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Day-to-Night Makeup: Your Official (Easy!) Guide to Switching Over Your Look

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While we love a bold lipstick, glittery eyeliner, and fierce glam lashes, a full-out glam makeup look doesn’t always work for the daytime. But starting your day with something soft, pretty, and easy doesn’t mean you're stuck with understated until tomorrow. Mastering the day-to-night makeup look is easy once you know the basics. To help you along the way, we’ve broken down two of the best day-to-night natural eye makeup tutorials so you can easily replicate them for yourself. Get ready to be a makeup transformation pro. 

But first, watch Bailey Sarian create a daytime makeup look perfect for school or work:

How to Take Your Makeup From Day to Night: Peachy Keen to Sophisticated Vamp

Daytime Makeup Look: Peachy Keen

This stunningly simple no-makeup makeup look combines neutral yet defined matte eyes, a rosy lip, and a flush of bronzer for a natural glow. It’s ideal for days when you want to look radiant yet understated–think "fresh from a beachy summer vacation"–but don’t want to spend hours in front of the mirror.

A photo of natural makeup look of Bailey Sarian on a coffee-colored background

Step 1: Build a base. 

Once you’ve applied your foundation and concealer and set it with powder (we go over how to apply foundation for your skin type and a natural skin look here), begin by applying an eyeshadow primer over your lids. Even though you’re keeping your daytime makeup natural, you still want it to stay put all day long. We recommend URBAN DECAY Eyeshadow Primer Potion for stay-all-day wear. 

Step 2: Define Your Eyes. 

Use either your finger or a small, flat eyeshadow brush (like this INMO Eye Shadow Brush) to apply a skin tone-colored matte eyeshadow all over your lid, up to your brow, and even into the inner corner of your eye. The BELLE EN ARGENT Panchromatic Eyeshadow Palette in Nude Intuitive Vision features natural-looking eye makeup colors for all skin tones. 

Then, using the same brush, apply an eyeshadow a few shades darker than your skin tone to your eye crease, or the socket where your eyelid meets your brow bone, to define and shape your eye.  

Finally, apply a matte brown eyeshadow (like from THEBALM COSMETICS Alternative Rock Vol. 1 Palette) on the outer corner of your crease in a small V using a fluffy blending brush. A soft brush, like in the MOTD COSMETICS In A Blush Blending Eye Brush Set, is the key to blending everything without harsh lines, as it will accentuate your eyes without making them look too dramatic or glam for a natural eye makeup look. Just remember, when it comes to a natural makeup look: when in doubt, blend it out!

Step 3. Line Your Lashes. 

Trade the fluffy brush for an angled eyeliner brush to apply the same color you used on the outer edge of your crease across your upper and lower lash line. Then, finish your daytime eye look with a few swipes of mascara, for eyes that look fresh and wide awake. We love BOBBI BROWN COSMETICS Smokey Eye Mascara for volume, separation, and lift. 

Step 4: Bronze it Up. 

Give your cheeks a sun-kissed warmth with a matte bronzer, like the MORPHE Mini Bronzer. Although shimmery bronzer is super pretty, too, and totally wearable, choosing a matte bronzer is best for a more natural look or if you want something more subtler for the daytime. 

Not sure if you should use a powder or cream bronzer? It all depends on your skin type and personal preferences. In general, if you have oily skin, we recommend using powder face products, while cream and liquid products are great for hydrating dry skin.  

Although where you apply your bronzer will depend on your face shape, in general, use a fluffy powder or contour brush (like SLMISSGLAM's Rose Gold Blusher Brush) to sweep the color just under your cheekbones and on the apples of your cheeks. Use circular motions to blend, and you'll be left with a tanned, pretty glow. 

Step 5: Go Nude. 

For a finishing touch, apply a nude lip liner all over your top and bottom lip. Use your pointer finger to smudge and blend the liner in. Finally, finish with a little shine from a sheer lip gloss like M.A.C. Little Lipglass in C-Thru or Nymphette. This smooth and glossy formula is great if you want to add just a hint of sparkle and shine to your lips.

Day to Night Transformation: Sophisticated Vamp

Want to keep the fun going from afternoon to evening? Good news–there's no need to start your makeup routine all over again. The best thing about this natural evening makeup tutorial is that it only requires a few eye makeup tweaks–plus a rich, dark lip color–to take your daytime look to full vampy glam.

A photo of Bailey Sarian looking fierce while wearing red lipstick and touching her neck in one hand

Step 1: Emphasize Your Eyes. 

Start by defining your eyes using a dark brown, gray, or black eyeliner. Begin at the middle of your lash line and draw a thin line outward, using your finger to blend, soften, and build the line as you go into a soft cat eye (not sure how to apply eyeliner? We've got you covered). Using the same eyeshadow palette you used for your daytime makeup, take the darkest shade and pat it on top of your liner for a natural smoky eye look that's quick, easy, and oh-so-glamorous. 

Step 2: Smudge Out Your Shadow. 

No nighttime makeup look–even a natural one–is complete without a soft, smoky shadow beneath your lash line. Grab your eyeliner (such as BEAUTY FOR REAL I-LINE 24-7 Eyeliner) and apply it along the lower lash line, smudging as you go, and top it with a bit more of the dark eyeshadow shade. Feel free to blend it out below your lower lashes for a hazy, smoky look. Finally, freshen up the mascara on your lower and upper eyelashes, and your natural nighttime eye makeup is good to go. 

Step 3: Highlight Away. 

Use a fan brush, like BILLION DOLLAR BROWS Fan Brush, to sweep a highlighter in a shade slightly lighter than your skin tone across the top of your cheekbones. For more info on how to apply highlighter or illuminator, check out our guide here

Then, dust a light rose or peach blush onto the apples of your cheeks for a pretty evening flush. We love BEAUTANIQ BEAUTY Butter Lip & Cheek Balm in Peach Blush

Step 4: Bring the Drama. 

Natural night makeup calls for a bold lip. To add some drama to your daytime lip look, simply swipe on a color slightly darker than your natural hue–we love MORPHE Lip Crayons for a range of natural, day-to-evening shades–across your lips. 

And there you have it! Your natural daytime makeup just got a fabulous (and fast!) upgrade.

How to Take Your Makeup From Day to Night: Bronze Beauty to Cocoa Couture

Daytime Makeup Look: Bronze Beauty

This next daytime look is a study in minimalism and beautiful bronze shades. Natural-looking sheer, earth-toned pigments will make your eyes sparkle, while versatile makeup products like highlighter and bronzer add just a hint of glitz and glamor. Plus, it’s so easy you’ll be able to pull this look together in minutes, in time for any daytime plans.

An image of a woman wearing natural makeup while touching her neck in one hand

Step 1: Highlight Your Eyes

After you’ve applied your regular face makeup, like primer, foundation, and concealer, it's time to light up your eyes. Using a sweeping motion, take a light eyeshadow–like from the ​​THEBALM COSMETICS

Meet Matt(e) Nude Eyeshadow Palette–and swipe across your eyelid, brow bone, and the inner corner of your eye. 

Step 2: Define Your Crease 

Using a denser-bristled brush than you used to apply your base eyeshadow, apply a matte copper or auburn–like MEECH N MIA Loose Eyeshadow in Copper–at the outer corner of your eyelid. Gradually blend and extend this color into your crease. It should be darkest at the outer corner and gradually fade as you approach the inner corner of your eye. Blend it all with a circular motion to soften the edges.

Step 3: Wet Your Shadows 

Wet application time! Mixing your eyeshadows with water makes them super pigmented and more like an eyeliner, so you're sure to get defined eyes. All you have to do is wet a small shading brush by running the bristles under tap water for a few seconds. Squeeze away any excess, then dip the wet brush tip into COMPLEX CULTURE Full Time Eyeshadow in Champagne, a sparkly champagne color. Take this color across your lid, blending it out towards the outer corner of your eye for dimension and shimmer.

Step 4: Eyeline Away 

Time to line those eyes–but not with eyeliner, with eyeshadow. Dip an angled brush into a dark gray or brown color, like NOMAD COSMETICS NOMAD x Marrakesh Medina Intense Eyeshadow in Henna, and begin building your line across your upper eyelashes. Then, draw another line beginning from the outer corner of your eye, and sweep it in to meet in the middle for a super-simple cat eye. Finish with mascara, and your eye makeup is all set. 

Step 5: Bronze Up the Day

Take your bronzer and highlighter and blend the bronzer into the apples of your cheeks for a beautiful dewy flush. Then, sweep the highlighter across the top of your cheekbones, and bring into the inner corner of your eye if you'd like for an extra eye-catching sparkle.

Day to Night Transformation: Cocoa Couture

It only takes a little more definition and some lower lash line action to take this sheer, natural eye makeup look from day to night. Once you’ve completed the steps above, follow these tips and tricks below and you’ll be ready to hit the town!

A photo of a woman with curly brunette hair wearing a light makeup on a hazel-colored background

Step 1: Amp Up Your Color 

To build on your natural daytime eye, blend a deep rose or magenta shadow–like ITTSĒ

Matte Eyeshadow in Boho–to the outer corner of your eyelid using an eyeshadow blending brush. Blend the color toward the center of your eye. Using a rosy or red-based eyeshadow is a great way to build a more dramatic eye that's still natural, as it won't overpower the rest of your makeup look the way a darker color–like black or gray–might. 

Step 2: Line Again 

To amplify the eyeshadow-eyeliner look you created for your daytime eye makeup, simply go in again with the same angled eyeliner brush and eyeshadow color. However, this time, bring the color down to your lower lash line as well, and blend the cat eye on your upper eyelid out even more for a fuller, smokier effect. Swipe on some mascara, and there you have it–all you need to create a natural look that can transition from day to night as seamlessly as you do.

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About the author
Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated April 21, 2022 12:00 AM