How To Nail Barely-There Spring Makeup With Products Under £20

We've taken the effort out of recreating this "effortless" look. You're welcome.
Best products for barely-there makeup
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Best products for barely-there makeup

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Spring is all about that balmy, dewy, barely-there look. But what does it take to achieve it?

For one reason or another, these days, most of us have resorted to a stripped back approach to makeup. Full coverage looks are reserved for weddings, nights out and first dates, while a more natural look has become a daily go-to for many of us, especially during spring and summer.

How do you create an ‘effortless’ look, without too much effort?

For a simple look, barely-there makeup can seem rather tricky to get right, so we’ve got some super handy pointers from a makeup pro.

Makeup artist Lee O’Driscoll recommends making sure that your skin is properly hydrated before beginning the makeup application process.

Barely-there makeup means less is more, but you can still have enough coverage for imperfections,” she explains.

O’Driscoll advises applying products sparingly, explaining that you can always build coverage afterwards using concealer.

“In foundations, look for descriptions like ‘glowy’ and ‘radiant’,” she adds.

For a more subtle look this spring, she says “blush is a must for natural looks”, and recommends using an illuminator to highlight cheekbones, your nose, and your Cupid’s bow.

As for lips, O’Driscoll explains that all it takes is a little nude lip pencil and a slick of lip balm for a perfect pout.

Wondering what your go-tos should be for nailing your look? Let’s take a look at some cult products (all of which are £20 or under) that will make achieving that soft, glowly look easy AF.

This buttery illuminating highlighter
For adding a soft, luminescent glow, this non-comedogenic (aka non pour-blocking) creamy highlighting stick is the dream. It melts onto skin seamlessly and blends like an absolute dream.
This super dewy hydrating serum
Before you start priming your skin, hydration is a must. This dewy hydrating serum is formulated to stimulate your skin’s natural hyaluronic acid production, ensuring that your skin remains hydrated all day long.
This glassy-looking gloss
For a more natural look, swap out your bold lip for a soft glossy finish. This long-wearing gloss from Glossier (complete with a subtle shine) will instantly give your lips the boost they need without being too bold or bright.
This dewy setting spray
Forget your go-to matte setting spray and instead opt for a dewy alternative. This long-lasting, vegan formula is super lightweight and gives skin a glorious glow, making it ideal for topping off your 'barely there' look.
This bright eye pencil
For naturally bright looking eyes, swap your usual kohl liner for a brightening pencil. Gently blend the formula under and around the corners of the eyes for a refreshed and wide-awake look.
This ophthalmologist-tested mascara
Give your lashes a subtle boost with this weightless formula that coats each lash from root to tip, maximising definition and length, without looking overdone.
This skin blurring balm
Fancy skipping your makeup base and going bare? Blend a little of this skin corrector onto your skin for a super natural look that's blemish-free. (There's no need for foundation when you can correct your skin with this balmy beauty, is there?)
This dreamy cheek pigment
This gel-cream based formula is wonderfully sheer. For a natural-looking flush, all you need to do is dab a small amount onto the apples of your cheeks and gently tap the skin to blend.
This creamy, super low-cost blush
For a natural-looking cheek tint, a cream formula is a great option. This highly-pigmented, pink-hued blush has a milky formula making it perfect for using to add a subtle touch of rosiness to your cheeks.
This radiant, super lightweight concealer stick
For added skin coverage on a ‘barely there’ look, a concealer stick can offer a weightless finish. This creamy (sweat, transfer and humidity-proof) formula glides onto skin without settling in fine lines or creasing and blends effortlessly into skin.
This clear brow gel
For a more natural look, swap out your tinted brow gel for a clear alternative. This vegan and cruelty-free formula from NYX is ideal for sculpting brows without added colour. (This is my go-to for fluffy, natural-looking brows and the hold always impresses me.)
This liquid illuminator
For creating that dewy, glowy skin veil, add a drop or two of a liquid highlighter to your base product of choice before applying. This low-cost option from NYX is wonderfully creamy and and has a glorious pearlescent hue to it, and FYI it blends seamlessly.
This super glowy, natural-looking base
This glowy tinted moisturiser (complete with SPF 30) allows skin to breathe while also masking imperfections, dark circles, and blemishes. It’s packed full of hydration, has a sheer natural-looking finish, and is fragrance, paraben and oil-free. (FYI, it's also creamy, blends like a dream, and stays in place for hours.)
This multi-purpose beauty balm
For hydrated skin that’s soft and smooth (and will grip makeup hard) this three-in-one balm is a great buy. (This is one of my go-tos for fresh, dewy skin.)
This pore minimising primer (which is also vegan and cruelty-free)
Don’t make the mistake of skipping primer in a bid to create the perfect ‘barely there’ look. If you want your makeup to stay in place, a lightweight primer is vital. This silky, silicone-free formula minimises the appearance of pores and fine lines and can be worn under makeup or alone.
This vegan and cruelty-free muti-purpose skin serum
For that fresh, dewy look, lightweight coverage is a must. This tinted skin serum / makeup hybrid boasts a sheer formula that masks blemishes and imperfections, hydrates skin, and tops skin with a soft, natural-looking glow.