Makeup Artists Reveal How Models Do Their No-Makeup Makeup

no makeup portrait

Michela Poggioli / Getty Images

A mastered makeup-free look is a mythical (even magical) creature. Persistently sought yet ever-elusive, a fresh face—one that imbues the appeal of a bare visage but is actually made up—is like the unicorn of our beauty goals. One thing’s for certain: Models have the makeup-free makeup look down, nailing that effortless, natural beauty whether it was a scorching 90 degrees out or a shiver-inducing 29.

"When going to castings, models generally want to look like themselves with help from a couple little enhancements snuck in to give them a fresh, well-rested appearance," says NYC-based makeup artist Suzy Gerstein. So, in our determined efforts to obtain this covetable, seemingly contradictory look, let’s take a cue from the women who do it on the daily. How do models make up their faces to appear au naturel when they step in front of the camera? To learn what products are being toting to casting calls alongside comp cards and heels, we tapped makeup artists and models below.

Meet the Expert

  • Suzy Gerstein is a NYC-based celebrity and editorial makeup artist.
  • Lindsay Kastuk is a NYC-based commercial and editorial makeup artist.
Estee Lauder
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask $85
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While models can’t layer on foundation for castings, they can achieve an even complexion with a little skin prep. Take a hint from supermodel Joan Smalls, who told us that she does face masks every time before a shoot and every two weeks. This one from Estée Lauder is a favorite of hers as it locks in moisture and creates the perfect canvas for makeup.

Boy De Chanel
Chanel Boy De Chanel $45
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In need of a little facial pick-me-up that looks completely natural? Turn to this saving grace models swear by. "This concealer is a favorite among the models I work with because it color corrects without adding any obvious texture to the delicate skin under the eye area," says Gerstein. "It also does not contain any shimmer or excessive emollience so it is imperceptible even in daylight."

Blush Divine Radiant Cheek & Lip Color
Rose Inc Blush Divine Radiant Cheek & Lip Color $30
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"This refillable cream blush is great because it gives a natural, glowing flush," says Kastuk. Not to mention, you can use it on both your cheeks and your lips to create a cohesive, monochromatic look. Perfect for models on the go? We think yes.

Volumizing Eyebrow Filler
Babe Lash Volumizing Eyebrow Filler $25
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Unlike in the ’90s, when Kate Moss ‘30’s-inspired brows ruled the runways, these days agencies instruct their models not to touch their brows with waxing or excessive tweezing, notes Gerstein. So to enhance the full, natural brow effect, this brow filler fits the bill. Gerstein says the taupe shade works on a myriad of hair colors and provides the look of real, full brows without the telltale flaking that many other brow fillers cause. "Also, this one conditions the hairs so models tell me that their brows feel softer after they’ve removed it," says Gerstein.

Brightening Eye Kajal
Chantecaille Brightening Eye Kajal $29
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For some added illumination (and a bit of strategic shine), Gerstein uses this eye kajal from Chantecaille on her models to fake a good night's sleep. She says it works beautifully in the waterline or tear duct to brighten as well as on the cupid's bow to add fullness.

Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick
Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick $68
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"A lot of the models that I work with prefer brands that really care about their ingredients since they are in and out of makeup so often and taking care of their skin is a part of their job," says Kastuk. She recommends this silicone-free formula, which has a variety of good-for-your-skin ingredients. "This foundation is made to be quick and easy to apply—it also has a natural finish and melts into the skin beautifully," notes Kastuk. 

Milk Makeup Face Gloss $25
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Models are masters of the dewy skin look, and face gloss takes it to the next level. This nonsticky, colorless option from Milk Makeup is perfect for quick and easy application between castings. Gerstein also recommends the Milk Makeup Blur Stick ($36) for cutting shine without removing the glow. "The mini size fits into your pocket and blurs pores while creating a semi-matte finish on every skin tone," she says. 

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