Clearly, the face of beauty has changed. The look we longed for years ago could be described today as obvious, particularly when it came to makeup. Foundations and powders were layered on -- applied to hide our skin as well as our self-perceived flaws and imperfections. Now, the look is more natural and expressive -- and products even work double duty to feed and protect the skin with good-for-you ingredients like antioxidants, vitamins and SPF. "Salespeople behind cosmetic counters used to sell you products to correct your shortcomings," says makeup artist Bobbi Brown. "Today the motto is that women should appreciate what's good about themselves. Makeup is now meant to accentuate the positive."
That's exactly what the new spring lineup does: Colors are vibrant, but sheer to let skin shine through, and skin glistens with a natural glow, never glitters. Think luminescent foundations, glossy lips, dewy cheeks and bright, soft eyes. "The idea," says New York City-based makeup artist Jim Crawford, "is that you want to look good without feeling like you have a lot of product on your skin."
Update your foundation.
"The goal of foundation used to be to cover, and the whole look was opaque and heavy," says makeup artist Darac, director of artistic development for Prescriptives. Now, high-tech foundations turn skin into a perfectly primed canvas, without a heavy-makeup look or feel. Some even contain light-diffusing microcrystals that create luminosity.
Expert tip "For a truly natural look, use your fingers to apply foundation," Crawford suggests. "The heat from your fingers will warm the makeup, making it more blendable, and you'll have better control with your fingers than with applicators or sponges."
Best buys Cover Girl CG Smoothers AquaSmooth foundation ($8.50; at drugstores), Almay Skin-Smoothing Foundation with Kinetin ($13; at drugstores), Revlon Skinlights Diffusing Tint SPF 15 ($14; at drugstores) and Calvin Klein Light Coverage Oil-Free Foundation SPF 8 ($29; sephora.com).
Ditch heavy pressed or loose powders.
"Women don't want dry, matte complexions anymore (the result of layering on a heavy powder over their foundation)," explains New York City makeup artist Laura Geller. "They want dewy makeup that's lighter, more sheer and more natural looking." Enter light-reflective powders. Just as some foundations contain microcrystals to give skin a shimmery glow, so too do the new powders.
Expert tip If your skin is healthy looking and even-toned already, "go without foundation and just use a luminizing powder," Geller says. First, apply concealer where necessary, then dust on a loose, shimmery powder all over.
Give your cheeks a rosy radiance.
What you'll find in most of the new cheek colors is a high percentage of water, which is why these formulas glide on easily (imparting a smooth, natural finish), feel cool to the touch and help moisturize the skin. Los Angeles makeup artist Collier Strong suggests looking for an apricot-tinted cheek color this spring: "A peachy blush brings your face to life instantly, and it complements any skin tone."
Expert tip "Apply blush where you flush naturally," says makeup artist Leslie Blodgett, president of Bare Escentuals Cosmetics in San Francisco. To apply correctly, check your face in the mirror after your next workout and use your naturally rosy cheeks as a guide.
Best buys Maybelline Cool Effect Blush in Very Berry Cool ($6.50; at drugstores), Origins Brush-On Color in Pink Halo ($16.50; origins.com), Linda Cantello Sweet Cream Blush in Brit ($22; 800-218-4918) and Estee Lauder Floating Color All-Over Face and Body Powder ($27; esteelauder.com).
Experiment with colors on your eyes.
Muted, tawny earth tones aren't the only natural hues to choose from anymore. Now any shade you can find in nature -- from the deep ruby of your favorite flower to the sparkling sapphire of a moonlit sea -- fits into the new spring palette, as long as you keep it soft. The goal: play with shades. "With these sheer tones, you don't have to worry about using shades from only one family of color," says celebrity makeup artist Diane Kendall, who adds that it's hard to look overly made-up with these new products.
Expert tip "When applying color, keep it close to the lash line and then blend it on to the rest of the lid," Crawford says. Then, use the blush that you used on your cheeks, and swipe it under the brows to balance eyes and cheeks.
Best buys Aveda Shadow Plus Vitamins in Echo (soft lilac) ($10; aveda.com), Bobbi Brown ColorOptions Sparkledust for Eyes and Cheeks ($20; gloss.com), Clarins Sheer Shimmer Eye Colour in Serene Green ($16; gloss.com) and Stila Eye Shadow in Darjeeling Floral (pinks and mauves) ($28; gloss.com).
Create a nude lip.
This season, nude and dewy will be on everyone's lips -- literally. The beauty of buff lips is that you can re-create the shape of your entire mouth (where a lip liner comes in) and still get natural results.
Expert tip "Use a lip pencil to line the lips, then fill in the whole lip with the color from the liner and swipe on a sheer gloss," Geller suggests. "Your lips will look natural with just a hint of tint. The gloss gives the lips a softer effect."
Best buys Liners: Rimmel 1000 Kisses Stay-On Lip liner ($2; at Wal-Mart stores), Prescriptives Deluxe Lip Pencil in Ginger ($16; gloss.com) and Lancome Le Lipstique Liner in Fraîchelle ($19.50; lancome.com). Glosses: Neutrogena MoistureShine Gloss in Sweet Nothing ($7; at drugstores), Makeup! Bobbe Joy Six on the Beach Lip Gloss Kit ($45; 877-22-MAKEUP) and L'Oreal Glass Shine in Honey Halo ($8.25; at drugstores).