Summer makeup is notoriously tricky, as you’ll already know if you’ve ever watched self tanner drip down your calves on a hot day or caught your reflection to see that the blush you applied just hours earlier had seemingly evaporated. In an effort to decrease the likelihood of makeup mishaps this summer, I sat down with a few professional artists to get their advice on the perfect warm-weather makeup routine. There are a few careful tweaks I made to my own process that made a huge difference — and saved me a lot of time getting ready in the process.
From the optimal base for glowy (and sun-protected) skin to the answer to the brush vs. Beautyblender debate, find the top five summer makeup tips from the pros, ahead.
Skip serum and moisturizer — just use sunscreen.
Makeup layering is not always a one-size-fits-all formula and many of us need to tweak steps as weather changes. Personally, I find that when it’s hot, my dry skin produces more oil and I’m better off doing fewer, lighter-weight layers of hydration. In a recent video, makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes explains that when she’s doing “summer-proof” makeup, she’ll skip most of her skin care altogether and just use sunscreen on bare skin. “The only thing you have to wear, in my opinion, is SPF,” Hughes says.
The reason you can feel confident forgoing your everyday serums and moisturizers — even if your skin is dry — is because most sunscreens these days are formulated with moisturizing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides, and will give your skin all it needs in the way of hydration and protection. What you may find, as I have, is that your skin stays dewy all day, and your makeup goes on smoother because there aren’t multiple slippery layers underneath that can cause pilling. This just goes for your skin care under makeup during the day. Continue your regular nighttime serums and moisturizers as usual.
If you’re in the market for a daily workhorse SPF to wear under makeup during the day, Hughes recommends a formula with a gel consistency. Some of our top picks are Paula’s Choice Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+, Tula Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30, and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50.
Try blending with a brush, not a sponge.
When you add a complexion product like foundation or concealer, your impulse might be to grab a makeup sponge (mine was for a long time). But Stevie Rose Adams, a makeup artist and lead educator for Saie, says that a brush is a better tool for foundation application because of the formulation of many complexion products. “If your makeup is free of silicones, a sponge is going to soak up the product,” Adams explains. Makeup that contains silicones — like dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane, two of the most commonly found — is safe from being absorbed because the chemical structure of silicones as a polymer, but an increasing number of foundations today are formulated without silicones, which means a sponge may soak up the product and require you to use more.
Instead, Adams recommends using the back of your (clean) hand as a palette and blending your foundation using a dense brush. I find that I use a lot less foundation this way because I control the pickup and buff it into my skin really gently, just like a veil. My favorite brush is The Big Brush by Saie, which is fabulous for blending both foundation and bronzer — 333 Sephora reviewers agree with me and give it 5 stars.
Use a warm-tone concealer.
Understanding your skin’s undertones is important when shopping for concealer, but there’s one exceptional circumstance where you might want to go a little bit rogue. The tweak that I recently picked up from makeup artist Shain Kish: Go for a shade warmer in tone than your usual complexion match. “In the summer, if you want to have a really subtle sun-kissed effect to the skin, going warmer with your concealer will add that warm glow,” Kish explains. I’ve found that a warmer concealer under my eyes blends well with the rest of my makeup and gives my fair skin a lit-from-within effect while looking completely natural.
Try blush sculpting.
When it comes to blush, most of the pros (and the TikTok community) go for a cream formula. The finish, Adams explains, is very important here. “You don’t want it to be glittery,” she says, “but you also don’t want it to be so matte that it will appear chalky.” Instead, you want a lightweight and blendable cream blush, like the Saie Glow Sculpt, which acts as a reflective — not shimmery — highlight and blush in one. If you’re looking for a lower price point, try the e.l.f Putty Cream Blush.
For the application, you want to use an angled brush to sculpt it into your cheeks. Many of us think to dab the color on the apples of our cheeks (and if that works for you, keep on keeping on), but if you want the color to lift your face, Kish recommends using a brush to lift the color up into your hairline. With this technique, I’ve found that a few strokes of color make my face look lifted but not obviously flushed. Glow Sculpt comes in a few different shades, but the bright coral-pink Peachglow in particular has been a game-changer for waking up my face without any other makeup.
Highlight the lips.
“Highlighting your lips makes it look like you’ve been out in the sun all day even when you haven’t,” Kish explains. He uses a finger to dab a bit of cream highlighter (rather than a powder, because cream will blend into your lips instead of sitting on top of them) to give a natural shine that’s not tacky like a gloss. I’ve been implementing the trick at the very end of my makeup routine and it makes my lips look subtly fuller but entirely natural. What I’ve come to learn is that less is more in the summer: sunscreen, blush, and a lip highlight — all with the right application — and I’m good for the day.
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