How To Prep Skin For Flawless Makeup (Like A Celeb MUA)


Makeup prep Source: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Our favorite pastime is scrolling Instagram looking for makeup inspo. Seriously, raise your hand if you’ve ever stayed up way too late in a deep Insta spiral perusing every major makeup artist’s feed for trends, how-to’s, product reccos, and celeb stalking. What often gets overlooked, however, is the skincare prep that’s involved in the beauty process before the makeup goes on. Picasso wasn’t using some basic AF cardboard paper as a canvas, now was he? HELL no. So treat your canvas (your face) with the same respect.

The right serums, moisturizers, primers, and exfoliating products, not to mention the right tools can make a world of difference when it comes to your makeup looking good – and staying put. We polled five pros on their tried-and-true skincare prep tricks to ensure your long hours devoted to the art of the glam don’t go to waste.

1. Use a Mask For Bright, Beautiful Eyes

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Celebrity makeup artist Georgie Eisdell is no stranger to red carpets and awards season, but before a big event, even pros like Eisdell need to call in the big skincare guns. Enter skyn ICELAND Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels, $33, to de-puff the under-eye area on her A-list stars, like Goop queen Gwyneth Paltrow and GOT star Sophie Turner. “I apply eye makeup while these patches are on – since they act as a great catch-all for any eyeshadow fallout – then after ten minutes I remove the gels and apply the rest of the makeup,” she explains. Red carpet or not, we’ll be filing this genius tip under: Why haven’t we been doing this our whole life?

2. Always Remember: Exfoliation is Your Friend

“I always exfoliate the skin well before doing makeup, to make sure it lasts,” says celebrity makeup artist Jasen Kaplan. “Caudalie Deep Cleansing Exfoliator, $35, is a go-to, which works great on the lip as well.” Double bonus. According to Kaplan, it’s free of sulfates and parabens and removes dry skin that can cause makeup to look blotchy and not last as long. No thanks. For more deets on how exfoliating will amp up your makeup game, read this.

Of course, we’re obsessed with our WISHFUL Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub, $39, which is super gentle so you won’t risk irritation, but leaves the skin SO smooth so that your face is flawless for makeup. Plus, the AHAs, BHAs, and enzymes work together to brighten your skin, so over time, you’ll want less and less coverage.

3. Don’t Fear Toner

Not using a toner? Jasen Kaplan thinks you should reconsider. “As everyone knows, moisturizer is always a must, but it is so important to use toner before you moisturize and after cleansing the skin,” he explains. “Toner prepares the skin to accept moisturizer so it doesn’t just lay on the skin’s surface, ensuring the makeup stays on longer. I like to use Endure Beauty Rose Water Facial Toner, $35, for this process since it’s incredibly gentle for sensitive skin.” Check out more of our fave toners here.

4. Hydration is Key

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Mélanie Inglessis is an MUA legend, having worked with everyone from Hailey Bieber, Julianne Hough, and Lea Michele, to Shailene Woodley, Amber Heard, and Olivia Wilde, but when GOT goddess Cersei Lannister (ahem, Lena Heady) comes calling, you have to slay. “When prepping Lena’s skin for the Emmys recently, I used Croon [a face cleansing tool] to banish any impurities from the day, then I used Epicuren Protein Mist Enzyme Toner, $31, to balance and hydrate, before finishing with Epicuren Colostrum Luminous Glow Cream, $84, for the perfect base to apply makeup,” she says. While we might be dedicated pre-makeup misters, not everyone is. Word to the wise: Get on board. You’ll be dewy, primed, and well-equipped to face the day if you do.

5. Always Use an Eye Cream

“An eye cream that I love – that falls under the clean skincare category – is Ren Keep Young and Beautiful Firm and Lift Eye Cream, $44,” says director of global artistry for Hourglass, Marc Reagan. “It’s gentle enough, but effective, for sensitive skin and it absorbs quickly while adding a touch of luminosity,” Reagan suggests applying this under-eye hydration in the a.m. and immediately following with the rest of your skincare routine, primer, and makeup. “It’s made without parabens, phthalates, or parabens, and has a rather short ingredient list that’s filled with beneficial actives,” he adds. For more of our go-to eye creams for dark circles and puffiness, check out this post.

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6. Never Skip Primer

According to Reagan, primer is essential for anyone who is looking for maximum durability and longevity in makeup, from morning until night. “The key to avoiding makeup breakdown is to use a primer that is answering the needs of your skin concerns and skin type,” he says. “Hourglass makes two innovative primers that have become staples in the beauty industry: The best-selling Veil Mineral Primer, $54, is weightless and breathable, but also adheres makeup to the skin like no other. “Not only does it smooth the appearance of the skin and help foundation glide on with ease, but it also helps repel water so that any makeup that’s layered on top looks perfect all day, through rain or hot temperatures,” Reagan adds.

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For drier skin, Reagan recommends Nº 28 Primer Serum, $65. “As the name states, it’s a primer to help bind makeup to the skin, but it’s also a blend of 28 ingredients including essential oils, lipid-rich plant oils, and four vitamins to nourish the skin,” he says. “This won’t dry the skin out and you can use on areas that you know are little more dehydrated, almost like a spot treatment.” Reagan likes to use Veil Mineral Primer down the T-zone and Nº 28 Primer Serum on the cheeks for an added glow.

If in doubt, the Huda Beauty Water Jelly Hydrating Primer, $33, is amazing for all skin types as it smooths and quenches skin with a surge of moisture while the formula creates a makeup-gripping base for long-lasting, flawless wear.

7. The Ultimate Pre-Makeup Skincare Routine

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It’s no secret that the makeup is only as good as the skin it’s on, so skin prep is key, says global makeup artist and Temptu educator Tanya Deemer. Behold, her 4-step skincare regimen:

1. Exfoliate: Starting with clean skin, the next step would be to exfoliate for a smooth finish. This can be done chemically, with various peels, or mechanically, with scrubs or tools like StackedSkincare Dermaplaning Facial Exfoliation Tool, $75.

2. Hydrate: After this step, serums to rehydrate and plump the skin are very helpful. If the skin is on the dry side, moisturizer is also needed.

3. Prime: Once these products have been properly worked into the skin, a primer is a must to be sure the makeup stays intact on the skin. Primers can be hydrating, shine-free and also pore-reducing. The Temptu Base Primer, $25, also serves as a light moisturizer and primer in one and it’s oil-free.

4. Massage: Regardless of how many steps are involved in the skin prep routine, the key is how well they are worked into the skin. It’s quite alright to make it a spa-like experience with a nice massage! And the most important tip is to refrain from applying makeup on top of products that are not fully absorbed into the skin. Be patient – flawless skin and makeup take time. Check out our how to do a lymphatic drainage massage to help lift and tone your face.

For more makeup tips, check out five makeup rules you need to know.