My Sweat-Resistant, Non-Cakey Summer Makeup Routine

If it doesn't melt in New Orleans, it won't melt anywhere!

The start of this season will be the mark of my very first summer in New Orleans. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it feels like summer began ages ago. We hit the first of May and Mother Nature flicked on the heat and humidity switches just to watch us melt and squirm.

You’ll walk outside of whatever heavily air-conditioned building you were in and become instantly covered in a sheen of condensation from all the humidity in the air, which quickly turns into being covered in a sheen of sticky sweat. It's very cute, really, if not a bit stinky.

But the show must go on, and so must my makeup because I’m not letting hot weather and sweat dull my sparkle. Spending a few hours every weekend at festivals and exploring New Orleans, I quickly learned what does and doesn’t work for me in the heat.

I gave up on trying all the sweat-proof makeup tips that involved lots of primers and goo sticking to my face, because here’s the rub: if your face is actually going to be seriously sweating, the more you put on it, the more there is to come rolling off in creepy, flesh-toned sweat. If you know that your face is going to sweat, the best you can do is find a base routine that sticks around after you’ve cooled off.

For a sweat-proof base, you will need a powder or mineral foundation that works for you, a heavy-coverage concealer, a long-wearing powder blush and bronzer, a makeup-setting spray, and a setting powder.

My favorite mineral foundation that I always go back to is the bareMinerals Original Foundation because blends flawlessly and never looks cakey. I like to use a dense buffing brush (the Expert Face Brush by Real Techniques is the bomb dot com) because it gives more coverage than a less dense brush and you can really work it into the skin.

The key here is to really buff the foundation in; the more you buff it in, the better it is going to stay; don’t be afraid to apply multiple layers so long as you really take your time to work it in. Also, don’t load up product on areas of your face you know sweat the most. I tend to get salty around my hairline, so I try not to put a lot of foundation there because that will be the first thing to go—less fuel for the fire.

Next up is concealing. I’m going with a pinpoint concealer technique for my spots, a la Lisa Eldridge. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage is fantastic for this because it is crazy-high coverage, and it is a bit waxy (as opposed to creamy), so it sticks to my face better in the heat.

I get more inner-corner darkness than under-eye darkness, so I load up on the smaller, peachier side of the Secret Camouflage to color-correct and conceal. This concealer may be way too much for some people to use on their eyes because it is quite heavy, but I find it works perfectly when I’m only placing it as shown. Then just blend and blend some more, until all the edges are worked into your skin.

For spots and redness, I use the larger, yellow side of the concealer. I use a tiny concealer brush and just dot the concealer on whatever I want covered and blend it out. This concealer in particular tends to blend right off of your face, so focus on only blending the edges.

A natural-looking flush is my favorite, so Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Natural Beauty is a real winner in my book. The formula is long-wearing and it is super-pigmented, so use a light hand to avoid moving into Ronald McDonald territory.

So remember how I said I don’t put a ton of foundation on the edges of my hairline where I sweat the most? I still put bronzer there, right up into the hairline. It really helps to transition from the foundation into your hair, so even if you start sweating it off, you still have the bronzer creeping in on your forehead to make it look more gradual.

For eyes, there is nothing better than the Make Up For Ever Aqua Matic (formerly Aqua Shadow) sticks. I’m using 28E and 20E for a subtle look that will not quit. I have very watery eyes and this is the only product that can stay in my waterline.

I just blended the lighter 28E into the inner two-thirds of my eyes and my waterline, and then added the darker 20E into the outer third and under my lower lash line. I also popped on my mascara of choice, the L’Oreal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof and filled in my brows with MAC Charcoal Brown.

Now for the fun part! There is something about the Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray that just works. Spritzed on top of mineral makeup, this setting spray makes the powder really stick to your skin. It really is like hairspray for your face.

But as much as the Urban Decay’s All Nighter keeps your makeup stuck to your face, it also makes it a bit shiny. I know that as soon as my face starts sweating, there is no way it will turn back to matte, but adding a little powder never hurt. I like the Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder, even though it smells strongly of grandmas, because it makes pores disappear and it has a gorgeous, velvety, matte finish.

The makeup so far has been very, very minimal. But here is the pop that makes it seem like you really have a look going on.

Too Faced Melted Liquid Lipstick in Melted Candy is my new lipstick love. The color is bright and happy for summer and the staying power is surprisingly great. This stuff will easily last me hours so long as I don’t eat anything oily, and even then, it leaves a stain behind. I love wearing a bright lip in summer because even if all hell breaks loose and the rest of my face melts off despite my best efforts, I still look put-together.

And there you have it! Summer makeup that will do its best to stay with you through thick and thin and, ya know, sweat.

  • What makeup do you wear in summer?
  • Any waterproof favorites?