The Irony of Natural Beauty

I have a fascination with ‘no makeup’ makeup, which, admittedly, I loathed until I tried it a few months ago. Cosmetic companies continuously release collections about being natural, naked, or nude. I grew tired of the trend. The look seemed polished yet dull and empty because when everything is concealed and corrected, it’s just a bare face without blemishes. I lightened up when I realized I could do a ‘no makeup’ look without covering everything up. This is what happened as a result.

The veins showing through translucent areas around my eyes, usually buried underneath eyeshadow, could be part of my look. Even if I’m covering something up, I could mimic natural tones in skin and create my own imperfections. In the film Christiane F., it’s interesting to watch how the tones in Christiane’s face and eyes change from when she’s clean to a drug addict. It’s an extreme example and I don’t think the drug look is one to glamorize, but it inspired me to try using colors that look like they’re part of me instead of makeup.

My favorite technique is to lightly tightline (lining the upper lash line). It’s simple, but makes a huge difference by adding definition without looking much like makeup. Lids can be left completely bare or glazed with a dab of clear lipgloss. More depth can be added by using matte eyeshadow in the creases, my favorite area being under the eyes near the bottom of the socket line. My skin is neutral toned so I opt for taupe and greyish tones. Eyelashes can be left alone, curled, or coated with clear mascara. My eyebrows are always stark and filled in, though recently I’ve been softening the edges more.

For skin, I focus on evening my complexion and executing a natural looking finish. I apply everything in thin layers and build up wherever necessary to keep coverage to a minimum. When I add powder, I use a powder puff then a brush to dust away excess in order to avoid the powdery look. Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder has been go-to finishing powder since it has a natural looking sheen. Some people also focus on sculpting their faces through contouring and highlighting. I’m not a fan of how contouring looks in person most of the time because it’s easy to look unnatural by applying too much product or using a color that doesn’t work with the skintone. However, sometimes I like to highlight my cheekbones or cupid’s bow for a little glow.

My looks go through a transformation on the eyes and grow darker while I play with colors on my lips. At bare minimum, I have my ‘no makeup’ makeup with bare lids and a thin flick of eyeliner on my eyes and ‘nude’ lips in my first look. My second look has sleepy eyes, but there’s a pop of yellow on my lips. By the third, my eyes are dark and deep and my lips are painted in a classic red lipstick. The combination of ‘natural’ and unnatural can look almost effortless — it’s a distinctive, daring play on the ‘natural’ beauty trend.