Lightening Up: How to Get That Natural Look


“It takes hours to get that natural look.”

That’s a line from the character Betty in a 1950s play by Kristin Sergel called Father Knows Best, and sometimes I think that no truer words have been spoken. Applying thick mask-like foundation and heavy-handed eyeliner is amateur and takes zero finesse…and surprisingly, a lot less time than achieving that coveted natural look.


I just had the great pleasure of meeting the talented makeup artist Ryan Cox, above, who has worked on celebrities like Nicole Scherzinger and Zooey Deschanel, below. Ryan created the looks pictured in this article.


He reminded me of the importance of seeking out a professional to do your makeup during an informative tutelage/makeover. It really was more of a makeunder, because Ryan applied a lot less product than I normally do, but he applied it with true mastery and understanding.

The point of makeup is to enhance, not conceal. I think women, myself included, can get carried away with pounds of makeup–too much blush or stenciled-on brows, because we get used to our faces, sans objectivity. Artful makeup takes longer because it involves evaluation and experimentation…my favorite words when I think about creating a beautiful face! Both evaluation and experimentation take time. Step back and analyze your face. Try to see it from an objective point of view. Look at yourself from a fresh angle.

It can be really difficult to do this, so I recommend having your makeup applied by a pro every once in a while to see yourself in perhaps a different light and keep abreast of makeup trends.

The interesting thing about artful makeup, too, is that you may use more products, but less of them. Does that make sense?

What I mean is, instead of one layer of mask-like foundation, try starting with a sheer base in areas and then building your coverage with a good concealer in spots as-needed, and finally topping with your finishing powder. It will take time and evaluation, but you are guaranteed to look younger and more radiant than if you pack on a single layer of thick opaque base.

Thanks Ryan! Message received!

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