How to Nail a Flawless Glazed No-Makeup Look, Courtesy of Hiromi Ueda

It takes a considerable amount of work to make a beauty look seem effortless. Professional makeup artists tend to receive high praise for creating avant-garde looks for red carpet events, or by dabbling in the dark, punkish color schemes ruling this season’s Paris runways. And while I’m wowed by these artistic efforts, I must say, an over-the-top aesthetic will always be incomparable to a well thought-out and natural makeup look. It takes a tasteful hand to highlight all the best parts of one’s natural complexion—a fact with which the renowned makeup artist Hiromi Ueda is intimately familiar.

Ueda, who was recently named Armani Beauty’s new international makeup artist, has generally worked in the fashion space, treating the faces of Greta Lee and Dame Maggie Smith for a recent Loewe campaign, capturing Matthieu Blazy’s “New Bottega” vibe for the Italian brand’s runway shows, and beautifying Gigi Hadid’s mug for a cover of this very magazine. The Japan-born, London-based MUA has worked in the industry for over a decade—and as a result, knows all its ins and outs. Below, Ueda discusses with us her favorite products, best tools, and tips that never let her subjects down.

I notice Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation is often a first choice for celebrity makeup artists—even the ones who are under contract with other brands. How do you use it? Is it a one-step product for most of your looks, or do you tend to layer it?

This formula gives the most radiant and seamless finish, and it’s multifunctional so it’s very versatile when I create makeup looks. You can mix it with your skincare to create a bare skin, tinted-moisturizer finish, or you can apply more than one layer for a more flawless finish—which is what we pros prefer for red carpet events with bright spotlights.

For a glowing look, I mix a small pump of Armani Beauty Fluid Sheer Glow Enhancer, go in with the foundation, and then apply these two products together. It looks like a dream on the skin. When it comes to setting the foundation, I incorporate the Luminous Silk Glow Setting Powder that gives skin a more satiny gleam. Then I also underpaint with the Luminous Silk Concealer. An important tip is, use one shade lighter than your natural skin tone to highlight, and 4-5 shades deeper than your natural skin tone to contour before you apply the Luminous Silk Foundation. This will create a modern structured look by sculpting key features.

If you’re getting what you need from your foundation and it wears well, is finishing powder really a necessary step? I would rather skip it.

I can understand that. However, I have a different approach. I recommend applying Luminous Silk Glow Setting Powder to the T-zone area rather than powdering your whole face. I am of the mind that overdoing it with a powder can cause makeup to become too heavy, which might then make fine lines more visible.

What are a few of the top beauty trends you’re forecasting for the year ahead?

For me, there are several key trends for 2024. First: high-shine, “glazed doughnut”-fresh skin will continue to be on trend this year. This look is best achieved by layering different complexion products, on top of well-moisturized skin. Armani Beauty’s Fluid Sheer Glow Enhancer is perfect for this—you can wear it on its own, on top of or mixed in with your regular moisturizer. You could add a pump of it into your foundation or simply press it directly onto the high points of the face, such as the cheekbones and bridge of the nose.

The second trend I think will be big for 2024 is the Clean-Girl Makeup look. This is an elegant and polished look without overpowering elements. To create it, use a muted eyeshadow like Armani Beauty Eye Tint Long-Lasting Liquid Eyeshadow in shades 22 or 18. Another way to achieve this look is to subtly contour the eyes and face using two shades of concealer; one 4-5 shades deeper than your natural skin tone, and another one shade lighter. This will help to create an understated, luxurious look.

Lastly, I think monochromatic makeup will continue to evolve as a trend. This is where you pick one pop of color, often applied to multiple areas of the face, and let that be the focal point. Start with a flawless base and then apply Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Glow Blush onto the high points of the cheek. (Pink cheeks add a sense of vitality to any complexion.) I would then apply a similar shade to the lip with Lip Power Matte Lipstick.

In terms of longer-term makeup trends, spidery lashes could become popular again. I have a “mascara cocktail” I love to do, which starts with a volumizing mascara (Armani Beauty’s Eyes To Kill Mascara is brilliant). I then use a clean lash brush to smooth out any clumping. I finish this three-stage approach with a coat of the Armani Beauty Eccentrico Mascara, which is great for lengthening. This cocktail never fails to give me long and beautiful lashes.

I am always trying to perfect the art of applying a perfect red lip. Even when brands say their products are transfer-proof, it’s challenging to have a hydrating, high-quality lipstick stay put. What is your process when applying a beautiful red on a client?

When wearing color on the lips, it is essential to prep the lips. As a first step, make sure your lips are well-hydrated using a generous layer of lip balm. Before you apply your chosen lip shade, do two things: First, blot off any excess moisture, as this will ensure a longer-lasting effect. Secondly, use a concealer to paint a “concealed outline” around the outer perimeter of the lips. This helps to create a clean canvas on which to apply the lipstick. For a precise finish, I recommend using a lip brush to apply the lipstick, or for a softer finish, you could apply the lipstick first to the center of the lips using the bullet or a lip brush, and then diffuse your lip line with a cotton bud.

Correct any mistakes using a thin cotton bud together with a non-oily makeup remover—micellar waters are great for this.

What products do you use to prep your subjects for eye makeup if they struggle with dark circles, puffiness, or heavy eye bags?

In these instances, a gentle eye massage using circular motions is a great way to prep the eye area; the massage will encourage lymphatic drainage. Also, opt for a product (concealer, eye cream, whatever) that contains caffeine. That’ll help reduce the appearance of puffiness.

Are there any J-beauty principles you follow?

Japanese beauty emphasizes thorough cleansing. The phrase “double cleansing” has become popular in recent years, and involves using an oil-based cleanser first to remove makeup and sunscreen, followed by a water-based cleanser to clean the skin. This method ensures a deep and effective cleanse.

When it comes to exfoliation, rather than using harsh exfoliants, Japanese skincare methods tend to focus on gentler exfoliants such as rice bran powder and enzyme-based exfoliators. A more mild approach helps to remove dead skin cells but without causing irritation.

Keeping the skin well-hydrated is also a fundamental rule of Japanese skincare. Lightweight, hydrating toners (known as lotions or “kesho-sui” in Japanese) are often used to prepare the skin for subsequent steps. Japanese skincare routines usually involve multiple lightweight products rather than relying on heavy creams. This allows individuals to customize their routine based on their skin’s specific needs.

What is your most underrated drugstore skincare find?

L’Oréal 100% Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover.

What about for makeup?

L’Oréal Brow Artist Plump and Set brow mascara (which comes in fives shades, plus one clear) is great for creating a quick, groomed brow.

What’s the best piece of beauty advice you ever received?

To respect the importance of removing makeup promptly and to stick to a consistent nightly skincare routine. This helps to keep my skin healthy in long run. Plus, I love doing my particular skin care routine and find it very therapeutic.

Are there any makeup trends that you wish would disappear?

Having a very heavy or full-coverage complexion—we see it more often than I like.

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