Nina Dobrev Without Makeup

It’s hard to believe that Nina Dobrev has been playing Elena Gilbert on The Vampire Diaries since 2010 (a show now entering its seventh season!) but if you think about it, this girl was born to play the part. She oozes charisma and looks like she could be your next best friend or your worst nightmare — depending which side of her vampire boyfriend Stefan Salvatore you choose. And we are definitely fans of hers here at Gizmodo Beauty HQ. So when I heard that she had recently stepped away from wearing any kind of foundation whatsoever, my curiosity got the better of me. How did she go so long without using anything to cover up her skin? What made her confident enough not to need something artificial to give herself some semblance of youthfulness? Well, let me tell you, there were many reasons why she didn’t have to rely on cosmetics anymore.

First off, thank God for good lighting because as much as we love our foundations and concealers and powders, sometimes they just don’t cut it. You know what else doesn’t cut it? Natural light. That’s right, no matter who you are, whether you’re naturally dark-skinned or pale, a lot of the time sunlight can make people look super dull. Not only that, even though we’ve come a long way technologically, most cameras still aren’t great at picking up subtle undertones in photos, meaning that unless someone happens to be standing directly beneath a sun lamp, their complexion might appear washed out compared to what it really looked like underneath those harsh lights. So in addition to looking more beautiful than ever, Dobrev also got credit for being one of TVD’s “unsung heroines” by Cosmopolitan magazine. Now that’s pretty impressive.

So with all these things going for her—and against her—it wasn’t surprising that after giving birth to twin girls in 2014, the actress decided to take a break from putting anything other than sunscreen over her face. Even though she said she’d always used makeup, Dobrev told Marie Claire UK,”I’m 29 years old, I feel like a 16 year old, and I want to act like a 16 year old.” This transition hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing, however, because Dobrev admitted to Elle US that she cried every morning before work while getting adjusted to life sans makeup. But once she got into character, everything fell into place.

Now, with two seasons left of The Vampire Diaries’ final run, we thought it would be fun to share six ways the actress shows us how to achieve a flawless canvas without the help of any products. If anyone reading this needs advice on how to step away from foundation entirely, rest assured that Nina knows what we mean. Read on for tips on how to get perfect cheekbones, a totally dewy glow, and perfectly balanced lips…without relying on any sort of product.

1. Light Your Way

If you’ve seen a photo taken outdoors, chances are it’ll look much brighter than if you took the same shot indoors. Why? Because light reflects differently in different environments. When you walk outside, you’re exposed to lots of bright sunshine, causing the colors of objects around you to pop. Indoors, where fluorescent bulbs are often turned up full blast, light tends to reflect back toward the source rather than bouncing outward, making the color muted. To counteract the effects of indoor lighting, try holding a piece of paper between yourself and whatever lights you use most frequently throughout the day. For example, if you spend a majority of your days inside, hold a sheet of white printer paper up to your computer screen to balance out the intensity of the lighting behind you. Also, keep shades closed during daylight hours whenever possible.

2. No Foundation Necessary

Most women will probably agree that having a flawless complexion starts with proper moisturizer. However, thanks to recent advances in technology, you may soon find yourself wishing you never slathered on any type of cream or oil to tackle dryness and fine lines. With the correct combination of water, glycerin, and alcohol ingredients, Niacetinamide Skin Health Balm ($32) gives you a silky finish that won’t settle into wrinkles. Instead of wasting money on pricey serums and creams, invest in a high quality facial cleanser instead. These simple yet effective formulas usually contain active cleansing agents such as salicylic acid, witch hazel, and glycolic acids. They cleanse pores without stripping moisture from your skin and leave behind a fresh feeling. Try La Roche-Posay Anthelios 45 Day Acne Control Cleansing Gel ($36). Or if you prefer liquid options, check out Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Face Lotion SPF 15 ($21), which contains antioxidants and vitamin E to hydrate your skin.

3. The Power Is In The Eyes

When applying mascara, remember that less is truly more. Don’t apply too much or you risk clumping together, smudging, and messing up your lashes. Opt for waterproof mascaras that coat each lash individually, which means fewer brush strokes and less waste. Another trick is to avoid curling wands altogether. Most stylists recommend staying away from straightening irons completely, opting instead for gentle styling tools such as hot rollers, curlers, and gels. While these methods tend to last longer, they require far less maintenance than heat setting hair straight or curled. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of eyelash extensions (ELTs)! By adding fake lashes to your eyes, you can create the illusion of fuller lashes without the hassle of actually growing them. The secret lies in choosing the right length and curl pattern for your eye shape and then securing them onto your lids securely with adhesive strips.

4. A Little Color Goes A Long Way

Pale pink lipstick isn’t necessarily the sexiest option for your wardrobe, especially during winter months when darker hues are appropriate attire. As fashion designer Carol Hannah says, “You should wear red lipsticks in summertime. Red makes you look vibrant and alive!” To pull off this bold statement, opt for a matte shade that offers a little bit of shine. Otherwise, stick to lighter pinks, peaches, nudes, taupe, or sandy brown. Remember to layer, dab, and blend. Dabbing involves lightly brushing translucent powder on top of your lips to set your favorite hue, blending upward until you reach your uppermost lip line. Then dab again with another slightly deeper tone, repeating this process three times until you arrive at your desired level of opacity. Lastly, to ensure lips stay moist, add a touch of clear gloss to prevent drying. Apply a tiny amount of Vaseline, followed by a dash of loose mineral pearl pigment, then follow with a small dollop of Gloss Bomb Lip Glaze ($35).

5. It All Starts With Good Lighting

No matter what type of mood you’re trying to convey, it’s important to understand that your features speak volumes without words. Whether you’re trying to portray confidence, sophistication, fearlessness, vulnerability, strength, sensuality, sadness, happiness, anger, excitement, etc., the key is finding the right angle. Before shooting any candid shots, ask models or friends to move around freely, taking note of their facial expressions and body language. Once you’ve determined what you’re interested in portraying, position yourself accordingly. Next, turn off all overhead lights and fill the room with soft candlelight. Use a tripod or camera stand to steady your frame and experiment with angles and poses. Take several pictures from various vantage points to determine which ones capture the essence of your subject.

6. Just Go for It

In terms of achieving a flawless complexion, Dobrev advises aspiring actors to stop worrying about editing and focus solely on capturing images of themselves authentically. After all, the goal of acting is to bring characters to life through believable performance artistry. Unfortunately, most actresses spend countless hours primping and prepping for shoots, fretting over details such as stray hairs, uneven blushes, and unbalanced shadows. Although makeup artists work tirelessly to fix imperfections, they rarely succeed due to poor lighting conditions. Therefore, it’s imperative to properly prepare and execute shoot settings. First, secure your wig, clothing, props, and accessories. Second, select a neutral palette based upon your skin tone and undertone. Third, decide whether you’ll be working with a professional photographer or doing your own post processing. Fourth, consult with a makeup artist prior to the shoot to establish a plan for creating realistic-looking photographs. Fifth, pay attention to detail. Sixth, relax and enjoy!

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