What is ‘natural makeup’?

K-drama (Korean drama series) and high-definition technology catapulted ‘natural makeup’ to fame in Asia.

Korean Actress Song Hye Gyo

When ‘hallyu’ (the Korean wave) reached the shores of many Asian countries in the late 90’s, it brought with it the love for everything Korean including its fashion and style.   Today, ‘Korean-style makeup’, with its emphasis on flawless skin and natural colour tones, is popular for the general female population here.     I think it’s the best makeup style for every day wear.

What does high-definition technology have to do with natural makeup?

Well, the intensity of makeup colours (and all other flaws for that matter) is magnified when seen on HD TV screens.   To conceal flaws like zits and scars, heavier makeup is required.  Heavy makeup is seldom equated with natural makeup.   But thankfully, makeup technology changed along with technological advancement.  With that, we now have makeup products that adhere better to the skin and possess light-diffusing qualities to make ‘makeup’ look less made-up.  Less became more.  (Click here to see a blogpost about HD makeup)

Cargo Cosmetics' HD range



What is ‘natural makeup’ then?

It’s NOT no makeup.

Personally, it’s ‘second skin’ makeup –  makeup that gives the illusion of good skin, even when you don’t have it.  It’s makeup that uses the effects of light and dark to create a pleasing look.  The main point about natural makeup is that it enhances the wearer’s features without being loud with the colours she wears.


Foundation:  Creates an even-skintone.

When foundation of the right colour is applied on to the face, it covers problem areas like scars and spots, thereby making the skin colour look more even. Remember though that for your foundation to look ‘natural’, the colour must be matched on your jaw.  If the colour seems to disappear on your skin when you swatch it, then that’s the best colour for you.


Blush:  Gives a healthy rosy glow to the skin.

Many of us have yellow undertones.  Therefore corals and peaches (which are pinks that have some orange in them) look better on us than a ‘Barbie doll pink’ blusher.  The duller your skin looks, the more it benefits from a blusher.



Eye-colours: Create depth and definition to the eyes.

Neutral colours are preferred though brighter or shimmery colours can also be used (sparingly of course).  Attention should be drawn to your eyes rather than the colour of the shadow you wear. To create the illusion of a bigger and more deepset eyes, various shades of beige and brown are used to emulate shadows to create depth.

Neutral-toned eyeshadows


Eyeliners and mascaras:   Create depth and definition to the eyes.

Browns and blacks are basic dark colours that create depth and definition.  Therefore you’ll find that they’re the most effective in defining the eyes.



Lipsticks:  Create definition and balance particularly on a made-up face.

Lipsticks help to give colour to the face and also create a balance with the others colours you have applied on your face.  If you have pale lips, you NEED some colour to give you a healthy look.



In general, some examples of basic colours that create natural-looking makeup are:

  • warm-toned foundation (yellow-based)
  • peachy, apricot, coral blushes
  • shades of beige and brown for eyeshadows and contouring
  • brown or black eyeliners and mascaras
  • warm pinks, corals, peach lipsticks – or any other that’s 1-2 shade darker than your natural lips.
  • Note 1:   Beware that nude lipsticks are not necessarily the best for ‘natural makeup’.   They make your lips look pale and are usually ideal for smokey eyes or makeup that are heavy on the eyes.  You need full makeup to pull off the nude lipstick look. 
  • Note 2:  Stay away from pale frosted lipsticks – they make you look ill.


Natural makeup makes it possible for everyone to look more polished and put-together.  It’s a combination of good application, right products and a light hand.  When applied well, natural makeup makes people say ‘YOU look great!

Remember Maybelline’s tagline – “”Maybe She’s Born With It.  Maybe It’s Maybelline”?   I’d say that natural makeup is “Maybe it’s makeup.  Maybe she’s born with it.”


*All product pictures are from Cargo Cosmetics, a line catered to the average consumers and professionals.