Minimalist Makeup Style

Stripped Down, Sculptural, Beautiful

First of all, minimalist makeup should not be confused with minimal. Although both result in a 'barely there' look from a distance, minimalist style has a distinct design philosophy, and uses makeup to achieve its objectives..

The Look

For our purposes, makeup and fashion, the look can be described as beautiful, monochromatic, face focused and stark. Photography takes this look to its maximum aesthetic appeal because of it's ability to enhance the sculptural beauty of it, using light and shadow.

Think in terms of classic Calvin Klein ads. The makeup appears to be 'barely there" and although the face is not completely void of color, the tones are very neutral and function to bring the primary focus to the structural elements of the face.

In terms of fashion, minimalistic design is without fuss, pattern, frill and ornament to keep the focus on the beauty of its core elements line, shape, color and texture. Fashion designers that have focused on this "less is more" aesthetic are Calvin Klein,  Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, and Reed Krakoff.

Minimalist Makeup Key Points, Makeup & Tools

image of minimalist makeupDetail from image Fashion's Top Makeup Styles.

  • CLEAN arrow even tone, matte skin
  • SIMPLE arrowone basic design element, shading
  • BARE arrowface appears to be void of color (color present is neutral and close to natural skin tone).
  • SCULPTED arrowneutral matching tones provide sculptural element with shades subtly contouring features of face; eyes, cheek bones, jaw line etc.


  • FOUNDATION sheer as possible (but still meets objective of even skin tone) and concealer
  • BLUSH -1-sculpting flesh tone shade deeper than your own, 2- subtle hint of flush (replicating natural blush of your cheek)
  • LIP COLOR nude, or hint of natural color
  • lip pencil nude
  • EYESHADOW-light earthy neutral tone
  • black or black/brown mascara


  • eye lash curler
  • small angled eye liner brush
  • medium eye shadow brush
  • blush/bronzer brush
  • powder brush
  • foundation brush, or application tool
  • lipstick brush


Even out your complexion with foundation to create an even tone. Remember only use as much foundation and concealer as needed to achieve  the minimalist makeup objective of bare. 

Finish with a light dusting of translucent loose powder.



Facial color is purposely low key and is used primarily to heighten the dimensional qualities of the face. There are existing blush products that are made for contour purposes, however,a powder foundation in a skin tone one our two shades deeper than your skin tone match, will do the trick.

photo nars zenCONTOUR SHADE -1
Brush the color along the side of your cheek bones (not at the top), shade the sides of your forehead, under your brow bone and your jaw line. Blend with your finger pads or another clean big powder brush to soften the application.

Your face shape will ultimately determine how you shade the perimeter of your face, so you will have to experiment to see what results you like best.

Looking for neutral tone blush? NARS Blush has one called Zen (I have used this product and love it's versatility), MAC has a shade called taupe.


Choose a very natural shade of blush that closely resembles your own natural cheek flush (give your cheeks a pinch - an earthy rose shade works for many). Apply central cheek overlapping the top half of the path of the first shade to the cheek zone under the outer brow bone. Blend downward with your finger pads. The color should be faint.



Highlighting along the very top of the cheek bone and the outer brow bone is optional.  A highlight shade is very light in color, and acts to reflect light.  Often what we find product-wise has extreme reflective properties like shimmer, or worse sparkle (definitely not part of the minimalist makeup style).  Try to find a matte version or something that only has illuminizers to reflect light.  Highlighting bone structure is definitely done in photography to heighten the dimensional element of the facial structure.

NARS has a highlight blush product in a shade called Albatross, that would work well for minimalist makeup style. You could also opt for a product that illuminates the skin (as in this ad above right).



Eye definition, minimalist makeup style, is purely about shaping the eye.  There are no hard lines, just a barely there neutral  matte tone; taupe, beige, gray to define the eye.

Shopping F.Y.I. NARS and MAC offers neutral, matte shades; NARS single matte eyeshadow biarritz, blondie ; MAC Omega, Mylar ). Also, I absolutely love Urban Decay Naked Palettes. Go to my eyeshadow shortlist.

SHADE 1 -Take a light, neutral , matte shade and cover the eye lid from lash line to brow bone.  Be careful not to extend the shadow out of the natural lid area (approximate parameters of natural eye zone-imagine a vertical line running up from the inner corner of your eye and a slightly diagonal line running from the outer corner of your eye to the outer  brow.

Take this same shade and sweep a path about 1/4 inch thick under the lower lashes following the natural shape of the eye, from outer corner to inner corner.

SHADE 2 -Take a medium, neutral shade and sweep along the naturally occurring arc shape under your brow bone).  Ensure the shade is blended well into the arc.

Take this same shade and an eye liner brush, and sweep tightly under the lower lash line.  Take a smaller blending brush and soften that line sweeping back and forth  under the lash line.



Coat upper lashes from base through tips, once.  Mascara is not a sculptural tool and is applied to finish, not to build up lashes. Carefully comb out clumps. Skip lower lashes.



Keep them simple. Groomed, filled in if necessary, hairs placed but generally in a natural looking form (not over stylized).

Clinique has a moisturizing stick that is multipurpose (includes taming unruly brows).



Lips have a natural looking matte lip shade. If in doubt, an earthy rose (pinky-beige) is a good place to start.  Use a flesh colored reverse lip liner to provide definition to the shape of the mouth as well as prevent lip color from bleeding. Then use lip balm to provide a moisturizing base for the lip color.

MAC Creme Lipstick Hug Me is a great example.


Take your reverse lip liner and line outer edge of lips.


Apply lip balm and add matte lip color.

Last word on minimalist makeup style. 

If you take a look at how light hits your face, you will see natural shadows (receding spaces) and highlights (light reflecting surfaces). This observation will be helpful in the placement of your minmalist makeup.

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Spring 2018

Happy Spring 2018!

I would like to let all of you know how much I appreciate your support:) Please enjoy this west coast beach sunset as you soak up the beauty info. Grab some quick makeup tips or give your look a complete overhaul.

Something beautiful is on your horizon.



Yasmin, Editor

P.S. Visit my Facebook and Twitter pages. I'd love to hear from you.

P.S. The mystery girl strolling the beach? My sister Sarah, who has been my "go to" model over the years. Thanks Sis!



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