When it comes to natural-looking, glowing makeup, there really is only one person I’d go to for tips. You see, Nikki Wolff (aka @nikki_makeup) is the undisputed queen of healthy-looking radiance. All too often, as a beauty journalist, I find myself bamboozled by the tips that makeup artists offer up. As someone that only learned how to apply eyeliner last year (I’m not even joking), I struggle to engage with the Avant Garde looks all over my Insta and TikTok feeds.
All I ask is for easy-to-achieve, natural-looking inspo, and that’s why Wolff is my go-to. Her trademark fluffy brows, juicy skin and plumped-up pouts have basically come to define everything we want from our makeup looks as of late. As well as being a Dior Makeup ambassador, she has painted the faces of Joan Smalls, Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Shay Mitchell and, most importantly, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Over the past year, virtually all of my beauty inspiration has come courtesy of Rosie HW. The Instagram snaps of her go-to slicked-back bun, aesthetically pleasing shower line up and perfectly manicured nails have proved the ultimate form of beauty escapism for me. But despite all of her beauty triumphs, it is without a doubt her perfectly executed, natural-looking makeup that first piqued my interest. Her glowing complexion has always looked so immaculately polished, but relatable enough that, for some reason, I’m left thinking that maybe I could do achieve it too.
So, when I had the chance to sit down with Wolff over Zoom a couple of weeks ago, there was only one thing I wanted to know: Is it really possible for us mere mortals to achieve a Rosie-esque look at home, during lockdown, with just five minutes to spare in the morning? The answer, to my surprise, was yes, but there are a few tips and tricks worth knowing. So, if like me, you’re desperate to know the secret to achieving a quick, perfectly preened, glowing makeup look, keep scrolling to discover the six game-changing tips that Wolff taught me.
If, last year, you had asked me to give you one totally time-wasting makeup product, primer would have been top of the list. As far as I was concerned, if you have a decent base product, primer was totally unnecessary. But it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, Wolff says ensuring you have well-primed skin means product will apply more seamlessly and can actually cut down your blending time for a more natural look.
“Using one priming moisturiser or serum in the morning that has a little bit of glow, means you can just pop your base straight over the top,” she says. And yes, that primer can just be your last skincare step. “You don’t need to use a serum, then a moisturiser, then a primer and then foundation. Having that many steps means you have to allow for waiting time between each in order to allow the product to settle. Just use a nice priming moisturiser or serum as your last skincare step in the morning, and apply your makeup straight on top.”
It’s no secret that multi-tasking products are top of our wishlists right now, thanks to their timesaving, easy-to-use nature. However, it turns out you don’t necessarily need to shop for new products. Instead, look for new ways to use products already in your arsenal. “There are so many different ways to quickly freshen up your face, but the most obvious one is using multi-purpose products,” says Wolff. “Choose just a small handful of products that you can use in different ways, whether it be a lipstick you can also use as a blush or a bronzer that you can also smudge onto your lids.”
When Wolff told me that there’s no need to apply foundation, I was overjoyed. Not only because I struggle to find foundations that I like, but also because it turns out that I have unknowingly been doing her tip for the entirety of lockdown. “Just using a concealer is a really great way of applying a full-face in a couple of minutes. Just a few dabs, applied a bit more generously than you would usually, blended in with a big buffing brush or sponge should do the job.”
Again, blush had never been a makeup item that I associated with a quick face. I find it tricky to blend and always end up putting it in the wrong place. However, Wolff says that a creamy, easy-to-apply blush is often all you need to liven up a tired complexion. “Blush is a really great way to make you look more alive. If you’re going out in public, you do have to be careful; you don’t want to look sunburnt or like you’re wearing too much in the wrong place. However, on Zoom calls, screens can be quite forgiving and putting on a little bit of extra blush goes a really long way,” she advises.
So what’s the secret to getting it right? “If you’re new to blush, just take your favourite lipstick shade, even if it’s a pinky nude or deep brown, and pop it onto the apples of your cheeks straight after your foundation. You get the benefits of the slip from the foundation so that the cream can really melt into your skin. It will leave a really natural, dewy-looking flush.” And, once your sold, you can save your lippy and invest in a cream blush that can be used in the same way.
Not only is layering your makeup time-consuming, Wolff also warns that formulas become harder to work with when they’re applied one after the other. “Anything creamy is generally easier to work with. When you start introducing matte textures, you need to take time with blending. Lightweight, creamy concealers and fluid foundations are must easier and quicker to use. The trick is to use those cream textures and know how to layer them,” she says.
“Even if all of the textures work together (like going from a super-rich moisturiser, to a primer, to a foundation), unless you really take time to let them sink in, you’re going to end up with layers that just sit on top of one another and slide around. Sometimes, because I know anything too creamy will come off under my mask, I just use a priming moisturiser and pop a powder over the top. It’s the perfect long-wearing, mask-friendly base.”
If you’re really short on time, once you’ve tackled your complexion, the remaining fiddly bits can more or less be left alone. “When I’m at home and I don’t want to put makeup on but still want to look nice, I always brush up my brows and curl my lashes. That way, you’re not damaging them by wearing loads of makeup that you have to remove in the evening, but you’re still opening up the eye area and look fresh-faced,” she says.