Erica Ndlovu

Clean Swap: Less Makeup
Is More—and Much More Fun

In partnership with our friends at The Organic Pharmacy

On a several-month deployment in Germany and Poland during the pandemic, Army captain (and now goop junior beauty editor) Erica Ndlovu was facing some major breakouts. “I’ve always had breakouts and acne scars, but I was dealing with a real flare-up,” she says. “I was insecure about my skin, so I’d put on tons of makeup to cover it all up, and it just wasn’t working. I never considered whether the chemicals in conventional makeup might be part of the problem.”

After Ndlovu switched to clean makeup, she also found herself using less. “My skin has significantly improved, enough that I need less coverage than I used to. So I’m getting into the fun of makeup—it used to be such a chore!” she says. “Plus, my skin looks dewy and feels amazing.” Below, Ndlovu’s all-time clean favorites.

  1. STEP 1

    I love beginning my day with a fresh face. This luxurious cleanser made with diamond powder and salicylic acid gently exfoliates my skin while giving it a great boost of moisture with coconut oil and shea butter. What I love most is how clean it leaves my skin feeling, along with the subtle rose scent that’s such a treat first thing in the morning.

    The Organic Pharmacy Rose Diamond Cleanser
    The Organic Pharmacy Rose Diamond Exfoliating Cleanser goop, $73
  2. STEP 2

    After cleansing, I start with this light moisturizer—it leaves my skin smooth, hydrated, and luminous, but it doesn’t make me break out (which some face creams do). It’s great on its own with sunscreen, and it’s also amazing under concealer or foundation.

    1. goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Glow Lotion
      goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Glow Lotion goop, $58/$52 with subscription
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    2. Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen
      Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen goop, $29
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  3. STEP 3

    This airy sodium-hyaluronate-infused foundation blends seamlessly into my skin, leaving it looking even and dewy. I love how buildable it is and the fact that it’s the perfect size to toss in your bag for a quick touch-up.

    Beautycounter Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage
    Beautycounter Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage goop, $45
  4. STEP 4

    I have acne scarring. This creamy concealer has the best there-but-not-really-there finish. I dot it directly on the spots I want to lighten up, then I blend it in with my finger or a brush. It blends so well—it comes in a great range of shades and leaves no visible texture behind—so my skin just looks like it’s in great shape, not like I’m wearing concealer.

    Beautycounter Skin Twin Creamy Concealer
    Beautycounter Skin Twin Creamy Concealer goop, $31
  5. STEP 5

    I’ve never been an eye-makeup wiz (patience isn’t my strong suit), but this smooth inky eyeliner is so easy to use—it’s perfect for me. Place a few dots as close to your lash line as possible, then just connect the dots. Blend it using the smudger on the other end and: done.

    Jillian Dempsey Khôl Eyeliner
    Jillian Dempsey Khôl Eyeliner goop, $20
  6. STEP 6

    This mascara leaves my lashes super defined, thick, and glossy. Made with beeswax, shea butter, and a mineral complex that conditions your eyelashes, it also lengthens as it thickens. One coat is a great everyday look, and I like to do a few coats for extra-long, lifted lashes if I’m going out.

    Saie Mascara 101
    Saie Mascara 101 goop, $24
  7. STEP 7

    I’ve always loved thick eyebrows, and this gel shapes and defines for brows that are totally natural but also nicely bold. And it’s easy to use: I brush up toward my temples and it always pulls my whole look together.

    Kosas Air Brow Clear Lifting Treatment
    Kosas Air Brow Clear Lifting Treatment goop, $22
  8. STEP 8

    A simple swipe of this berry-red cream blush brings warmth and depth to my whole face. It’s super hydrating, so it leaves my cheeks with a nice plump, dewy look. I also love it on my lips and eyelids—it’s the ultimate multitasker.

    Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush Stick
    Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush Stick goop, $48
  9. STEP 9

    I love a natural-looking glow with a little shimmer. This cream highlighter has a gorgeous rose-gold sheen that looks amazing blended over my cheekbones and browbones and at the bridge of my nose and my Cupid’s bow. It’s subtly iridescent and elevates any no-makeup makeup look.

    RMS Beauty Master Mixer
    RMS Beauty Master Mixer goop, $38
  10. STEP 10

    This luxurious palette nourishes my lips and gives gorgeous long-lasting color. I love to dab it on with my fingers for a your-lips-but-better stain, and when I apply it with a brush, it’s a beautiful full-on lipstick.

    1. Westman Atelier Lip Suede
      Westman Atelier Lip Suede goop, $85
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    2. Westman Atelier Lip Brush
      Westman Atelier Lip Brush goop, $38
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Wondering which shade is right for you? Have other questions? Message us at [email protected] for personal assistance.