Subtle, chic, and flattering on everyone, the “barely there” make-up trend is perfect for summer when you don’t want to spend ages on elaborate smoky-eye looks or be caked in heavy foundation.
The au naturel look was big news on the Spring/Summer 2021 catwalks, too – as seen at the Victoria Beckham, Jacquemus, Jason Wu, and Prada shows – and it’s more relevant than ever as pandemic restrictions ease and we get reacquainted with our makeup bags.
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“I believe it’s a progression from not wearing any make-up during lockdown,” says Joy Adenuga, makeup artist and founder of By Joy Adenuga. “People have shifted focus to more natural-looking routines that will take them less time to do.”
The trend has been around for a few years, but it’s always evolving, she says, with the current focus on “brows that look big and bushy, natural-looking flushed cheeks, lengthy lashes, hydrated lips, and breathable, glowy skin.”
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Aimee Connolly, makeup artist and founder of Sculpted by Aimee, loves the “effortless, soft and pared-back” look and the move away from strict “rules” towards a more individual approach: “It’s not only a lovely way to wear makeup, it’s also brilliant that we’ve all become more accepting of ourselves naturally.”
It’s about picking and choosing the elements that appeal to you the most. Here, our experts offer their tips for enhancing – not masking – your features.
“Keeping things soft and fresh makes people look and feel youthful,” says celebrity make-up artist Bryony Blake. “The key is to make everything pop and glowing but without it being too obvious, and I love to do this by making the skin look like skin but giving it a beautiful glow.”
Opt for lightweight foundations or BB creams with a dewy or satin finish, says Connolly: “Light coverage is a brilliant way to color correct the skin while still letting it breathe. You can always add some concealer into areas you need to for that extra bit of cover-up.”
On the catwalks, models’ complexions were, for the most part, bronzer and blusher-free, but if you’re worried about looking washed out Connolly adds: “Cream blushes are having a moment and I am delighted they are. Taking a cream blush into the apples and sweeping back up to the cheekbones is a brilliant and natural way to add color.”
“When it comes to natural-looking brows, you want to keep them fluffy and in place,” says Blake. “My favorite products to achieve this would be a colored brow mascara or a fixing wax.”
Brow gels with microfibres will “help build volume to your natural brows” while clear fixing products “hold your brows in place without leaving them feeling crispy and wet. Perfect for creating a fluffy brow, they can be used with other brow products or on their own.”
While bold eye makeup looks call for bold lashes, with the “barely there” trend it’s about “making your eyes stand out without using a lot of product,” Blake says. “You need to go for a mascara that will add length and volume but won’t be clumpy. Using a comb-shaped wand or rubber wand can really help with this.”
Connolly adds: “A dash of mascara helps to bring the face and structure alive.”
You’ve got a few options when it comes to a natural lip look. Blake suggests going one of two ways: “A beautiful matte lip that matches your natural lip shade or a balm that enhances your natural lip colour.”
Connolly says: “Lots of us tend to stay away from lip liner when really it can be worn so naturally. For a barely-there look choose a shade close to your lip colour and generously blend into the edges and centre of the lip. You can also soften it with your finger to avoid a very lined lip look but that still holds definition.”