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12 Natural Makeup Looks That Will Bring Out Your Best Features

The secret to looking effortlessly gorgeous? Don’t cover your features—enhance them!

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The best version of you

The beauty of a great natural makeup look is that you feel truly like yourself, only with your favorite features highlighted a little more. And it doesn’t take a lot to get you there. A few easy natural makeup tricks can emphasize your eyes, show off your lips, make your bone structure pop, and more. The key? Using a light hand to make a big impact. “It lets us notice your beauty, rather than just your makeup,” explains celebrity makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor. As the old saying goes, less is more, and it’s true. In fact, that’s one of the beauty tips you should know by the time you’re 40.

Plus, taking two minutes to enhance your appearance can give you an unexpected boost in these stressful times—even on the days you’re just running errands. “Taking care of yourself in these little ways just might recharge your batteries,” Sotomayor says. It’s also a simple way to look put together instantly. Read on to find out how to do your makeup in a way that still looks like you—just the best version of you.

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Prep for a fuller pout

Making lips look their plumpest comes down to keeping them moisturized, but the key to that is something you may not have guessed. “I recommend doing a lip scrub first to get rid of the dry skin,” says makeup artist Renée Loiz, founder of the Black-owned beauty guide Color May Vary. Not only will rubbing your pucker with a gritty sugar- or salt-infused product help your lip balm or oil of choice penetrate more fully, but “your lip products will go on much smoother and stay on longer,” she explains. She loves the LaShola Beauté The Real Lip Kit, which gently sloughs away dead skin cells via brown sugar. What should you use to hydrate your lips afterward? Try this all-natural Burt’s Bees lip balm, which has more than 50,000 five-star reviews.

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Get a natural glow with tinted moisturizer

Many people find that a true foundation is too heavy for a low-key, natural makeup look. Tinted moisturizer to the rescue! These sheerer formulas moisturize and often protect with built-in SPF while adding just a hint of color, evening out skin tone and giving you a subtle boost of brightness. Pro tip: Look for ultra-hydrating formulas with moisturizers such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin for a plumping effect that will help hide fine lines. Try Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, which fans love for its ability to softly blur imperfections using silica-treated pigments.

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Warm up your flush

Want to give your cheeks a flirty hint of color that looks like it’s coming from within? Reach for a cream formula, says Loiz. Applied either by fingers or with a brush, a cream lends a more life-like finish to the skin, as opposed to powder, which can look a bit cakey in sunlight. Her go-to: Tower 28 BeachPlease Cream Blushes, which she calls “sheer but are buildable.” Bonus: They double as tinted lip balm, soothing lips or skin with green tea extract and aloe vera. They’re also sheer enough to be universally flattering.

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Brush up brows for instant wow

“What curled lashes do for your eyes, brushed-up brows do for your face,” says Sotomayor. “They [make you] look more awake and feel more energized.” This move is very easy to pull off. First, try brushing brows straight up using a spoolie brush. If that doesn’t suit your face (or you just don’t like the way it looks), brushing the hair at a diagonal up toward your temples will give you a softer—but still uplifted—effect. To get them to stay, he recommends Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel. “It’s non-flaky and matte, which is key,” he says, “because glossy gels can accentuate the bare spots!”

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Hit lids with a wash of color

Calling a see-through veil of shadow on the eyes a “breath of fresh air,” Sotomayor believes it’s a “a refreshing alternative to the super heavy makeup we usually see on social media.” Here’s how to recreate this natural makeup look yourself: Simply use a big, fluffy brush (Cozette Beauty Eye Contour Brush is his fave) to dust on a very fine layer of light color. Remember, you can always build if you want a little more coverage. Pastels, rosy hues, and soft metallics are all good bets here, but you’ll want to stay away from anything too red or yellow, which can wash out eyes or make you look like you’re under the weather.

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Fill in brows to frame your face

Full brows can project power, as they draw attention to both your eyes and bone structure. Here’s Loiz’s trick to getting there in a way that looks natural: “Try a micro-brow pencil like the one from Camille Ariane. The tip is fine enough to mimic natural brow hairs.” Choose a shade similar to your natural brow hue, and use it to gently color in sparse areas. “Flick the color in the same growth direction as brows,” Loiz advises. You can then blend with a clean eye shadow brush if needed. When it’s time to clean that brush or any other, make sure you have an effective makeup brush cleaner on hand.

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Apply mascara in two steps for separated lashes

For clump-free lashes, it’s all about how you apply your mascara, says Sotomayor. First, pick a lengthening formula rather than a volumizing one, which can get a little too intense for natural look. Second, use his two-coat application technique: “Start by combing mascara straight through your lashes in the direction they naturally grow to get that first defining and separating coat. Next, do a second coat where you rotate the brush as you apply, which builds slight volume at the base and helps lift the lashes.” This ensures you get maximum length without causing clumps.

His recommendation: CoverGirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara. “The silicone bristles are the right shape and size to get between the lashes, flexible enough to not wipe away each coat, and the formula is vegan, so you can look good and feel good,” he explains.

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RELATED: Clever Makeup Tricks for People Who Wear Glasses

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Tight-line for brighter eyes

The way to make eyelashes look thicker without going for a full ring of liner? Tight-lining, which is beauty-expert talk for keeping the color just along your lash line. Loiz likes to use a skinnier eyeliner like Pat McGrath’s PermaGel eyeliners in either a black or dark brown—whichever is closer to your lash color. To apply, she says, “make sure you’re lining underneath and as close to your lash line as possible, filling in any gaps between the hairs.”

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Lift cheekbones with a fine-grade highlighter

Making your cheekbones look sky-high is all about recreating what happens when they naturally catch the light, by way of a highlighter. Getting the finish to stay subtle so you don’t look like a disco ball in the sun comes down to the quality of the pigment, according to Sotomayor. “It’s honestly just about a better formula with finely milled pigments,” he says. “Chunky particles look like glitter, and overly metallic looks artificial.” His pick: The Torche Lumière highlighter by Surratt Beauty. “The glow is beautiful, like satin.”

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RELATED: Inexpensive Beauty Tricks Only Stylists Know

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Warm eyes with a “cut crease”

Dusting a taupe shadow in the fold of the upper eyelids is a go-to makeup move for a reason, whether you’re going for a natural daytime look or a dramatic smoky night-out style. “It adds subtle dimension, which makes your eyes look bigger,” says Loiz. Her advice: Be mindful of your skin tone when applying taupe shadows. “I like Fenty Beauty Snap Shadows in 7 Cadet for deeper skin tones, Charlotte Tilbury The Sophisticate Palette for medium skin tones, and Dior Backstage Cool Neutrals Palette for fair skin.”

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Boost your pucker with a sheer lippie

How to get that yours-but-better lip tone? Reach for a tinted lip balm, as opposed to a lipstick. These sheer formulas are more forgiving, so you don’t have to hunt quite as hard for your “perfect match.” Loiz’s pick: Iris + Romeo’s moisturizing lip tints. They come in seven flattering shades and contain collagen-boosting peptides that increase lip volume while also providing essential moisture. You’ll also feel good buying from this woman-owned business that’s on a mission to simplify women’s lives and create clean beauty products in the process. If you are on a mission to get lipstick, though, here are some of the best nude lipsticks to try.

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Set up skin for success

Sotomayor insists the real key to making your skin look its best and achieving the perfect natural makeup look is taking time at the end of each day for a full skin-care routine that’s simple, gentle, and effective. In other words, no matter how tired you are, always take off your makeup so your skin can accept all the nourishing ingredients in your favorite formulas. It’s all about creating the right skin care routine and sticking to it. Sotomayor’s latest must-have for the process? Prados Beauty Face Pads. “These soft cleansing pads are eco-friendly and machine washable,” he says, “and a percent of the profits is donated to Indigenous and Native American communities in need.”

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Beth Shapouri
Beth Shapouri is an award-winning beauty and lifestyle writer, editor and content specialist with an eye for shaping elevated and differentiated voices that work across multiple platforms. The scope of her expertise extends beyond word choices—through work with diverse freelance clients and past positions at Glamour.com and Us Weekly, she has experience crafting both short-term and long-term audience development strategies for global publications and brands. Her work has appeared in Allure.com, Cosmpolitan.com, Elle.com, Harpersbazaar.com, O The Oprah Magazine, Magnolia Journal and Marie Claire.