Let’s face it: we demand a lot of our makeup. It must be applied effortlessly and quickly, and blending should be a breeze. It has to look just as perfect during a midnight study session as it did when we first applied it before our 8:00am class. We cannot afford to spend an extra three minutes in the ladies’ room as we rush between club fairs and coffee chats to touch up mysteriously vanished coverage or unwanted shine. It’s a tall order.
Luckily, there are a few tried-and-true tactics that can help our makeup to live up to our expectations, and maybe even exceed them.
1. It’s all about that base
Meghan Trainor, you hit the nail on the head. Our “base,” meaning our skincare preparation before we even open up our makeup arsenals, plays a huge role in both the application and longevity of our cosmetics. After waking from hopefully eight long hours of beauty sleep, be sure to wash your face to remove oil and excess product from the night before. Also, try incorporating a gentle, physical exfoliator into your morning cleansing routine. This will help to remove any flakes or dry patches that your foundation could cling to, which will definitely put you in a bad mood once you try to blend in your complexion-perfecting products. We love Clinique’s cult-classic 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula or wallet-friendly Biore Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub, which is a powder that activates when mixed with water.
Next, it’s time to hydrate! Be sure to select a moisturizer that’s tailored to your skin type. If you tend to get oily throughout the day, opt for one that’s oil-free and mattifying, like Murad’s Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15 PA++. If your skin leans towards the dry side, try adding a hyaluronic acid serum to your routine before applying moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means that it keeps skin plump by drawing moisture in. Alternatively, mix in a couple drops of facial oil into your cream of choice. Be sure to give all of your skincare products a few minutes to sink into the skin before you start applying makeup.
2. After prepping, it’s time to prime
Primers are going to be your best friend in the makeup endurance games. Think of a primer as a hybrid between skincare and makeup: they help to blur pores and imperfections while providing moisture or controlling oil (depending on which type you select). More importantly, they create a smooth canvas for your foundation to literally “stick” to, so it won’t move all day long, even if your “day” continues long after the sun sets. You should select a primer similar to how you would select a moisturizer – based on your skin’s needs. There are dozens of face primers on the market now, but if you are lost on where to start, try Smashbox’s Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer, which is clear and contains vitamins and antioxidants to make your skin feel like silk.
And we can’t forget about the eyes. Make sure to use an eyeshadow primer as the first step in your eye makeup routine. Blend in with your fingers, wait a minute or two for the formula to set, and then apply your eye makeup as you normally would. Eye primers work in the same way face primers do by creating a smooth surface for shadows to adhere to. An added bonus? If you are struggling with darkness from too many late nights of studying (or Netflix binge-watching), opt for an eye primer that is the same color as your under-eye concealer for a brightening effect.
3. Selecting the right products
The types of products you use really do matter. Certain formulas are simply developed to last longer than others. When selecting a foundation, it should not only claim to be “long-wearing,” but also be oil-free and mattifying. While the “J-Lo Glow” may be jaw-dropping on camera, and highlighting and strobing are currently on-trend, these gorgeous looks will likely turn into “I just took a super sweaty spin class” after six hours of wear. But, foundations that soak up oil throughout the day are less likely to slip and slide during sprints across campus because they are designed to withstand heat and humidity. If your skin is always parched, use a hydrating primer before applying a matte foundation.
The “feel” of a foundation is a great way to gauge its staying-power. Here’s a test you can do while shopping: try applying a pea-sized amount to the back of your hand. The liquid should feel thin, not thick and creamy, and dry down (meaning it “sets” and doesn’t feel tacky) within two minutes, tops. Then, after scouring Sephora for a fun new lipstick, rub where you applied the foundation. Look at your fingers – if the pigment lifted off on to them, it’s time to find a new formula.
As a self-proclaimed makeup junkie, I’ve already put dozens of foundations to the test. I’m happy to report that I’ve found a winner: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup. The package asserts that it will last for 15 hours, but I’ve personally worn this gold-medalist for well over 18 hours and didn’t have to touch up once. My skin looked flawless and the formula felt like a feather. Did I mention it’s fragrance-free and won’t clog pores? Win-win.
If your eye makeup disappears as the day goes on, try this: after primer, first apply a cream shadow all over your whole lid and then apply your powder eyeshadows. Cream shadows tend to be a bit sticky, acting like a magnet that attracts and holds on to powder pigments.
4. Ready, set, go!
It’s time to lock all of your hard work into place. Setting your makeup should be the last step in your routine, and there are two routes you can take. The first option is a translucent powder. These powders don’t add any additional weight or coverage, thus minimizing the risk of “cake face,” but they keep everything underneath in its proper place. Be sure to apply your translucent powder with a powder puff, not a brush, and press it into your skin for an undetectable finish. Our pick? Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder, which works on all skin tones.
Your second option is a makeup setting spray. A relatively new product concept, these sprays guard against makeup meltdowns by lowering the temperature of your makeup to resist fading and settling into pores. Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray will surely become a staple in your routine for nights on the town.
Making smart choices about which makeup products you use and how you apply them will give your makeup the oomph it needs to withstand anything life throws at you.