While makeup trends may come and go, a look that is always in style is natural, "no-makeup" makeup. It's a tried and true look that we can come back to time and again when we need a break from more bold styles. Why is natural makeup so steadfast? The idea of looking like yourself, only a bit more polished (or with slightly more sleep, anyway) is alluring for all.
However, the coveted natural-makeup look can be easier said than done for people with darker skin tones. It's sometimes tricky to find the right shades to give just enough color without feeling overdone. (As someone with a darker complexion, I think the search for my ultimate nude lipstick will continue until I'm on Social Security.)
To help other people with deeper skin tones break down how to create a natural makeup look, I looked to several pro makeup artists for expert tips. Keep reading to get a breakdown of how to choose the perfect palette for skin, eyes, lips, and cheeks, as well as how to create the natural-makeup look on darker skin tones.
"Make sure to swatch three shades against your jaw and check in daylight," Suzy Gerstein recommends. "The right one should disappear into the skin and harmonize with the color in your shoulders." Once face and shoulders match, she'll throw bronzer or foundation on the neck (which tends to be lighter) if needed. And as she says, remember that it's OK for the multiple tones in your skin to be visible.
Sometimes, she'll use two to three shades on a client — a darker one around the perimeter of the face and a lighter one at the center — to enhance those natural hues. Some of her favorite brands for darker tones are Fashion Fair, Nars, and Ben Nye. Another cool pick: the Jones Road Face Pencil ($25) that comes in a range of shades and is great for concealing.
Looking for something extra fresh and natural? "I love mixing foundation with moisturizer for a more translucent, healthy, and hydrated look," makeup artist Ingeborg says. Try adding a kick of color to a cream like the Bioeffect Hydrating Cream ($115), which helps keep skin smooth and dewy.
Matte is a look, but it's not necessarily a natural one. Let your luminosity shine through — a little glowy dew is a good thing. If you use powder, "think of it as a soft, brightening highlight, so opt for oranges and tones that lift and brighten under the eyes and down the center of the face," Gerstein suggests.
As someone with dark skin, I may not go all out with blush, but cheek color always comes into play when I'm creating a natural makeup look. As Gerstein says, the goal is to mimic the look of blood underneath the skin. Apply blush to the apples of your cheeks (smile big, and it's the round, protruding part) in an upward motion with a brush. You can also use your finger — just be sure to blend well.
A creamy formula in a plum or dusty-rose shade like the Jones Road Lip and Cheek Stick in Tawny Nude ($34) melts into a range of skin tones. Mix your blush with moisturizer for an extra-dewy, toned-down glow, Ingeborg says. Typically, blush is done after foundation, but for a super-subtle look, you can try applying it before to diffuse the color.
To softly enhance the natural color of lips, the pros say to just go a couple of shades darker than your lip tone; however, Gerstein encourages trying out different shades. "Remember, you can adjust them with pencils," she says. "For instance, oftentimes I'll mimic the cool-toned brown of a woman's lips with a cold brown eye pencil, top that with a slightly warmer brown lipstick, and then fill the center of lips with a pink gloss."
Speaking of gloss, that's what's going to give you the sheer, kiss-of-color look. Try products like the Ami Cole Lip Treatment Oil ($20) or Roen Kiss My. Liquid Lip Balm Shimmer in Bowie ($26). Otherwise, opt for a satin texture like the La Bouche Rouge lipstick in Nude Brown ($40) or a stain. We love the texture of the Make Beauty Serum Balm Intense ($26), which is kind of like a hybrid gloss and stain.
As with lip color, you want to go a couple of shades darker than your complexion for eye shadows. Think soft chocolates, caramels, and latte-like shades. Gerstein even likes to use a cream bronzer on lids. To make it stay put, she suggests applying a primer underneath and topping it with a dusting of translucent powder like the Fashion Fair Set It Loose Powder ($34).
Another option: Pick a powder shadow quad like the Tom Ford Eye Quad in Desert Fox ($89). Use the pale orange as your all-over base, the warm brown from your lashline to your crease, the deep brown at your crease and eye's outer corner, and a pop of the shimmer (use your fingertip) right in the center of your lids. Finish with mascara, and make sure it's a true black. "The more pitch black the shade, the better you will frame your eyes," Gerstein says.
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