How To Prep Your Skin For Make-Up
How To Prep Your Skin For Make-Up

How To Prep Your Skin For Make-Up

Ask any beauty expert and they’ll tell you the secret to good make-up is good skin prep. From the importance of exfoliation to using oils for better glow, we asked make-up artist Jessica Kell to share her step-by-step advice…
By Rebecca Hull

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Keep It Simple 

“Good skincare will act as the perfect base for your make-up to sit on and allow for flawless application. If you take the time to moisturise, for example, you’ll find foundation blends seamlessly – it’s also less likely to flake or go patchy throughout the day. Better still, good skin prep will give your complexion a real glow, so you’ll never have to pack on the highlighter. The key, however, is to keep it simple. Don’t load on heaps of skincare. Streamline your routine to just a few products that complement each other, then apply them in light layers. Even if you think your skin is in desperate need of moisture, keep everything light – if you feel you need a bit more hydration, use a light touch on those specific areas that need. Never overload the skin.” 

Follow These Key Steps

“Start with a double cleanse to ensure there aren’t any remnants of make-up or oil on your skin. If you’re in a rush, use a micellar water followed by a cream cleanser. In place of a stripping or drying toner, use a lighter formula to clean pores and lift away dead skin cells, like Nudestix’s 5% Citrus Fruit & Glycolic Glow Toner. Then, apply a hydrating serum – preferably ones with glycerin or squalane, like the Seated Queen’s Cassiopeia Serum Concentrate. Afterwards, apply a layer of lotion over your whole face. Opt for something light and silky that glides over the skin. I love Suqqu’s Aquafons Replenishing Fluid, which instantly hydrates parched complexions. Finally, look to see if there are any dry or dehydrated patches left. That’s where you maybe want to add a thicker moisturiser, but in small amounts. I always rely on Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, which works beautifully with make-up.” 

Opt For Skincare/Primer Hybrids

“Even the best primer in the world won’t be able to prolong the look of make-up if you haven’t prepped the skin underneath it properly. Moisturiser/primer hybrids are ideal if you want to streamline your routine. There are some amazing formulas out there that can enhance the look of foundation, concealer or even eye make-up. My go-to is the Victoria Beckham x Augustinus Bader Priming Moisturiser which provides a really smooth base for make-up. Another option is the This Works In Transit Camera Close Up, which has been in my kit for years. It hydrates and brightens – you’ll find foundation doesn’t slip or move when you wear this.” 

Get Rid Of Any Dead Skin

“Another culprit of pilling is dead skin cells. If you heavily moisturise or use an oil over the top of unexfoliated skin, it can lift and pull the dead skin off as you apply your foundation. That’s why it’s key to use an effective exfoliator first, then gently buff a dry cotton pad over your face in circular motions after you’ve applied your moisturiser. This will lift away any dry or dead skin before you apply your make-up. Another tip is to use a good exfoliating pad the night before. It will add luminosity and glow to your skin – try the Strivectin Daily Reveal Exfoliating Pads.” 

Allow Everything To Settle

“If you still find your make-up is slipping, it could be to the result of several issues. One is that you’re using too much product and not allowing the layers to absorb and settle into the skin. Before you apply any make-up, always pay attention to how much of each product you’re using in every area. Likewise, if your cream is too heavy, use lighter products – especially in areas you tend to get oily – and keep the layers thin. It’s essential you wait a little (even for a minute) between layering on your skincare. This will help everything sink into place so it never interferes with make-up.” 

Don’t Forget About Oils

“If your skin prefers an oil, it’s fine to use one to prep your skin. A good formula will leave your skin properly moisturised and with a luminous finish, but you do need to be investing in the right one. Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum suits multiple skin types. It quickly transitions into an oil and brightens the skin, creating a perfect base for make-up. Just remember to use it strategically – by that, I mean tap it onto certain areas, such as the highest points of your face to add an extra glow.” 

Incorporate A Couple Of Tools

“There are a few tools I always carry in my kit to help with skin prep. A good roller can get rid of any puffiness  – The Body Shop’s Revitalising Facial Roller is great – and a good stone roller is best for working into the cheeks and over the forehead. Always keep these tools in the fridge to really stimulate and refresh your skin in the morning. Likewise, ice globes are a great way to encourage lymphatic drainage, tighten skin and get it ready for make-up – my favourites are the Omorovicza Cooling Derma-Globes. No skin prep is ever complete without a good massage. Even if you only have a couple of minutes, using one of these tools will work wonders.” 

Stock Up On Masks 

“Masks are such a quick hack. I often get asked whether to use them the night before a big look or on the day, and the answer is it all depends on the type of mask you’re using. For the night before, it’s best to use a brightening formula, like the Voicemail Mask by Niod. It really refreshes the skin – just make sure you do a proper cleanse in the morning to remove any excess. Right before make-up, sheet masks are your best friend. No matter what people say, they are still one of the best ways to hydrate and prime at speed. Decree’s SOS Revitalising Mask soothes, brightens and firms all at once.”

Finally, Don’t Skip SPF

“It’s the final and most important step in your routine, but many worry that it won’t interact well with make-up. Look for formulas that aren’t heavy or gloopy. There are so many sophisticated options that can really enhance your routine these days. Beauty Pie’s Featherlight UVA/UVB SPF50 Sunscreen + Primer sits imperceptibly over skincare, but also works well as a make-up primer.”  


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