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The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Skin for Flawless Makeup Application

How to Prep Your Skin for a Smooth Makeup Application


Applying makeup to dry, winter skin can be tough... literally. If your skin feels dry or looks flaky during this season, you’re not alone. Say goodbye to winter skin and hello to soft and supple! We have all the tips you need for a smooth sailing application no matter what season you or your skin are in! Follow these steps and your skin will be smooth, plump, and makeup-ready.

Understanding your skin type

Before diving into the world of skin prepping, it's essential to understand your skin type. Whether you have oily, dry, combination, or sensitive skin, your skin type will significantly influence your preparation and the products you choose.

start with clean skin

The Importance of Cleansing and Exfoliating

First thing’s first: you should always wash your face using a gentle, suitable cleanser for your skin type. This step will remove any impurities and excess oil that could interfere with your makeup.

Applying products to oily or unclean skin can result in buildup or breakouts, so make sure to start with a fresh canvas. 

Cleansing for oily skin

If you have oilier skin, use a cleanser that focuses on oil control.

Cleansing for dry skin

If you have dry or sensitive skin, opt for a cream based cleanser, ideally followed by hyaluronic acid to trap in moisture.

Exfoliating the skin

Next, exfoliate your skin. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells, revealing a smoother skin surface for your makeup. However, remember to exfoliate no more than two times a week if you have normal to oily skin, and once a week if your skin is sensitive or dry, to prevent irritation.

"I typically go in with an exfoliator if my skin’s texture isn’t great that day to get any excess/unwanted oil (and whatever else may be clogging my pores) out for a fresher feel before applying my makeup." - certified makeup artist

Hydration is Key: Moisturizing and Hydrating

After cleansing and exfoliating, your next step is to moisturize. Moisturizing your skin is essential for achieving a flawless makeup look, just make sure to use the proper amount! Applying too much moisturizer can make your skin look and feel greasy or heavy. Apply a dime-sized amount to your fingertips, lightly massage it into the skin, and gently pat it around more sensitive areas such as your eyes and cheekbones. This will lock in essential oils, keep your skin hydrated, and help prevent your skin from flaking. 

Your skin should be tacky to the touch so that your concealer and foundation have something to grip on to.

Pro Tip:  Not sure which moisturizer is best for your skin type? Check out this blog to learn about what ingredients you should look for, and stay away from!


How to Prep Your Skin for a Smooth Makeup Application

Pro Tip:  Don't be tempted to layer too many skincare products before applying your makeup! The more products you mix and match, the higher the chance that some ingredients won't work well together, or may cause additional buildup on your face. Our blog can help you figure out your skin type, learn which ingredients work best for your skin, and more!


Woman applying moisturizer as part of her skin prep for makeup

The Role of Primer in Smooth Makeup Application

Primers are a great way to minimize the look of pores while also locking your foundation or concealer in place throughout the day.

Primer for oily skin

If you have oilier skin, opt for a mattifying primer. We also recommend adding an eyelid primer to prevent eyeshadow creasing. A little hack we like to use is swiping on the Subtl Shine Control Powder prior to applying eyeshadow. This powder will soak up oils so that your eyeshadow doesn't, and it helps blend your eyeshadow so much easier.

Primer for dry skin

For dry or sensitive skin, make sure to use a hydrating primer such as a priming mist before applying makeup to your face.The Subtl Beauty Cream Concealer works great as an eye primer before applying eyeshadow.

Pro Tip:  If priming the skin is a new step for you, we’ve got more insight for you on primers, misting sprays, and other pre-makeup applicators to determine what’s right for you!

Exfoliate your lips for a smooth makeup application 
Exfoliate your lips for smoother lip application

Although I tend to have more oily skin, my lips get dry in the winter like everyone else, so it’s important to 1) always exfoliate and 2) always hydrate the lips! Applying a lip scrub to your lips helps to get rid of dry skin, creating a smooth and soft surface. You should use a lip balm before applying any lip products to make sure it doesn’t dry or cake on your lips.

Pro Tip:  We all love a glossy, pouty, natural lip, and it’s easily achievable! Try our DIY lip scrub, follow up with our ultra-hydrating Lip Balm, and melt over the results!

Wash and clean your makeup brushes

Pre-wash your brushes and applicators

Ever try to blend your foundation, and it seems to just get cakey? Or maybe it looks splotchy, or uneven? This could be due to the buildup on your brush, sponge, or whatever applicator you’re using. If you’re a daily makeup wearer, oil buildup from constant use without cleaning can cause your application to look less smooth, and can cause breakouts, too. If you’re a once-in-a-blue-mooner when it comes to applying makeup, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear, either! Using old applicators and sponges means potential bacteria, and just like most products, makeup has expiration dates, too! Make sure your products are clean (and dry!) before applying makeup to your face, and you and your skin will be happy with the results.

Pro Tip:  Did you know you should clean your makeup brushes/applicators every 7-10 days? We’ve got an easy tutorial that shows you how to clean your makeup brushes in just four easy steps!

Properly prepping your skin is a game-changer for achieving a flawless makeup look. By understanding your skin type, cleansing and exfoliating, hydrating, and using a good primer, you can create the perfect base for any makeup look.

Follow this ultimate guide to prepping your skin, and you'll notice the difference in your makeup application, ensuring a smooth, long-lasting finish.

Now that you've got a super smooth base let's dive into makeup application. In this tutorial, Niara talks us through her best tips to help your makeup blend and melt into the skin. And don't you dare think about swirling that makeup brush.

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