Meet Charli Howard—model, eyebrow envy–inducer and beauty junkie. The wide-eyed South East London–born model has graced the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and became an unintentional viral sensation for penning this open letter to her former modelling agency last year, calling out its unrealistic body size standards. Since then, Howard has become an outspoken advocate on healthy body image for all women—not only models—and writes about beauty, food, and life musings on her website.
Given that Howard possesses one of the most striking faces we’ve ever seen, and that it’s not often we meet a model who’s as happy to rant and rave about tinted moisturiser as we are, we asked her to share her no-makeup makeup beauty routine from start to finish. After all—who better to learn the art of model-off-duty beauty from than an actual model? Keep scrolling to find out her favourite products for a natural makeup look.
Before I began modelling, I would wear heavy makeup every day and take great pleasure in doing so. I’d painstakingly apply contour, eye shadow and lip liner, carefully creating the features that I deemed beautiful. But as much as it boosted my confidence, wearing so much makeup was my equivalent of a security blanket: It took attention away from the features I wasn’t confident in.
When I first started modelling, it felt slightly alien having to strip my makeup kit to a bare minimum. As a model, the client always wants to see you as fresh as possible at castings. Foundation was replaced with BB cream; lip liner with lip balm.
Soon, though, I began appreciating the features I’d been so quick to cover up. I liked my button nose, and my lips were full enough without needing to emphasise them with liner. Most of all, I now have an appreciation for makeup—more than I did before. Applying red lipstick or cat-eye liner feels like a treat rather than a routine.
If modeling has taught me anything, it’s how to embrace the face I have, and to step away from the hyper-sculpted look. I’ve since learned to love and feel confident in little-to-no makeup—and guess what: You can, too. So whether you’re a model or not, here are my tips for achieving a fresh-faced beauty look that will trick people into thinking you’re not wearing makeup.
Prep the skin with a plumping moisturiser, like Rodial Bee Venom Day Cream With SPF 30 (£130). I love this because it primes the skin and adds luminosity for a healthy-looking glow.
The goal here is to provide minimal coverage without masking any natural marks (like freckles). A skin tint with a glow (note: not shimmer!) will help make you look awake and fresh without looking too made-up. My go-to product is Rodial Skin Tint With SPF 20 (£45), which comes in a variety of shades and provides buildable coverage that lasts all day.
Using a Beautyblender (£16), blend the foundation seamlessly onto your face and neck. (Bonus: Beautyblenders also make your makeup last a lot longer.)
For a natural look, the idea is to not cover all the blemishes or dark circles—at least not excessively. It’s natural to have a few marks on your skin. (Hey, we all have them!) Using your ring finger, pat a liquid concealer lighter than your foundation shade on the top of your cheekbones, slowly patting it outwards and upwards under your eyes. I use MAC Pro Longwear Concealer (£18) in NC15.
A tiny bit of bronzer will make you look sun-kissed and healthy. I use the “striping” technique, where you brush a minimal amount of matte bronzer from cheekbone to cheekbone across the nose. Be careful not to go overboard with this, or you’ll go from looking sun-kissed to sunburned!
Slightly feral eyebrows look youthful and natural. I brush them up slightly using Illamasqua Clear Brow & Lash Gel (£13), which makes them stay in place all day. Then dab a small amount of plumping lip balm onto the lips. My inexpensive affordable favourite is Carmex (£3).
To finish, spray a small amount of Avéne Thermal Spray (£10) over your finished makeup. Don’t be put off by the water aspect—this helps your makeup set and stay in place all day, making you look even more beautifully fresh-faced!
For more celebrity tips, here's how to get a body like a Victoria's Secret model.