As someone who is constantly on the go and craving small pockets of relaxation, there are two instances when my skin feels and looks its best: just after a hot shower and the minutes following a sweaty hot yoga sesh. Not only does my body feel re-energized, but my face looks ridiculously dewy, as if by magic. I don’t do anything particularly groundbreaking beforehand. At most, I remove my makeup with a wipe and/or cleansing oil, as anyone should in either case.
So you can imagine my frustration when trying to re-create that same look with a little makeup and willpower. Spoiler alert: It just doesn’t look the same, no matter how much setting spray and makeup primer I use.
But instead of banging my head against a wall or worse—giving up—I decided to reach out to a makeup artist for tips that not only will deliver the dewy greatness I seek but don’t feel difficult to replicate either.
The key to ensuring your makeup looks (and stays) dewy-looking depends heavily on how you prep the skin. According to Julie Fredrickson, makeup artist and founder of Stowaway Cosmetics, one of the biggest mistakes she sees regarding dewy skin is using a lot of facial oils, only to apply gel and silicone primers on top of it.
“Oil and water don’t mix, so don’t waste pricey facial oils by combining them with water-based products like gels,” she says. When we do this, our coverage doesn’t grip. Instead, it’s likely to slide down the face, creating that icky, greasy look instead of a sturdy canvas for the rest of our makeup.
Facial oils tend to absorb into the skin more effectively, so using them alone will actually help your makeup adhere longer to the skin. At the same time, be wary of using powders on top of it, since they’re meant to stop oil in their tracks. More often than not, they’ll negate the dewy product you just put on your skin.
Fredrickson personally doesn’t use primer, except when she’s dealing with breakouts or uneven skin textures. “However, if you have oily skin that is already a bit slippery, a primer can be helpful. Matte primers won’t help much with a dewy look, but I’m not convinced illuminating primers do the job either, as it is a bit of an oxymoron,” she says. “You are better off simply using a great silicone primer and then applying a loose powder with a hint of shimmer to give the illusion of dewiness rather than forcing it on your first layer.”
Use Skin-Friendly Coverage
When layering your makeup and skin product, use common sense. Don’t apply something that is meant to negate whatever the primary ingredient is in the product you used first. For instance, if you prepare your skin with something that has oil in it, stick with a foundation that contains moisture-retaining ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid.
“I’ve been known to mix a bit of a base oil like jojoba with Stowaway’s Creaseless Concealer to thin it out into more of a tinted moisturizer,” says Fredrickson. “If I want coverage that is really moist, I’ll mix it in with Stowaway’s Radiant Complexion Beauty Balm, which already has hyaluronic acid. But I do not recommend this approach if you are using gel or powder foundations.”
If you have oily skin that tends to eat away at creams, you can still achieve a dewy glow with loose or mineral powder. Just use one that contains a finely milled shimmer. Gel-based foundation is also a viable option.
“They offer a lot of coverage, can handle sweat and humidity, and thanks to their water base, will give you a wetter look than a powder,” says Fredrickson. And if you’re someone who swears by a beautyblender, know that they tend to absorb a lot of product, even though they make blending easier. Whether you use them instead of your hands or a brush is really just a matter of personal preference.
Don’t Mix Your Finish
Once your dewy coverage is intact, stick with just one type of makeup setter. “My rule is cream with cream and powder with powder. Think of it as the makeup equivalent of not mixing wine and liquor. Stick with one!” says Fredrickson.
Your foundation or tinted moisturizer should do most of the work in terms of creating that wet, not greasy look, but illuminating mists always up the ante. Fredrickson’s personal favorite is Cover FX’s Illuminating Spray, since it’s alcohol-free and doesn’t dry out her look.
“I don’t use it on the go, as it doesn’t impart moisture so much as it sets the moisture I’ve already got. I carry around a small spray bottle of rosewater if I need a bit of moisture midday.”
And if you want to skip a setting spray, apply a moisture-rich color product on top of what you’re already wearing instead. For instance, Fredrickson uses Stowaway’s Color Enhancing Balm, a vitamin-E-infused formula that brings out the natural color in her cheeks.
Overall, the key to nongreasy, hydrated skin is less about dousing your face with water and more about using the things that make sense for your specific skin type and environment. Choose your products wisely!