Skin Work: How To Achieve The New No-Makeup Makeup

In summer, makeup always undergoes something of a change, with the heavy contours, cut creases and laser beam-esque highlighter popularised by Instagram makeup artists slowly but surely usurped by barely there coverage, naturally dewy skin and flushed cheeks. You might know this hyper-natural look as no-makeup makeup – makeup that's so sheer, it almost looks like you aren't wearing any at all – but there's another achievable summer beauty trend on the horizon. Enter: 'skin work' – and all manner of professional celebrity makeup artists, from Ariel Tejada (the Kardashian-Jenners) to Mario Dedivanovic (Lucy Hale and Lucy Liu), are on board.
"Skin work is all about working within the tonal shade spectrum found within one’s face," explains professional makeup artist, Kenneth Soh. "That can also mean the tones caused by shadows on a face," such as cheekbones and lashes. In other words, skin work eschews bolder, more dramatic shades, like reds and smoky greys, for more natural hues across the neutral spectrum, from taupe and brown to olive and tawny nuances. "The key to nailing skin work is firstly taking a look at your face in clear daylight," advises Kenneth. "Note the variety of shades found around your eyes, lips and cheeks (simply pinch them gently to find your true blush) and choose similar shades when shopping for makeup like lipstick and eyeshadow."
Ahead, Kenneth explains exactly how to nail skin work in a few simple steps.
Getting your base right always starts with foundation that acts like a second skin. "I love using liquid foundation and then buffing a mineral or powder foundation over the top to create a soft, velvety complexion that still looks really natural," says Kenneth. He recommends SUQQU's Extra Rich Cream Foundation, £65, La Mer's The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation SPF 20, £90, and Nude By Nature Radiant Loose Powder Foundation, £25. For more affordable, high street alternatives, R29 rates NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop 24-Hour Foundation, £15, and Max Factor Miracle Touch Foundation, £13.99. Start light using either a brush or your fingers to distribute product evenly.
When it comes to concealer, Kenneth suggests choosing a shade that is one to two shades lighter than your foundation for a brightening effect that still looks natural. Opt for a soft matte cream or liquid texture applied with a Beautyblender, £17. "Focus under the eyes, the side of your nose and in the centre of your chin. Try Glossier's Stretch Concealer, £15, or NARS Matte Complete Concealer, £24."
Kenneth also suggests enlisting your Beautyblender or chosen makeup sponge to powder lightly over the central panel of your face. "I like Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Setting Powder, £24, for knocking back any shine, but I also spritz a toner or facial mist over the entire face to provide hydration and to make sure the finished result isn't too matte." Spritz on Révive Vitalité Energizing Hydration Mist, £45, or Kenneth's go-to, Caudalie Beauty Elixir, £12.
From coral to candy pink, there are heaps of blushes to choose from, but Kenneth always falls back on one hue in particular. "I always use the Kryolan Supracolor in Youth Red, £7.80, which is basically the colour of blood," he explains. "This is a universal colour and suits everyone. Plus, it's really buildable. As it's a cream, I'd suggest lightly buffing this on to the apples of your cheeks with a fluffy brush. To make the rest of the base look more like skin, opt for a neutral bronzer which is free from shimmer particles. This cheek duo instantly warms and shapes the face without looking overly contoured." Kenneth recommends Marc Jacobs' O!Mega Perfect Tan Bronzer, £35, with 13rushes Universal Do-It-All Face, £23. Concentrate bronzer to the cheekbone and sweep the colour up to your temples for a subtle sculpted effect.
Skin work isn't all about the base, as Kenneth suggests looking for lip products in a shade ever so slightly deeper than your natural lip colour to pull everything together. "Using a biodegradable cotton bud, lightly buff the line to make it less harsh. Then, fill in your lips with a nude lipstick and purse them together firmly to push the pigment into the lips." Try Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat, £16, and Huda Beauty Power Bullet Matte Lipstick, £22. Kenneth also recommends Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick, £35, for intense pigment and brilliant staying power.
Kenneth suggests choosing a neutral shade a tad darker than your foundation to create a 'halo' of colour around the eyes that doesn't look too 'done'. "A clever trick is to keep the centre of the lid clear. Using a small, fluffy brush, softly apply the colour in a banana-esque contour shape just above the crease." If you want a more defined look, blend the same eyeshadow under the lower lash line. "This will bring a gentle focus to the eyes. Simply finish with a light coat of mascara on lashes after giving them a pinch with a pair of eyelash curlers."
It’s the slight shadow of the hairs being cast on the skin that actually creates a convincing brow, says Kenneth. His trick? Start by brushing the hairs downwards to make the silhouette easy to form. "Then, use a fine tipped marker or brow pencil with a small nib to draw individual hairs in between the brows where areas might be sparse. This will allow you to slowly build up the desired brow shape without over-defining." Try Glossier's Brow Flick, £15, or Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, £23, for brows that look believable, not blocky, and gently set with Eyeko's Brow Gel, £18.

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