'Naturally' Nude

These skin care and makeup musts have naked appeal.

The natural look of Ali McGraw in Love Story made women want the look of effortless beauty. Even though Ali was supposed to be dying—go figure—it probably took the crew in the makeup trailer some effort to achieve her healthy glow. The "nude" look in makeup is minimal, barely there, and hard to get with one single line of products. Ironically, if you want your makeup to appear natural, it will require a certain amount of shopping around and mixing it up.

Begin with a clean canvas—the best start is a great complexion. Sensitive skin types should try Pevonia Ligne Lavandou cleanser, toner, and moisturizer ($89 for all three at The Dahlia Spa, 1422 31st Ave S., 206-322-1770). The creamy cleanser, calming spray toner lotion, and soothing moisturizer with SPF is worth the investment—you might spend the same amount on a new sweater, so why not spend it on something people see every day? Good to have on hand for those monthly breakouts is Peter Thomas Roth Medicated Benzoyl Peroxide Wash 10% ($28 at Sephora, 2566 N.E. University Village, 206- 526- 9110). The active ingredient kills bacteria, so it not only helps clear up acne on the face, but is great for breakouts on the back, shoulders, and chest. Dry as a bone? The miracle in a tube is Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster ($50 at The Stewart Salon, 1501 Queen Anne Ave N., 206-285-6301). The key ingredient is hyaluronic acid, a topical hydrating agent that soothes, smooths, and plumps the skin. Use it after cleansing and toning, and before moisturizing. It's terrific for long plane trips, or to pump up creams that are not doing the job.

The next step after cleansing and hydrating is to prep the skin. "Layering makeup" can actually end up looking more natural than it sounds, especially if it feels like Yves Saint Laurent Teint Parfait Complexion Enhancer ($35 at Nordstrom, 500 Pine St., 206-628-1072). Made to wear under foundation, this oil-free enhancer is still silky enough for dry skin; sheer and shimmery, it looks great all by itself. Also at the Nordstrom makeup counters are products with color choices often left out by other cosmetics companies. When it comes to foundation, the hands-down best selection for ethnic or hard-to-match skin tones is at the Prescriptives counter: The Prescriptives Custom Blended Foundation ($65) is a perfect match made right there, and your "prescription" is on file for life. You also get a cute travel-size tube of your perfect cover-up as a bonus.

Nars makeup is a good find for all skin tones. Their Laguna Bronzer ($28 at Narscosmetics.com) is a triple-milled bronzing powder for a more natural look on already tanned or darker skin tones. The opposite end of the spectrum is finding a great bronzer that looks natural on fair skin. Laura Mercier Shimmer Pressed Powder ($32 at LauraMercier.com or 888-Mercier) looks great on lighter skin, giving a barely there hint of color for springtime radiance. Redheads and "towheads" (where did that term come from?!) can also enhance the eyes with Longcils Mascara in prune or copper ($22 at Burnt Sugar, 601 N. 35th St., 206-545-0699)—black mascara can sometimes look harsh on these fair maidens, especially during the day, so these two colors are a welcome alternative for a softer look.

Translucent powder that is finely milled is a must for the natural look. Powder is meant to set makeup and soak up a little extra shine—the wrong brand can make you look as caked as a Hostess donette. Shu Uemura translucent powder ($30 at Barney's of New York, 1420 Fifth Ave., 206-622-6300), aptly named "colorless" for any skin tone, is fabulous. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to buy powder to match your skin: translucents that are well made and applied correctly will be exactly that—translucent.

Chanel has some fine nude lip shades. Try the shiny "Glossimer Giggle" ($24.50 at Macy's, 1601 Third Ave., 206-506-6000) or, for less shine, try "Barbados," a sheer lipstick with SPF 15 ($23.50 at Macy's). Skip the matching pencil—the lipstick looks great without it.

The most incredibly sheer and natural-looking blush is the glide-on Lulu "Starlet" ($24 at Olivine, 5344 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-706-4188). Created by local Julie Merriman, this cream blush is a cross between a cheek tint and a cream blush, and gives the perfect amount of healthy glow. Looks great on any skin tone, and works beautifully on dry skin even though it is completely oil free.

Paula Dorf "Baby Eyes" enhancer pencil ($16 at Nordstrom) is a flesh-tone color pencil made to rim the inner eye above the bottom lashes for a bright, more awake look. It's fantastic for tired, red, hung-over or allergy-affected eyes. The bad news is it that it's so popular it may be back-ordered.

Top off your au naturel look with a quality nail polish from OPI ($7.50 at Ed Wyse Beauty Supply, 1800 Eastlake Ave E., 206-322-9973). This professional line of nail colors is a favorite with manicurists, and the company comes out with some crazy names like "I'm Not Really a Waitress" or "A Little Nookie." For a clean, French-manicure color try "Hopelessly in Love," which is the perfect soft pink.

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