How to Look Like You're Not Wearing Makeup (When You Are but Only a Little)


Free People

Although in many ways nude makeup is bringing it back to the basics—working with a color palette just a shade or two off from your natural skin tone—perfecting a nude makeup look is no easy feat. Neutrals can quickly veer on the side of coming across bland or washed out, and the last thing anyone wants is a beige face.

For an expert opinion on achieving the perfect nude makeup look, we reached out to celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose. With a client list that includes Brit Marling, Tessa Thompson, and Lupita Nyong'o, Barose has experience working with a diverse range of skin tones to achieve both red carpet and everyday looks. He underscores that nude makeup that makes you look fresh and healthy isn't necessarily going to look nude in the packaging. Along with his step-by-step tips for creating the ultimate no-makeup makeup look, he's provided his top product picks for every skin tone. Keep scrolling to read our interview with Nick Barose.

BYRDIE: When is the best time or occasion for a nude makeup look?

NICK BAROSE: Nude makeup is great when what you're wearing is already bold, bright, or busy with patterns, etc. This way it doesn't clash. It's a great way to keep the look in the realm of fashion as opposed to costume. Sometimes you can wear over-the-top fashion or bold accessories, and keep it looking chic and more real when the makeup is more nude and neutral.

BYRDIE: What are the most important things to keep in mind when creating a nude makeup look?

NB: That it doesn't wash you out. "Nude" is a tricky word. Most people think of nude as something beigey, and then it ends up looking tacky like a nude stocking. Nude to me needs to be according to your skin tone. If you're dark, then your nude makeup look might actually be more bronze and berry-toned to look healthy, not flat or pasty.

So it really is not about how the products look in packaging, and texture is key. I like nude makeup that looks fresh, so I always avoid anything too matte and too opaque—it doesn't look alive. Creamy, shimmery, sheen, gloss, and anything that reflects light looks fresher. Otherwise, it all ends up looking like a beige wall, and that kind of color and texture does not belong on the face.

BYRDIE: Step-by-step, how do you create the perfect nude makeup look?

NB: Since it's not a loud color, in order to make the face pop, you still need to decide where you want to make the focal point—eyes or lips—and then add extra drama there. If it's the eyes, you might want to add stronger brows and extra liner or mascara. If it's the lips you want to focus on, then you might want to make them slightly shiny to draw attention.

I usually start with fresh-looking skin using sheer liquid foundation and a bit of bronzer just to warm up the complexion and to help keep the nude palette from washing out.

On the eyes, I opt for shimmery eye crayons or cream shadows that you can dab on the lids or up to the brow bones. Then I define eyes with a dark brown liner just on top—or bottom too, if I wish. Add two coats of black mascara.

Cream or liquid blush helps to add glow, which is key for making the face look alive, especially when you're using such subtle colors.

On lips, I like a bit of sheen using a crayon lipstick in a nude tone—keep it easy and simple. I'm not a fan of darker nude lip liner. It ages you. The key is to keep it fresh and easy. If you need extra pop on the lips, then add a bit of a deeper-toned stain underneath the nude lip color.

Nick Barose rounded up his favorite products below for achieving a nude makeup look for every skin tone.