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Summer Tips to Keep Your Makeup from Melting Off

Woman by a pool in full makeup.
Diana Indiana/Shutterstock

Does it feel like your makeup melts right off when the summer heat arrives? Here’s how to keep your makeup looking great, despite the temperature and humidity.

Melting makeup is a classic summer problem that drives many people to ditch their cosmetics altogether when the temperature spikes. While there’s nothing wrong with going bare-faced in the summer (it’s good to give your skin a periodic makeup break), it’s not the only solution. You just need the right techniques and products to help your makeup stay put.

From brunches to beaches to boats, these ideas will keep your makeup looking fresh all summer long.

Start With a Clean Slate

A clean, sweat-free face is essential before you start applying products. Don’t wash your face until you’re ready to do your makeup. This way, you avoid applying makeup on top of sweaty skin. Prep your face with the best moisturizer, toner, and other products that work for your skin type.

Use Sunscreen as a Primer

Sunscreen is essential during the summer for obvious reasons. But a high-quality matte, facial sunscreen can also double as a makeup primer that will help your cosmetics stay put.

Of course, you can also use regular primer, but replacing it with sunscreen (or adding sunscreen over it) is a summer-friendly hack we love. To boost your sun protection even more, add a powder sunscreen after you apply your makeup to set it.

Invest in Eye and Lip Primers

In addition to a priming product for your face, there are some designed specifically for the eyes and lips, too. These products create a slightly sticky base, so the tinted products you add on top will last longer.

Wear Thin Layers

No matter how good your products are, thick layers of makeup will always melt off when exposed to enough sweat and heat. Using thin layers (and fewer products) helps the makeup cling to your skin.

You can also reduce the amount of makeup on your face by adding products only where you need them. Instead of spreading foundation over your entire face, concentrate a thin layer in the center, and then blend outward toward the edges. Add concealer lightly and only where you need it. The less makeup you use, the better it all will stay put.

Layer Formulas Carefully

If you want to wear multiple products with different formulas, apply the creams or liquids first, and add powders on top. For example, you could apply a gel highlighter and top it with a powder highlighter once it’s dry. This layering strategy works well for all seasons, but it’s especially important during the summer. The powder helps “set” the look so it won’t melt away.

Don’t want to wear multiple products? You can get the same effect by using a translucent, colorless powder to set your makeup. Apply a light layer of setting powder only where you need it, such as over your cream blush or undereye concealer.

Make It Waterproof

Even if you don’t plan to get in the pool or take a dip in the lake, waterproof makeup also holds up much better against sweat. Make it your everyday choice for summer—especially for products that make a mess when they smear, like mascara.

Opt for Matte Products

While there’s nothing wrong with adding a glow when you want it, matte products usually stay on better in the heat. Plus, the added sheen of shimmery or dewy formulas can make you look even more sweaty during the summer.

Pack Blotting Papers

Even a completely matte look can start to take on some shine after a few hours in the heat. Blotting papers are an easy way to get rid of that top layer of sweat without rubbing off your makeup. Keep them with you at all times so you can easily freshen up if you start to get sweaty.

Also, avoid the temptation to layer on some mattifying powder whenever you get shiny. The layers of sweat and powder will clog your pores, and it tends to look worse after each application. Less is more when it comes to summer makeup, so stick with blotting papers instead of packing on the powder.

Invest in “Stain” Formulas

Stains for lips and cheeks are designed to deliver long-lasting color, so they’re perfect for summer. They’re also sheer, so you can get as much or as little color as you want, depending on how many layers you apply. If you find them too drying, add a balm or cream formula on top—the stain ensures the color stays on, even if the top product wears off.

Use Setting Spray and Facial Mist

Setting spray is one of the top ways to help any makeup last. For summer, finish your look with a mist of matte setting spray.

Consider freshening up with an occasional spritz of facial mist. It doesn’t affect your makeup, but it can keep you feeling cool and fresh instead of sweaty. Keep it in the fridge or a cooler to make it even more refreshing.

When the temps go up, you don’t have to ditch your makeup—just make a few smart changes to help it stay in place. Pick what works for you from this list and enjoy the long-lasting results! And no matter how you apply it, always remove your makeup at the end of the day. Check out our makeup removal tips here.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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