Last year, 2020 – a year to remember, I found myself more often than not reaching for only the essentials to create a simple, natural, but put-together look.
Then when COVID-19 hit and everyone needed to mask up, I found myself finding a new and simpler beauty routine. Most days I wore nothing, but as time went on and mitigation efforts were lifted (slowly) and I went back to work, I desired a very natural easy look. In light of this, I’m going to share with you my top tips for creating that flushed, effortlessly beautiful look that we all love so much!
Rather than share super specific products (but please reach out if you need recommendations for those!), I am going to share the principles behind this style of look and what is important to remember when trying to achieve it.
1. Illuminating Primer
It goes without saying, but to look the most natural you need a primer or base layer that will reflect light. Skin naturally reflects light due to the moisture on the surface of the skin. As a result, to look the most natural but to heighten the experience a bit, I recommend an illuminating primer or moisturizer. Utilizing this step will add so much to that effortless vibe so many try to achieve.
A few base layers I love:
- Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturizer (all skin types)
- Laura Mercier Illuminating Primer
- Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Primer (great for combo-oily skin, but better for light skin)
- BECCA Cosmetics Backlight Primer (suitable for light skin, but best for dark skin)
2. Tinted Moisturizer or Foundation
Depending on the level of coverage you need, a tinted form of coverage goes a long way in keeping a look natural and less “painted” on. To avoid the heavy makeup look, be sure to use as minimal product as possible to achieve an even complexion. It’s also important to consider your skin type here as combination to oily skin needs an oil-free formula, but normal to dry skin benefits from a more emollient and moisturizing mix.
A few favorites I recommend:
- Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer
- Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation (also an oil-free version)
- Tarte Cosmetics Maracuja Oil Tinted Moisturizer (very light coverage)
3. Illuminating Concealer
When using concealer for a fresh faced look be sure to only apply it where you need it. No excessive triangles of light or anything like that. Keep it simple, the point of this look is to do it quickly, so don’t overcomplicate your application. An illuminating concealer is perfect for covering those frustrating dark circles that we all dread and deal with. The light-diffusing particles help to brighten under the eyes creating a more youthful glow that lifts the under-eye area. This is essential in order to look more awake and effortless.
My favorite brightening concealers are:
- NARS Creamy Concealer (all time favorite)
- BECCA Under-Eye Brightening Corrector
- Laura Mercier Camouflage Concealer Duo
A warm bronzer adds dimension back into your face after you apply your base layers and correctors. This is so important when creating an effortless look. When applying your bronzer make sure you hit all the points of your face that the sun would naturally “kiss”. By doing this, you create a natural soft and blended “tan” that enhances the shape of your face. You can also use bronzer to slightly contour your cheekbones by hitting right on top of and just underneath of them, closest to your ears, moving in a downward diagonal towards your upper lip crease. I use bronzer daily, it’s one of those “musts” in my book.
I prefer matte or slightly luminous bronzers, but avoid anything that has too large of a shimmer or glitter aspect. My favorite bronzers are:
- NARS Laguna Bronzer
- Too Faced Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Bronzers
- Physicians Formula Butter Bronzers (incredible bronzers for the price!)
It seems like people are either in the “I love blush!” camp or in the “I avoid blush” camp, but blush – when you have the right blush – can seriously elevate a look. It also creates a natural “flush” that mimics what happens in your own skin when you show emotion. I think blush helps people look happier and more lively. Since it imitates the blood vessels in your face, it truly can add so much to that effortless and fresh look we are all after. Just be sure to slowly build up your blush color and stick to a more natural shade. Remember, that the darker your skin the more bright of a blush color you will need vs. the lighter your skin the more muted of a blush color you will choose.
I prefer blushes with a slight red or rosy hue, but a few of my absolute favorites are:
- MAC Sweet Enough Blush (perfect for light to medium skin, but works for all skin tones)
- Tarte Cosmetics Blush in Exposed (better for fair to light skin)
- Tarte Cosmetics Blush in Peaceful or Dazzled
- NARS Orgasm Blush
Highlighter can be amazing when applied properly. It is still so popular right now and for good reason, but I think we can all agree that there should be limits to its use. We don’t want to look like a greasy disco ball. To avoid that make sure that you use a small fluffy brush to apply your highlighter so that your application is specific and not all over your face. Only apply highlighter to the highpoints of your face and put the greatest emphasis on the outer corners of your face where your brow bone meets your cheekbones. This c or v shaped arch is the most flattering place to highlight with other locations being the bridge and tip of the nose, the inner corner of the eyes, and the cupid’s bow of the lip.
TIPS: Use a dab or two of a liquid highlighter and blend it out before applying a subtle powder highlight overtop. Another excellent place to apply highlighter is the the center of the eyelid just above the lash-line, this helps to open, brighten, and lift the eyes. Again contributing to the lively fresh style we are after!
There are so many highlighters I adore using, but here are a few to get you started:
- Hourglass Cosmetics Ambient Lighting Highlighters + love the individual highlighter called “Strobe” (all of their highlighters are incredible, 100% worth the hype)
- Make Up For Ever’s Liquid Soft Light Highlighters + their PRO Light Fusion Highlighters
- Beauty Counter’s Highlighter palette and inidividuals
- Tarte Cosmetics Highlighter in “Stunner”
- BECCA Cosmetics Highlighter in “Champagne Pop”
7. Mascara with optional Liner
You cannot leave your look without a killer mascara application, but you can opt out of liner. In fact, there are many times where liner is not desirable for this kind of natural “in your own skin” vibe. Mascara is pretty straight forward with application, but don’t be afraid to build it up a little with a few layers because a simple look calls for statement lashes.
If you want to, feel free to do a minimal liner by using a tight-lining technique to enhance the eye shape without covering up too much of the lid space. You can also add a very slight wing, especially if you have more in-set or smaller eyes, this can help elongate them and balance the face. To keep the look natural, be sure not to use a liquid liner, but use a kohl, pencil, or dark powder instead for a softer finish.
Current favorite mascaras:
- Tarte Cosmetics Man Eater Mascara
- They’re Real by Benefit
- Roller Lash by Benefit
- Maybelline Colossal Big Shot Mascara
- L’Oreal Paris Lash Paradise OR Voluminous Original
In an effort to avoid a strong lip color, keep your lip application minimal. My favorite tip for this is to use a very pigmented lipstick, but only dab – lightly! – a few spots, then use your lips or your finger to smudge around the whole lip so that it mimics a very faint filter of color. In this way your application mimics that of a lip stain which is much more natural looking. You are able to give color to the lips, but without making them the focal point of your whole face, which when you want to look “fresh” focal lips is definitely something to avoid. As a bonus, you will not get lipstick all over your mask but when you get in your car to remove said mask, your lips will still look lively and “kissed” with color.
Rather than give a list of favorite lipsticks, any pigmented lip you have on hand will do nicely, but my favorites lean towards the bright spectrum in reds, roses, corals, and bright plums. When used minimally, these create lovely natural lip colors.
I hope you find this simplifies you routine this year – hello 2021! – while still giving you a complete look that covers all the essentials of an effortless, fresh everyday style. I love this routine and it makes life as a mompreneur much more enjoyable and realistic when I know my “getting ready” time is 5-10 minutes max.