Bare Bones!

Have you ever wondered how an actress or model in a commercial, television show or movie gets that “no makeup,” au natural look? Well, believe me when I tell you, she has more makeup on her skin than you think!

No actress/model wants her face to grace the little or big screen sans makeup on purpose! Enter the Pro Makeup Artist who is given the task of creating this illusion of beauty “perfection” and given the right product, tools and knowledge, our client can rest assure that all the viewing audience will see is organic gorgeousness!

Natural makeup is about the cosmetics you put on your skin, where you apply them and your application technique (in other words, blending ability). This look requires that you select colors appropriate for your skin tone and they should be matte in texture. No glitter or shimmer! Remember, you are trying to create the “illusion” that you are not wearing makeup at all and unless you are a member of the Cullen Family a la Twilight vampires, you should not sparkle like diamonds when wearing this look!

You want to enhance your own beauty and ideally you want your face and not your makeup to be noticed. Refer to advertising campaigns for Aveeno or Abercrombie and take a really good gander at the model’s faces. Besides the fact that all of those photos will have gone through Photoshop, you will notice that makeup is playing a trick on you by using neutral or flesh tone colors that are hiding a model’s imperfections. Press the “pause” button the next time you are watching your favorite television show or movie and get up close and personal with your T.V. screen. The actress who looks like she has no makeup on, is wearing a bunch of makeup and is under some pretty fantastic lighting!

So, how can you achieve this bare bones makeup look properly? I am here to share some Pro secrets that will help to camouflage skin problems and create a more flawless appearance using light and diffusion.

First, I want you to take a good long look at yourself in the bathroom mirror. Take notice of where dark areas and shadows appear on your face, typically under eyes, around the nasal labial folds and across the bridge of your nose and forehead. You want to concentrate on bringing light to those places by using products with a translucent factor infused with light pink, white or flesh tints, will help with this transformation.

Unless you have really great skin, you will want to use a foundation and concealer. Some women, or I should say, young women are blessed with genetics that allow them to walk this earth wearing only a light dusting of face powder, but in my business I find that is a rare species. In reality, most women have a pimple, broken capillary, dark circles, discoloration, rosacea or other forms of skin issues that will require attention and coverage.

For eyes, pick matte eye shadows in “earth” tones, dark brown gel liner and black mascara. For your cheeks you can either choose a matte bronzer or a matte powder foundation one or two shades darker than your skin tone and a peachy/pinky tone blusher. Lips should be glossed with tones of light peach, pink or nude with a brownish tint.

Here’s the how-to:

1. Prep your skin first with all accoutrement (moisturizer, eye cream, primer, etc.) and let products soak into the skin for 10 minutes.

2. Apply a light layer of the foundation of your choice that is the perfect match to your skin tone. Now examine your skin in the mirror. If you continue to see imperfections or if you feel you need to apply concealer to cover dark circles do this after the foundation is applied and blend, blend, blend! Using a foundation brush is one way to ensure your foundation will go on flawlessly or use a sponge if you tend to have extremely oily skin.

3. The next step is a Pro secret that I use no matter if the skin is oily, normal or dry. Take a facial tissue and fold it up into a square and gently “blot” the skin removing excess product. Then use a translucent face powder with a tint of pink to set makeup and prep the face to receive powder products.

4. Moving to the cheek area use the bronzer or powder foundation and a fan brush to apply at cheekbone area by “tapping” product upward toward your temple (do not use sweeping motion). Take this color across the forehead, down the nose and across the chin. Take the same fan brush and apply a touch of peachy/pinky blush to the apples of your cheek using the same “tapping” or “blotting” method.

5. The matte, “earth” tone eye shadows you have chosen should include a vanilla, taupe and mid-tone brown to be used on lid, crease, corner and brow bone. Sweep the vanilla shade over entire eyelid area. Using taupe color, apply lightly to natural crease area and blend. Take deeper brown color and lightly apply to the outer corner of eye, making a “V” shape and blend. Return to the vanilla shade and clean up lid and brow bone area. (Please see Pro Tips & Tricks section for another use of vanilla eye shadow).

6. Taking the brown, gel eyeliner and brush, use the “tight-line” application method and line the upper and lower lash line area. Tight-lining the eye does not mean you apply the liner to the lash line on the top lid area. You apply the liner under the lashes (upper/lower water line area) creating the illusion of a fuller lash line.

7. Using the same taupe and deep-brown eye shadow colors fill in eyebrows if necessary. You may need to use a softer or blonde-tone pencil if you are fair-haired or a darker tone depending on your coloring.

8. To round out the eye area, apply a thin coat of black mascara to upper lashes twice and one coat on lower lashes (lower lashes are optional).

9. Using a flesh tone concealer pencil, lightly line upper lip of cupid’s bow area and connect with bottom lip line creating the appearance of fuller lips and then apply lip gloss in a color from the choices listed above.

10. Now take a last look and decide if you need to add more color or remove excess color. To add, lightly “blot” or "tap" more blush to cheeks and repeat eye shadow technique. To remove, use translucent powder to tone down bright cheeks and apply vanilla eye shadow over the areas that are too prominent, such as the crease and outer corner. Make sure to blend.

Here is a list of products this Pro uses to create the “no makeup” look:

Foundation: this is a personal preference and either a powder, cream or liquid foundation can be used. This Pro’s choice is a cream foundation, such as Eve Pearl's High Definition Foundation applied with a taklon, tapered foundation brush and further blended with a sponge spritzed with water.

Concealer: my personal and professional choice is Eve Pearl's Salmon Concealer Trio.

Highlight: feel free to apply a skin-brightening agent, but remember it should be a matte color. If using this product, apply very lightly across forehead, down center of nose, tip of chin and cheek area directly under the eye area. This Pro’s choice is Tricia Sawyer Beauty's Eye Slept. See Pro Tips & Tricks section on highlighting with powder product.

Powder: loose or pressed powder is fine to set “wet” product prior to applying powder cheek and eye shadow colors. I have several brands in my kit, but two of my favorites are: Tricia Sawyer Beauty's The Powder and Eve Pearl's Pressed Powder.

Cheeks: Smashbox's Matte Bronzer or Nars Powder Foundations are recommended to contour the face used in conjunction with La Femme Glow-On Rouge placed on the apples of the cheek. La Femme is this Pro’s dirt-cheap secret in the colors Golden Dew Amber and Nectar Peach.

Eyes: Tricia Sawyer Beauty's Essential Palette is my “go to” product for every movie, television show, commercial, print or red carpet event I work on! It is a quad palette containing the most versatile, matte colors available for eyes, cheeks, brows, and for highlighting and contouring the face.

Liner: Bobbi Brown Long Wearing Gel Eyeliner in Espresso Ink is this Pro’s choice for tight-lining the eye area.

Lips: Sally Hansen Lip Inflation Gloss and line with Julie Hewett Omit Concealer Pencil. Another Pro secret: flesh tone concealer pencils used as lip liners can create the illusion of fuller lips without the use of color (do not wear alone).

I told you the all “natural” look required more makeup than you thought! It takes effort and practice to pull it off right and remember to use a light hand. You can always build upon the color if you feel more pigment is needed. Soon you will be applying this technique like a Pro and in under 10 minutes!

If the thought of using a cream or liquid highlight or face brightener is intimidating, try a vanilla colored powder eye shadow and lightly dust the color under your eye area, above your cheeks, down your nose, across your chin and forehead and in the nasal labial folds to draw natural light effect to these dark areas.

Up next on IMPO: with Summer right around the corner IMPO will feature our favorite picks for creme blushers and eye shadows! They are sweat and water resistant!


  1. Thank you! This is the look I am trying to achieve most days.....your tips are great!

  2. Mrs. MK - I am so glad these tips can help!

  3. NICE..although it's tough for me to use all matte products (kind of a shimmer junkie). My question to you is...what is YOUR favorite under eye concealer for primarily bluish/green circles on 30+ gal (meaning wrinkly as well....) It's so FUN getting old sometimes.....
    I thought I was in love with the new MAC Studio Sculpt and then I always seem to go back to Cargo Hi-Def lately....such a fickle girl.

  4. Josi!!! Hi and thanks for the question! My readers are gonna think like I sound like a broken record, but my all time favorite, can't do a production without, can't live without concealer are Eve Pearl's Concealer Trios (like the one I show on this post) - she has two depending on how light your skin is. They are amazing! As far as the Shimmer vs Matte - I hear ya! I love a good shimmer (but no glitter girlfriend), but keep it to a minimum when going for this look!!!!

  5. Hi! I love Matte Bronzers for everyday, I don't like too much shimmer for daytime. My question is: What is a good shade of bronzer for someone like me with a cool undertone to my fair/medium skin. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

  6. Hi Anonymous,

    Did you check out our post on Bronzers? It is in the archive under Glow Baby Glow, but if not I would suggest checking out Dior or Shu Uemura both make great bronzers for fair/medium skin tones. Hope this helps!