How to Prep Skin for Flawless, Long-Wear Makeup

Lately, we’re obsessed with beauty hacks and flawless MUA accounts telling us all the right steps to master that perfect foundation look or graphic eyeliner. It’s annoying when a look you’ve spent time on doesn’t stick, especially if it’s a long day or a special occasion. 

Because Covey co-founder Emily DiDonato is, well, a supermodel, we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for flawless all-day wear. And before you reach for the primer, you’ll want to set your skin up for success with a simple, non-irritating skincare routine first. 

If you’re unsure how to prep skin for makeup, read on! 

How to Prep Skin for Makeup 

Always, always cleanse.

Don’t go to bed with your makeup on is well-loved advice in the skincare world simply because it works. Cleansing is one of the most important steps in your routine because it clears away makeup and impurities. 

Living in a city? Your skin picks up microscopic amounts of dust, pollution, and dirt just by…existing. There’s no way to avoid this, but cleansing before your makeup routine is mission critical to avoid breakouts and skin irritations along the way. 

Emily personally tested the soothing, gel-to-foam Covey First of All Cleanser after her modeling gigs to ensure the formula was up to the task — that is, removing layers of heavy photoshoot makeup after full days of wear on set. 

When looking for a cleanser, seek out minimal fragrance and make sure your skin doesn’t feel tight or stripped after use. That could mean the cleanser is too harsh for your skin, and can damage your skin barrier in the long run. 

After cleansing, continue on with the rest of your routine pre-glam squad. Remember — great makeup application starts with clean skin! 

Don't skimp on moisturizer.

A big question in the dry skin world or acne-prone world is, “How do I prep dry skin for makeup?” Without a moisturized, well-hydrated base, foundation can cling to imperfections on skin, pronouncing dry spots and patches instead of hiding and blurring. 

There are tons of moisturizers on the market — for dry skin types, you might need a different consistency than your combo skin peers. For oily skin types, your ideal moisturizer might even be more of gel-like consistency. No matter your preferences, the key is to find a lightweight moisturizer that skin will drink right up. 

Look for these ingredients in a high-quality moisturizer, one that will smooth skin and provide long-lasting hydration long after application: 

  • Squalane
  • Hyaluronic acid 
  • Glycerin 
  • Ceramides 

Develop an exfoliation routine that works for you. 

Exfoliation can be tricky. For years, we were told manual exfoliators with microbeads were the de-facto products, when in reality, exfoliation can be too harsh on sensitive skin types and lead to a broken skin barrier, inflammation, and discomfort. 

Instead of exfoliating every once in a blue moon or every single day, the middle ground is somewhere much more reasonable. Derms recommend you exfoliate around 1x per week, and there are so many more viral products and cult-fave exfoliants out there to choose from these days. 

Simply put, exfoliating the day of a big event or makeup look is probably a bad idea, especially if you’re unsure how your skin will react to it. But, if you have hearty skin (read: not sensitive!) that bounces back after treatments like facials, you can probably exfoliate more often than the average person. 

Look into primers and setting sprays. 

Once you’re cleansed and well-hydrated, your skin is prepped for makeup application! If it’s daytime, don’t forget SPF!

The best products to prep skin for makeup are primers (post-moisturizer) and setting sprays (as your final step). After applying primer, proceed with your concealer, foundation, highlighter, etc. Once your makeup of the day (#motd) is a masterpiece, finish with long-wear setting spray and voila! 

With a simple, effective skincare routine in your arsenal, your skin will be prepped for special occasion makeup on the daily. Explore more skincare tips on the Covey blog.

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