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A step-by-step guide on how to achieve the 'no-makeup' makeup look

Now is the perfect time to experiment with a subtle routine.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

We all strive to achieve an effortless makeup look that leaves our face looking natural and glowing. It's often referred to across the internet as a "no-makeup" makeup look. And regardless of your skill level, creating this effect can be fast and easy with the right tools.

To help you discover the best techniques and affordable products to use, Shop TODAY spoke with several makeup artists who shared their go-to picks for creating an effortless everyday look.

Picking the right products | Expert-approved products | Application tips | Meet the MUAs

How to choose the right products

“When it comes to achieving a 'no makeup' look, the key is to focus on shades that mimic the natural tones of your skin,” explains makeup artist Kornelija Slunjski. “A no makeup look is basically a play on shadows and highlights, enhancing your best features and covering up discoloration and blemishes."

Slunjski offers a few tips for choosing the right products for every part of your makeup routine.

  • Foundation: She suggests keeping it minimal. Opt for a tinted moisturizer or a lightweight foundation with a dewy finish.
  • Concealer: Depending on your skin tone, you can choose a peachy or dark orange color to effectively address any discoloration.
  • Eyebrows: Grab a brow gel and a brow pencil (or a powder) in a shade that most resembles your natural brow color.
  • Eye shadow: Go for more neutral eye shadow shades. “Soft beige, warm taupe, subtle brown hues and gentle earthy tones are excellent choices for achieving a natural eye look,” says Slunjski. Using your bronzer or contour colors on your eyes is also a great way to achieve a coordinated and effortless look. Keep in mind that you’ll want to stick to shades that aren't overly warm or cool-toned.
  • Blush: Look for shades that mimic a natural flush. “Here’s a cool trick: take a peek inside your mouth!" suggests Slunjski. "It might sound a bit weird, but the colors you see inside can actually give you clues about which blush shades will look great on your skin.” Just pull down your lower lip and check out the colors you spot. You may notice rosy pinks, soft corals or deeper berry tones. These shades can be your go-to guide when choosing a blush shade that will enhance your complexion and give you a healthy glow.
  • Lip color: Choose a color that resembles your natural lip shade. For this, you can use the same trick of looking inside your mouth, Slunjski tells us. Nudes, soft pinks or muted berry tones can give your lips a hint of color while still looking effortless.

Makeup artist-recommended products for a natural look

Aesthetica Cosmetics Beauty Sponge Blender

Recommended by makeup experts Evette Villanueva, Jonet Williamson and Brittany Scott, this multipurpose beauty tool is a great option for blending foundation, primer, concealer and more. Made to allow for an edgeless application, this blender is latex-free and made with vegan materials. The brand recommends using it dry or wet and bouncing it gently on your face for a smooth application.

Ardell Beauty Stroke A Brow Feathering Pen

This brow pen is a favorite of Williamson, who uses it to feather out her brows. The fine tip of the pen allows you to sketch little hairs onto the brows for a full look. It was also made to be water- and smudge-proof for a longer-lasting look.

Maybelline Fit Me Matte Powder

If you prefer a more traditional powder foundation, then Williamson recommends adding this one to your makeup bag.

"It has a blurring effect that gives off a flawless but barely-there feel," she says.

The versatile formula can be worn alone or on top of another foundation. The goal is to help reduce the look of pores while creating a smooth and soft look to the skin.

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Foundation

If you're in search of a nice matte finish, then Williamson suggests using a liquid foundation.

"Revlon ColorStay Foundation comes in a vast array of shades and gives the most natural skin finish while providing great coverage without looking cakey," she says.

Jouer Cosmetics Blush Bouquet Duo Blush Palette

This dual palette can act as both a blush and eye shadow, according to Scott. Choose between a shimmer or matte finish depending on the look you're going for.

"With two soft pink choices, this blush palette is flattering on a range of skin tones," Scott tells us. "Another wonderful thing about these blush colors is how flattering they also look as eye shadow. (Use) it in the crease of the eyelid to provide a natural flush and warmth to the eyes and the cheeks."

Live Tinted Huestick Color Correctors

“They work under makeup to neutralize hyperpigmentation and dark spots,” Slunjski shares. The product can be worn on eyes, cheeks and lips as a multistick. The creamy formula is also buildable, so you are able to add as much or as little as you please.

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight

Slunjski says that Rare Beauty’s highlighters are truly exceptional. “They have a stunning pigmentation that goes a long way, effortlessly blending into the skin. Every time I use them, I receive compliments on my glowing and fresh-looking complexion,” she shares.

Slunjski uses them in her inner corner of her eye and under her brow bone for an added touch of brightness and definition. Using it will create a lasting, soft, glowing finish you’ll love.

Nars Cosmetics Radiant Creamy Concealer

A trusty concealer is a must-have for covering your under-eyes and blemishes. Villanueva prefers this concealer for its full-coverage and surprisingly nourishing ingredients.

Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara

To get a perfect natural makeup look, Scott believes long and thick lashes are one of the most important components. This mascara is her favorite for getting long, voluminous lashes.

"Not only does it give the lashes length and thickness in a long-wear formula, it’s also easy to remove," she says. "The skinny brush ensures each hair is coated all the way to the base of the hair for a flirty wink."

MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime Fix+ Primer and Setting Spray

Keep your completed makeup looking fresh all day with the help of a setting spray. Villanueva carries this spray by MAC Cosmetics everywhere she goes to help maintain her makeup all day. Made of water mist, this spray was designed to hydrate skin and help makeup last for up to 12 hours a day.

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream

Slunjski believes keeping it minimal is key for applying any foundation, CC cream or tinted moisturizer. This bareMinerals pick is an ideal 3-in-1 product that truly plays into the no-makeup look. It’s a moisturizer, skin tint and SPF 30 and will keep your skin glowing and hydrated while providing a natural finish and a light coverage.

Victoria Beckham Beauty Contour Stylus

“This has been a game-changer for me. Not only do I use it to sculpt my cheekbones and nose, but it has also become a versatile tool in my makeup routine,” says Slunjski. She also loves using it as an eye shadow to add depth and dimension to her eyes, and even as a lip liner to define and shape her lips.

Supergoop! CC Screen

Villanueva stresses that skincare is the first step to achieving the most natural makeup look.

"Make sure you’re using serums and moisturizers to get your skin plump and moisturized," she says.

She recommends using this CC cream if you're looking for a full-coverage product that also contains SPF to help protect your skin. It comes in 15 shades to match your skin tone and aims to smooth fine lines for all skin types.

Stila All-In-One Color Correcting Palette

Sometimes concealer just isn't enough, which is why this palette helps cover imperfections with the magic of color correcting. Whether it's dark circles or blemishes, the varying colors are buildable to adjust to your needs.

Scott considers this a must-have for creating a perfect natural makeup look.

"The different colors target discoloration on our faces to help cancel or neutralize the unwanted pigment," she says. "It works beautifully alone, blended in with a beauty blender, under concealer and/or foundation."

Too Faced Born This Way Undetectable Medium-to-Full Coverage Foundation

This liquid foundation provides a natural finish with medium coverage. As Slunjski suggests, add it only to the areas you need it first (imperfections, red spots, etc.) and with a light hand. This will help you get the coverage you’re looking for without overdoing it.

Too Faced provides a number of shades so that anyone can find one that works well with their skin color.

Erborian CC Creme

Scott finds this CC cream to leave people wondering, "Did she wake up like that?" The formula is designed to adapt to your skin tone and give the appearance of an even and natural complexion.

Application tips for a “no-makeup” look

Once you've got your products in all the right shades, here are how the pros say you should apply it for the best results.

Evette Villanueva, a Miami-based makeup artist, thinks having the right tools is crucial and Slunsjki says avoiding harsh lines is key, so you can never go wrong with a classic beauty blender sponge.

"The beauty blender is the most versatile tool you can have in your makeup bag," Villanueva tells us. "You can apply your foundation, concealer, blush and powder with it. The bottom round part of the blender is good for all over the face and cheek area, while the pointed end is good for under your eyes and spot treatments."

  • Foundation: Start with a small amount of foundation and then gradually build on it, if necessary. “It’s easier to add more product than to remove excess, " Slunjski explains. She prefers to use a brush to apply the product and then blend it out with a damp beauty sponge. This will create a seamless finish and gets rid of any extra product.
  • Concealer: If you’re covering blemishes, use a thicker formula that matches your skin tone and let it sit on your skin for 15 seconds before blending it in. This will help the product settle and blend seamlessly. “Apply a small amount only to the areas of concern, and follow up with a lighter concealer to brighten,” advises Slunjski.
  • Eyebrows: The key to achieving a soft, feathery and natural look lies in layering the products and applying them with the right amount of pressure. “The pressure you apply determines whether your brows will appear light or dark. So take a gentle approach to create that perfect balance,” says Slunjski.
  • Eye shadow: A little goes a long way when applying your eyeshadow for a no-makeup look. Apply a little and blend until it’s at its most natural-looking state. Add more if needed.
  • Blush: If you’re using a liquid blush, most of the time, less is more. So lightly dab the product onto your skin and build your way up to your desired amount. You can use the same method when using a powder blush. Ensure you’re applying it on the apples of your cheek and work your way up to your outer eye. Villanueva suggests applying a light wash on your nose to help give you a naturally-flushed look.
  • Lips: “One of my go-to tricks for a natural look is using a nude lip liner to outline and shape my lips,” Slunjski shares. This adds a touch of definition without being too obvious. Then, she tops it off with hydrating lip oil to give her lips a boost of moisture and a beautiful shine.

No matter what, you'll want to finish your look with a setting spray, Villanueva advises. "This will help make your makeup last all day and also give you a refresh throughout the day. I recommend dropping it in your purse with your favorite lip balm, and you’re ready to go!"

Meet the makeup artists

  • Kornelija Slunjski is a makeup artist based in Miami.
  • Evette Villanueva is a makeup artist based in Miami and the owner of ENV Makeup.
  • Jonet Williamson is a New York-based makeup artist.
  • Brittany Scott is the assistant boutique proprietor at Benefit Cosmetics and was previously the director of education at Blushington, an online makeup artist academy.