The Naked Face

Fashion studio portrait of beautiful african american woman with perfect smooth glowing mulatto skin, nude make up

The ELYSIAN Guide to the Nude Makeup Trend

At first glance, the “nude makeup” thing seems counter-intuitive. Why bother applying cosmetics that make you look like you’re not wearing any? If that’s the look you want, why not scrap your morning makeup routine and hit the snooze button for another 15 minutes?  And we could all use a little more beauty sleep. But if you want to go nude this season, you’d better stay away from that snooze. In fact, you might want to add another 15 minutes to your prep time, because the nude look isn’t exactly low maintenance. You’ll likely end up wearing more makeup even if you look like you’re wearing less.  The important thing to remember is that the new nude look is about accentuating your features using pigments that are close to your natural skin tone. If you do it right, you’ll look polished without being overdone. It takes some doing, but Elysian’s seven step guide will have you there in no time.

Step 1:
Start with a span foundation.

There’s something about a bright red lipstick that camouflages your imperfections. Sun spots, scars, and dark circles all seem a little less glaring when your crimson pout is the star of the show.  The opposite happens when you wear a nude lip. The eye of the beholder will naturally be drawn to those aforementioned blemishes.

But fret not. Even those of us with a less-than-perfect countenance can appear flawless with the right foundation. To cover deep sunspots, melasma, and birthmarks, we recommend Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation. It is available in 37 shades, and it is loaded with antioxidants to feed your skin. It’s free of parabens, sulfates and phthalates, and is easy to apply with a makeup sponge. For maximum coverage and wear, use it with the Color FX Blurring Primer and the Perfect Setting Powder.

1. Total Cover Foundation ($42, sephora.com) • 2. Blurring Primer ($38, sephora.com) • 3. Perfect Setting Powder ($35, sephora.com)

If your skin is blemish-prone and on the oily side, Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation will help keep the shine under control, and miraculously cover acne scars, especially when used with the Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer. It has a silky matte finish and is available in 40 shades.

Fenty Beauty
Pro Filt’r Matte Longwear Foundation ($34, sephora.com) • Instant Retouch Primer ($32, sephora.com)

If you have a relatively blemish-free complexion (bless you!), then a light BB cream like Dior’s Hydra Life is a great option. It’s got your makeup, SPF and hydration in one breezy formulation. Unfortunately, at present, it is only available in three shades. Mon Dieu, Dior, the world is diverse, n’est-ce pas? But BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer is another wonderful option. It’s an easy-to-apply gel packed with hydrating emollients and contains no weird stuff like parabens, sulfates or phthalates. It’s hypoallergenic and will gives your visage a subtle hint of shimmer.

Dior Hydra Life BB Creme ($60, sephora.com• BareMinerals Complexion Rescue ($30, sephora.com)

Step 2:
Frame your face with a structured brow.

You may think your brows are fine just as they are, and who are we to argue? But just like a crimson lip camouflages blemishes, a dramatic eyeshadow tends to pull the focus away from the sparse edges of your brows. Thus, a nude shadow is best paired with a strong brow. Don’t think in terms of reshaping your browline; just work with what’s already there. Brush your brow upwards then tweeze or trim sparingly as needed. Fill in any spots, accent the arch, and add highlighter underneath. You should end up with strong brows that still look like your brows. If you’ve ended up with a drawn-on mess, clean off the excess with a damp cotton swab.

We have a few suggestions on which kits to amp up your brow game:

1. Anastasia Soare made a name for herself shaping the brows of the hottest talent in Hollywood, so it’s no mystery why her Beauty Express brow kit is consistently one of Sephora’s best sellers. ($39.50, sephora.com)

2. The Sephora Eyebrow Editor comes with a brow brush, angled powder brush and a small tweezer for on-the-go brow maintenance. ($19, sephora.com)

3. If you’re reticent to go full-on bold-brow, Bobbi Brown’s Brow Kit is specially formulated to achieve a natural look. ($50, sephora.com)

Step 3:
Polish your look with a nude eyeshadow, matte or iridescent.

Nude eyeshadow is all about creating a polished, well-groomed look. A shadow pigment close to your own complexion will even out your skin tone and remove discoloration above the eye. Our palette recommendations?

1. Urban Decay’s Naked2 Basics Eyeshadow Palette is a matte formulation in six shades. Use a lighter shade on the front of your lid near your lashes, and contour your eyes with a slightly deeper shade under your brow bone, and be sure to blend well. ($29, sephora.com)

2. Rainforest of the Sea is a versatile collection of eight shimmery shadows. Use the lighter shades under a thin eyeliner when you’re executing a nude look, or use them over a thicker, blendable eyeliner to create a smokey eye. ($36, sephora.com)

3. Bobbi Brown’s Nude Drama Eyeshadow Palette is made up of 12 shades that can pretty much pull off any look you want. A nude shadow with a matte finish? Check. A bright, luminous nude look? Yep. A dramatic metallic copper lid? Uh huh. You get the idea. It’s an eyeshadow wardrobe that will keep you covered–or nude–all season long. ($59, sephora.com)

Step 4:
Go micro with your eyeliner.


You might assume that a nude look wouldn’t involve a stitch of eyeliner, but au contraire, ma chérie. With a nude makeup look, you really NEED eyeliner so you don’t disappear into the firmament. The key is to keep your liner super thin, apply it along your lash line, and use black or brown to mimic the shade of your lashes (save your greys, blues and greens for another look). Bobbi Brown’s long-wear gel is a great option if you’re new to precision eyeliner and not sure you can draw a thin line while holding one eye shut. Brown’s gel is applied with a microbrush, so it’s easy to get the placement right. ($27, sephora.com)

Tarte’s So Fine Micro Liner is a great way to accent the lash line, but it takes a certain degree of skill. The front of your eyelids are convex, with loads of tiny hair follicles from which your lashes grow. The trick is to gently run the tip of the pen evenly along the lash line without getting tangled up in the lashes. Practice makes perfect. If you fall off course, correct your line with a damp cotton swab, and and spot apply shadow as needed. ($22, sephora.com)

If you’re working a nude look, and want it to last all day and into the night, Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner ($22, sephora.comis your best bet. It stays put until you intentionally remove it. And when you are ready to denude your face, check out RMS Ultimate Makeup Remover Wipes ($16, sephora.com). They’re hypoallergenic, free of contaminants and infused with coconut oil for a gentle moisturizing effect.

Step 5:
Don’t be afraid to lash out.

There was a time when false eyelashes were only for cabaret performers and Halloween revelers. But that is no longer the case. Nowadays, falsies have been turning up on everyone, from newscasters to school teachers, and here’s why: they open up the eye and add instant glamour. Depending on the length and design, false lashes can be subtle or dramatic, and they are made of everything from human hair to mink, feathers, lace, or synthetic fibers. If you’re trying false eyelashes for the first time, be sure to give yourself a trial run before your big event so you can get a feel for the glue and the weight of the lashes themselves. We love the kit from Velour Lashes which has everything you need to delve into the world of falsies. ($29, sephora.com)


Tarte has 12 styles of lashes, in various lengths and configurations, and they’re all vegan, free of formaldehyde, and ophthalmologist and dermatologist-tested. Tarte’s equally cruelty-free Pro Lash Adhesive is sold separately.

Tarte Tarteist Pro Lashes ($12, sephora.com• Pro Lash Adhesive ($9, sephora.com)

If you’d rather stay away from false lashes but are game for a dramatic long-lash look, try Too Faced’s Better Than False Lashes Extreme. The patented primer and mascara formulation will extend the length of your lashes more than you ever dreamed possible. ($35, sephora.com)

Or, if you have sensitive eyes or are a strict proponent of natural, non-toxic makeup, then Ilia’s Limitless Lash Mascara is cause for rejoicing. It lifts, lengthens and curls your lashes, and contains no nano-particles, soy, gluten or synthetic fragrances. ($28, sephora.com)

Step 6:
Contour and highlight, as always.

A few months ago, the Elysian team put together an easy-peasy guide to contouring and highlighting, and we’ve been experimenting with shades and formulations in the meantime, so we kind of feel like experts on this one.


We are mad (in a good way) about the Shade + Light Face Contour Palette from the former tattoo artist/reality tv star and current makeup mogul KAT VON D. She spent more than 15 years applying permanent ink to people’s skin via a needle, so let’s just say the woman knows a thing or two about shading and contouring. The palette contains three matte contour shades and three highlighting pigments to bring out the best in your own unique bone structure. As always, her products are cruelty-free and made without chemical irritants. ($49, sephora.com)

Kevyn Aucoin was the makeup artist behind the supermodels of the 90s like Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista, and the makeup line created in his memory honors the artistry that he was known for. His Contour Book Volume 3 contains six shades to expertly define your cheekbones and jawline. ($59, sephora.com)

Dior’s Backstage Contour Palette is a blendable, shimmery powder that makes accenting your features a breeze. A wonderful choice for newbies to the highlighting-contouring game.  ($45, sephora.com)

Step 7:
Cap off your look with a nude lip.

Your complexion is flawless. Your eyes are expertly lined. Your lashes and brows are properly groomed and plumed. Your cheeks and jawline are chiseled. Now all you need is a glossy, kissable lip. Kat Von D’s Nude Mini kit comes with six gorgeous, hydrating nudes to polish your pout. ($44, sephora.com)

Sephora’s Give Me Some Nude Lip is a multi-brand sampler kit with five nude glosses and lip colors from Huda Beauty, Make Up For Ever, Tarte, Stila and Buxom. Mix and match them to find and perfect your ideal nude lip. ($28, sephora.com)

Marc Jacobs Beauty New Nudes lipsticks are a hydrating a gel with a sheer finish. It’s got the polish of a lipstick, with a feel of a gloss, making it the ideal lipstick for the woman who doesn’t like wearing lipstick. ($30, sephora.com)

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