The Minimalist's Guide To Makeup

When navigating the online beauty universe, you tend to stumble across two types of enthusiasts. On one end of the spectrum, you have people who adore makeup, and will spend an hour applying their foundation, contour, and false lashes. On the other end, you have people who stay away from cosmetics and focus solely on skin care. But there are plenty of folks who are somewhere in the middle. I like to call them makeup minimalists.
The makeup minimalist is someone who enjoys makeup and the way it makes her or him feel, but never wear "too much." (Which is obviously objective.) These are the people you see popping on face oil, concealer, mascara, and lipstick — and do it all in 10 minutes. They're the ones who sketch on a cat-eye, but leave the rest of their face bare. They're the middle ground of makeup consumers.
Advertisement
And now, more than ever, brands are listening to their needs. Companies like Glossier and Milk Makeup are giving these makeup-wearers what they've been asking for: gorgeous, high-impact makeup and skin care with absolutely zero fuss. "I think the word that permeates everything right now is authenticity," says Georgie Greville, cofounder and creative director of Milk Makeup. "Even if you do wear makeup, it comes down to what your skin looks like and who you are."
What sets brands like these apart is the seamless combination of skin care and makeup. In fact, Glossier started out with just skin care, eventually expanding its line with a brow product, concealer, and lipstick. Its tagline — "Skin first. Makeup second. Smile always" — speaks directly to this idea.
These minimalist brands either offer skin care, or offer ingredients in their makeup that are skin-healthy. "We've put the work into the products, so that they can be added on in a nonchalant way that simplifies your life," Greville says.
Ahead, find some our favorite brands that make basic beauty look anything but.
1 of 18
NUDESTIX
Each product behind this line was designed to be blended with your fingers, with a pared-down, minimalist approach to makeup in mind. This low-maintenance tinted stick leaves behind a sheer wash of color that looks like a soft-touch filter for skin.

NUDESTIX Nudies Tinted Blur Stick, $30, available at Sephora.
2 of 18
A clear, waterproof brow wax to shape and keep stubborn strays in place.

NUDESTIX Brow Wax, $24, available at Sephora.
Advertisement
3 of 18
This soft matte pencil concealer is spiked with hydrating ingredients like shea butter and vitamin E that subtly blur — but never fully cover — imperfections, so skin still looks like skin.

NUDESTIX Concealer Pencil, $24, available at NUDESTIX.
4 of 18
Eve Lom
Most of Eve Lom's products fall into the skin-care category, but it was about time those good-for-you ingredients made their way into a cosmetics line. This balm, for example, won't just lend your lips a subtle kiss of color — it also features a blend of amino acids and beeswax, plus cooling menthol, to keep your mouth moisturized.

Eve Lom Kiss Mix Tints in Cheeky, $24, available at SpaceNK.
5 of 18
All you need is a penny-sized dollop of this sheer, buildable formula for a finish that's dewy and natural.

Eve Lom Sheer Radiance Oil-Free Foundation, $50, available at Nordstrom.
6 of 18
Milk Makeup
Milk's claim to fame has been its on-the-go solutions to makeup and skin care. Its most travel-friendly product is probably the Cooling Water, a solid stick that firms, hydrates, and soothes just like a mist.

Milk Makeup Cooling Water, $24, available at Sephora.
7 of 18
Cheeks and lips in one, easy-to-use package.

Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek, $24, available at Milk Makeup.
Advertisement
8 of 18
Good-for-you oils — such as grape-seed, avocado, and lemon peel — mingle to create a gorgeous glow. Tap this stuff on, and your skin will be instantly refreshed.

Milk Makeup Sunshine Oil, $38, available at Urban Outfitters.
9 of 18
Lilah B.
Looking for a minimalist brand that still has some major luxury behind it? Lilah B. is for you. The company is focused on health-conscious formulations that are multipurpose and gorgeous, like this lip-and-cheek duo.

Lilah B. Divine Duo, $46, available at Lilah B.
10 of 18
Conceal and prime your eyes in one simple step.

Lilah B. Virtuous Veil Concealer & Eye Primer, $44, available at Lilah B.
11 of 18
Even the minimalist girl loves a dramatic smoky eye from time to time.

Lilah B. Palette Perfection Eye Quad, $58, available at Lilah B.
12 of 18
Glossier
Glossier has won over the internet with its back-to-basics, easy-to-use skin-care and makeup products. The brand's brow pomade was an instant best seller.

Glossier Boy Brow, $16, available at Glossier.
Advertisement
13 of 18
Not only does Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser remove your makeup easily, it gently cleans and hydrates the skin.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, $18, available at Glossier.
14 of 18
This lipstick can convert even the staunchest of lip-color critics.

Glossier Generation G Lipstick, $18, available at Glossier.
15 of 18
RMS Beauty
Arguably one of the first minimalist beauty lines — at least in the luxury, organic space — RMS was started by makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift and focuses on natural ingredients that work with, not against, your skin. This luminizer's a best seller, and for good reason.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, $38, available at RMS Beauty.
16 of 18
The perfect first step to your makeup routine, this beauty oil helps balance and refresh the skin.

RMS Beauty Beauty Oil, $78, available at RMS Beauty.
17 of 18
"Un" Cover-Up hides blemishes without masking the skin, allowing your face to appear even and flawless.

RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up, $36, available at RMS Beauty.
18 of 18
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!
Advertisement

More from Makeup

Watch

R29 Original Series