The “No Makeup” Makeup Menu

The "no makeup" makeup is all about fresh skin and enhancing some of your best features.

The following content includes referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.

A few years ago I wrote about going makeup-free for an entire month. While I still love going out bare-faced, I love makeup just a little too much to do it too often.

At the same time though, I can’t imagine working on a “full face” makeup every single day.

The “no makeup” makeup is all about fresh skin and enhancing some of your best features.

Some of my personal favorite “no makeup” makeup products that I usually reach for, give light coverage, subtle color and must have some light-reflecting qualities.

Also: brows. These are a must.


To minimize the need for products like a medium-coverage foundation, I focus on skincare products that help target issues like redness and dryness. MAC’s Strobe Cream has been my go-to for many years- not only because it helps to illuminate the skin, but it’s also a well-formulated moisturizer (if you can look past the low amount of fragrance) that also helps with dryness. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness Cream also acts as a great base that helps neutralize any redness and again, helps with dryness.

The "no makeup" makeup is all about fresh skin and enhancing some of your best features.


Once you have your redness and/or dryness under control, it’s time to go in with some coverage. When my skin is feeling on the oily side, I usually gently apply a very thin layer of a translucent powder before going it with my tinted cream/foundation. Usually, it’s Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder.

My ideal “no makeup” makeup product, is Guerlain’s Meteorites Baby Glow Foundation. It’s lightweight with light coverage, adds a nice glow and leaves the skin looking flawless, yet natural at the same time. One of my favorite BB Creams- Lioele Triple the Solution gives a lot more coverage, but again, it looks natural and doesn’t have that “I’m wearing foundation” feel to it.

I often feel like the under eye area is what gives the most away- you can immediately tell whether or not someone is wearing makeup just by looking at their eyes. This is another place where it’s easy to overdo it and go a little crazy with the concealer. I usually just dab the tiniest amount of concealer just under my eyes and on my lids, later setting it with powder. Urban Decay’s Naked Skin (in Fair Neutral for me) concealer gives luminous, weightless coverage that is perfect for those “no makeup” makeup days.

If redness is a big problem, I cannot recommend the Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Correcting Cream by IT Cosmetics enough. All you need is a drop of this thing, and it’ll be enough to give coverage for your entire face, while also being incredibly lightweight. Seriously, this stuff is magic. You can also mix it with a moisturizer to make your own tinted cream. If you struggle with rosacea or post-acne hyperpigmentation, try to get your hands on a sample. I’m NC 15-ish and use Porcelain Beige.

The "no makeup" makeup is all about fresh skin and enhancing some of your best features.


The highlight, I do tend to crazy about, but blush is where I like to keep things subtle- regardless of the look I’m going for. Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Bricks are amongst my favorite cheek products. One- it’s nearly impossible to overdo it with them; two- they add both a very subtle color and a delicate glow. Beige and Rose are the ones I reach for all the time.

Glossier’s Cloud Pain in Dusk is another stunning cheek product for those “no makeup” makeup days. It’s a soft peach that blends really nicely and looks soft and natural.

The "no makeup" makeup is all about fresh skin and enhancing some of your best features.

The "no makeup" makeup is all about fresh skin and enhancing some of your best features.


If you’re lucky enough to have full brows, a clear brow gel is all you need (you can also see how I grew out my overly-plucked brows right here). I’ve tried a few clear brow gels and Glossier’s Boy Brow still remains a favorite- both the clear and tinted versions. Most brow gels leave the brows feeling stiff, they flake off and just don’t work too well for creating a delicate, yet defined look.

On a rare occasion, I will reach for a brow pencil to fill them in very lightly. IT Cosmetics Brow Power universal pencil and Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer (in Medium Brown) are both amazing, quick and easy to work with. The key is to use a very light hand and follow your brow’s natural shape.

When it comes to lips, a true “no makeup” makeup look should call for nothing else but a bit of a tinted lip balm. On those “nearly” makeup-free days I love reaching for something like Dior’s Lip Glow Color Reviver, Lano Lips 101 Ointment (one of the best products for chronically dry lips) or, my beloved and sadly discontinued Dior’s Creme de Rose (seriously, why would they do that to me?!). 

The "no makeup" makeup is all about fresh skin and enhancing some of your best features.


If mascara is part of your “no makeup” makeup routine, you want to keep it natural with your lashes being defined, without them looking too full or clumpy. Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Mascara does just that. It’s sort of like a “your lashes, but better” mascara. Also, Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash* is probably one of the best mascaras I’ve tried in the recent years. It gives SO much volume and has such a flexible and flake-free formula- there’s nothing not to love about it. Because it gives so much volume though, when going for a more natural look, I just quickly wipe off any excess product before coating my lashes for a more subtle definition.

What are some of your favorite “no makeup” makeup products? What do you like to focus on the most when going for minimal makeup looks?


  • Reply
    The Sunday Mode
    August 15, 2018 at 8:07 am

    I’ve always been curious about Mac’s strobe cream. Do you think it either increases or reduces the longevity of your makeup though? :/

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  • Reply
    Bry Jaimea
    August 15, 2018 at 8:57 am

    I spend more money on skincare than makeup, because if you have healthy skin a heavy foundation isn’t even necessary! And I agree – eyebrows are a must!

    xx Bry Jaimea |

  • Reply
    Chloe Louise
    August 15, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Loving this make up look right now in the warmer months! I’m a huge fan of the Maybelline Sensational Mascara too, Chloe x

  • Reply
    Linda Libra Loca
    August 15, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I love the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Bricks for holidays, they work as eyeshadow as well as a subtle highlight.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    My go-to look is probably a “no makeup” look, haha! I always use a clear brow gel and mascara, as well as SPF and a bit of powder, but I usually skip things like blush and highlight. I have enough natural redness in my face that I kind of just let it do it’s thing. But under eye creams and brighteners are a must!

  • Reply
    Rebecca | beautylifebecca
    August 15, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    I love the Glossier Boy Brow. Ive not had it for long and its already become an everyday essential for me.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I’d love to try the MAC strobe cream when the weather gets cooler. I’ve been loving a highlighter from Technic Cosmetics – super cheap and it gives my skin the most amazing glow!

    Angela at Blush & Pearls

  • Reply
    Julia Speaks
    August 15, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    I love no makeup makeup looks. It’s what I wear most days, because as you said less is more and unless I feel like treating myself to a full face of makeup, I only use a few products to create a look. I put all the emphasis on lashes, especially if I don’t use any eyeshadow – that’s why having a great mascara is so important to me! The Lash Sensational is one of my favourites! I also love Benefit mascaras, especially They’re Real and Roller Lash – the latter being more natural if that’s what you’re looking for :)

    Julia x
    Last Post: How To Focus in a Digital World |

  • Reply
    Danielle Alexa
    August 15, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    I love that Urban Decay concealer, it has been such a long time since I last used it, I am going to have to dig it back out!

    Danielle xx

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    Great post, Paula…I really like to get the makeup free look for the daytime. I love the IT products, I use their concealer for my dark circles. With makeup, I have a few foundations and I find if I use a damp beauty blender I can go very light and dewy with any of them. For lashes, Laura Geller has an eyelash primer with a hint of black. You can use it alone which make you look like you have gorgeous lashes, but not too made up. Use it before mascara to give the lashes that texture to hold the mascara.

    I’m wondering what you would recommend for brows in a case like mine. I overdid the tweezing in the past so I have to try to make them look fuller where there is nothing…grrrrrr…I can do a pretty good artist job, lol…but nothing seems to stay put and I have to touch it up. I’d die for thick brows again!

    Jane x

  • Reply
    Lisa Autumn
    August 16, 2018 at 7:47 am

    I just love a more natural look these days.. well done Paula!

    x Lisa |

  • Reply
    Deanna Marie
    August 16, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I do some quite similar to this! Love that strobe cream – I hear about it so often, I’m going to have to buy it one day!


  • Reply
    Natalie Redman
    August 22, 2018 at 5:26 am

    Great post! Love a no-makeup look.

Leave a Reply