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I Took Sephora's Free Class on No-Makeup Makeup—Here's What I Learned

A capture of the entrance to Sephora
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When I first heard that Sephora would be offering free makeup classes to its Beauty Insiders, I couldn't sign up fast enough. Even though I absolutely love applying makeup and I talk about it like it's my job (it is), I'd never taken an actual class. Suffice to say, I couldn't wait to dip my brushes in.

The first available class was a 90-minute session on no-makeup makeup. At first, I kind of chuckled a bit, considering the fact that a fresh-faced look shouldn't take over an hour to learn, right? But the class's long length was more intriguing than off-putting—What could we possibly be learning that takes 90 minutes? I wondered. And with that, I signed up and patiently waited for the day to arrive.

The start of the no-makeup makeup class.
Lindsey Metrus

The Class

I showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 10 a.m. on a Saturday and was escorted to a long table in the back of the Sephora store. Lined up along the table were mirrors, "hygiene stations" equipped with sponges, spoolies, makeup remover, etc., and a face chart explaining the look. Our lovely instructor Annie told us that she would teach the class in sections. In other words, she would demonstrate the first few steps on her model, Mia, and then we would execute those steps on ourselves. And I did learn some things.

The Takeaway

The class took about two hours in total, as the application process as a group and the time it took to find the right shades and products for each individual person were a bit lengthy. But Annie insisted that if you were to do the whole process at home, it would only take about 10 minutes.

I loved that I was introduced to so many new products, and that even though I wasn't wearing a lot of makeup and didn't have precisely filled-in brows afterward, I still felt pretty and realized that I didn't need to rock my usual full face of makeup every day.

What I didn't like about the class was that shade-matching was difficult given the time restriction. My cushion foundation made me look a little chalky, so I wish I had been able to find my own shade or that we were able to pick out our shades before the class started. I also didn't love that the products given to us were testers taken off the floor. I'm a bit of a germaphobe, so I really wasn't a fan of putting on lipstick and mascara that other customers had been playing with, even if we did use our own clean brushes and spoolies to apply the product.

All in all, I really enjoyed my first makeup class and learned a lot in the process. And for no cost at all, I can't recommend it enough.

1. Skincare is a top priority

Drunk Elephant B Hydra™ Intensive Hydration Gel $48

This one I already knew. Skincare is a biggie for me, as I'm the kind of person who is always, always, always sure to wash my makeup off at night, and I love taking the time to apply hydrating masks and do-it-all serums to make my skin look its best.

What I didn't know, however, were some of the products that Annie introduced us to. "Your skin should always be hydrated, plumped, and ready to accept the makeup," she explains. She then told us to think of our under-eyes as linen—"If you toss linen in a wad in the laundry basket, it gets wrinkly." As a result, you need to be super gentle when you wash and apply skincare. Her product of choice for under-eyes is Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Eye Serum ($85). She instructed us to tap it on with our ring finger since it's the most gentle finger, instead of tugging the area with your index finger.

Next came lightweight hydration. We were given Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum ($48), which I instantly fell in love with. There was no greasiness, and my skin felt super supple and plump afterward—which was the goal, after all. Annie told us to start from the center and work toward the outside using "minimum product for maximum hydration." One of the students pointed out that there was no SPF in the moisturizer, and Annie noted that she doesn't love using SPF in skincare because it tends to be denser, so she finds a face makeup with SPF instead.

2. Get to know cushion makeup

Lancôme Miracle Cushion Liquid Cushion Compact Foundation $47

Annie didn't mention BB creams or tinted moisturizers and instead told us that our must-have no-makeup makeup product is cushion foundation. She loves AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact ($60) for light coverage, but if you need a bit more, she suggests Lancôme Miracle Cushion Liquid Cushion Compact Foundation ($47) (the Lancôme Cushion is sold out, but we also recommend the Laneige BB Cushion Compact). Instead of using our fingers or the little puff that cushion compacts always come with, we were instructed to pat the product into our skin with a damp BeautyBlender ($20). What I found interesting was that Annie dipped the bottom of the rounded BeautyBlender into the compact and then bounced that off her skin, whereas I usually dip the side in toward the tip of the pink egg. I tried her method just for fun and found that it worked just about the same.

3. Conceal everywhere

YVES SAINT LAURENT Touche Eclat All-Over Brightening Pen
Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat All-Over Brightening Pen $35

Annie also suggests dabbing a bit of concealer with the tip of your Beautyblender on your eyelids, between your eyebrows, underneath your nose, and in the corners of your mouth. This will conceal redness and brighten up your face in no time. I was given the Marc Jacobs Remedy Concealer Pen ($27) (the Marc Jacobs pen is sold out, but we also recommend the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat All-Over Brightening Pen), which had really nice light coverage, and sure enough, my complexion mirrored her claims.

4. Use cream blush

Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek Stain $28

Annie explained that cream blush is the best thing to use for the no-makeup makeup look because it's light and dewy and won't leave a chalky look behind. It also replaces contour and bronzer in the NMM routine, as it contours the cheeks in and of itself. We tried the Milk Lip + Cheek Stain ($28) and were instructed to apply it using our BeautyBlenders because applying directly from the packaging can sometimes be too harsh. After applying the bright pink hue, I immediately got a few oohs and ahhs from the other students.

4. Go easy on the powder

Make Up For Ever UltraHD Microfinishing Pressed Powder
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Microfinishing Pressed Powder $37

The key to no-makeup makeup is being fresh-faced, so putting on any more powder than necessary will only take away from that. Annie told us to only use a bit of translucent powder on your "hot spots" (the areas that get greasy) if you have oily skin, but if you have normal skin, you can forego this step. She also told us that if your skin is dry, you can use a setting spray to bring your makeup to life and freshen up your skin.

5. Keep your eyes open when applying eye makeup

Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara
Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara $30

If you close one eye, Annie says that this often ends up making your eye shadow and mascara look off because you need to apply it so that it flatters the eye when it's open. With that, we used the UrbanDecay Naked2 Basics palette ($29) to create a neutral eye using the shimmery nude color on the lids and the darker taupe on the orbital bone. We then used a brown eyeliner (never black for no-makeup makeup) on our lash line, and followed with a light brush of Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara ($30). "My one and only rule for makeup is that you must wear mascara if you wear eyeliner," urges Annie.

6. Use brow gel

Benefit Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Eyebrow Gel $24

For no-makeup makeup, don't spend the time filling in your brows with a pencil. Instead, beef them up with a brow gel, like Benefit Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Eyebrow Gel ($24).

7. Don't neglect your lips

Milk Makeup Kush Lip Balm
Milk Makeup KUSH Lip Balm $16

Though no-makeup makeup may not seem like a place for a little rouge on your pout, the key is to find something that's light, hydrating, and will amplify your natural lip color. We're partial to Milk Makeup's KUSH Lip Balms, ($16), which have just a hint of color, but are super hydrating.

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