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Skin prep

Updated: Jul 3, 2018

I never thought too much about this over the years and it wasn't until the last few years - through my training and experience as a Make Up Artist that I realised the importance of preparing your skin before you apply makeup. Believe me, it makes all the difference. With the best products and techniques your skin will look smoother, glow in the right places and your makeup will last longer.


The best cleanser is one that is designed for your skin type and that will help nourish and balance the skin while also cleansing the skin of any dirt, pollutants and makeup. While it can be tempting to use a cleanser that leaves that squeaky clean feeling it more than likely will do more harm than good. Harsh detergents are often found in cleansers that strip the skin of natural oils and the protective barrier that is meant to be there and, yes, protect your skin. Look for a cleanser that is PH balanced and that won't strip your skin of its protective barrier. Skin that has an unbalanced PH level due to poor diet or using wrong products can become sensitive, increase and deepen wrinkles, cause inflammation or acne.

As Dr Don Colbert says: “Our body and skin require a balance between alkaline and acidity for our acid mantle – the barrier that keeps moisture in and germs and toxins out. Anything over seven is considered alkaline. Skin that falls on this end of the scale tends to be drier and more wrinkly, while skin that’s too acidic can appear red, irritated and itchy. Slightly acidic is epidermal heaven.” - Marie Claire, UK

Our skin should sit around 4.7 or slightly higher, but the use of cosmetics, soaps and even water can affect this. For example, the use of plain tap water, in some places with a pH value around 8.0, will increase skin pH up to 6 hours after application before it returns to its normal value. During this time your skin is exposed as it no longer has its protective barrier. As mentioned above, this is not good news for your skin.

So splashing water on your face and walking out the door is also just as bad for your skin.


Using a good toner can help to remove any final traces of makeup and debris and balance the PH levels of your skin. Don't skip this step if you have sensitive or inflamed skin.


I like to use a chemical exfoliant over a physical exfoliant as I believe it is gentler on the skin and more effective. It might sound scary - chemical - but it's often derived from natural sources and some products use fruit enzymes to gently remove dead skin cells and old layers of skin. Result? Smoother and brighter skin. You are welcome!


Now is the time to use any treatments or serums on your face as it is properly cleansed and ready to receive some extra love. Applying serums on your bare skin before using a moisturiser will ensure that they can penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin rather than sitting on top of moisturisers or primers. I love a good vitamin C serum, retinol, glycolic, salicylic acid treatment or hyaluronic acid - they will brighten skin, clear spots and hydrate the skin respectively.


Moisturiser is an essential step especially after cleansing the face in the morning and at night when you are removing the makeup and pollutants of the day. When you cleanse your face you may also be stripping the skin of its natural oils and essential oils so you need to add this back in by using a quality moisturiser.

Moisturiser further acts as a barrier to water loss so can prevent your skin from becoming dehydrated. During the night our bodies lose the most water so by wearing a moisturiser to bed you are helping your skin to stay hydrated so you wake up with smoother and softer skin.

Another interesting fact is that at night our bodies use this time to renew cells, repair and detoxify. So if you use a good moisturiser with good ingredients - this can help your body along with this process.


Is Primer necessary? Yes and no. A good primer can help with blurring imperfections, minimising pores, colour correcting, smoothing fine lines or hydrating parched skin. Primers are used primarily for helping you create a flawless base before you apply foundation and can also lengthen the life of your makeup. The reason makeup can last longer is because it sits on a layer of silicone molecules (which most primers are made up of) and therefore less able to mix with the natural oils on the skin which would normally cause makeup to wear off throughout the day. An additional benefit to primer is that it will create a smooth surface on your skin so that your foundation will glide on easier (and perhaps you will end up using less!)

So why would I choose not wear this every day? The thing with primers is that it is essentially another layer that you are adding to your skin and so can make your makeup look like, well, makeup. Skin looks less like skin and can look more cakey. If you prefer a natural look or if you are doing an editorial or photoshoot you will find that skipping the primer will help you to have less texture on the skin and will create a more natural effect. You also might find that the foundation you use already has a built in primer or works well with your skin already that you don't need to use a primer. My advice is to test it out - one side primer and the other without. Try it for a few days or weeks and see which one you prefer. I personally use primers when I want my makeup to last, but for the everyday I often skip this step.

Before you race out and buy a primer make sure that you take into consideration what type of foundation you are using. If you are using an oil-based foundation, make sure your face primer is also oil-based, as well. If not, your primer will separate if you mix oil and water together. Another thing to be careful of is overusing silicone (a major ingredient in many primers). If your foundation contains a lot of silicone and your primer does as well you might find after a few hours that your foundation will start to melt off or get patchy. Lesson is - read the ingredients before you purchase!

Now that we have finished skin prep - it's time to start applying makeup! Watch this space for my next post on foundations 101!

Are you already in a good skin care routine? Do you like certain products for prepping your skin for makeup? Let me know in the comments section below - let's share the love/knowledge!

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