5 reasons why your makeup doesn't last all day

Laura Capon
·6-min read
Photo credit: Alice Cowling
Photo credit: Alice Cowling

From Cosmopolitan

It started so promisingly, you even took a couple of selfies together because you looked that good. So why then, after such a reassuring start, does your foundation do a disappearing act on you post 12pm?

This is as much a problem for dry skin as it is for oily skin and one that's only made worse by the fact we all now have to wear a face mask every single day.

So as well as competing with your skin's natural oils, you're also competing with the friction that comes from wearing a face covering for several hours. Combine that with sweat from the heat and it's a miracle if your foundation makes it to 5pm.

Thankfully we're here to help and have roped in the experts to found out why your makeup’s just not that into you and how to turn your short-term fling, into a long-term commitment.

Those experts come in the form of MAC's global senior artist Dominic Skinner and makeup artists Zoe Taylor and Sophie Pasola.

If these artists can keep foundation on under blaring studio lights and sweaty backstage conditions, they can most definitely help you keep your base on for a full day at work.

From picking the right base, to ensuring you're using the right skincare and application technique. Here are the main reasons why you're makeup isn't lasting and more importantly, how to fix it.

Translucent powder and setting sprays at the ready people, this is go time.

1. You didn’t put the graft in

According to Dominic Skinner, global senior artist at MAC (and the one you’ve spied on BBC Three’s Glow Up), a long-lasting base is “70% preparation and 30% application”.

So why then, when I apply foundation over moisturiser, does it slide down my face quicker than Justin Bieber sliding into Billie Eilish's DMs? “It’s like making a cake,” Skinner tells me. “You need the right balance of all the ingredients. If your base is sliding either your moisturiser is too heavy, or, when it’s combined with your foundation it becomes too thick.”

In the same way that you wouldn’t use the same ingredients for a Victoria sponge as you would a Chelsea bun, Skinner recommends switching your products up depending on your skincare needs. Which not only makes sense, but explains why Mary Berry looks so damn good. “If you’re dry or dehydrated and need a richer moisturiser, follow up with a lighter, or oil-free foundation and vice-versa,” he recommends.

In terms of your face mask, Skinner recommends using an oil-free primer which will "keep your foundation on longer by 'grabbing' hold of the oil within your foundation." It may also be worth switching to a waterproof foundation if your job requires you wearing a mask all day. If you can't give up your glow, Skinner recommends switching to a more long-wearing formula and simply applying your glow with a cream highlighter in areas your mask won't rub, i.e cheekbones and top of the brow arch.

2. You were too handsy

I get it, some days all you’ve got time to do is haphazardly smear some foundation over your face while being crushed against a window on the bus journey from hell. However, makeup artist Zoe Taylor warns that by applying your base with your fingers, you risk it not sticking around past lunchtime. Which could explain why your nose now looks so red, it could have been drawn by Raymond Briggs. “I always use a brush, otherwise I find the oils from my hands mix in and break it down quicker,” she tells me. Oh, and if you find you’re getting foundation streaks when using a brush, you’re using too much product. Alternatively, switch to a beauty sponge for a seamless blend.

3. You’re not a good match

“The most common problem I encounter is people wearing foundation formulations that aren’t suitable for their skin type.” Makeup artist Sophie Pasola there, successfully evaluating my love life, whilst pointing out that drier skin types are just as likely to suffer abandonment issues as their oily peers. “If your foundation tends to go patchy or just disappear altogether, it's likely that dehydration is the culprit. Your poor skin doesn't know the difference between make-up and a moisturiser; it just absorbs whatever hydration and oil it can, causing your coverage to evaporate.” Pasola’s answer? “Avoid the latest waterproof-lifeproof-sweatproof-168hr formulas if you have dehydrated or dry skin, instead opt for a more moisturising formulation like Shiseido’s Synchro-Skin Self Refreshing Foundation, £39, or a tinted moisturiser.”

4. You only focused on one thing

It’s all well and good making sure your complexion is on lock down, but that’s not going to save you when your eyeshadow is making its way downtown. As Pasola points out, “the oil in your eyelids can dissolve whatever make-up you’re wearing, waterproof or not.” Which explains why Skinner, Taylor and Pasola always use some kind of eyeshadow primer on their clients. “I use Maybelline’s Color Tattoo 24-Hour Cream Eyeshadow, £5.99 as a long-lasting base for eyes and layer powder shadow on top to create the colour I want,” explains Taylor. Extending the wear of your lipstick however isn’t as simple, especially when eating and drinking is involved. To help this, Taylor recommends prepping your lips, like you would your base with the Tinker Taylor Lip Scrub, £20, to remove any flaky skin that could cause patchiness. I can’t say it will help with longevity if you do manage to hit first base though.

5. You went overboard

While it can seem tempting to apply more makeup in the hopes that at least 50% of it might make it through the day, according to Skinner that is actually a terrible idea. “The key thing is to keep it light,” he warns me. “Lots of fine layers will last a lot longer than thick and heavy ones.” This less is more approach can also be applied to your powder, which as a self-proclaimed dewy queen, I at times detest. “You can guarantee that even the most luminous red carpet makeup has been powdered very thoroughly,” explains Pasola. “Choose a lightweight silicone-base like RCMA’s No-Colour Powder, £11.75,” she recommends. If you're really not a fan of powder, Skinner recommends MAC's Fix+ Matte, "A few sprays hydrates, conditions and sets your makeup, but also mattifies, leaving your skin looking matte but still fresh with no cake face in sight."

If all else fails, touch up like a pro:

Step One:

“I always spritz the skin first with MAC Fix+ as this refreshes older makeup and helps any additional products blend seamlessly over the top,” recommends Skinner.

Step Two:

“Boost your coverage with a liquid or creamy concealer,” advises Pasola. “Glossier Stretch is my go-to because it's so light and glides on easily.”

Step Three:

Finally listen to Taylor and, “Stipple any areas of shine with a translucent powder. I love Hourglass because it sets makeup without adding any colour or texture.”

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