How to Create a Soft Makeup Look: Step-by-Step Guide

With products included!

<p>Dima Sidelnikov/Getty Images</p>

Dima Sidelnikov/Getty Images

Makeup trends come and go. Vampire lips, neon eyeliner, intense contouring—they’ve all had their moment in the sun. But there’s one look that truly never goes out of style, a quintessential crowd-pleaser that works in any situation. We’re talking about soft makeup, AKA no makeup makeup. Think of it as the ‘quiet luxury’ version of beauty: subtle, understated, and totally classic. Not to mention that it really is appropriate for anyone and everyone. “Soft, natural makeup is flattering on everyone because it’s a more put together, polished version of you. It only adds to your look, rather than detract from your beauty with any kind of harsh lines or bold colors,” explains celebrity makeup artist Natalie Dresher. The other nice thing? It really couldn’t be easier to create, and, fittingly, doesn’t require a ton of product. And, finally, if you find that it is too light for you—or you want to amp up your look later in the day—soft makeup is extremely buildable, says Dresher. Add a little bronzer, eyeliner, and lipstick, and you can create a totally new effect, she points out. Ahead, Dresher provides a detailed step-by-step tutorial for creating a soft, makeup look.

1. Prep your skin

Since this type of makeup look really is all about letting your skin shine through, you’ll want to ensure your complexion is well-hydrated before even getting to makeup. Dresher suggests mixing a brightening serum in with your moisturizer or SPF to really up your natural glow; she likes Drunk Elephant B-Goldi Bright Illuminating Drops ($38; “Hydrated, glowy skin not only looks healthy and beautiful, it will also require less coverage,” she says. To that point...

2. Skip foundation

And opt for a tinted moisturizer instead. It allows your skin to shine through, while still delivering some coverage, Dresher notes. Her pick: Cover FX Radiant Start Tinted Moisturizer ($24; Applying it with your fingertips will ensure you get the most coverage, as the product won’t get absorbed into the brush bristles or sponge, she adds.

3. Apply concealer sparingly

If there are still any spots that you need to camo—Dresher says under-eye circles, the center of the forehead, and under the nostrils are common areas for discoloration and redness—dab on some concealer. Less is more, as you don’t want to risk caking or creasing, which is why Dresher suggests using a formula that also has some color-correcting benefits. She likes the Tarte Radiant Shape Tape ($32;, which she says has medium coverage, but still allows the skin to shine through.

4. Use cream blush

You can skip bronzer and stick with just a little bit of blush; just make sure to opt for a cream formula, rather than a powder. Dresher says these have a more natural luminosity, imparting a youthful radiance. They’re also innately hydrating and tend to blend better into skin. Dresher’s go-to: MAC Glow Play Blush ($33;

5. Keep eye makeup minimal

All you need is a good ol’ tube of mascara. But for the longest-lasting results, make sure it’s a tubing variety. When you don’t have a lot of powder on your skin, mascara can more easily interact with the oils in the makeup and tend to smudge. “Using a tubing mascara ensures it will stay in place so that you don’t end up with racoon eyes,” says Dresher, who likes Tarte Tartlette XL Tubing Mascara ($27;

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