Basics Baby: The Long Lasting, Flawless Makeup Edition (Base Routine)

Makeup wearing off or turning into an oil slick by the end of the day is a typical issue facing cosmetics wearers out there. Some turned to applying thicker layers of product in the hope of lengthening wear, but what they end up with is another disaster – cake face. Beauty gurus are constantly refining their techniques to ensure a perfect base that can sustain long wear, humidity and sweat proof makeup. Of course the effectiveness of every method is pretty subjective, given how all of us have different skin types and reactions to begin with. There’s clearly no one size fits all kind of solution here.

But after lots of experimenting, with different techniques and different products, I’ve come to love my existing base routine. I’ve been doing this for about half a year now, and I feel it’s been my best routine yet that leaves me with a long lasting makeup. A quick note though – I’m not sure how this will work for dry to very dry skin, but my combination to oily skin responds positively to this method. So, like me, you can continue to refine or tweak the practices to suit your skin needs.

STEP 1: Prepping the Skin

This might be the most underrated step, that’s often not spoken of at length compared to subsequent makeup steps. Skin prep, I feel, is a key determinant as to the wear and finish of your makeup. What you put on, as well as what you omit does make huge difference as to how your makeup will apply on your skin.

For me, I go with my normal skincare routine even when prepping my skin for makeup. I don’t skip my toner, my exfoliant, my moisturizer and my sunscreen. I believe my skin feels best (i.e. well hydrated, smooth and plump) after I apply those products. Anytime I skip them, or even delay putting them on, my skin would feel tight and dry. Those are huge NO-NOs for skin prior to makeup. Nothing good will come out of your makeup application if your skin is dry.

Of course I wouldn’t impose my skincare routine on you. You do what you’d normally do to get your skin feeling well hydrated, firm and smooth. If you use a lotion, go for it. If you use a gel or water based serum, go for those. If you need a thick cream moisturizer to achieve a healthy looking skin, go for that. Just do whatever that your skin has adapted well to, and needs to stay smooth and healthy. Only thing is to ensure that you are using a skincare product best for your skin type. Typically, oily skin do not benefit from thick creams as the emollients tend to be a bit much resulting in an oil slick sooner than you’d think. Gel or water based products perform best on oily skin.

Most importantly, especially if you’re going out in the day, NEVER skip your sunscreen.

Now that your skin is prepped…

STEP 2: Priming the Skin

For long lasting makeup, primer is CRUCIAL. It is meant to provide a smooth, even canvas that will later lock in whatever makeup product you apply on top of it. Without it, your makeup will just settle into your fine lines, pores and other imperfections and this will affects its overall wear and appearance.

There are so many primers out there, and I’d again say, go with the one that has performed best on your skin – one that always leaves you impressed with your makeup finish and never triggers adverse reactions on your skin. I use an intuitive approach when it comes to primers. If my skin is feeling particularly oily (this happens a lot during the summer) and hence my pores appear more visible, I’d go for the BECCA Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector.You can see instant results with this baby. Immediately after applying it, your face just turns matte, and the look of your pores diminished. It’s amazing. If my skin feels a little dehydrated, particularly during the colder months, I’d opt for my Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance. It feels more tacky on the skin, and gives you a subtle glow which I love.

Now that your skin is primed…

STEP 3: Setting the Skin

Usually at this stage, I would cover up any blemishes using my Make Up for Ever Full Cover Concealer. These blemishes are usually around my chin or jaw area and I just use a tiny bit of product, with a thin lip brush to apply and pat it on the blemishes. If your skin is blemish-free, you can skip this step.

After that, I would then set my skin with a pressed powder. Yeah, I know, you’re like what?! How can I apply a powder product before even applying my liquid or cream foundation? Yes, that’s what I thought too when I heard about this method from beauty gurus. But rest assured, with the right manner of application, and the right product, this step does wonders!

So what you want to achieve from this step is basically to lock in whatever skin product and primer that you’ve applied on your face, as well as provide a poreless, even texture for foundation to lay on. The powder provides a superior base as compared to the silicone or liquid base of your primer. And, powdering at this stage goes a long way in controlling the oil and sebum production.

The first key is in using the correct powder. Only opt for a translucent powder. You do not want any colors on your skin now. I would even go as far as suggesting only pressed type rather than a loose one. Reason? You pick up less product with a pressed powder compared to loose powder, and for this step, you want as minimal product as you can. I’d recommend the NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder which only comes in one translucent shade – Translucent Crystal. Now, the second key is in the method of application. I’ve tried various – using a small brush, a huge fluffy brush, beauty blender, and a flat sponge that actually comes with the pressed powder. The last tool worked the best. Using the flat sponge, I gently pick up as minimal product from the packaging and PAT or DAB the sponge on my skin. You don’t want to move your moisturizer and primer around my swirling or dragging the sponge on your skin. Especially on your pore areas, pat or dab a bit more of the product. You’ll notice at the end of this application how smoother and more even your face looks.

STEP 4: Applying Foundation & Concealer

Moving on, you can now apply your foundation as you please. Go with whatever foundation you’ve been loving, and apply it using whatever method works best for you. I feel that my skin looks best when my foundation is applied with a beauty blender. But I know of friends who achieve a more flawless look using brushes. So, you do you.

STEP 5: Setting the Base

Similar to how you set your skin earlier in Step 3, now you set it again. But this time you are setting the makeup products you applied earlier – foundation and concealer. And this time you can opt for a loose powder, even one with color. You can use different powders for different areas too. I tend to use brightening powder to set my under eye, and go for a normal translucent powder to set the rest of my face. I too alternate between using a beauty blender and a brush to apply the powder. Both work just as well. The main thing is again the manner of application. Every time you are setting your skin or your makeup, the best technique no matter what tool you’re using, is a dabbing motion. Do not drag the brush or sponge on your skin.

FINAL STEP: Setting Spray

I’m a bit iffy on setting sprays. Reason being, most on the market that claim to make your makeup last longer, last all night, control the oil and so on tend to contain ingredients commonly found in hairspray. And they contain a significant amount of alcohol. You know how much I hate skin irritants. Most of the popular setting sprays out there from Urban Decay, Smashbox and Make Up for Ever contain what I believe to be skin irritants. So when it comes to setting spray, I do not use it to lengthen my makeup. What I use it for though is to achieve a more flawless look – that is to have my powder products mesh into my skin and look natural. I do believe that this step in itself does contribute to my makeup lasting longer.

I’d recommend the MAC Fix Plus. It provides a great finish to your makeup, instantly rids you off that powdery look. Though it doesn’t promise long wear, I notice that my makeup last longer with it than without.

Base Routine 101:

  • Prep your skin well with skincare products that leaves your skin feeling smooth and hydrated.
  • Prime your skin with a primer that best suit your needs.
  • Set your skin with a translucent pressed powder, applying it with a flat sponge using a dabbing motion. Never drag or swipe.
  • Set your foundation and concealer with a loose powder, again using dabbing motion.
  • Use a non-irritating setting spray for a natural finish.

Here’s to flawless, long lasting makeup!


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