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I followed expert budget beauty tips on how to look like a royal for a week

Here's how to nail a youthful royal glow on a budget

meghan, diana, kate in white
Katie Daly
Katie DalyLifestyle Writer
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Followers of the royal ladies will know that a natural makeup look comes with the territory. It is a look that the likes of the late Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana perfected in their time and one that Meghan Markle and Princess Kate continue to nail to this day. 

Makeup that is barely detectable, with the help of that all-important skincare regime, is the order of every day for the duchesses and princesses of Europe and we rarely see the royal style set throwing out the rulebook in pursuit of something more daring (except for when the late Princess of Wales wore red nail polish whilst dripping in pearls to a charity gala in 1995, an image that will forever remain inscribed in my beauty-obsessed brain). 

Princess Diana in black dress with red nails© Getty
Princess Diana was never shy of breaking from tradition

Even with the mob wife trend in our midst, the viral 'clean girl' makeup that dominated 2023 will remain a classic as it is so versatile for women of all ages and skin tones. We know it is one that the royals will be holding on to.

Princess Kate and Meghan Markle sat in the royal box at Wimbledon in 2019© Getty
Princess Kate and Meghan Markle nail natural beauty looks

With the help of experts from Fresha, I found out for myself what all the hype is about when it comes to the signature royal beauty look, and how to nail it on a budget. Spoiler alert, I may have just found a new staple in my skincare routine.

Apply neutral tones to achieve a stunning natural makeup look

The most shining example of Meghan Markle and Princess Kate's shared ability to rock a neutral eyeshadow is their respective wedding day looks. When Meghan married Prince Harry in 2018 she opted for a less-is-more aesthetic with a hint of warm eyeshadow smoked around the lashline and a fluttery lash. Meanwhile, when the then-Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, she went in with a warm brown eyeshadow but worked a black pencil onto her lower lashline for extra definition. 

Kate in wedding dress in carriage© Getty
Kate wore a neutral eye with heavy liner on her wedding day

I found myself reaching for my warm brown eyeshadows this week and I couldn't be happier about it. There really is nothing more classic than a warm brown smokey eye. I tend to opt for eyeshadow solely in the evening when I will also pop on a lash like Meghan, but I realised that with a lighter hand and by sticking to matte shadows, I could achieve a daytime look that I could transition to nighttime thanks to an eyeliner like Kate's. 

Meghan Markle wearing tiara and veil© Getty
Meghan Markle rocked a deep brown eye on her wedding day

The Fresha experts tell us: "The key to this is to use natural eye shadow tones from hazel brown to a rosy pink. This can achieve a perfect soft smoky eye over the lids and in the creases; this creates a simple yet bold look that will make your eyes pop."

A simple blush to bring out a subtle rosy appearance

I am a lifelong lover of blush and so this was a part of the royal beauty routine that I embraced with open arms. The Fresha experts tell us: "Princess Diana swore by a simple cream blush to help enhance the colour of her cheeks and create a more youthful, shinier look." 

Close-up of Princess Diana in 1988© Getty
Diana always had a rosy glow

To mirror the late Princess' lit-from-within look I opted for the Charlotte Tilbury 'Beauty Light Wand' in the shade 'Glowgasm', £30/$42, which is a dewy pink-toned illuminator that can be blended on the cheeks for a natural glow. Though I typically opt for a powder blush, much like Meghan Markle, I found that - even as someone with oily skin - a liquid texture created a more natural finish and caught the light on the tops of my cheekbones beautifully.

Charlotte Tilbury cream blush© Katie Daly
The royal ladies opt for a cream blush for a natural look

Keep the nails nude for elegance

It is a well-known fact that royal ladies rarely veer away from a natural nail shade. It has long been believed that the late Queen Elizabeth urged the royal ladies to wear Essie's 'Ballet Slippers' – a light pink shade with a shiny finish. 

Meghan's pink-toned nude nails© Getty
Meghan often wears a pink-toned nude

"Bright nail polish is a no-go for public appearances, the Fresha experts say. "A nude nail polish is a simple but effective touch that will match every outfit or makeup look." I couldn't agree more. I typically like dark nail polish in the winter but I found that a light shade meant that my nails didn't distract from my outfit. Light tones like the Essie shade I tried called 'Polished and Poised', £12.04/$7.99 (how apt!) also make your nails look longer.

Essie soft pink shade polish© Katie Daly
The royal ladies wear an Essie soft pink shade

Natural oils to keep the skin youthful and healthy

Kate Middleton close up© Getty
Kate has beautiful skin

"Throughout her pregnancies and in her daily regime, Kate Middleton relied on rosehip oil to help prevent dark circles around her eyes and signs of early aging," say the Fresha experts, adding that Princess Kate's mother Carole reportedly also included rosehip oil into her daily beauty routine after the successful results it yielded her daughter.

Michael Middleton in a suit and Carole Middleton in a white jacket and cream hat© Getty
Carole Middleton is said to have added rosehip oil to her beauty routine

I had never used rosehip oil before but I must say, I think it might be a new staple in my daily skincare regimen. I have always steered clear of oils in my skincare routine as I have naturally oily skin but I found that The Ordinary's '100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil', £9.70/$10.90 didn't overload my skin and instead made it feel smooth and hydrated.

the ordinary rose hip oil flatlay© Katie Daly
I tried a rosehip oil for the first time

The Fresha experts also told us that "glycolic acid is one of Meghan Markle’s go-to products as it creates a glowing appearance and soft, supple skin." I brought the Pixi 'Glow Tonic', £18/$15 with five percent glycolic acid into my routine but used it every other day so I didn't over-exfoliate my skin and found my skin felt softer to the touch.

The Pixi Glow Tonic © Katie Daly
The Pixi Glow Tonic smoothed my skin

Keep the lashes long and curled  

Crucial to Meghan and Kate's pretty eye looks is their mascara which enhances the eye and adds definition. "The simplest techniques are the most effective, and Meghan Markle doesn’t miss a trick by ensuring that she always curls her lashes before any other makeup application," the Fresha experts explain. 

Meghan in white smiling© Getty
Meghan's eyelashes always look full and fluttery

I grabbed my eyelash curler and the Barry M 'Feature Length' mascara, £5.99/$8.30 for a budget version of Meghan's trick and it worked a treat. I'll admit I don't have the longest natural eyelashes in the world so curling them enhanced the length and made me look more awake. 

eyelash curler and mascara flat lay© Katie Daly
Use an eyelash curler for added length like Meghan Markle

The Fresha experts add: "Diana also picked up a few hacks from her makeup artist, Mary Greenwell, when applying mascara, she covered the root of her lashes with the product to elongate the appearance of her eyelashes and give them a more striking appearance, accentuating her piercing blue eyes." I applied my mascara holding the mirror beneath my eye so I could see under my lashes. This meant I could wiggle the wand close to the root which made my lashes look fuller. 

Princess Diana wearing a blue shirt© Getty
Princess Diana's eyelashes became an iconic feature of hers

Moisturiser is a must before makeup application

It is a no-brainer that moisturiser is always a must. The Fresha experts say: "Kate Middleton religiously uses moisturiser, whether she is wearing makeup or opting for a bare face, and she always applies an SPF to protect herself from potentially harmful UV rays. Although it may not seem essential to wear SPF when the weather is cold and the sun isn’t shining, the UV rays can still cause damage by seeping through clouds, so this is a vital skincare step." 

Close-up of Kate Middleton looking serious and wearing gold earrings© Getty
Kate protects her skin using SPF even in winter

DISCOVER: The lipsticks the royals wear: From Kate's favourite to the Queen's classic shade 

I took their advice on board and mixed the La Roche Posay 'Anthelios UVMune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50+ Sun Cream', £15.99/$35.99 in with the 'Hydra-Repair Day Cream' by Grown Alchemist, £29.75/$19.99 for a radiant glow that peeked through my makeup and kept my skin protected, even in this dreary February weather.

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