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Eyeshadow Without Foundation? No Problem! Here Are Some Tips

Here’s the truth—I rarely bust out a bottle or tube of actual liquid foundation. But I always do something with my eyes. I seldom find that this combo of natural skin and made-up eyes looks bizarre!

If you want to wear eyeshadow without foundation, you can do it without issue. There are a few tips that will give you more confidence to do so:

  1. Question your need for foundation in the first place.
  2. Consider spot concealing or a light dusting of powder foundation instead.
  3. Perhaps avoid an all-out glam eye look when going without foundation.

I’ll cover all these tips in this article.

Question the Fundamental Assumption That You Need Foundation

If you want to have more confidence in your ability to pull off the eyeshadow-with-no-foundation look, you’ll need to look at your skin without foundation and see it as it really is—beautiful.

Cultivate the voice that looks at your bare face and says, “My freckles are cute” or “My skin looks soft” or “My forehead is so smooth today.” Follow inspirational, skin-positive accounts like Rocia Cervantes’ (@rocioceja_) on Instagram; she loves her acne-prone skin and often sports a foundationless look.

A picture of a Rocio Instagram post with rainbow pastel shadow
The lovely Rocia. Link to post and link to profile.

And try to follow other accounts that show their bare-skinned face often. That way, it’ll become more normalized for you, and going sans foundation won’t feel that weird.

But maybe your issue isn’t that you need a recalibration of your self-talk. Maybe you find yourself loving the fun of doing up your eyes, but you feel like applying foundation is a drudgery that comes with it—something tiresome but necessary because, well, that’s just part of doing your makeup.

Question that latter assumption! Does your skin look perfectly fine without it? Let yourself think about the difference; oftentimes, natural skin looks way better than cakey, obviously foundation-laden skin anyway.

Once you stop assuming that you need foundation, it’ll be easy to have the confidence to wear your eye looks without giving foundation a second thought.

But if you’re not quite there yet or if you find that, though you’re okay with the no-foundation thing, you’d like an extra boost of coverage, read on! We’ll talk about breezy ways to quickly get you some coverage without the annoyance of applying a full face of foundation.

Consider Spot Concealing or Using a Light Powder Foundation

Liking your eye makeup but feeling that your undereyes are looking too ragged to properly complement things?

Having a day where discoloration is really bothering you?

Feeling your face today…all except that cluster of bright red breakouts on your chin?

It’s okay to do things halfway!

Spot Concealing

First, you can try spot concealing just the places that are bugging you, like your undereyes or acne trouble spots. Spot concealing means applying concealer to strategic areas to cover only what you want covered, so most of your face is still makeup free.

For this, try using a skin-like, creamy concealer. I’d stay away from things like the e.l.f. Cameo Concealer or Tarte’s Shape Tape. Lean toward products like the First Aid Beauty Bendy Avocado concealer or the under-the-radar Vichy Dermafinish Corrective Fluid Foundation (makeup artist Linda Halberg used it to spot conceal in a video and the results were amazing).

Squeezy tube of Vichy dermafinish
Here’s the Vichy Dermafinish. Source.

If you want more advice on how to use concealer to its full potential, check out my article on how to cover acne without looking cakey.

Powder Foundation

But what if the scope of what you want to cover is beyond the reach of spot concealing? Say you’ve got some redness across your cheeks and forehead that you think distracts from your eyeshadow look, but you still don’t want the fuss of Beauty Blendering some viscous liquid onto your face and then taking whole minutes out of your day to blend.

I know we’re saying no foundation here, but I’m going to cheat a little. I find a light dusting of a hydrating powder foundation is just the ticket. It looks like your wearing nothing, and it’s as easy as a sloppy dip-brush-dip-brush and you’re done.

My personal favorite is the Laura Geller Baked Balance-n-Brighten Color Correcting Foundation. I hear good things about the Flower Beauty Light Illusion Powder as well, but the shade range is atrocious. If you require something deeper, you can go with BareMineral’s original powder foundation, but I don’t find loose powder (especially BareMinerals) is as easy and quick to apply.

tawny colored compact of Flower Beauty Light Illusion
Flower Beauty Light Illusion in Carmel. Source.

This is often what I’ll do when I’m feeling less comfortable with my skin but don’t want to bust out the tube of foundation. I’ll pack some powder concealer on my undereyes, blend, and then take a few seconds to brush some light powder foundation all over my face. The whole process takes maybe 30 seconds, and I still look like and feel I’m barefaced—just a little less sleepy and splotchy.

Maybe Avoid All-Out Glam Eye Looks

This is totally up to you, but I’d advise you not to go full Instagram on your eyeshadow—we’re talking glitter, winged liner, the works—and then skip the foundation. It will tend to make your makeup look unfinished, like you forgot a step. It can also distract from your eye look.

Here’s a picture from my upcoming two-toned eyeshadow post (stay tuned!) that I probably wouldn’t wear without at least a little coverage on my face.

Gold and pink eye look with liner
Any redness or acne would distract from my eyes and make my eyeshadow seem incongruous with the rest of my face.

But there are no rules in makeup that can’t be broken, so you do you. Load up on shadow and pass on the foundation if you’re cool with the look or if you’re really embracing the skin you’re in! It’s just something I’ve found doesn’t work well for me.

Some Ideas to Wrap Things Up

To put it clearly, yes, you absolutely can wear eyeshadow without foundation! In fact, I’d encourage it. Get used to going out being proud of your skin! It’ll be confidence-boosting knowing that you don’t need to hide behind a mask in order to enjoy having some cute eyeshadow on.

To close out, here are some simple ways I like to do eyeshadow that take especially well to no foundation:

Basically, anything that looks effortless and youthful will be a great fit for a no-foundation eye look.

Now go forth and boldly eschew that tube of fleshy face paint! You don’t need foundation to pull off some fun eyeshadow.