Kelly Bertrand – one of limited abilities when it comes to such things as makeup – sets out to try and improve her skills in the beauty area (what a sentence). So to start her ‘get better at makeup and hair and stuff’ journey, we’re really going back to basics and perfect a no makeup makeup look that every woman knows is actually deceptively bloody tricky to pull off. We asked our pals at Mecca for their product tips to pull this look off, and here’s how she did!
I’ve never been great with makeup. I’ve never worn a huge amount of it, I don’t have the confidence to pull off (or even attempt) bold looks, and I feel I’m as clueless with things like baking, setting and contouring as my partner is when he’s trying to work our Alexa at home (pro tip: you don’t have to shout at her, she can hear you just fine.)
But as I’m getting older and I’m getting more confident in other areas of my life, I’d like to play with makeup a little bit more and know what I’m doing when I walk into a Mecca. I want to stride confidently towards a counter, rather than my current approach of skulking up to an assistant and asking where I can find the nude lipstick that’s “not too nude, but nude, you know?” (an actual quote from last week).
First of all, I want to nail what I reckon is the holy grail of makeup application – the no makeup makeup look that makes your face look glowy, radiant and, most importantly for me, awake (the bar is low here, kids).
The actual no makeup face (L) and the no makeup makeup look (R)
So, armed with a list of recommended products from Mecca and some tips from their experts, here I go.
How to achieve a no makeup makeup look:
Step 1 – Start with Skincare
The experts tell me that a good base is pretty essential to this no makeup makeup look which, of course, makes sense. Prep your skin with an exfoliant to get rid of any dead skin cells, and go in with your choice of serums and moisturisers that are specific to your skin’s needs.
Step 2 – It’s All About Acing the Bass
Now, the fun starts! I’ve been advised that for that no makeup makeup look, the key is to layer lightly, which seems like solid advice. Primers are essential and they’ve come a long way from the days of simply acting like an on-to-it city council and fill in the potholes. Now, we have hydrating ones, and illuminating ones, or mattifying and blurring ones (oh my). Figure out what look you want and go from there – seeing as I’m going for the whole healthy glow effect, I’m sticking to illuminating. But remember you can always mix and match – for example, use a mattifying option where you get the most oily, such as your T Zone, and then go nuts with the illumination everywhere else.
I used the Too Faced Hangover Primer, $35, because it seemed like a good brand fit for me, and I’m obsessed – it made my skin look like I’d stuck to green juice and soda water last night, which I most definitely did not. I also added some Stila Blurring & Smoothing Primer, $70, to my forehead (where all the lines are) and it was like I’d chucked on that soft-box Instagram filter.
Then, the colour. There’s two ways you can go with this – for that true no makeup makeup look, a tint is the way to go. You actually want to see your skin underneath your makeup – but it’s about smoothing, refining and making your true skin look its absolute best, without masking it completely (yes, that was a dig on you, Maybelline True Matte Mousse, we’re all still scarred).
The bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream, $64, evened out my redness and glided on like a dream (plus it’s mineral-based AND has an SPF 30+,) while the the Rose Inc Skin Enhance Luminious Tinter Serum, $95, while looking verrry strange in the bottle, gave me a glow I don’t think I’ve EVER had (pigment spheres are suspended within a skincare base – when you apply with a brush, the pigment balls burst and blend across your face. Vibes).
But if you’re wanting a little more coverage with your no makeup makeup look, that’s also cool. Go for buildable foundations that have radiance built-in, like the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, $91, (so reliable and literally does what it says on the label) or if you’re boujee, try the Westman Atelier Vital Skincare Complexion Drops, $132 (just make sure to give the bottle a good shake, and in my experience, this is suited for those with drier skin).
If you’re trying to cover blemishes, use your concealer sparingly and with a light hand – I loved the Kosas Revealer Concealer, $50, because the brush is super-easy to spot-target just where you need coverage.
Step 3: Embrace Blush, Baby!
Ah, the step I was most nervous about – blush. I’ve worn it exactly once, when a makeup artist slapped some on me for a TV appearance and I legitimately looked like Alvin and the Chipmunks.
I’ve since learnt it can be a super-handy tool in the contouring/highlighting quest – but the trick is less is more, and no Debbie the TV makeup lady, you don’t have to use it on my entire cheek. In fact, Mecca’s experts even recommend applying it UNDER your tint or foundation for a barely-there touch. They also recommend a cream-based blush to truly blend in with your whole natural glow vibe (minus the thousands of luminous spheres).
You can’t go past the iconic NARS Orgasm the Multiple, $75, (yes please!?) for this look. It’s sheer and buildable enough that even a chipmunk like me can’t stuff it up – and you can use it on your eyes, lips, cheeks or body. Rose Inc’s Cream Refillable Blush and Lip Colour in Ophelia, $62, is also really nice, and goes on a lot more subtle than it looks in the packaging!
And while contour might seem like it flys in the face of the no makeup makeup look, I’m sorry – I don’t know much, but I know enough that I know this round lil’ face needs some chiselling. The Westman Atelier Face Trace Contour Stick, $93, is clean and creamy, and offers a more natural approach to contouring that I’m absolutely in love with.
Step 4 – Set and Forget
Just because we’re going natural here, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to set your face (we live in New Zealand, humidity WILL get you). Dust on a light layer of the cult classic, the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $84, for a set that won’t get cakey and settle into your wrinkles, or spray the Urban Decay Setting Spray, $62, for a 16-hour hold.
And don’t forget the brows! Some clear brow gel to keep things tidy, such as the Mecca Max Clear Control Gel, $20, is the perfect touch.
Step 5 – The Final Flourishes
Here’s where you truly need a light hand – not to guild your perfectly glowy lily. If you’re a gal who can’t not wear mascara, apply the lightest touch of the OG Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara in new shade Chocolate, $47. (I’ve been using this for a few weeks now and I love it – you get the length and volume in a slightly more subtle shade, but disclaimer for this story, I’m not wearing any as I have a lash lift and lash tint at the mo).
Finally, finish off your look with the lips and honestly, these little Smashbox Halo Sheer to stay Colour Tints, $52, were the surprise hit for me – they add the perfect hint of colour, the texture is fab and they double as cheek tints too, so they’re perfect for travel. Add a dab of Kosas Wet Lip Oil Plumping Treatment Gloss, $37, and you’re good to go!