The must-have ingredient to the ultimate ‘no makeup makeup’ look

Have you seen Lisa Eldridge’s ‘Secret Makeup’ video? The one where she demos her version of the no makeup makeup look? It is quite stunning.

I want to share it because it brilliantly demonstrates the nuance around ‘no makeup makeup’ and why nailing this look takes more than just five minutes (my condolences in advance ;).

That’s right folks. If you want to nail the no makeup makeup look the must-have ingredient is TIME. Here’s why…

Lisa’s video lasts 24 minutes but my guess is the raw file was probably more like 40-50 minutes in length. Looking at the end result I bet many would assume it took her five minutes. And isn’t that the goal with the ‘no makeup’ look? That we haven’t tried? 😉

But, I only have 5 minutes!

There are many things one can do with makeup in just five minutes. For example, in five minutes it is possible to conceal tiredness, add warmth, open up the eyes or add a pop of colour etc. And for those of us with kids, pets or crazy working hours, sometimes five minutes (less?!!) is all we have. But here’s the thing: the more you cram into that five minutes the less polished the end result. And conversely. the more time you spend on each thing, the more perfected the result (Lisa’s tutorial being a wonderful case in point).

There are, of course, other factors when it comes to a five minute face, or what I like to call ‘the no makeup sprint’. One is you, how you want to look (e.g,  how perfected you want your makeup to be? A little? Not at all?).

Some couldn’t care less if their liner is a bit skew whiff or their blush is not perfectly blended and that is A-OK Sister! A healthy perspective to have. For others, it is important that the makeup they apply, even if it is just five products, looks flawless and imperceptible. Again, whatever floats your boat. There is no right and wrong. It comes down to what you feel comfortable with and are capable of achieving in five minutes (or thereabouts).

What’s interesting about the much coveted no makeup makeup look is that it differs from person to person.  I like mine to be ever so slightly more defined than ‘barely there’…but I still want people to be unsure as to what exactly has been applied. (Cheeky, no? 😉

More than just one look

Just as elaborate makeup looks incorporate varying levels of complexity, quantity of product and types of application technique, so too do no makeup makeup looks. Compare, for example, Lisa Eldridge’s final ‘no makeup’ look with that of Bobbi Brown Pro Artist Hannah Martin (you can watch Hannah’s tutorial here).



Hannah Martin no makeup look

Both looks have their merits and will appeal to different people. Hannah is wearing an obvious layer of mascara (i.e. strong enough to create a defined ‘faux’ kohl line on the upper lash line) and her blush visibly draws the eye, whereas Lisa’s no makeup look is much more subtle, to the point where I am sure if someone saw only the ‘after’ photo, they might be forgiven for thinking she isn’t wearing a bean.

As a makeup artist I am naturally more predisposed to makeup where I can see artistic merit and I relish watching tutorials that break down the techniques and skilfulness which go into a particular look (when it is done well, it is such an art). But I am also a busy person (I am in a relationship, we have a dog, we are moving house and I have a business to run etc etc), so as it is for most people, time is of the essence and if I can do a quick face in five minutes well then all the better!

I have several ‘no makeup makeup’ looks and the main thing that differentiates them is time. I want to share two examples with you.

Natalie James @businessmakeup no makeup makeup

No Makeup Makeup: Look #1 

On days when I am just popping to the shops, going out on a dog walk in my wellies or catching up on emails in my local café I want two things: I want to look like I have slept and I want to look healthy. I can achieve this with just a handful of products and because the situations are low key (no offence Waitrose) I am not particularly bothered if it isn’t the best makeup I have ever done.

After a quick serum and moisturise (add to that SPF in summer, though we should arguably all be wearing SPF year round!), without fail I will reach for the following three products:
– a sheer tint release (fave for the past five years has been the one by Estée Lauder)

– an under eye and spot concealer (at the moment I am loving Glossier Stretch Concealer)

– a lip and cheek tint (e.g. Dr Perricone’s No Lipstick Lipstick, though strictly not for cheeks, gives a rosy glow)
Once these are on I will then consider adding one or two of the below and the products I choose will depend on how I am feeling:
– a light coat of mascara (e.g. Benefit’s Lash Primer. Often I don’t bother)
– a brow mascara
– a matte bronzer (more so in the winter months)
– a cream highlighter (in the summer, if my skin is behaving itself and I am able to forgo the sheer tint I will wear this on BARE skin. I know dear reader!!! *pauses to give thanks*)


Natalie James makeup artist no makeup makeup

No Makeup Makeup: Look #2

On days when I have more time and want more of a perfected look, for example if I am catching up with a friend for lunch, I will use the same combination of products (plus one or two others e.g. a touch of blot powder, a nude lip liner to make the lips appear fuller, ‘barely there’ taupe eye shadow along the lash line etc) but I will spend a good 30-40 minutes doing it. And it will look like this (above photo).

Take your time

If you are into the ‘no makeup makeup’ look but are currently feeling that what you end up doesn’t quite match your expectations, I would encourage you, as a first step, to simply spend more time on it. And I completely hear those of you out there with kids, husbands, jobs, second jobs, deadlines, elderly parents.. the list goes on and on. “I don’t HAVE time!”. But that’s the whole point. Good makeup takes time. Just as getting the body you want or the amazing meal you want to create takes time.

What Lisa’s video so beautifully conveys is that the thing that will change or improve your no makeup makeup look more than anything, is time. Certainly, products come into play and the way you choose to apply each product (for example, using your fingers to warm up products will contribute to the no makeup makeup aesthetic…but, rush and it’ll look ‘undone’ (a whole other aesthetic that has equal merit). Take your time and relish in the perfection.

To end, a quote from one of my favourite movies comes to mind:
“Don’t rush me sonny. You rush a miracle, you get rotten miracles” – The Princess Bride

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