I Finally Learned How To Properly Prep My Skin Before Applying Makeup, And It's Been A Game Changer

·8 min read

Hi! I'm Fabiana and I'm here once again to declare my love for all things beauty by sharing one of the best tips I've recently learned: the importance of skin prep.

While the term might sound basic or obvious, there's a lot more to it. Skin prep — or the routine of properly preparing your skin prior to putting on makeup — can make a ton of difference in your final application. Nothing is worse than spending money on an expensive makeup product only for it to look mediocre once it's applied on your face because you didn't ready your skin beforehand.

A few months back, I fell deep into the skin prep rabbit hole after stumbling upon makeup artist Kelli Anne on Instagram. What Kelli Anne taught me (and her many followers) is that if we're not properly prepping our skin for all the makeup we slather on our faces, our makeup products will not be able to reach their full potential — nor will they wear very long.

One big takeaway for me is that skin prep goes beyond just applying moisturizer all over.

It's more so about addressing any skin concerns you have by using skincare products in very specific areas of your face so that makeup goes on a nice, smooth canvas — and stays put.

As Kelli Anne sums up on her IG: "To get that glowy skin look, the key is to make your skin so glowy with skin prep before foundation so by the time you slap foundation on top, your skin is radiating through," she said.

To further explain why skin prep is so crucial prior to makeup application, I spoke to a few makeup professionals. They were:

Ada Hsieh, founder of Ada Lip Beauty and special effects makeup artist

Eri Vincent, celebrity makeup artist

Keri Blair, senior national makeup artist at MAC Cosmetics

Something I learned from Kelli Anne is that if you have dry patches on your skin and you notice that your expensive "hydrating" foundation is still allowing your dry skin to peek through, your skin needs extra hydration in those areas. No foundation — no matter how hydrating it's deemed to be — is going to mask that.


Keri Blair further backed up this point. "Prepping and priming your own canvas (aka your skin) ensures that your skin is all one texture – therefore your makeup will apply smoothly and evenly — and last all day long," she said.

Blair compared applying makeup to the face to being similar to how a painter would applying paint to a canvas. As most painters will tell you, prepping the canvas is super important to ensure that you yield even, consistent, and blend-able results, she said.

There's even a scientific reason to why skin prep is so crucial before applying makeup, explained Ada Hsieh.

You want to give your skin and your makeup the best chance for 'survival', she said.

"Think of it as two different layers, because it is. Your skin — depending on if it's dry, oily, or combination is going to inevitably mix with the chemistry of the makeup — and vice versa," Hsieh explained. "By prepping the skin, you can help your skin's pH level stay more balanced and the actual layer of makeup stay fresh longer throughout the day," she said.

With all this in mind, I've spent the last few months experimenting to find what works for my own skin prep routine. After some trial and error, I think I've now nailed my skin prep regimen — and I feel like my makeup has honestly never looked better. (Or glowier!) Here's how I personally prep my skin before a full face of makeup.

I have combo skin so my T-zone gets oily and my cheeks are more on the dry side. Because of that, my routine begins with my existing skincare regimen. (Which is separate from the prep.) I'm including the products I use for any fellow combo skin readers — but I would note that a big learning for me has been that it's less about the specific products, and more about the way you apply them.

My skincare products looking pretty laid out on my bathroom countertop

After I cleanse and moisturize my face, I apply my usual skincare products. I begin with Summer Fridays CC Me Vitamin C Serum all over my face, followed by a few drops of First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oat & Hemp Seed Dry Oil to calm and soothe my skin. Next I apply my Youth To The People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid, and lastly, for my under eye area, I use Algenist Triple Algae Eye Renewal Balm with Multi-Peptide Complex.

Fabiana Buontempo

After giving my skin some time to absorb those products, the pre-makeup skin prep begins.

A picture of my three go-to skin prep products

My skin prep lineup includes Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream, Elaluz by Camila Coelho Beauty Oil (both recommended by Kelli Anne), and First Aid Beauty's Pores Be Gone Matte Primer.

Fabiana Buontempo

I start by moisturizing the area under my eyes and on the side of my nose (where it's dry and sometimes prone to redness) with an oil.

Me applying my beauty oil to my under eye area

Previously, no matter what eye cream I used beforehand, it always looked dry in that under-eye area after I applied concealer. And it looked even worse if I wanted to set that area with powder to prevent my concealer from creasing.

A tip I learned from Kelli Anne to really keep that area hydrated is to use a beauty oil after you apply eye cream. I use the oil she suggests, which is by Elaluz. I take a few drops on the back of my hand and using my ring finger I gently pat and lightly massage that under eye area until the oil is fully absorbed. I know it's absorbed once it no longer feels greasy to the touch.

Eri Vincent agrees with the use of a beauty oil before makeup. "I would recommend a face oil as the last step in your skin prep routine. My favorite is the Beauty Oil from RMS. Oils should be used as the last step prior to makeup because it seals in all of your skincare and keeps you hydrated all day."

Fabiana Buontempo

From there, I apply a super thick moisturizer to the area right above my jawline — where my skin is particularly dry.

Me showing where I apply my thick moisturizer on my cheeks

I like to contour my cheeks when I'm wearing a full face of makeup and when I draw a line of concealer down the sides of my cheeks to brighten this area, the concealer weirdly sticks to my skin, making it difficult to blend since the area is dry.

To combat this issue, I take a pea-sized amount of a thick moisturizer (such as Weleda Skin Food, mentioned above.) As Kelli Anne recommends, I warm up it up by rubbing it in between my fingertips before applying it — then I apply the moisturizer to just the lower half of my cheeks.

Vincent also uses a thick moisturizer on her clients who have dry skin. One splurgier option she recommends is the Glowing Honey Moisturizer from Ildi Pekar.

Fabiana Buontempo

The second-to-last step in my skin prep routine is to calm down the shine in my T-zone area with a primer — but *only* in specific spots, as opposed to your whole face.

An up-close picture of the First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Pores Be Gone Matte Primer

"After you've done this much skin prep, I don't think primers are necessary unless you're trying to really fix an extra problem or you're like 'I need a little extra something,'" said Kelli Anne on her Instagram.

Since I'm someone who wants to fix an extra problem on my skin, I like to use a little dollop of a mattifying primer such as the Hello FAB Pores Be Gone Matte Primer and apply it to my forehead and chin to mattify these overly shiny areas.

Fabiana Buontempo

Last but not least, I make sure my lips are hydrated so that any lip color I apply afterward goes on smoothly and is less likely to dry out or collect in creases.

An up-close picture of my favorite Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

I put on either Vaseline or Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask to keep my lips hydrated because no one wants dry, crusty lips. A thick lip balm keeps my lips hydrated enough that I can wipe off any excess product prior to using my lip liner and lipstick and my lips will still feel soft.

Fabiana Buontempo

Once the prepping of my skin is done, I wait several minutes to let all of these products do their magic before diving into my makeup routine.

After all that prep work, here is the finished result! The biggest changes I've observed are that my concealer no longer creases under my eyes (thanks to the oil prep), my foundation doesn't gather in dry spots (thanks to spot-applying thick moisturizer), and my T-zone isn't as quick to shine (thanks to the primer).

Me with a full-face of makeup on

These extra steps take time but I've found they target the specific concerns I want them to — resulting in a glowy yet matte, long-lasting makeup look every time.

Fabiana Buontempo

Do you prep your skin prior to applying your makeup? If so, what specific products do you use? Do you have any other tips and tricks for long-lasting makeup? Tell me all about it in the comments below!