Emily Ratajkowski and Sara Sampaio
Photo: Tristan Fewings / Getty

If you’ve ever fruitlessly typed the question ‘how to look good without make-up’ into a search engine, you are not alone. Having skin that you makes you feel confident enough to glow barefaced can feel like a dream-like aspiration for many of us; with so many factors involved and a multitude of opinions on what makes ‘perfect skin’, the search can be fraught with confusion.

To help, we spoke to the experts to share their guidance, from skincare solutions to little tips and tricks for boosting the clarity and radiance of your complexion without resorting to thick make-up. Ultimately, though, all you really need to look your best without make-up is the self-assuredness not to wear it should you wish.

Related article: The Best Sites To Shop For Skincare Right Now


Firstly, there are some simple tips and tricks to help you look instantly more awake and alive – without reaching for the concealer.

For the eyes, a professional eyelash curler, such as Kevyn Aucoin‘s The Curler, is a must-have: helping to focus the eye upwards and creating added definition without the need to use mascara. If you are also struggling with sleep at the moment (us too), bloodshot eyes can be a problem – and with the cameras on laptops being known to pick up any red tones, anything that combats tired eyes is a lifesaver. If slices of cucumber aren’t doing enough, using eye drops can be a great alternative, as can under-eye patches, so try Patchology‘s Eye Gels.

Elsewhere, a facial mist – try Glossier‘s Soothing Mist – can instantly revive and refresh, adding hydration to the skin, while for brows, even brushing through with a clean spoolie can help the face look more alert. When it comes to lips, a touch of clear lip balm will help your lips feel soothed and nourished – with the added benefit of just a hint of shine.


“I think ‘good skin’ is synonymous with healthy skin,” says the aesthetics doctor and founder of MZ Skin, Dr Maryam Zamani. “This means that skin is clear, even-toned, radiant and glowing, without blemishes, pigmentation, redness/erythema, dryness or spots. To achieve that you need a consistent skincare regime that addresses specific skin concerns.”

“My philosophy is ‘reveal, enhance and protect’. Reveal with good cleansing and biweekly exfoliation. Enhance the skin with actives like antioxidants (vitamins C, E, B) ceramides, peptides, retinoids and at-home treatments like masks, and light peels. And then protect with actives and SPF. In order to see the best benefit, you need to maintain skin treatments and skincare for a minimum of a skin cycle, which is approximately six weeks, as consistently changing your products or layering on too many actives can actually negatively impact the condition of your skin.”


A natural-looking glow (without any sun damage) can help you look healthier and more radiant too without the need for foundation, which is why you might get a host of compliments after coming back well-rested from holiday.

There are many brilliant options out there, but if you’re looking for a healthy bronze with added skincare benefits, the Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum from Tan-Luxe offers a burst of hydration with a natural tint to the skin. Or, add a few drops of Isle of Paradise’s Self Tanning Drops to your favourite moisturiser for a tan that can help even and colour correct your skin (it’s green Medium tint combats any redness and inflammation in the skin, while the Dark shade uses a violet pigment to fight against yellow and ashy tones).

And, of course, the best tip of all for looking your best without make-up in the long-term is undoubtedly SPF. La Roche-Posay‘s Anthelios Shaka Ultra Light Facial Sun Cream is lightweight, non-sticky and doesn’t leave a white film across your face, while Ren‘s Clean Screen Mineral SPF30 protects your skin whilst combatting any excess shine.


If you have ever walked away from a facial with a spring in your step because your skin looks great despite being make-up free, you have probably benefited not only from the results of a good cleanse but the plumping effects of professional massage.

“Muscles in your face work in the same way as your body and you know how great you feel when you go to the gym; your muscles are toned, strong, long and lean,” explains the founder of FaceGym, Inge Theron. “Facial muscle stimulation helps to keep the muscles firm and skin-tight but it also stimulates the most important protein for keeping the face look young: collagen. It’s proven to help with skin cell renewal, detox and fine line and wrinkle reduction.”