How to prep your skin before applying makeup

Jul 16, 2019 | Face

We frequently neglect the power of flawless skin when we apply makeup. By flawless I mean AMAZING skin, the one that strikes you the first before paying attention to any makeup applied on the face. For your skin to look hydrated and flawless, you need to allocate some time to pamper it. Yes, your skin cries for help! It gets all the dirt and build up and the least that you can do is remove that dirt and let the pores open and make it breathe! Not only will you look radiant, but also your makeup application will go on smoothly and will stay put. In fact, taking good care of your skin goes best with minimal makeup, as your radiant skin catches the focus instead of your makeup. Therefore, start with the habit of proper cleansing to prep your skin before applying makeup. Cleanse, Moisturize and Prime. You’re ready to rock that face!

Let me show you seven steps to follow for a solid skin care routine before makeup:

Step One: Check You­r Skin

Figure out the condition of your skin. Is it dry and flaky? Is it oily? Is it combination skin (oily T-zone)? Are there pimples? Wide pores? Discoloration? Many skin conditions can be hidden with correctors and concealers I know, but you can minimize their effect through your skin care routine. There are skin products for each skin type, so once you’re fully aware of your skin type and condition, it will be an effortless task to apply the right products as you prepare your skin before makeup.

Step Two: Cleanse and Exfoliate

The goal of the cleanser is to remove face makeup, impurities and excess oil while softening the skin. Start with a gentle cleanser. Look for a pH-balanced cleanser. Your skin’s natural pH should stay between 5 and 6. 

If your skin is acne-prone, use a cleanser with a slightly more acidic pH, as it will help your skin fight bacteria. Micellar water won’t help with your skin’s type.

If you have dry skin, look for an oil-based cleanser or Micellar water. Exfoliate if you have flakes.

If your skin is sensitive, steer cleer of cleansers with glycolic acid as it may cause redness and irritation. Find something gentle like micellar water that restores skin’s surface.

Clean and rinse at least twice. The first cleanse removes the skin’s dead cells while the second will go straight into your pores.

In general, you can use Micellar water that is dedicated to your skin type. Micellar water is a gentle cleanser which hydrates, soothes, and leaves skin feeling refreshed. Use it with a cotton ball or pad. However, if you’re looking to remove stubborn and waterproof makeup you need to find another cleanser.

Exfoliate your skin after cleansing, twice a week.

Step Three: Rebalance with a Toner

  • After cleansing and exfoliating, pat in a toner on a cotton ball to help rebalance your skin’s pH level. The purpose of toner is to clarify your pores from dead skin cells, makeup, or other bacteria that remained on your skin and your cleanser might have missed.
  • If you’re working with dry or sensitive skin, you can skip this step or use a toner that has hydrating agents.
  • If you have oily skin or large pores, apply a toner that combats the skin’s issue.

Pro Tip: Toner is useful for those with extremely oily skin, while serum works wonderfully for those with dry skin as it hydrates the face.

Step Four: Serum

  • If you have dry or sensitive skin, you can apply serum now

Serums have a thin consistency which makes the skin absorb it the fastest and work with it more effectively. As a result, it will treat your biggest skin issue. Some skin problems where serums can be used are:

  • Clearing blemishes
  • Smoothing out wrinkles
  • Repairing sun damage
  • Calming redness
  • Hydrating the skin
  • Fading spots and discoloration
  • Giving a more youthful complexion


How To Choose The Right Serum?

Choose a serum that contains the following ingredients:

  • Vitamin C for smoothening the skin
  • Sodium hyaluronate for sealing the moisture level of your skin

These high performance products can deliver major skin improvements! However, they should be used regularly and always be sealed by moisturizer.

Step Five: Eye Cream

Dark circles, puffiness, or fine lines? It’s time to use your eye cream now. Address your need and treat it with the right eye cream. Much like serums, eye creams are thin and need to be applied on open pores, so pat one on before you add your face cream.

Why do you need to apply an eye cream?

  • It helps even out uneven skin tone around your eyes.
  • Fights puffiness, wrinkles and minimizes dark circles
  • Soothes delicate skin around the eyes
  • Prevents concealer from creasing up
  • Helps you look well-slept in seconds

So, would you even skip this crucial step and miss out on all the benefits?

Step Six: Moisturize

  • After ensuring that your skin is well cleansed, exfoliated, and toned, and your eye cream is absorbed, it’s now time to use a moisturizer dedicated to your skin type. It should sink in quickly and sit well underneath your makeup.
  • If you have dry skin, look for a thick cream, oil-based moisturizers, or balms to help add and maintain the moisture in your skin. A thicker cream will also be great for a dewy look.
  • If you have oily and acne-prone skin or uneven breakouts, look for an oil-free moisturizer that is non-comedogenic (doesn’t clog pores).
  • Let the moisturizer sit for at least a few minutes, ideally from 5 to 10. You can choose a moisturizer with spf for a day look or apply a separate sunscreen after the moisturizer and let the skin absorb it.

Why is applying moisturizer important for your skin?

  • When you apply the moisturizer and let your skin absorb it before putting your makeup on, the makeup will not break it down and your foundation and concealer will go on smoothly.

Step Seven: SPF

Applying SPF goes after applying your moisturizer. Make sure that your sunscreen doesn’t contain specific ingredients ( zinc oxide and titanium dioxide ) that cause a white cast on camera.

Step Eight: Oil

Oil goes over sunscreen and before makeup. If you have a dry or sensitive skin it is good to apply oil after you have applied your moisturizer. It hydrates your skin and makes it softer. It will also provide a protective barrier on your skin and keep the moisture from drying air. You can apply oil to your driest areas if you wish.

Step Nine: Primer

A primer is a cream which creates a barrier between the skin and makeup so that makeup glides on smoothly and lasts longer. It also blurs imperfections and fills out pores and fine lines and corrects redness to obtain a flawless skin. In short it creates a perfect canvas for makeup application.

Different skin types need different primers. Some primers brighten the skin while others mattify it. Some primers color-correct, and others blur wrinkles and large pores.

If you have normal skin, look for a lotion primer because it has a light consistency and the skin absorbs it fast.

For oily skin, You need a mattifying and pore-minimizing primer to stop greasiness. You can also look for primers with anti-acne ingredients to help prevent your skin from causing breakouts. In general look for silicone-based primers as they are the best in filling enlarged pores and make them appear much smaller. They glide on your skin smoothing out the skin’s texture.

If your skin is dry, find an oil-based or cream primer that will moisturize your skin and make it feel more hydrated, even out any flaky patches and give you a dewy finish.

If you have Combination Skin, choose a neutral lotion primer that just smoothens and hydrates your skin for foundation and makes it last longer.

Alternatively, you can choose two primers. A silicone-based mattifying primer for your oily T-zone, and another cream or lotion primer for the driest areas of your face.

For sensitive skin, it is very advisable to use a primer because it gives an extra layer of protection from the environment. Look for green color primers if you have red tones in your skin.

Water-based primers are mainly made up of water so they are not water resistant and can be removed easily. So if you’re not looking for a water proof primer choose the water-based type.

Color Correcting Primers:

Colored primers are used to cancel out unwanted hues in your skin by using tones that sit directly opposite them on the color wheel. Then, depending on the final look you aim to achieve, you can add concealer and foundation on top or just go on with your day.

 Think of them as an assist to your concealer and foundation. For example, when covering under-eye dark circles, a specific corrector primer allows you to target this specific issue and therefore minimizes the puffiness and darkness, so you can avoid piling on the concealer on that area. Your look will be more natural, rather than heavy and cakey.

Here are the major colors you’ll find and what they address:

  • Green: redness and blotchiness
  • Blue/Lavender: pale complexion
  • Pink/Peach: darkness, dullness and blue veins 
  • Yellow: dullness, particularly in olive skin tones
  • Orange/Red: darkness on deep skin tones


Eye primers: If you’re planning to wear eyeshadow, whether it’s a day look or a night look always put an eye primer before. That way the color pigment shows the best.

Primers and Foundations, Which ones work together?

Always keep in mind that when layering your foundation over your primer, they should go well together! The type of primer that you use matters!

So Water goes with water. If you use a water-based primer, use a water-based foundation – not an oily foundation. The same rule applies to all your liquid products that you place over the primer including BB creams, concealers, tinted moisturizers and such. Layering silicone-based products and water-based products on top of each other causes the silicone to repel the water, and may result in pilling. Layering oil-based products should work ok with silicone-based ones though.

Now that you have properly prepped your face before makeup, you’re ready to apply foundation and the other products on your evenly clean skin. Once you have prepped your skin well, your makeup will be easier to apply and will make your face look all the more radiant.

What’s your favorite primer? Let me know in the comments below or continue the conversation!




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