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Prepping Your Face For Makeup

Somewhere along the line, many of us women got the idea that it was better to err on the side of dull, dry skin, rather than risk a blemish from too much oil or moisture in our skin. I’m guessing this is a holdover from our teen years, when having a shiny face was the worst thing we could imagine, and we feared that moisturizing our skin, even if it felt dry and itchy, would lead to a massive breakout. I remember being 14 and my face actually hurting during the winter from being dry and pulled tight because I refused to moisturize. As an adult, I’ve realized how nutty that is, especially since it turns out that my non-teenager skin is actually quite dry. Moisturizing does not lead to breakouts. Oil in the skin simply is a more effective depository for dirt and bacteria, which in turn can cause acne, but it’s not a guarantee, especially if you’re washing your face everyday, keeping your hands off your face, and choosing beauty products that don’t clog pores. And even stranger still, having dry skin and not moisturizing it properly can actually lead to breakouts because the skin overcompensates by producing an excess of oil. Who knew?


Makeup on dry skin = scary.

Dry skin is most obvious when you try to apply makeup over it. It just accentuates the dry patches and leads to flaking, neither of which is attractive. Makeup, especially foundations, beauty balms, concealers, and tinted moisturizers, are most flattering and natural-looking when applied to hydrated skin. So here’s how to make sure your skin is at its best for wearing makeup.

Cleanse Only at Night

Beware of over-cleansing. Many skin care experts agree that unless you have a skin condition, cleansing is only necessary at night, to wash away any makeup and/or dirt that has accumulated throughout the day. In the morning, splash your face with lukewarm water only.

Also make sure you’re using an appropriate cleanser. You can visit a dermatologist to get an analysis of your skin, or–the cheaper way–go get a facial at a reputable spa. Describe any skin concerns you have to the esthetician, and ask them what kind of skin care products you should be buying–for combination skin? Oily skin? Dry skin? Sensitive? Mature?

SkinCareSpread on

 Some of my favorite products for keeping the moisture in.

Occasionally exfoliate

You’re going to have some dry and dead skin build-up over time no matter how religious you are about skin care. Check in with your dermatologist or esthetician about the best exfoliators for your particular skin. One thing I’ve heard over and over again from multiple sources is to avoid any product that has little shell/nut/pit particles in it. Unfortunately this would include really popular products like St. Ives Apricot Scrub. The irregular-shaped particles actually tear little holes in your skin, making it less elastic and youthful-looking, in addition to having other nasty side effects. It’s usually better to go with a product that uses small amounts of acid (like Alpha Hydroxy) to slough off dead skin. Or, to use a product that uses small, round, plastic beads so that they’re not damaging the surface of your skin (although now there’s concern about this being very bad for the environment). Exfoliate once or twice a week at the most.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

After splashing your face with water and patting dry in the morning, apply a good moisturizer with SPF. Even if your makeup has an SPF in it, it never hurts to double up the coverage. I actually use two moisturizers in the morning. One for the SPF–Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Lotion SPF 30–and one for the heavy duty moisturizing properties–One Love Organics Skin Savior Beauty Balm. Come summer I probably won’t need the latter but during winter it’s absolutely necessary. If you have oily skin, you may well need only a light moisturizer year round.

Having dewy, well-hydrated skin will provide a perfect base for any liquid makeup. You can even add a drop or two of facial oil (like Maracuja Oil or Argan Oil) to foundation, mix with your fingertip, then apply to your face for an even smoother application.


Ahh, that’s better.

Now that your face is moisturized and looking marvelous, don’t overdo it with powder. Yes, powder can be helpful to set your makeup so it lasts longer, but a light dusting of a mineral powder (which won’t suck up as much oil) is all you need. 

Happy makeup-ing (new verb?)!

Author: Beth

Writer, blogger, basset-hound walker. Beth is a connoisseur of nachos and holiday films. She loves books, sidecars, costume jewelry, and people with a quirky sense of humor.

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