At a makeup masterclass a couple of years ago, celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic told the audience that he doesn't really use primer, setting spray or anything of the like on his clients. Instead, he simply relies on a slick of moisturizer (his then go-to was Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, $37). He mentioned that not only does a quick once-over with moisturizer provide a smooth, hydrated base but that it allows makeup to mesh better with the skin, while extra products could create a 'barrier' between makeup and the skin.
But with summer currently in full swing, commutes are even sweatier, days are longer and more humid and we're typically socializing more – all of which pose a challenge when you want your makeup to look as pristine at the end of the day as it did at 9am. In other words, a little moisturizer just doesn't cut it. So in the name of immaculate makeup, I was tasked with putting some popular products to the test to see which ones would keep my full face intact.
Firstly though, I'll break down my entire routine, as I wear a full face of makeup every day. After a good slathering of Dermalogica's Clearing Defense SPF 30, $37.50, my base consists of one small pump of Ciaté's Extraordinary Foundation, $58.91, with Chanel Les Beiges Water Fresh Tint, $70, both of which provide me with a medium coverage, super glowy finish. I follow with a dot of Tarte's Concealer, $34, over any dark circles that show through, and buff Charlotte Tilbury's Filmstar Bronze & Glow, $85, over my cheekbones using the highlighter to add radiance, and move on to my brows with Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, $28.
A wash of Pat McGrath Labs EYEdols Eyeshadow in Statuesque, $35, a feline flick using benefit's Roller Liner, $30, and a slick of Maybelline's Lash Sensational Mascara, $10.99, completes my eye makeup. A swipe of Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème Lipstick in Mahogany, $42, with MAC's Matte Lipstick in Yash, $23, makes up my lip look.
Primer, setting spray and setting powder don't usually feature in my routine, and I never have the time for touch-ups, so I was intrigued to find out which of the three long-wear makeup products would earn a spot in my overflowing kit. NB. I took one picture in the morning and another in the evening, so the lighting is visibly different. But I think you can really tell the difference in how the makeup looks.
Most makeup artists refer to primer as Velcro for makeup, with some promising to double the staying power of foundation. Products that contain silicone are known for providing a smooth canvas and airbrushed results, but they always make my acne-prone skin feel clogged. For this reason, I reached for Too Faced's Hangover Primer, $45, which swaps silicone for coconut water and probiotic-based ingredients to hydrate skin to the max. Unlike other primers I've tried, this is light and milky in texture and felt like a second moisturizer, so my skin wasn't completely caked.
Amazingly, my skin looked airbrushed after I'd applied my foundation, and any dry, flaky patches (thanks, retinol) looked much less obvious. My skin maintained a glow throughout the day and to my surprise, after a sweaty sprint for the bus and Tube, my foundation hadn't completely separated and there were no holes in my bronzer.
Much less makeup migrated into my fine lines, but by 6pm I noticed a tiny bit of separation around my T-zone, especially the sides of my nose. This is nothing a blotting paper wouldn't sort, though. While I definitely think this primer boosted the longevity of my makeup by a good few hours, I'd opt for something oil-free in future, as my skin has a tendency to go into sebum overdrive. I know that consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto recommends Smashbox's Photo Finish Foundation Primer, for acneic skin.
All makeup artists rave about MAC's Prep + Prime Fix+, $31. Not only does it work to revitalize foundation which may have become flat or powdery during the day, but it provides a hydrating base for makeup, increasing the longevity. The pocket-friendly size and new Fix+ scents swayed me, too. With my face still slightly damp, my foundation glided on and I was really impressed with the slightly dewy finish it lent my skin.
I'd also heard very good things about Maybelline's Lasting Fix Setting Spray, $15.99, so doubled up. Spraying things over my immaculate makeup sometimes puts me off, but I didn't feel completely drenched when I used this. It was a friend's birthday on this day and I knew I'd be sitting in the sun for hours, so I also spritzed a liberal amount over my eye makeup (eyes closed, of course) to avoid any dubious smudges. After around six hours of sweating, drinking and eating, my lipstick came off a little (understandable) but my liner was still super sharp and my foundation and bronzer had only separated a tad. An impressive duo, but I think either/or will suffice.
I'm not usually a fan of powder because I don't like how some formulas can travel into fine lines and accentuate blemishes, but I think this was the best technique when it came to keeping my makeup in place for longer.
I applied Revlon's PhotoReady Candid Anti-Pollution Setting Powder, $13.97 , and used a large fluffy brush to lightly blanket my T-zone, chin and forehead – areas where I typically see more shine and my foundation pills. I also tapped a little on to my eyelids and around my eyes in a bid to keep my liquid liner in place.
After a humid walk to the station, a sweaty 30-minute train journey, another 20-minute walk to work and some light rain, my makeup was still immaculate. Come 3pm, a little shine came through, but it only added to my glow. At the end of the day, I noticed that the concealer and powder had collected into the lines under my eyes, but I buffed it out using my fingers (a trick Katie Jane Hughes swears by).
Come 6pm, my bronzer was perfectly in place, as was my eye makeup. I'd really recommend dusting lids with powder before using liquid liner, as it provides much more grip. Also try NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Setting Powder, $15, and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $48.