Product watch: Make the most of your natural beauty in natural light

Want your make up to look good in any light? Rachel Marie Walsh has done the work for you.

Product watch: Make the most of your natural beauty in natural light

In a perfectly made-up world, we would all do our faces in natural light and show them off in the rose-gold of an ever-setting sun.

Only water would need filtering and videos would have the champagne-hazy quality of a Sofia Coppola film.

Real world-lighting undermines our careful efforts constantly and fluorescent bulbs — cost-effective, energy-efficient and going nowhere —are by far the least accommodating.

Even the newest models cause colour drift, emphasising yellow tones in the skin and casting unflattering shadows.

Make the most of your natural beauty under gloomy lights with warm hues and radiant textures.

Daylight Saves Time

Daylight is the best setting for makeup application, no matter how harsh the strobes you step under later.

Sloppy blending, smudges and poor colour choices are easy to spot, as natural rays render skin tone with absolute accuracy.

A flawless morning application coupled with long-wearing formulas mean less maintenance throughout the day.

Natural light is so fundamental to the perfect face that top professional artists like Vincent Oquendo pack a portable rig, such as Glamcor Classic Ultra Light Kit, €270 at to simulate sunshine in shady locations.

A makeup mirror with similar attachments is great if your bedroom is poorly lit or you don’t care to throw the curtains back while wearing a towel turban.

I got the Ottlite Natural Daylight Makeup Mirror, €86 at, for Christmas and can no longer leave home without checking its oh-so honest faces (one classic, one magnifying) or indeed go to bed without checking my pores, Charlotte York-style. I recommend it anyway.

Alternatively, François Nars suggests setting your makeup mirror between lamps with 40-75 watt halogen bulbs.

Hydrating Layers

“You can’t have a beautiful painting without a beautiful canvas,” says Charlotte Tilbury, whose Wonderglow Instant Soft-Focus Beauty Flash Primer, €49, is part anti-ageing balm, part light-optimising base.

The smoother and more hydrated your complexion, the better your makeup looks in any light but what makes Tilbury’s primer special is its “Fluorescent Core Light Diffuser,” universally-flattering champagne particles that gets skin looking gorgeous before you touch a makeup brush.

The silky formula also contains antioxidants, peptides and sodium hyaluronate, so supplements your daytime serum.

Radiant Foundation

Foundation with warm neutral undertones counteracts the dulling effects of fluorescent bulbs. Pink-tinted makeup looks grey in this light.

If you are using a shade darker than your complexion to look bronzed, be aware that harsh lighting makes it look deeper still, even muddy. Finish-wise, dewy radiance is best.

Many of us gravitate towards a matte finish for a polished office look but its dry texture appears flat and fatigued without softening sunlight.

I like Dior Forever Perfect Cushion, €49.50, which provides long-wearing colour correction with velvety texture after a very light application.

Conceal vs Camouflage

Shadows around the eyes are common even when you feel rested. These become more pronounced with overhead lighting and bluer with fluorescence.

In Laura Mercier’s The New Beauty Secrets, the artist suggests keeping foundation away from the area altogether.

“Primer is great for eye makeup...but you don’t want to bring a lot of [foundation] texture underneath the eyes, especially if you have dark or wrinkles. The more texture there, the more you emphasise flaws.

"Her Eye Basics Primer in Eye Bright, €30, neutralises redness and visible veins. Laura Mercier Candleglow Concealer, €32, hides shadows without spotlighting the cover-job.

Pimples, broken veins and sun spots require camouflage devoid of light-reflecting particles, yet not so dry-matte as to contrast with your radiant foundation.

NARS strikes the perfect balance with Soft Matte Complete Concealer, €36, a wonderful cream formula that contains reparative plant extracts and sets to a second-skin finish.

Lightweight Shaping

Earthy tones seem natural choices for a professional makeup look but fluorescent lights in the workplace can make taupes and biscuits look muddy. The same goes for most bronzers, especially powder formulas.

Emma Willis, one of my favourite celebrity artists (and a beauty guru to Glee’s Heather Morris), uses Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish, €35.95 at on the face for a glitter and orange-free bronze that minimises imperfections.

A rare benefit of overhead lighting is that it can actually enhance the angles of the face when you tilt your chin down (facial shadows working for you, for once), so a moderate application of this refreshing gel formula under the cheekbones and along the hairline creates a nice shape in photos.

Stencilled brows and black liquid-liner also look significantly deeper under fluorescent lights.

Switching to a slate gel liner, such as Smashbox Always On Gel Liner in Shark, €26, lets you keep the shape without harsh lines.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo, €23 at helps create flawless but natural arches.

Warm Cheek Colours

Yellow gold-toned highlighter can look greenish in fluorescent lighting, so try enlivening skin with sheer peaches instead.

This pop of colour is especially important if you’ve contoured, as the pronounced angles will make blush-free cheeks look flat.

Tom Ford Skin Illuminator in Fire Lust, €75, available April 28, is a pricey but exquisite way to give cheeks a warm glow.

Part of the brand’s Summer ‘Soleil Colour’ collection, this mildly hydrating liquid is designed to effect skin’s appearance during the magic hour, that pre-sunset period when selfies turn out best.

It dries to a non-greasy finish and suits all skin types.

Sheer Gloss or Deep Lipstick

I love a red power lip or even fuchsia in Springtime, but the aforementioned intensifying nature of fluorescent light can make bold shades appear clownish, especially contrasted with fair skin.

Cool chrome-finish shade can also grow duller in this environment. Sticking with pinks and reds, deep cream shades of both are flattering alternatives.

Estée Lauder’s new Pure Colour Love Lipstick collection offers beautiful choices in Burning Love (deep red) or Crazy Beautiful (creamy mauve), both €24.

Their long-wearing formula conditions lips with mango, acai and pomegranate oils.

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