Plea From a Makeup Artist: Drop the Contour, Rock “No Makeup” Makeup

Jessica Alba The Honest Company No Makeup Makeup Look

The Honest Company

Right now, we’re currently in the throes of a makeup trend I refer to as contour purgatory, defined by heavy-handed makeup applications manufactured by vloggers and celebrities who tell us more is better. Too often, women are doing it wrong — and it looks like spackle gone awry.

It’s time for a trend overturn. It’s time for No Makeup Makeup to flood Instagram in lieu of geometric eyebrows and globs of glittery gloss.

First, let’s get something clear: the No Makeup Makeup look is not to be mistaken for the Alicia Keys, Leandra Medine or Pat McGrath no-stitch-of-makeup look.  It’s more like the Jennifer Aniston-for-Smart-Water look or Jennifer Garner-for-Neutrogena look. And I’m not saying No Makeup Makeup doesn’t require work! Like everything else, it does (maybe even more so). The main difference is this particular makeup look is the polar opposite of contour insanity: classic, tasteful and timeless.  Even celebrities like Kim K who helped manufacture the heavy contour look also are having a change of heart.  Whether she is really capable of going subtle remains to be seen.

My favorite thing about No Makeup Makeup is the ability to see the person’s skin and its vibrancy. You can rock it in the day, night and day-to-night.  This application allows you to see the woman’s totality and you’re not distracted by her makeup.  (We can have a lengthy discussion about this, but for now I do want to mention that I’m all for statement makeup looks depending on the objective. But for the sake of those of us who’re looking for a timeless look, my tips are for you.)

How to Create a Flawless No Makeup Makeup Look

  1. Prep your skin with a moisturizer containing SPF. This isn’t just an effective anti-aging and anti-skin-cancer strategy; the right amount of hydration for your skin makes the perfect glowy base for your No Makeup endeavours. Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 glides on like silk without leaving a white cast on your face.
  2. Choose the right concealer color. If you have discoloration under your eyes, choose a corrector to neutralize the discoloration and apply concealer on top. Your concealer color should always blend in and be the same color as the rest of your face. This is where your aggressively unfiltered aesthetically inclined friend comes in handy. Take him or her around to various lighting environments and ask them to stare at your face for confirmation. If they can see your concealer, you’ll need to change it up.
  3. Pick a foundation color that blends in seamlessly with your skin. It should look like you don’t have makeup on.  This may sound anti-climatic, but the point is that it should optimize your skin color and provide a blank slate with no frills. The frills come later (and we’ll get to that in a second).

Bonus Tip: If you have a lot of blemishes, scars or anything else you need to conceal by layering on foundation, don’t fret: Use a wet beautyblender sponge. You won’t look like you’ve caked on makeup!

If you do nothing else right, moisturize and get your concealer and foundation colors right — and you’re already 40% there.  Congratulations!

Next, you’ll be enhancing your primary features, your cheeks, eyes and lips:

  1. Apply a creme-based cheek color. Find a shade that brightens your face and makes you look uplifted and happy. I like creme formulas because they melt into skin, making you look dewy and rosy without all that glitter or cakey powder.
  2. Choose subtle eye makeup. Try a sweep of a neutral eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara.  Nothing too labor-intensive.  Save your precise cat eye for a different makeup look.
  3. For lips, read My Lips But Better.

Now onto the aforementioned frills:

  • If you feel too bare with the recommendations above, apply a subtle or even heavy dusting (with a stiff brush) of bronzer to your cheekbones, outsides of your forehead, down the nose and on the chin. You can get away with a heavy dusting of bronzer and still look natural if you get the skin looking right with the right concealer and seamless foundation. The stiff brush allows for a very controlled bronzer application and your face will look warm and enhanced in all the right places.
  • Apply a subtle luminizer to the high points of your cheekbones, down the middle of your nose and above your cupid’s bow.

Here are some women who have rocked the “No Makeup” Makeup Look flawlessly:

Emma Watson and natural no makeup lookEmma Watson and natural no makeup look
Gabrielle Union natural and no makeup makeup lookGabrielle Union natural and no makeup makeup look
Anne Hathaway and natural no makeup lookAnne Hathaway and natural no makeup look
Jennifer Aniston natural no makeup makeup lookJennifer Aniston natural no makeup makeup look
Jessica Biehl natural no makeup makeup lookJessica Biehl natural no makeup makeup look


Just as it’s important to learn what to do, it’s also equally as important to learn the no-no’s.

The Two No-No’s of the No Makeup Makeup Look

  • Choosing a concealer color multiple shades lighter than your skin tone to “brighten” your under eye or problem areas.  If your skin looks ashy after applying concealer, it is a clear indication this color is incorrect and too light for you.  If there is a drastic difference in color tonality from your under-eye area and the rest of your face after concealer is applied, it is definitely the wrong color.
  • Using a foundation that is one or two shades darker than your face color because you want to create warmth or make yourself look more tan than you are.  You can do this properly by reading more on how to make yourself look more tan (see frills above).

What do you say? Will you join me… anywhere outside of contour purgatory?


  1. Thank you for sharing the ideas of No Makeup Makeup Look. I am very excited for the valentines day, as my boyfriend stays away from our native town and will be coming home for the lover’s day to meet me after so long. He does not like overdone makeup, I was very much looking for suggestions. Your advice on selecting correct foundation based on skin tone is really helpful. Glad you shared such useful tips.

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