle products let your natural beauty shine through.
1. This Wet n Wild tinted moisturizer
Do away with cakey foundation and go for light coverage with this top-rated tinted moisturizer. Our beauty editor Jessica Kasparian calls the Wet n Wild Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator Tinted Skin Veil her “favorite complexion evener of all time” for its versatility. It’s featherlight compared to most liquid, cream, or powder foundations and allows you to build your coverage from sheer to medium while still revealing the natural nuances of your face, like freckles and rosiness on the cheeks.
To apply it, distribute a blueberry-sized amount between your cheeks and forehead, then use either a finger, a sponge or a makeup brush to blend. Building coverage works best when you’ve waited for each layer to somewhat dry before applying a new one. It comes in 12 shades ranging from porcelain to rich.
Get the Wet n Wild Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator Tinted Skin Veil from Amazon for $4.98
2. This Benefit Cosmetics lip and cheek stain
For a pop of natural color to your face, opt for the best-selling Benetint Rose Lip & Cheek Tint. It works double duty to give you that just-been-kissed look on your lips and that flushed hue on your cheeks. It’s touted as smudge-proof, whether you're eating and drinking or sweating in the heat.
To use the stain, swipe the wand evenly over your lips, building intensity as you go—the fewer the layers, the more natural the look. For a subtle blush, dab three dots onto your cheeks, and quickly blend with your fingers before it dries.
Of its 3,000 reviewers, one fan writes: “This is the only makeup I wear every day. It gives a natural flush that helps me look more awake without looking fake. I do three stripes and quickly blend and haven’t had any issues with streaking.”
3. This Glossier eyebrow pomade
Grooming your eyebrows adds structure to your face, regardless of how little makeup you're wearing. To wit, consider the mega-popular Glossier Boy Brow, a brush-on pomade that's available in clear, blond, auburn, brown, and black to suit all brow shades.
The creamy, wax-like formula brushes the hairs into place, for feather-like definition and an all-day hold. To master the look, apply the product to your brows in quick upward strokes, taking care to avoid any clumping, as you would with mascara.
Of its 4,200 reviewers, one customer’s testament to its staying power is enough of a reason to add it to cart: “I wore this to a festival and it stayed on through infinite sweat there. After the festival, I got hit by a car on the side of the road and after getting pulled out from under a car and going to the hospital the only intact part of my makeup when I left the hospital was this brow product.”
4. This Bobbi Brown moisturizing primer
A makeup primer allows the rest of your products to apply more evenly and last longer. The Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base Priming Moisturizer takes it a step further, providing skin hydration and a glow that looks great on its own or smooths the appearance of makeup you layer over it. Its creamy consistency melts into the skin almost like a balm and a little goes a long way. Just rub it into clean skin with your fingertips, avoiding the eye area.
The product racked up 128,000 "loves" on Sephora and more 1,700 reviews, with one reviewer writing: “I can’t explain how much I love this primer. I have combination skin and have struggled with my foundation separating. I’ve changed my foundation, concealer, and press powder a million times and nothing made a difference until I started using this product. Definitely a game-changer!”
5. This subtle Laura Mercier highlighter
When you're going for a toned-down makeup look, you may want a subtle sheen rather than a high-shine, shimmery highlighter for the skin. For this, try the Laura Mercier Candleglow Sheer Perfecting Powder, which claims to add a soft, luminous glow wherever you apply it while "blurring the look of fine lines and wrinkles." It comes in four shades on Sephora ranging from fair to deep.
To apply the highlighter, use a fluffy or angled brush to sweep a curved line from the high point of your cheeks to your temples. Top off the look with a dab on your cupid’s bow, nose tip, and beneath your eyebrow arches.
One Sephora reviewer raves: "My absolute holy grail. This is a repeat purchase of mine. It gives such a flawless finish was was a really dreamy glow! The formula is amazing and is definitely all-day wear. I don’t use any kind of other finishing powder, and it keeps me from getting oily in certain areas as well."
6. This Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm
Pretty up your pout with Amazon’s best-selling Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm. It adds a touch of color to your face without looking overdone. The balm contains shea butter and botanical waxes that are moisturizing with a glossy feel, which helps drive home the dewy theme of your no-makeup look. It comes in six shades, from sheer red to light purple.
One of 8,700 Amazon reviewers says it’s not only an impressive dupe of pricier alternatives like Korres and Fresh, but it’s superior in quality: “Non-sticky, long-lasting, moisturizing, easy to apply without a mirror. […] I’ve been using this for years and come back to it every time I’m enticed to try something new.”
7. This Clinique mascara
Twiggy-level spidery lashes are not the goal here. Instead, go for Clinique’s Naturally Glossy Mascara, a gel-based formula that works to lengthen the look of your natural lashes, allowing your eyes to pop with a single swipe.
It comes in black and brown, the latter of which is even more subtle. Use it as you would any other mascara: Place the wand at the base of your lashes and fan out gently, taking care to avoid clumps. Keep in mind that it’s not a waterproof mascara, so you may want to use a mascara primer to further extend its wear (Lancome makes one with more than 4,000 reviews and a 4.4-star rating).
One five-star fan hits the nail on the head: “If you’re looking for a ‘no-makeup’ mascara, this is it! I love this stuff. It’s so natural-looking and doesn’t flake. I’ve tried several other brown-black mascaras looking for this effect and haven’t been lucky until now! I hope they never discontinue it.”
8. This Maybelline concealer
Concealer lets you spot-treat redness and discoloration while allowing your natural complexion to take center stage—the essential goal of a barely-there makeup look.
The Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Multi-Use Concealer is an ideal option because it works three ways: You can dab the formula onto blemishes or scars, apply it under your eyes for a well-rested look free of dark circles, and use a darker hue as contour for chiseled bone structure. It comes in 18 shades ranging from fair to deep bronze. To apply, twist the top and apply the formula that comes to through the cushion onto the skin. Then blend it using your fingers, a sponge, or a brush.
Among its 99,000 (and counting) Amazon reviewers, one self-proclaimed “makeup snob” writes: “This is very, very essential for those of us who hate the fifth-hour cakiness of cream concealers but also hate the weak coverage and creasing of most liquid attempts.”
9. This E.L.F. Cosmetics cream bronzer
The natural makeup look becomes even more convincing when your skin boasts a sun-kissed glow. Skip the harmful rays and opt for a natural-looking cream bronzer, like this buzzed-about one from E.L.F. Cosmetics. Because it's a cream bronzer as opposed to a powdered one, it mimics the texture of your skin, making it look like you're wearing zilch. It contains argan oil and vitamin E to moisturize your skin and comes in eight shades ranging from a cool-toned light brown for fair skin to a warm-toned deep shade for darker complexions.
There are numerous ways to use it: Swipe it on your cheekbones, hairline, and nose to warm up the whole face or only within the hollows of your cheeks and sides of your nose to bring out your bone structure. To blend, use either your fingers, a sponge, or the corresponding Putty Primer Applicator brush.
One E.L.F. Cosmetics reviewer swears by it: "I bought this bronzer as soon as E.L.F. launched it. I’m so glad that I did. I use it with the putty brush applicator. This applies like a dream and leaves a really natural-looking tan. It’s my go-to for everyday wear."
10. This Tatcha skin mist
You’ve worked so hard to create the illusion of an effortless appearance—it would be a shame to let it go to waste! Lock it in with the super-popular Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist, which works to set your makeup and prevent caking. There are a few application options: Use it on a bare face to prime your makeup, apply it afterward to set makeup, or spritz it throughout the day to revive your dewy glow. Some reviewers even recommend spritzing it onto a makeup sponge prior to blending out your foundation with it to add luminosity to your base. It contains botanical oils and humectants that claim to hydrate the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
One of its 1,800 Sephora reviewers and 196,000 fans writes: “After using many [similar] mists, I tried a small bottle of this. The effect it had on my skin was phenomenal. My skin remained looked dewy and hydrated for eight+ hours, which is why I am going to get a second bottle. Definitely worth every penny.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.