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In the summer, keeping makeup in place seems nearly impossible. We’ve all been there on sweaty days and nights: a clean winged-eyeliner look smudges into an unintentional smoky eye, or foundation somehow melts right off. But there is makeup out there that won’t budge for hours, no matter how much you sweat. To find the best sweatproof products, we spoke to seven makeup artists and two beauty writers about the tried-and-true favorites they have used on their clients and themselves. Below, they recommend everything from primers and setting sprays to eyeliners and mascaras. These products have withstood everyday sweat and lasted through special occasions, like a summer Pride parade and even the New York City marathon.
Nearly all of the experts we spoke to said properly layering products is key for a sweatproof look — especially when it comes to face makeup. Five of them recommended starting with a face primer. Makeup and visual artist Clara Rae says that means “working in more sheer layers and letting each product do its job. Really let the primer sit and absorb in and then pack layers of foundation on top of that.” Celebrity makeup artist Amy Zdunowski-Roeder says this one from Becca is ideal for anyone prone to oily, sweaty skin. “It tightens your skin and keeps your makeup looking fabulous during the steamiest of days.”
If you prefer a powder primer, beauty writer and consultant Kristina Rodulfo is a “big fan” of Tatcha’s Silk Canvas primer. “It smooths out pores and makes application smoother and longer lasting,” she says. The formula is made with ingredients that are supposed to help support the skin’s barrier function and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
“This actually physically stops sweating,” says Rae, who notes that Alcone supplies makeup for big productions like operas and SNL. Stop the Sweat isn’t technically a primer, but Rae applies the tonerlike liquid product with a cotton pad or sponge and makes sure it sets before adding makeup. Because it’s so effective at stopping sweat, Rae doesn’t recommend it for everyday use, but she says it works wonders “when you’re going out and you’re really worried about sweating.”
The experts we spoke to recommended a wide range of foundations — including sheer and matte formulas. To make picking the right one easier, we’ve ordered these from lightest to fullest coverage, and we included some concealers, too.
“Products that are recommended for sweaty skin are usually matte, but I really believe there are some luminous-finish foundation products that are as amazing,” says makeup artist Isabel Rosado. One of them, she says, is M.A.C Studio Radiant Face and Body Foundation, which is especially great for “minimalist makeup wearers because of its sheer-to-radiant finish.” It’s long-wearing, comes in over 30 shades, and even works for people with sensitive skin since it has a hydrating formula.
If you want a liquid foundation with medium coverage, Rae says Koh Gen Do’s Moisture Foundation “always looks like skin and doesn’t look too heavy.” The lightweight formula is buildable enough to provide the coverage of a cream foundation, without the cakey feeling.
For a full-coverage matte finish, makeup artist Tara Lauren turns to Cover FX. “I have used this foundation along with the brand’s concealer for clients in the unforgiving summer heat of New Orleans with no worry at all,” she says. Both products are transferproof and come in a wide variety of shades.
Rodulfo recommends Covergirl’s Outlast Extreme Wear for a more affordable full-coverage foundation. “[It’s] truly full coverage, dries down matte, and once it sets it’s not going anywhere,” she says. “I have to cleanse three times — micellar water, cleansing balm, cream cleanser — to really get it off.” She also appreciates that the formula has SPF 18 for sunny days. “I wouldn’t use it on its own, but it’s always great to have additional protection.”
“Concealers as foundations are already designed to be richer, more concentrated, self-setting formulas, as they tend to be used in areas that crease,” explains Brittany Whitfield, one of the many makeup artists who recommended concealers rather than foundations for full-face sweatproof looks. She fell in love with M.A.C’s formula after using it for a client’s bridal look — and for another client’s red-carpet look the next day. She says it kept her clients’ skin “perfect and polished but without looking like pancake batter — and there was no need for me to touch up two hours later.”
Celebrity makeup artist Yolonda Frederick uses “a dime-size amount” of Beautyblender Airbrush Liquid Whip Concealer for a full-face look. “You can literally sleep in this makeup and wake up looking flawless,” she says. It comes in a range of 40 shades, and Frederick notes that it “maintains its warmth throughout the day without turning ashen.”
Makeup artist and host of the podcast The Life of a Makeup Artist Jaleesa Jaikaran put UOMA’s concealer to the “ultimate wet test” when she wore it in New Orleans recently. “NOLA in the summer is no joke,” she says, and she reports that the concealer held up in the heat. “Of course, I made sure that I stayed out all day and danced my life away to really see what its longevity was. At the end of the night, I was still perfect.”
Rosado recommends opting for a liquid blush on particularly hot occasions. Powder blushes tend to look cakey if you get sweaty, and cream blushes will most likely melt off. “Liquid blushes are really nice because you apply them and their staying power is almost like a stain,” she explains. Her favorite is NARS’s highly pigmented liquid blush, and she typically mixes the brand’s peachy shade Orgasm with the dusty-rose Dolce Vita. She also brings up the importance of layering here and recommends applying a translucent powder on top to make it more sweatproof and longer lasting.
For a liquid eyeliner that won’t budge, Rodulfo recommends Pat McGrath’s formula. In fact, she wore it while running the New York City Marathon, and her winged-liner look was intact after 11 sweaty hours. “I applied at 4:30 a.m., and it did not smudge or fade when I crossed the finish line at 3:30 p.m.,” she says. “In 26.2 miles, there was a lot of sweat and tears — and this PMG liner lasted through it all.”
Makeup artist Brittany Whitfield likes Inglot’s AMC gel eyeliners “for tear-duct lining with minimal to no transfer.” Both she and Rosado describe the cream liner as “bulletproof,” and Rosado recommends mixing it with a drop of Inglot’s liquid Duraline solution, which makes products even more waterproof and longer lasting. Rosado prefers the brand’s black liner (No. 77) because it’s “very stark, very bold, and super-matte,” but the eyeliner comes in 27 other colors. “If you can find hot pink, purple, or red, you can mix and use them as a long-wearing cream blush!” Whitfield adds.
Both Whitfield and Cosmopolitan beauty editor Ruby Buddemeyer sang the praises of L’Oréal’s Voluminous X Fiber Waterproof Mascara. Buddemeyer, who says she is “beyond picky when it comes to warm-weather mascara,” likes this drugstore pick because it “really packs a punch in the volume department and stays on through heat and sweat.” The two-step mascara comes with a primer on one end (which Buddemeyer sometimes uses alone for a “softer” look) and a fiber-based mascara on the other that “builds serious volume and defines every single lash,” she says. And unlike other hard-to-remove waterproof mascaras, Buddemeyer says this “comes off easily with an oil cleanser or balm, so no need to worry about any lash damage or irritation when you’re ready to remove.”
For anyone with long lashes, Rosado suggests applying a setting powder (more on those later) or an eye base like this M.A.C one, even if you’re wearing waterproof mascara. She explains that if your eyelashes touch your eyelids, the natural oils from your skin can break down the formula and cause smudging. “I find this step really important,” she says, adding that the M.A.C eye base goes on invisible, keeps your eyelids matte, and creates a long-lasting barrier between lashes and sweaty skin. And since it’s a primer, it will help your eyeshadow stay on longer and last through sweat.
Nearly all of the experts we spoke to recommend finishing with a setting spray or powder to keep everything in place and avoid smudging and transfer. Jaikaran and Rosado both complete makeup looks with Urban Decay’s All Nighter Spray. “Any time I have clients that are going to events, I always make sure I have this with me,” says Rosado. On multiple occasions, clients have come back to her saying their makeup lasted all night — through tears or dancing — and in some cases until the next day if they fell asleep with it on. As an added benefit, this setting spray “picks up the pigment of eyeshadow” and enhances the color, Rosado says.
Rae recommends this “heavy-duty” setting spray from the German company Kryolan, which specializes in theatrical makeup. She likes that it comes in an aerosol can because it goes on lightly but is still highly effective. “I did my friend’s makeup for Pride — a full beat with a rainbow eye — and it stayed on,” she says. “She was out in the sun marching and sweating, and it lasted the whole night. I wouldn’t recommend it, but she slept in it, too, and it stayed. I couldn’t believe it.”
Two experts also raved about Laura Mercier’s setting powder. Rosado likes the “universal” translucent powder for “super, super-oily skin,” as does Buddemeyer, who uses it year-round on her acne-prone, sensitive skin. “I especially love it for sweaty summer days. It’s super-lightweight, nondrying, and beyond easy to apply,” she says. “All I do is sweep it over my face with a fluffy brush after foundation and concealer and before blush and bronzer, and it helps create a smooth, matte finish that keeps my makeup in place all day — even through an NYC commute, which honestly says a lot.”
“Sometimes sweat is inevitable, which is why I always keep a pack of these blotting sheets in my bag,” says Buddemeyer of Tatcha’s blotting papers. She likes that the natural abaca leaf and gold flakes “come together to gently remove excess oil and shine without messing up your makeup” and recommends “very lightly patting your skin — not rubbing or wiping — whenever you need a quick touch-up.”
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