This No-Foundation Makeup Look Takes Under Five Minutes

For days when you have to run out the door.

Naomi Amissah seen wearing black sunglasses, gold earrings and necklace, black cropped shirt, black structured leather shopper bag, on August 25, 2023 in Hamburg, Germany.
(Image credit: Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images)

In a perfect world, I wouldn't ever use foundation. While the makeup staple certainly has benefits, I'm trying to embrace my natural skin, let my freckles and beauty marks shine through, and complete my routine in under five minutes. With that in mind, I've mastered a no-foundation makeup look with an assortment of tinted SPFs, cream blushes and bronzers. "There are days when you just don’t want to wear a full face of foundation," agrees celebrity makeup artist Samantha Lau, adding that skipping foundation doesn't necessarily mean being bare-faced.

Unsure how to leave the foundation behind? It's a lot easier than you think. To complete a full face, you'll need a tinted base and an easy-to-apply blush or bronzer. Here, I've selected my favorite products for a natural beauty look and am sharing the application tips and tricks for an easy (quick!) beat.

The No-Foundation Makeup Look

On a no-foundation day, you can, of course, go completely bare-faced or opt for a more lightweight product with minimal coverage. Lau likes wearing "lightweight and hydrating" products with multiple functions (think a light tint or SPF). Tinted sunscreens, tinted moisturizers, CC creams, and BB creams are some of the most popular options.

While a base is optional, you'll likely want to add in some additional complexion products to add warmth or brightness. "I like to warm up the face with a cream bronzer and some rosy blush to add some life to the skin," Lau says. If you're trying to stay away from cream makeup altogether, you can also opt for lightweight powder formulas, which are my personal favorite.

Then it's entirely up to you if you want to apply mascara, a brow product, or one of the best lipsticks.

The Best Foundation Alternatives

The Best Natural-Looking Bronzers and Blushes

The No-Makeup Skincare Routine

If you want your skin to appear clearer even without the aid of makeup, having a solid skincare routine is key. Look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid to improve skin elasticity and diminish hyperpigmentation. We also like Erno Laszlo's Hydra-Therapy Refresh Infusion for a quick blast of rosa canina and caffeine to soften skin.

Meanwhile, if you have acne, look for skin saviors like salicylic acid (my skin always clears up when I use a salicylic acid cleanser) or niacinamide, which reduces the appearance of pores. Retinols are also excellent for everything from acne to hyperpigmentation to fine lines, with some of the best retinol creams out there eliciting results in just a few weeks.

Meet the Expert

Samantha Lau
Samantha Lau

Samantha Lau is a celebrity makeup artist with an innovative approach to beauty inspired by her background in fine art. She has worked with brands like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Elie Saab, Balmain, Rochas, Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and more. She is currently based in New York City.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at