An effortless beauty look is a signature synonymous with both Diana, Princess of Wales, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The only make-up artist to have worked with both is Britain’s legendary talent Mary Greenwell, an authority in creating timeless looks that read well both on and off camera.
Key to the royal icons’ perceived complexion perfection is a ‘soft focus’ finish; skin that sits somewhere between matte and dewy with an evenness and radiance. With Greenwell’s wisdom, it’s something that’s not impossible to make yours, too.
Here the make-up artist explains the steps to creating a ‘soft focus’ skin look.
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“I take my time prepping the skin to create a fresh, plump base before make-up. I approach everyone differently based on their skin type and concerns, so layering skincare is essential. I’ll start by massaging in a moisturiser – right now the 111Skin Y Theorem Day Cream NAC Y2 is my go-to – which seals in hydration from lightweight serums (or oils for drier skin) to ensure the skin is nourished through the day.
“While prepping the skin before make-up is important, you also can’t skip your night-time skincare routine! First, cleanse the day away with a gentle cleanser like the QMS Medicosmetics Deep Gentle Cleanser, followed by your favourite nourishing moisturiser. I use retinol at night, and so to replenish the skin I use this time to layer serums and oils – I’ve been loving using the La Mer Renewal Oil. Your skin will definitely see the benefits in the morning.”
Products and application
“Soft-focus skin is about creating a natural, second-skin look with a diffused or blurred effect. The finish isn’t completely matte or overly glowy, so I would use a light-to-medium coverage foundation with a satin finish, and take my time to micro-conceal where extra coverage is needed. To conceal I’d use a flexible and creamy concealer like the Iconic London Seamless Concealer in two shades – one to match the skin closely to camouflage blemishes, and another one shade lighter to brighten the under eye. Layering liquids works best to blend for an undetectable finish (as opposed to combining with powders).
“To pull the look together and create the soft and diffused effect, I love to use a blusher to create a naturally lifted and radiant look. Again, I like to continue working with cream and liquid formulas for colour that melts effortlessly into the skin, so I’d take Iconic London’s Sheer Blush, tapping and blending a couple of drops into the skin with my fingers for a veil of soft colour. Whatever product is left over you can use on the lips.
“When it comes to the complexion, I’ve always loved working with my hands to ensure products don’t sit on the skin, but blend in seamlessly. I massage and work the products in with my fingers for the most natural coverage.”
“A soft-focus finish works well both on camera and in person, as a very matte complexion or a super-glowy look doesn’t always translate well between the two. Blending to perfection is very important, and you can also use finishing products for a blurred veil effect.
“If you have oilier skin I’d suggest using a loose powder and lightly dusting it across the T-zone. If you have dry skin, try using a hydrating mist like the Iconic London Prep-Set-Glow for an all-over radiant effect.”
“I would always recommend retouching with the same concealer, applying it very precisely to micro-conceal where needed, and therefore avoiding any product build up. If the skin’s natural oils are starting to show through, lightly press a translucent loose powder into these areas and softly blend with a fluffy brush to avoid the skin looking too matte.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.
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