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10 best no make-up make-up products for a natural summer glow

If you really want people to think that you 'woke up like this' then invest in some of these hero must-haves

Jess Denham
Wednesday 24 July 2019 16:21 BST
Other than keeping up a good skincare regime and drinking enough water, the key is to choose natural-looking products that match and complement your skin tone
Other than keeping up a good skincare regime and drinking enough water, the key is to choose natural-looking products that match and complement your skin tone (The Independent/iStock)

Beauty trends come and go but the 'no make-up make-up' glow never goes out of fashion. It makes sense; who doesn’t want others thinking they woke up looking this gorgeous?

Less is more for the natural style but that’s not to say it doesn’t take a bit of effort to look effortless.

Other than keeping up a good skincare regime and drinking enough water, the key is to choose natural-looking products that match and complement your skin tone.

Sounds simple, right? It should be, but the beauty industry has only recently started challenging its long-standing diversity problem. Progress is being made, with brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty releasing collections that purposefully cater for everybody, but many still only offer nude shades for fairer skin that look ashy on darker complexions.

For a natural look, we recommend skipping the heavy foundation in favour of tinted moisturisers and only use concealer on problem areas. Choose creams over powders as they don’t sit on the skin as much, and only use concealer on problem areas.

Give eyelashes an instant, make-up-free lift with a good pair of curlers. If you can’t resist mascara, use a thin wand only; remember, smokey eyes aren’t the aim here. Subtly shape eyebrows with a fibrous brow gel.

To compile this roundup, we recruited a variety of testers with different skin tones, choosing brands with inclusive ranges.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Nars radiant creamy concealer: £24, Nars

This concealer from French favourite Nars racked up rave reviews from the women of colour who helped us compile this roundup as the darker shades don’t leave skin looking ashy. Fashion blogger Reena Rai, who describes her skin tone as medium-tan with neutral undertones, gave it the thumbs up for concealing dark circles and shadows. She found she could choose between her exact shade (ginger) and a slightly lighter one that illuminated her under eye area.

It comes in thirty shades and has a velvety consistency that feels surprisingly lightweight on the skin. Light-diffusing technology and a mess-free applicator makes it perfect for highlighting, correcting and minimising fine lines on the go and it won’t melt off as soon as the mercury starts rising. Team it with a light sweep of mascara and slick of sheer lip gloss for effortless beauty.

Buy now

Fenty Beauty gloss bomb universal lip luminizer: £16, Boots

Rihanna’s makeup brand Fenty Beauty made waves when it launched in 2017, the superstar’s lip gloss is one of our favourite products from the range. It comes in three universal sheer shades, all handpicked by Rihanna; choose from milky pearl diamond milk, soft pink fu$$y and rose nude Fenty glow.

We love how a good lip gloss makes you feel done up without much effort. The wand is thick enough for application in one swipe and the shiny, slightly shimmery formula features shea butter that moisturises the lips. It’s not too sticky and has a subtle peachy scent – good luck resisting licking your lips. Wear it alone or over your favourite lipstick.

Pam Sharpe, co-founder of ethical fashion platform Brooks & Sharpe, recommended Fenty's glosses and lipsticks to us as they have an “amazing formula that doesn't dry out the lips”. She describes her skin tone as medium-dark with a warm undertone, and turns to the matte yet creamy shade thicc from Fenty's mattemoiselle range for a nude base colour.

Buy now

Glossier cloud paint: £15, Glossier

It’s time for another classic: the brilliantly versatile cloud paint from cult US beauty brand Glossier, for use on cheeks and lips. The texture isn’t like any cream blush we’ve tried before; it’s lightweight and gel-like, leaving a sheer tinted sheen on your skin without drying it out. Simply dab on a tiny dot with your fingertips and blend for that dewy, youthful look, remembering to squeeze the tube very gently to avoid waste.

The colour is easily buildable if you want a deeper tone without looking clownish. It comes in six shades – inspired by “gradient pink NYC sunsets”, apparently – to complement all skin tones. For the most real-looking blush, try cool pink shade puff on fair skin, soft peach beam on medium skin and warm rose storm on dark skin. This little tube is never leaving our make-up bags.

Buy now

Clinique naturally glossy mascara: £19.50, Clinique

It can be tricky to find a mascara that won’t make your eyes look too heavy. This wand from French cosmetics brand Clinique comes in jet black, recommended for those with darker hair, but also brown, which is a better choice for blondes and redheads keen on the natural look.

It’s excellent at separating lashes and lengthening them to make the most of what you were born with, which is the name of the game here. Ours felt soft and silky after testing, with no pesky clumps or flaking. Top tip: depending on your colouring, you can run it lightly through your brows to give them some shape and definition too.

Buy now

Milk Makeup kush clear brow gel: £15, Cult Beauty

Inclusive vegan brand Milk Makeup may hail from the Big Apple but it’s finally available to buy online here in the UK, hooray! We rate this clear brow gel for its non-sticky texture that shapes and holds brows without leaving them stiff and crispy. It’s beloved by celebrity makeup artists but has a tapered brush for easy grooming whether you’re a beauty pro or not. The fibres are infused with cannabis oil for hydration (no, it won’t get you high, sorry!) and aloe extracts that soften and condition. If you want to add colour to your brows, layer this transparent gel over your pencil of choice.

Buy now

Lord & Berry cream bronzer: £25, Lord & Berry

Warming up your complexion is a go-to step even for no make-up make-up looks. Bronzer can be dodgy if it sits on the skin and looks too obvious but this cream gem from classy Milanese makeup atelier Lord & Berry goes on translucent and melts in to give a catwalk-worthy soft focus finish. It feels wonderfully lightweight to apply and enhances your face’s natural contours with a very thin light reflective film. Our top shade for fairer skin tones is the natural pinky brown sun kiss while darker skinned women may prefer sun tan. Pat it on with your fingers for a hint of that healthy, just come in from the garden glow.

Buy now

Illamasqua nude collection antimatter lipstick: £20, Illamasqua

We have long been fans of edgy cruelty-free British brand Illamasqua so were thrilled to hear that a nude collection had just launched. We tried the new lipsticks and found them to be pleasingly moisturising, leaving a semi-matte finish that didn’t dry out our lips. The buttery texture feels luxurious to apply and the highly pigmented colour lasted for most of the day before needing a top up. For a more subtle stained lip look, apply it lightly and blot off the excess. Colour-wise, try shaula for black skin, vela for olive skin and maya for fair skin. There are matching lip liners available to prevent colour bleeding.

Buy now

No7 airbush away colour balancing primer: £16.50, Boots

Boots’ own brand No7 is often unfairly looked when it’s great quality at a decent mid-range price point. This green-tinted, unscented primer is one of the more expensive products but it’s such a staple that it’s worth it. It smoothes without clogging your pores like foundation can and diffuses light to make your skin look airbrushed. Colour correcting pigments help balance patchy redness to give the illusion of an even skin tone, meaning you can wear it alone on top of moisturiser. It has a creamy texture that absorbs quickly and is hypoallergenic. The Stay Perfect lipsticks deserve a mention too as they’re among the longest lasting we’ve tried.

Buy now

Charlotte Tilbury glowgasm face palette: £60, John Lewis & Partners

Summery shimmer is the goal with this beautiful new face palette from Charlotte Tilbury. Part of the recently launched glow range, it comes in light-medium (lightgasm) and medium-dark (lovegasm) and is packaged in a stunning gold and cosmic-coloured case with a mirror for touch-ups on the move. You get a bronzer, highlighter, blush and illuminator and there are hints and tips on the back telling you how best to use them. Together they give an all over sheer sweep of colour with not much pigment, meaning you’ll be disappointed if you’re after something heavier. They’re fun to apply, gliding across cheekbones effortlessly, but the hard-to-justify price tag means this might be one to save for the Christmas list.

Buy now

Urban Decay naked 2 eyeshadow palette: £42, John Lewis & Partners

We love Urban Decay’s original naked palette with its warm golds and bronzes but we recommend naked 2 for the most natural look for fairer skin tones. You get 12 neutral eyeshadows in matte, satin and shimmer textures, a dual-headed brush and a mirror. They blend beautifully with stunningly high pigment – try layering foxy, tease and verve.

Rebecca Lewis, a make-up lover and media officer for Asthma UK, loved the texture and colour payoff of the palette but found only a handful of the colours suited her Asian skin tone; the rest were too pale. Women with deeper complexions should look to the naked reloaded or heat editions for better nude matches. These palettes are on the pricier side but fallout is minimal, they’ll last you ages even with daily use and they can be built up for a stronger evening style.

Buy now

The verdict: No make-up make-up products

Nars is a winner when it comes to concealer that perfects your skin without looking or feeling heavy and comes in 30 shades. We also rated Illamasqua’s nude lipsticks for their velvety consistency and colour payoff, while Urban Decay’s naked 2 eyeshadow palette is a makeup bag staple.

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