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How to stop your makeup sliding in a hot, Australian summer

Photography by Hayley Pease
Words by Rob Povey

Make your makeup work harder.

In my 15 years as a professional makeup artist, probably the most common (and frequent) question I’m asked by the gen pop is, ‘How do I make my makeup last all day?’ Pair that eternal conundrum with the sweltering Australian summer heat that’s upon us, and you’re set for somewhat of an uphill battle.

But all hope is not lost, as the marvels of modern product formulations and advancements in cosmetic science have made the task much more manageable — when paired with the correct techniques!

Here are my top 10 tips for keeping your face looking flawless in summer.

1. Use less product overall  

In theory, it makes sense — the less product you have on your face, the less product there is to slip and slide around when things inevitably start to melt. But I’ve found many take the opposite approach and overcompensate by layering heavy, full-coverage products in an effort to see them withstand the humidity. Instead, I would implore you to use the least amount of product you feel comfortable wearing. Think ‘your-skin-but-better’ vibes whenever you do elect to wear makeup in summer. Aim for multi-tasking tints/stains for the eyes, cheeks and lips that have a translucent quality to them and will still look fresh, even as they do fade away during the day. Perhaps even opt to just curl your lashes in lieu of any actual mascara for the ultimate ‘no-makeup makeup’ eye-opening beauty cheat.

Rob recommends: MAC Studio Face And Body Foundation ($54 at MAC), Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($100 at Sephora), Nars Sheer Glow Foundation ($75 at Mecca)

2. Try a primer

If a well-curated skin prep routine, tailored to your personal skin needs, still isn’t cutting it, consider adding a primer into your makeup arsenal. If summer sends your already oil-prone skin into a sebaceous overdrive, there are plenty of fantastic mattifying primers that will help keep that T-zone at bay. As an added bonus, the high concentration of silicone also helps to diffuse the appearance of larger pores. Meanwhile, if all the rich moisturiser in the world still can’t satiate your dehydrated skin, an illuminating primer is excellent way of giving the skin a little extra boost of hydration while also cheating a healthy glow.

Rob recommends: Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Primer ($59 at Mecca), Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Radiance

Primers aren’t just limited to the skin, either. Whether you enjoy a bold eye on the daily or you’re just a die-hard mascara enthusiast but the humidity of summer leaves you with the dreaded panda-eye, a colourless eyeshadow primer can be incredible at preventing sweaty eyelids from creasing all your hard work. Likewise, if you’re more of a lipstick lover, a lip primer is invaluable for both helping product glide on more smoothly initially, then keeping the pigment in place for much longer while avoiding feathering.

Rob recommends: Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base ($42 at Mecca) & MAC Prep + Prime Lip ($34 at MAC)

3. Substitute foundation for tinted sunscreen

Another way to cut down on the build-up of additional products in the summer months is to find a solid multi-tasker. If you’re a foundation fanatic, try substituting it for a tinted sunscreen instead. The right product will offer you the same skin-perfecting qualities of a traditional foundation, as well as the essential SPF required to face those harsh Australian rays.  In this day and age, you can find both dewy and matte finish tinted sunscreens to best suit your own skin’s needs. My only caveat is that to get the full SPF protection advertised, you must be liberal with application. So while tints are generally forgiving once blended, still ensure you colour-match as well as possible (or custom-mix two shades if you’re in between) for the best result.

Rob recommends: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ SPF50 ($63 at Sephora)

4. Just spot conceal

If you’re more of a minimalist, or just not totally committed to foundation, try the spot concealing technique favoured by many makeup artists instead. Effectively, it is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than first applying a base of foundation then concealing any blemishes that remain visible, spot concealing requires you to thoroughly prep your skin with the appropriate skincare to get it looking its very best naturally. You’ll then selectively apply concealer (by its nature, a more full-coverage product) only to the areas that require it – generally under the eyes, around the nose and chin, and to any imperfections or breakouts.  Finally, delicately stipple the product out with either a beauty sponge or small blending brush, so that it marries with the bare skin. This technique may take a little more time to perfect, but the end result looks so much more convincing and like real skin, hence its popularity with working artists.

Rob recommends: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer ($48 at Mecca), Fenty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer ($38 at Sephora), Make Up For Ever Full Cover ($48 at Sephora)

5. Blot instead of powder

Powder feels a little passé in 2021, synonymous with the ultra-matte skin of yesteryear. While powder can still be a fantastic asset when initially setting your makeup, continued re-application throughout the day to mattify and refresh the skin can actually build up and create a cakey-looking appearance, even when using the translucent kind. Instead, de-shine your complexion with blotting sheets. These miraculous biodegradable single-use papers absorb excess oils without disrupting product. Alternatively, try a mattifying gel to touch-up in lieu of traditional powder. It applies the same way, but without adding texture to the skin or creating unwanted build-up.

Rob recommends: Tatcha Aburatorigami Japanese Beauty Papers ($19 at Mecca), Rae Morris Invisible Mattifier ($80 at Mecca)

6. Multitask with longwear products

Opt for longwear products and then consider using them in unconventional ways. One of my personal favourite tricks is to use liquid listicks, diluted down and applied super sparingly, as longwear stains of colour on the eyes (think neutral taupes, terracottas, caramels and chocolate tones). They also work as long-lasting matte blush crèmes (think your peach, berry, poppy pink and rosy-brown shades). If you ever splashed out on impulse for a ‘trend’colour (an electric turquoise, a vivid fuchsia or a neon orange, for example) only to balk once you applied it your lips at home, find a new life for the product and try it as a liquid eyeshadow or eyeliner. Just make sure you find the right brush to apply it.

Rob recommends: MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour ($37 at MAC), KVD Vegan Beauty Everlasting Liquid Lipstick ($29 at Sephora), Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($35 at Mecca)

7. Skip the shimmer

As we’re regularly outdoors in the summer, natural sunlight directly hitting the face often makes makeup look more sparkly and illuminated than usual. If ‘glowing for the gods’ isn’t your preferred aesthetic for a day-to-day face, try skipping the more shimmery products in your makeup bags so that you don’t blind any innocent bystanders. The great news is that mattes don’t have to be boring (nor chalky and powdery) these days, with plenty of beautifully buttery formulations of blushes and eyeshadows on the market, sans shimmer.

Rob recommends: Viseart Eyeshadow Palette ($144 at Sephora),  MAC Glow Play Blush ($48 at MAC)

8. Work in waterproof eye makeup formulas

For the more sensitive-sighted among us, and those who just can’t seem to make it through the day without their eye makeup migrating south, working waterproof eye makeup formulations into your summer routine is the way to go. These days, virtually every iconic mascara on the market has a waterproof counterpart, which makes the quest much easier. If you’ve already found your holy grail mascara, try the waterproof version. The difference in product formulas will mean that it won’t be identical, but the best ones generally yield very comparable results with far better wear time. For those who love a winged or graphic liner, you’re spoilt for choice between liquid liners and eyeliner gels, but for those who favour a softer finish, there are also some brilliant kohl pencils out there that you can easily smudge before setting with serious staying power.

Rob recommends: Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara ($42 at Mecca), Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner ($35 at Mecca), MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline ($38 at MAC), Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil ($34 at Mecca)

9. Set it with a setting spray

The final step in ensuring long-lasting makeup is to finish everything with a setting spray. When misted over the face, these marvellous bottles of magic beautifully take away the ‘makeup-y’ look of complexion products, helping them to instantly melt into the skin for a more seamless finish. But more importantly, a good setting spray has the ability to lock the product into the skin more securely and significantly minimise the need for touching up throughout the day. As an added bonus, misted again throughout the day, they have a lovely cooling and calming sensation on skin.

Rob recommends: Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray ($53 at Mecca), Hourglass Veil Setting Spray ($77 at Mecca), MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ Matte ($39 at MAC)

10. Build your layers

It’s often been said that “makeup has no rules” — a statement often made by Instagram influencers and YouTube beauty gurus when trying to justify their heavy-handed approach to makeup (and FaceTune, let’s be real). While, in theory, that’s somewhat true — creatively-speaking, makeup indeed has no outright rules and the definition of what contemporary ‘beauty’ is ever-evolving. But makeup as an artistic practice and profession is, in fact, built upon a foundation of technique. When it comes to creating a complete look, much like painting, two to three sheer layers of product are always better than one heavy application. With every step of your makeup process, start lightly and gradually build up coverage or pigment until you’re happy with the finished result. You can always keep layering until you reach the desired effect, but it’s much harder to work backwards if you overdo it. Especially in summer, this mentality will serve you well in making the most of your makeup.

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