How to Prep Your Skin for Smooth, Long-Lasting Makeup Application

by Riley Rant

naked poppy natural makeup

Many of us start our makeup routine with, well, makeup. But if you’ve ever tried putting product on dry-as-the-desert skin, you’ll know the pain of foundation-colored flakes. And if you have a more oily palette, you’ve probably noticed your makeup slipping, sliding, or smearing halfway through the day.

For makeup to sit well on our skin, prepping our skin first makes a world of difference. Below, we’ve outlined the best ways to best prep your skin before makeup — whether you have normal, dry, oily, or combination skin.

Step 1: Gently Cleanse Your Skin

Let’s start with a clean, fresh palette, shall we?  Begin your prep routine by washing your skin with a gentle cleanser that’s right for your skin type. This can be done the night before or the morning of.

  • If you have dry skin, consider a cream, gel, or oil cleanser which help moisturize the skin while cleansing.
  • If you have oily skin, try a gentle, pH-balanced gel or foam cleanser to get rid of dirt and oil without irritating your skin.
  • If you have normal skin, you can try a balm cleanser, pH-balanced gel or foam cleanser that doesn’t strip your natural oils.
  • If you have combination skin, look for cleansers that are designed for specifically for this skin type.

Splash lukewarm water on your face to help open your pores (avoid hot water, which will dry out your skin). Massage a dime-size amount of cleanser all over your skin in a circular motion.

Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water and then pat your face dry with a clean towel. Rubbing your skin dry may irritate your skin – and we don’t want that!

Routine here is key. Feel free to wash your face once or twice a day: once at night to remove makeup and other impurities, and once in the morning if you like. Ladies with sensitive skin may just want to wash their face at night.

Pro Tip: Exfoliate your skin once a week to get rid of dead skin cell build-up. It sounds a little icky, but between makeup, free radicals, and sun exposure, older skin cells can just sit on top of our skin. If your skin looks dull or feels rough, you might need to exfoliate more often. If it looks red or feels raw, you may want to exfoliate a little less. Look for enzyme exfoliants over physical exfoliants for a less abrasive cleanse.

Step 2: Apply Toner, Yes Toner

A lot of people skip toner because it seems like an extra step without much reward.

The truth is, toner is an effective way to get rid of dead skin cells, makeup, and other bacteria that your cleanser might have missed.

Leftover residue can actually stimulate oil production, preventing makeup from staying on your face. So if your skin is on the oilier side, take heed of toner’s benefits. Toners are also a great way to get a grip on combination skin.

If you don’t want to wash your face in the morning, a spray toner is a great way to cleanse your facial canvas. Go for a gentle toner with ingredients like rosewater, chamomile, or calendula, and avoid toners with alcohol, or astringent toners like witch hazel, which can strip your skin of its natural oils.

Squeeze your toner onto a cotton ball or pad and gently pat your face, as you did while drying your skin after cleansing.

Step 3: Moisturize Your Skin

Moisturizing regularly makes for happy skin. We recommend investing in two moisturizers: a lighter one for the day with SPF 30, and a heavier one for night-time application.

If you have normal skin, you’ll want to go for a cream moisturizer.

If you have dry skin and want to achieve a dewier look, try a thicker cream, hydrating moisturizing gel, or face oil to wear during the day.

If you have oily skin, look for lighter moisturizers — or face oils.

Combination skin? Gel moisturizers are a great middle-ground. Or you can apply a lightweight moisturizer.

Interestingly, the best way to apply moisturizer to your face is by pressing it into your skin using your fingertips – not massaging it in. Pressing in your moisturizer ensures you don’t apply too much, and also draws more blood to the top of the skin, giving you a natural, healthy glow.  

Give your moisturizer a few minutes to sink into your skin before you move onto the primer. While you wait, you can brush your teeth and your lips to get rid of dry skin for a smoother lipstick application later ;)

Pro Tip: Looking for an extra splash of moisture? Consider adding a serum to your skin care routine. If you have dry or normal skin, use the serum in the morning after cleansing and toning. If you have oily or combination skin, we recommend applying the serum at night so the moisture doesn’t look too greasy during the day.

Pro PRO Tip: For an extra-dextra glow, makeup artists recommend misting your face with rose water after moisturizing. Look for rose water without added chemicals and make sure to close your eyes as you mist.

Step 4: Time to Prime

Primers are designed to “prime” your skin for makeup products. There are tons of types of primers on the market, so you might need to experiment a bit to find the one that’s right for you.

Most primers help fill in any lines in your skin to reduce creasing, helping makeup go on smoothly making makeup last longer. Light green primers counteract any skin redness you may have.  And other primers are designed to help your skin glow or refract light.

Apply the primer to your whole face using your fingers to dab it all over, or use a concealer brush to blend it in.

Step 5: Apply Your Makeup – Or Don’t!

Your skin is now perfectly cleaned, toned, moisturized, and primed for smooth makeup application. The more consistent you are with this routine, the better your skin will look. So good, in fact, that you might not need to wear any makeup at all. Your call!

Any skin prep tips you’d like to share with us? Please do so in the comments below!

Leave a comment:

Related Posts

Find my perfect picks