Barely There Is Everywhere The almost-bare complexion look is a beauty trend with staying power

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A face full of makeup is so pre-pandemic. Skin care regimens are finally getting the respect they deserve, and the barely-there makeup look lets healthy skin glow for itself. The “lit from within” factor is way in, and it looks great on everyone. Estheticians and makeup artists Kristen Floyd of OCB Spa ( and Sofia Alexandria of Sofia Alexandria Makeup Artistry ( help us nail the almost-bare beauty trend.

“Usually, current trends are the opposite of what came before,” says Floyd of this dramatic departure from heavy contouring and foundation and the shift toward a minimal makeup style. Socially, “we’re just starting to do more, and this look is easing us back into makeup.”

“It has certainly seen a surge in mainstream media, with celebrities like Alicia Keys and Cameron Diaz showing off their natural aging beautiful skin without makeup,” explains Alexandria. It’s refreshing to see people looking like themselves and society appreciating their real beauty. We’re growing more confident in our own skin, and that
confidence is empowering.

Floyd suggests that the almost-bare complexion “can be dressed up with a red statement lip for an event or dressed down with a slick of gloss for a Zoom meeting.” Alexandria’s favorite time to see an enhanced natural look is when brides present their best authentic self when walking down the aisle on their wedding day.

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The heart of this look is great skin care and self-care. “Your skin needs to be cleansed, exfoliated and moisturized,” Alexandria says. “Facials, using the correct products for your specific skin needs, diet, exercise, drinking plenty of water and wearing SPF protection daily are crucial to healthy glowing skin.”

Floyd agrees that if it’s optimal glow you’re seeking, facials light the way. “Regular facials are always best and quickest in achieving that ‘no-makeup’ makeup look. Exfoliating is a must. Chemical peels keep skin texture smooth and supple. At home, retinols or glycolic acids in night serums are an excellent way to renew skin tone and texture. These work synergistically with stronger chemical peel treatments from your esthetician. They’re truly the most effective way to change your skin, with little to no down time.”

Floyd recommends Glo Skin Beauty’s Beta-Clarity BHA drops for soothing, clarifying and brightening, and Hydra-Bright Alpha Arbutin Drops for promoting cell turnover and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. OCB Spa in Towson carries the Glo Skin Beauty Clean Beauty line. The Illuminating Primer, Tinted Primer and lightweight Luminous Liquid Foundation are Floyd’s go-to tools for the barely- there look.

Try Alexandria’s step-by-step, almost-bare beauty routine (and her fave products):

  1. Start with tinted moisturizer or a CC or BB cream (It Cosmetics CC).
  2. Use spot concealer (Maybelline Instant Age Rewind) if needed.
  3. Apply translucent powder under the eyes (Laura Mercier Secret Brightening) to prevent creasing.
  4. Use a cream stick blush (Milk nCosmetics) on the apples of the cheeks, then sweep toward the hairline with a duo fiber brush.
  5. Add a touch of bronzer (Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush) on the contours of the cheeks, forehead, neck and décolleté.
  6. Incorporate a cream or liquid highlight (Fenty Beauty Match Stix) on the tops of the cheekbones for a dewy glow.
  7. Tame your brows with bit of tinted gel (Benefit Gimme Brow).
  8. Curl lashes and add mascara (Lancôme Lash Idôle).
  9. Finish with a tinted lip balm or lip oil (Clarins Lip Comfort).

“Fresh, dewy, barely-there makeup allows your own beauty to shine,” says Floyd. “It also allows for other things to pop more, like a bright eyeshadow or neon eyeliner.”

Alexandria believes this look has staying power. “Don’t get me wrong, I love a bold, trendy look, but something about natural classic makeup gets me every time.”

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