Best Skin Prep For Long-Lasting, Sweat-Proof Makeup

Celebrity makeup artists are skilled in the art of long-lasting, sweat-proof makeup. Their clients often spend hours getting ready between hair, makeup, and styling, and by the time they walk the red carpet in the early evening, their makeup has already been on for a handful of hours. Even under the flashing lights, their makeup defies the laws of time and space, appearing freshly applied and flawless.  

If you ask a celebrity makeup artist how they manage to make their A-list clients look naturally glowy but never sweaty, they’ll tell you: the secret to long-lasting, sweat-proof makeup starts with skincare. 

There isn’t a makeup product in the world that nails the “your-skin-but-better” look like your actual skin, but optimized with skincare. From gentle exfoliants to face masks and primers, read on for the best skin prep tips to make your makeup last longer, especially on those sweaty days. 

  1. Start with a gentle cleanse and exfoliator.
    To prep your skin for makeup, you want to start with a clean, even surface. Even if you think your skin is clean, there may be some mascara or makeup leftover from the night before, so use a gentle cleanser like Versed Wash It Out Gel Cleanser ($9.99).

    Follow with a gentle chemical exfoliant like good light’s moon glow milky toning lotion ($22) to remove any dead skin cells that may be sitting on the surface of the skin and could interfere with the makeup. Moisture cannot permeate the skin if dead skin cells are in the way.

    Cleansing and toning helps create a smooth canvas for makeup, which sits on top of the skin and enhances what’s underneath. These two steps are crucial for setting up the foundation of radiant, flawless skin, before the actual foundation.

  2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
    Whether your skin is dry, normal, or oily, you need to moisturize before makeup. Just because your skin has a lot of oil doesn't mean that it has a lot of water. Moisturizer helps rehydrate the top layer of skin cells and seal in the moisture, which gives the skin a plump and smooth appearance. It also prevents the skin from dehydration as the day goes on, which is responsible for that dry, cakey look that can sometimes happen when you’ve been wearing makeup for an extended period of time.

    Many long-wearing makeup products have a drying effect on the skin, so if there's not moisture in the skin cells beneath the surface, the makeup will fall into those tiny cracks in the surface. This explains why some long-lasting makeup products may not perform as advertised.

    Moisturizing before makeup keeps your skin hydrated all day long, which means your makeup stays where it belongs: on the surface of the skin, not in the fine lines and pores.

    If you have dry skin, I recommend letting a thin layer of Josh Rosebrook Vital Balm Cream into the skin for at least 10-15 minutes before starting with your primer and foundation. For dry skin, try Three Ships Gel Cleanser

    Many makeup artists start with skin prep and then move onto the eyes before finishing the rest of the face. This gives your moisturizer plenty of time to penetrate deep into the skin. Applying your primer and foundation immediately after moisturizer would sheer out the foundation, which reduces its coverage and wear time, effectively turning a full-coverage, long-wearing foundation into a tinted moisturizer

    How do you know when your moisturizer has been on long enough? If you touch your face and it still feels wet or sticky, it’s too soon. The surface of your skin should feel hydrated and smooth, which means you’re ready to move onto the next step in the skin prep process: primer. 

  3. Prime the skin.
    The best primers bridge the gap between skincare and makeup, and contain ingredients from both to bring out the best of your skin. Primer acts as a protective barrier between your skin and its surroundings, which includes the makeup you wear, as well as pollution from the air and environment you live in.

    Youthforia’s Pregame Primer ($38) is packed with skincare actives to enhance your skin with every wear, while at the same time protecting your skin from irritation caused by pollutants or certain harsh makeup ingredients. The emollient formula holds your makeup in place and stops moisture from escaping, which means your makeup looks better for longer. It grips onto makeup, ensuring its longevity on the surface of your skin. It even helps makeup wash off easier at the end of the day, since the makeup is stuck onto the primer, not in your pores.

    The power of a good primer is impossible to understate, and the best primers extend the life of your makeup without compromising the health and quality of your skin – or in the case of Youthforia’s Pregame Primer ($38), actually enhances your skin while you’re wearing a full face of makeup. Dreams really do some true.

    By following these steps for skin prep, and giving your skin plenty of time to absorb these nutrient-rich products, it’ll ensure a gorgeous, long-lasting result every time. It is possible for your makeup to look good 8+ hours after your initial application, as long as the skin underneath the makeup is healthy and happy.