I’ve had several makeup interns ask me, “What is natural makeup?” If you look up the Instagram hash tag for natural makeup you will find a variety of makeup looks, including neutral smoky eye and bright lips. This hash tag alone can confuse anyone starting out in the industry.

So What Is Natural Makeup?

It all depends on whom you ask. An artist at a cosmetics counter who deals mainly with consumers may suggest a similar description natural makeup to that of Instagram but an artist working with agency models would best describe the look as minimal makeup. I recommend asking for a mood board if one is not provided and looking up the photographer’s previous work to see what their style of photography is. That will not always insure exactly what you’ll need to do but it will help you ask the right questions. Here’s a photo shoot I worked on where I was asked to apply minimal makeup.

Photographer Emma Holley and Model Katherine Neff


I’ve heard countless times from several photographers that they have explained what they’re looking for and still received over the top contoured faces with winged eyeliner. As a makeup artist is important when working with a photographer to create their vision for the shoot. The last thing you want to do, as an artist is waste product so communication and understanding is key on these types of shoots. In doing so you gain the photographer’s trust and build solid relationships that will help you get more work in the future. And remember, when you’re asked to do minimal makeup it still makeup and its the most widely used when working with agency models.

Here’s another minimal makeup look from a shoot with Photographer Emma Holley and Model Arianna Luckenbacher




Beauty makeup ranges from simple glam to special effects considering some of these current-contouring techniques now shown. There are a variety of specialties in Makeup Artistry and although it is very important to be a well-rounded professional, you do not have to master them all.

Here are some of the pro’s when working on minimal makeup shoots;

master matching skin tones
learn how to compliment eye color
enhance your eyebrow shaping
hone application of mascara

Here’s a minimal makeup shoot where studio and natural lighting were used with Photographer Brett V King and Model Abby Champion



Skin care is also a big part of minimal makeup. The skin must be in an almost flawless condition before you apply the makeup to get the best results on camera. The model’s skin must be gently cleansed, exfoliated and hydrated. During this procedure I use this time to analyze the model’s features. Face shape, eye color and decide what feature I want to accentuate. Not all models have piercing blue eyes or Angelina Jolie lips so it’s our job as a makeup artist to find their best feature and enhance them in minimal makeup photo shoots.

Here’s a photo shoot I worked on where I wanted to enhance the model’s gorgeous brown eyes. Photographer Brett V King and Model Isabella Sarnoff

Isabella by bvk 9-15-7



Words of wisdom from Calvin Klein:

“The best thing is to look natural, but it takes makeup to look natural.”

Modeling agencies know the potential of what makeup artists can do with vibrant colors and they know the potential their models have as well. But for models looking to book fashion designers like Calvin Klein they do not need elaborate hairstyles, makeup or clothes in their portfolios. Designers look for specific facial features (natural not contoured), height and size etc. when hiring models. Which is why it is very important to enhance their natural beauty so their features become the main focus. Also, when a photographer books you, [they ask for natural makeup] it is important to research their style of photography as well as their personal taste.



Photograph by Brett V King

Model Holly Horne

Agency Two Management

Makeup Reba Vera

For this and more beauty tips follow my blog


Author: Beauty by Reba Vera

Hairstylist | Makeup Artist | Groomer

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