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There’s something of a pernicious myth in makeup that pigment = power. And while sometimes, a highly full-colour and opaque product does signify quality, I don’t believe the two necessarily go hand in hand. In fact, good quality sheer formulas are even harder to come by. Something that offers a watercolour wash without ever looking worn off or patchy is difficult to achieve. But when a brand does it right, it’s one of the most beautiful, subtle, and flattering effects on the market. Here’s a rundown of some of the greatest sheer formula makeup products out there.

An absolute touchstone in the category are surely the Glossier Generation G Lipsticks. Before these, a sheer lipstick was always slippery, glossy, and balmy. But these are totally matte, yet without the full coverage. They almost have a soft focus, powdery finish. Like, a mauve-y pink, is one of the best understated lip colours of all time.

A product is the newly launched Ohii Lip Smudge. They’re similarly sheer and non-sheeny, but have more of a soft, satin finish. They feel a little waxy on the lips, which is surprisingly moisturizing for a matte formula. The shade Cerise is the perfect undone red, leaning neither too orange nor too blue.

Total classics in the sheer lipstick category come from Lipstick Queen. While all of their formulas are pretty incredible, it’s their color changing products where the brand truly shines. They’ve recently launched some brand new shades to the range, including Highway, a juicy tangerine, and Venetian Masquerade a beautiful violet.

I’m also very pro a sheer-wash eyeshadow look. There’s something about the style that just looks cooler than a fully built-up opaque colour, and is ideal for more of an undone vibe. A palette that I firmly believe everyone needs is the MAC Social Climber Pro Palette. It contains six shades of sheeny cream shadows in a range of gorgeously slimy, puke-y tones. Trust me on this one.

For a more “conventionally pretty” vibe, though, the Wet ‘n’ Wild Liquid Catsuit Shimmer Liquid Shadow are really gorgeous. They offer a sheer wash of sheeny pastel, and give a glossy eyed finish without any of the mess. The shade Fairytale Ending, a silvery lilac, is my fave.

I’m also very pro a sheer formula for the base. While it won’t cover up any larger blemishes, I’m really of the opinion that that’s fine – particularly for day-to-day life. The Kiehl’s Actively Correcting And Beautifying BB Cream is among the best, offering a soft wash of evening coverage and perceptibly glow (plus SPF 50) without ever looking like you’re wearing makeup. For an even more glowy complexion, though, the Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint gives an almost glossy dewiness to the complexion – ideal for when skin is looking dull or parched.

A juicy, wet-look blush shade is also a summer favourite for me. The Nudestix Nudies Bloom All Over Dewy Colors and the Milk Makeup Glow Oil Lip & Cheeks are both absolutely perfect for this effect. They give a wash of appealing flush, but also boost hydration and give cheeks a plump, bouncy, youthful effect.

Shop 9 editor-approved beauty picks to achieve the ultimate sheer look

Featured images via Urban Outfitters

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