A couple of weekends ago I decided to take a trip back to Brussels. I used to live there, it had been over two years since I'd been back and I must admit the land of beer and fries was calling to me. I somehow managed to book myself the earliest train possible out of London, which consequently had me pulling out of Brighton at 3:50am. Safe to say that was not my smartest travelling decision. On the bright side though, I arrived in Brussels at about 10am so I had the whole day ahead of me! Just before we pulled in, after I'd finally managed to stir from some serious train snoozes and get some coffee down me- I was faced with a considerable dilemma.

It is no secret that Belgian women are effortlessly beautiful, so I wanted to pop on some makeup and look presentable. At the same time I was struck by the fact that Belgian women look effortlessly beautiful without seeming to wear any makeup. It's not just Belgian women that have this magical power, French women, Dutch women, Scandinavian women- they can all do it. It's what I've decided to call the continental effect- that bare faced, 'my skin is perfect and my eyelashes are naturally luscious' look. So, despite the arsenal of makeup I packed for my four day trip, I pulled out 5 of my most trusty products in hopes of coming as close as I could to the 'continental effect'.

Sadly, I'm American and English, not Belgian, and flawless skin has been eluding me since I was eleven. Accordingly, my main focus was evening out my skin tone and covering my early morning train-induced dark circles. Ultimately, I was aiming for a flawless base that didn't look like I was wearing much makeup. I worked a small amount of the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation (£33) into my skin with my fingers. It gives a very natural finish that corrects any discolouration with out completely masking my freckles and beauty spots. I did my best to cover any under eye circles with the Bobbi Brown Corrector (£19) in Light Peach and then attacked any blemishes with my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (£22). To finish things up I lightly filled in my brows and popped on one coat of mascara. I didn't add any eyeshadows, blush or lipstick and relied solely on my natural flush still peaking through my base for what I hope comes across as a casually put together look.

I absolutely love my lipsticks and foundations so it has been a long time since I decided to give those up and go forth with a comparatively bare face. But since I've been back I have been opting for a little less slap. So, at least for a little while, the continental effect has followed me back over the channel and I am taking some time to embrace the natural look the Belgians do so well.