I Always Get Compliments on My No-Makeup Makeup Look—19 Products I Swear By

We've all seen our favorite celebs touting their red carpet no-makeup makeup looks, and they look fresh and flawless. However, when I've given the same look a try, it's traditionally been a no-go. As a girl with a deeper skin tone and the hyperpigmentation to show for it, I always found my spots, as I like to call them, would peek through my complexion products. Not to mention my combination skin would look like a complete oil slick, as my makeup seemed to separate from my skin.

But there's some good news. After much trial and error, I've found the products that work best for me and my unique needs. I now have a remedy that makes me feel beautiful and allows me to skip my once heavy-handed makeup applications. Here, I share the 12 products that complete my less-is-more makeup look plus some other options to shop.


(Image credit: @bianca__lambert)

My hormonal breakouts are likely never going away, and I've come to accept that. However, I don't love the marks they leave behind. But I am caring for my skin gently and consistently. As a result, my hyperpigmentation doesn't feel like such a nuisance. Generally, each week, especially the night before I know I'm going to apply makeup, I treat my skin for two minutes in the shower with ExfoliKate. I love this product because it gets the job done without overstimulating my sensitive skin, and my skin is smoother to the touch, creating a canvas for my makeup to glide right on.

Skin prep is essential for any makeup application, and applying serums keeps my combination skin hydrated without adding excess oil. Multitasking serums are always a favorite because I'm not always patient enough to let multiple serums soak into my skin. In this case, this tremella mushroom and vegan collagen serum not only hydrates and plumps, but it also has vitamin C–rich strawberry extract that helps brighten.

I gave up silicone-based primers a few years ago because they caused breakouts. But I had a hard time finding a silicone-free option that kept my makeup in place until I met Grown Alchemist's primer. Hours after application, I can count on this hydrating and pollution-fighting formula to keep my makeup fresh and my oil at bay without any post-makeup breakouts.

I have always loved the idea of cushion foundations. However, cushions usually don't come in shades deeper than medium. But Em Cosmetics formulated a cushion foundation (with SPF) that matches my skin to perfection with skin-loving ingredients like niacinamide. It melts right into my complexion, evening it out but with a better finish.

Foundation is usually a no-no for no-makeup makeup looks, but Ilia's foundation made with skin-loving ingredients is now one of my favorites because it feels and looks like skin. To keep the coverage light, I apply it with my Beautyblender, start with one pump in the middle of my face, and work my way out.

Before watching Hung Vanngo's YouTube videos, I would apply multiple layers of foundation, attempting to conceal my dark spots. But as I watched how little foundation he used on the skin, I adjusted my technique and followed up with concealer as he did. Nars's concealer has been my beauty holy grail for years because you don't need much to see results (and the formula doesn't break me out). After application, I let it dry down for about five minutes then pat it in so I don't move it from the spot I'm working to conceal.

Using powder for a no-makeup makeup look is probably a no in some beauty books. But in mine, a light dusting right on my T-zone area is a must.

I rarely use a bronzer to the last drop, but I can't ever be without this one. Instead of using eye shadow, I use this to create depth on my eyelids. Then I take a little on the same brush I use for my eyes to lightly contour my cheeks, forehead, and nose to bring my features back to the forefront after applying my complexion products.

This blush is truly revolutionary. My cheeks are full of color with one dot, and my face comes alive.

I haven't had a brow appointment in years. I can attribute this to Boy Brow. After a couple of swipes, my brows are full and beautiful.

Like blush, mascara can instantly awaken the face. I especially enjoy this formula because it doesn't irritate my eyes, and it makes my lashes appear full in one swipe (but I always add a second coat).

I always struggle with what I want to use on my lips. A matte lipstick feels like too much, and a clear gloss makes me say meh. But I found a great in-between with this chocolate-hued gel lipstick. It glides on like butter and matches my skin tone perfectly.

I mentioned a clear gloss felt meh, but not when I use this pinky-toned gloss over my gel lipstick. The formula gives my lips a splash of color and shine.

This setting spray has been a part of my makeup routine for years. I love that it sets, refreshes, and doesn't cause breakouts.

Want to know the top three lipsticks always in my bag? Here's one of them. The brownish-pink shade looks like my natural lip color but with a bit more color and sheen.

Minimal makeup looks, in my opinion, can benefit from subtle contouring and highlighting, and this palette has everything you need to complete your look.

I can't say for sure if a makeup artist would say this technique is a faux pas, but I blot my T-zone after applying my complexion products and then follow up with a light dusting of powder.

Mented makes some of the best nude lip color products for deep skin tones on the market. I'm always switching up my glosses, but this one remains in the rotation.

We love a product that lives up to its reviews, and this foolproof pencil (that's saying a lot for someone who just learned how to fill in their brows in the last couple of years) provides a lasting natural definition.

Next, This Makeup Product Is Key for Hiding Redness—Here's How to Use It

Freelance Contributor