#TuesdaysWithLarry: The Expert Guide To No-Makeup Makeup

It’s harder than it looks

Besides his amazing makeup skills and depth of knowledge on everything beauty, another reason why we love working with celebrity makeup artist Larry Yeo is his (often brutal) honesty. When you need someone to tell you your foundation colour is wrong, or your K-pop inspired brows are ridiculous, he’s your guy. So buckle up for #TuesdaysWithLarry, where the makeup maestro dishes out beauty tips, tricks and advice with a big spoonful of sass and spice.

I love it when people come up to us makeup artists and say, “Oh, I want my makeup to look natural. The no-makeup, makeup look.”

This is my reaction:

It seems easy because it does look like there’s no makeup present on the skin, compared to the Kim K contour look where you pile half of the M.A.C. store on your face. But it’s that perfect barely-there finish that makes this tough.

What comprises a no-makeup makeup look? According to the standards of international makeup artists, beauty editors and leading makeup opinion leaders, these are the guidelines:

- Clear looking skin (skin that’s been evened out with foundation but still looks like it’s part of your face)

- A beautifully filled in brow that’s not stencilled in to death.

- A touch of mascara and eyeliner to deepen that focus on your eyes.

- Makeup colours that match your skin tone to amp up your natural skin colour.

- A blush that brings your natural flush out.

- A lip with a little colour, but rubbed in to create a shade that belongs to you.

This is what you should look like:

A crucial step in achieving this is prepping the skin. It’s about using the right amount of products on your face. I don’t believe in the Korean 11-step skincare routine, because it makes no sense in our Southeast Asian climate which makes everything slide off due to sweat, humidity and heat.

Skin prep

Here’s what you need:

1. A hydrating toner like the Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Youth Restoring Essence, which is lightweight but keeps the skin supple. Spread a 5-cent sized amount across your palms and massage into your face.

2. A hydrating treatment day serum like Clarins’s White Plus Tri-Intensive Brightening Serum. Its vitamin C content protects your skin while its lightweight texture keeps skin fresh. Spread one pump across your palms and massage into your face.

3. Moisturise where you need (normally the sides of the face and lightly on the temples and neck) with a lightweight treatment moisturiser. Spread a pea-sized amount across your palms and massage into dry areas.

4. Keep the lips soft with Glossier Balm Dotcom by leaving a thin layer during makeup application.

5. Finish prepping with a good sunscreen that also works as a base like the Bioderma Photoderm MAX SPF50+. Spread a 10-cent sized amount across your palms and massage into your face and neck.

Why do we have to prep the face by massaging it?

By massaging, we help awaken and plump the skin a bit more. The movement also helps stretch the skin topically with the skincare, so the skin is pliable for makeup. Using your fingers and palms also help us feel where the skin still feels parched and needs more skin care.

Patting your skincare in does not work — there just isn’t enough work done on the skin for the makeup to sit on.


1. Use primer only where you need (mostly on the T-zone and cheek area), on areas that get very oily. I currently am in love with Shiseido’s Maquillage Peach Change CC that neutralises dullness. For those with fairer skin, the SK-II Auractivator CC Cream works beautifully as well.

2. Even out your skin tone with mistake-proof foundation like Bare Essentials Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream (for combination to dry skin), Laura Mercier Flawless Finish Fluide (for combination to oily skin), or Shiseido UV Protective Liquid Foundation SPF42 (for higher coverage). But remember, the foundation should match your skin tone and look invisible when applied on.

3. Conceal with a concealer that matches your skin tone, only where you need it. These include the forepart of the under eye (because we do not need concealer for the whole under eye area), the nasal fold area where it tends to be redder, and whatever blemishes you have.

4. Fill in your brows where needed.  I am in love with Make Up For Ever’s Pro Sculpting Brow in 020 (dark blonde) which will work well on most eyebrows, since most of us Asians have excellent dark brow hair. Those with missing ends can use the same series in 040 (a dark taupe).

5. Neutral shades like sepia, taupes, browns, beiges, peach and warm pinks can be used on the eye — just pick a colour that matches your skin. And no, no blues, greens and purples unless you are a peacock or participate in MMA matches regularly.

6. Use your favourite mascara to pump up volume to your lash. If you still feel you need eye liner, draw it in and smudge it out with a cotton bud or your finger, so the liner looks like part of the lash line.

7. Put your blush lightly on the apples of the cheek. Remember it is to bring colour to your face and no to make you look like a baboon’s bottom.

8. Use a tinted lip balm or a translucent lipstick and press your lips against each other to rub the colour into the lips.

9. If you think your skin looks too shiny, use a translucent powder like Chanel Le Blanc Pearl Light Brightening Loose Powder, which helps keep skin fresh while taking away excess shine.

Voilà — now you’ve achieved that natural no-makeup makeup look. And remember if you can’t do it, a paper bag can help to cover it all up.

Photos: Imaxtree

For more from Larry Yeo, check out What Makeup Artists REALLY Think About Your Skills. Or click here for more on beauty.

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