Lily James Without Makeup

When someone tells me they’re not wearing much makeup I’m always surprised because that person usually has flawless skin and beautiful lashes. But then there are those who wear so little makeup their features stand out as if they were made up. Like Lily James.

In case you haven’t seen this gorgeous British actress’ latest film, Darkest Hour, yet, allow us to catch you up. In it, Lily plays Churchill’s secretary/mistress/spouse Clementine Churchill, whose relationship was extremely complicated — to say the least. The movie is based on Deborah Moggach’s book The True Story of Secret Love Between Winston Churchill And Clementine Hozier-Hickman.

Movies have long captured our imaginations, but rarely do we get to see behind the scenes of how actors achieve such incredible looks. So, when Vogue approached Lily about helping them understand what goes into achieving that truly natural look, she was excited. “I’m really passionate about my craft,” says Lily. “It took me years to learn how to put on minimal makeup, and I want to show people exactly how to go about doing it.”

But first things first…the befores.

The Afters

Here are six steps you can take to recreate Lily’s effortlessly chic face yourself.

Toss your wig (or don’t)

Wigs can be expensive and impractical at times. If you’re going to use one, consider getting a cut just above your part. It’ll help keep stray hairs tucked away.

Get some fake dirt under your nose to make it appear like you’ve been running around all day

Fake dirt is probably the most common way women try to hide imperfections under the eyes. To create this effect perfectly naturally, simply find an old toothbrush and stick it down your nostril. Then add some Vaseline on top and let set. Once dry, wipe off excess Vaseline, and voila! You’ll barely notice anything looking back at you. This trick works best on oily areas of the skin, though.

Use an angled brush to apply foundation

An angled brush will give you more control over where you place each individual stroke of foundation. Start with light layers of foundation along the sides of your jawline using upward strokes. Next, continue blending outward toward your forehead while also brushing upwards towards your temples. Finally, blend downward starting at your chin and ending near your neck. This technique makes sure you cover everything evenly.

Apply concealer underneath the eye to even out any redness or puffiness

Red puffy eyes? Blotting papers won’t work here. Instead, grab your favorite cream concealer and rub it directly onto your problem area. A good tip is to start at the corners of your eyes and slowly move outward to avoid messing up your entire lid. You should finish by gently patting the powder over the rest of your lids.

Blend two different shades together to create perfect skin tone

Skin tones aren’t uniform, which means no matter what shade you choose, you may need to slightly adjust it during application. For example, if you have darker skin than Lily does, you might want to increase your base color a bit. Conversely, if your skin tends to lean lighter than hers, you could lessen it. One general rule of thumb is to mix equal parts warm brown and yellow together until it reaches your desired undertone.

Finish by applying blush, highlighter, mascara, and eyeliner

These four products are essential tools every girl needs, especially ones who prefer a less dramatic look. Using a soft bristled brush, lightly sweep the product across your cheeks, brow bone, lash line, and inner corner of the eye. Be careful not to mess up your winged liner, however. That would ruin the whole effect!

Now that we got the basics covered, below is a breakdown of how Lily achieved her stunningly natural glow.

Step 1: Toss your wig (or don’t)

“As soon as I arrived on location, I tossed my wig,” she said. “My hairdos weren’t working anymore, so I had to figure something else out.”

She decided against wigs altogether and went with bangs instead.

“That’s actually why I didn’t bother putting false hair extensions on—because they wouldn’t stay straight!”

Her hairstylist used real human hair to fill in Lily’s eyebrows. He’d previously dyed her hair platinum blonde.

“We wanted to bring attention to her eyes,” he told us. “The blondes tend to draw too much focus to the lips, so we switched it up to a brunette.”

He added an ombre mane. “There wasn’t enough time to build the volume,” he explained, “so we did low-lights.”

Step 2: Get some fake dirt under your nose to make it appear like you’ve been running around all day

Fake dirt is probably the most common way women try to hide imperfections under the eyes. To create this effect perfectly naturally, simply find an old toothbrush and stick it down your nostril. Then add some Vaseline on top and let set. Once dry, wipe off excess Vaseline, and voila! You’ll barely notice anything looking back at you. This trick works best on oily areas of the skin, though.

Step 3: Use an angled brush to apply foundation

An angled brush will give you more control over where you place each individual stroke of foundation. Start with light layers of foundation along the sides of your jawline using upward strokes. Next, continue blending outward toward your forehead while also brushing upwards towards your temples. Finally, blend downward starting at your chin and ending near your neck. This technique makes sure you cover everything evenly.

Step 4: Apply concealer underneath the eye to even out any redness or puffiness

Red puffy eyes? Blotting papers won’t work here. Instead, grab your favorite cream concealer and rub it directly onto your problem area. A good tip is to start at the corners of your eyes and slowly move outward to avoid messing up your entire lid. You should finish by gently patting the powder over the rest of your lids.

Step 5: Blend two different shades together to create perfect skin tone

Skin tones aren’t uniform, which means no matter what shade you choose, you may need to slightly adjust it during application. For example, if you have darker skin than Lily does, you might want to increase your base color a bit. Conversely, if your skin tends to lean lighter than hers, you could lessen it. One general rule of thumb is to mix equal parts warm brown and yellow together until it reaches your desired undertone.

Step 6: Finish by applying blush, highlighter, mascara, and eyeliner

These four products are essential tools every girl needs, especially ones who prefer a less dramatic look. Using a soft bristled brush, lightly sweep the product across your cheeks, brow bone, lash line, and inner corner of the eye. Be careful not to mess up your winged liner, however. That would ruin the whole effect!

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