As someone who possesses next to no makeup skills, I spend an impressive amount of time trying to copy other people’s faces. And no, I don’t mean that I sit at home following those hour-long YouTube tutorials that require a million shades. (I admitted defeat on those long ago.) Instead, I save Instagram looks of my favourite celebs looking their understated, natural, glowing best and analyse every aspect of their makeup so that I can give it a go myself.
Only I never get it quite right, and I think there’s a very valid reason for it (besides the fact that I’m useless, of course). You see, the sort of natural-looking, no-makeup makeup aesthetic that I lean toward is actually incredibly tricky to pull off. The whole premise of the look is that you shouldn’t really be able to tell where the makeup is at all. And frankly, when I’m trying to decode looks painted by expert hands that have spent years perfecting the art of disguise, I stand no chance.
So in a bid to get to the bottom of what makes a really great natural look, I decided to scroll through my Saved folders to see who, exactly, is behind these seemingly unachievable, chic looks. Painting the faces of basically every celeb whose makeup I swoon over, from Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevingne to Nathalie Emmanuel and Jodie Comer, Florrie White was undoubtedly the makeup artist I needed to speak to. So for half an hour, I grilled her on every tip and trick she has up her sleeve to achieve the ultimate no-makeup makeup look, and this is everything she had to share.
1. Start With Skincare
“It’s really important to invest time in your skincare. When I work on models and actresses, I spend longer prepping their skin than I do applying makeup. For me, it’s important to wash your face and give it a massage for a few minutes. A lot of people still don’t cleanse their faces at night, and I try to explain to them that it’s like eating off of a dirty plate. It’s all about priming yourself for the next morning. If your skin is in its optimum state, the products go on so much better.”
2. Get Mixing
“I apply more concealer than I do foundation. When I’m working with concealer, I always add in an aqueous cream. For clients, I usually prep skin with CeraVe products and also mix them. I do a pump of CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Serum, a swatch of a few different concealer shades and mix it all together to get the perfect match. I doubt anyone has time for that in everyday life, but you can get very similar results if you have clean skin and apply your serum and cream before doing your makeup. That way, you have a really creamy base for your concealer to melt into the skin and keep some of its natural texture. Salma Hayek taught me to put creamy concealer on around the eyes, wait one or two seconds, leaving it to go a little tacky, and then blend it in. It gives it time to set.”
3. Groom Brows
“I think grooming your brows and filling them in is important, but it’s about moving away from the graphic, heavy Instagram look. I brush up the brows and add two tiny little brush-like lines in the roots at the front. Get a product that has a waxy, angled pencil on one end to avoid hard lines and a spoolie on the other end. I love Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil.”
4. Get Curling
“Eyelash curlers are really underrated. A lot of people don’t know that when you’re curling your lashes, not only does it create the effect of long lashes and lift, but it allows more light to catch the eye and makes them sparkle a bit more. My favourites are Kevyn Aucoin. They have a red rubber strip that allows you to actually see the lashes and get close to the root. Then I just wiggle some mascara into the roots only. That way you don’t have full mascara lashes. It’s just creating a nice frame for the eyes.”
5. Reach for Sticks
“I love cheek sticks. My go-tos are the Clinique Chubby Sticks. For contour, I just do stripes from the hollows of the lips to the hairline and then under the jawline. Then you can go ahead with a highlight stick too. I also always use a brown shadow stick or kohl pencil for the eyes. You can literally just rub your finger on the top of the stick, dot it on the outer corners and then just blend it in. It’s the perfect quick cheat to define the lash line.”
6. Lighting Is Key
“The key thing is that people need to re-educate themselves with how to apply highlight. Makeup shouldn’t be a paint-by-numbers thing. We’re forgetting the artistry. My recommendation is to do your makeup in one well-lit mirror, and then go into another room and catch yourself in another mirror. That way you can see if you want to add anything else. If you have clean, moisturised skin, it’s so much easier to see where the natural light bounces off, and that’s where you should be applying your highlight. Mother Nature is rarely wrong.”
7. Swap Lipsticks for Balms
“Mixing lip liners with balms allows you to even out the shape of your lip and add a little bit of colour without looking too ‘done.’ It’s sort of a cheat. Even better are tinted balms, like the Dr. Lipp ones that just give you a little sheen.”
8. Always Carry an Eyeliner
“It’s quite clever to carry two or three products that can elevate your day look into something more done. Applying an eyeliner to your waterline and then scrunching your eyes up makes eyes look a bit lived-in and French-girl cool. I also always carry a nude or red lipstick in my bag to add over liner or balm. It’s always fun to have a little pot of glitter, too!”