There's an important event right around the corner, and you can't afford to look anything less than your best. What do you do? Professional makeup artists dole out the same advice to all their clients: prep your skin. This takes care of frustrating bumps, dull complexion and enlarged pores. Preventative measures, aka skincare, can go a long way to ensuring a smooth canvas for your makeup brush.
Now that we're just a handful of days away from Eid, it's time to pay close attention to our skincare routine. Aliya Fatima, a Sharjah-based beauty influencer and a bridal makeup artist, perfected her five-step prep regimen, over seven years. She shares her simple yet effective tips, but stresses that they do require consistency for visible results.
"Your makeup will be as good as your skin. If you're looking for a glowy finish, you have to start with skincare," said Aliya. The key is to cleanse, exfoliate, brighten, hydrate and strengthen the skin barrier. She added: "These are basic steps for any skin type to achieve that plump, soft, texture-free skin before any occasion."
Before any big day, it's best to avoid introducing actives, like retinol or tretinoin, into your regimen, says Aliya. There's a good chance your skin may go through some purging, which involves minor breakouts.
Another common mistake, Aliya notes, is hydrating excessively right before applying makeup. "If you've not been prepping your skin days in advance, you'll be tempted to moisturise or prime a lot last minute. This will just glide off any product that you're putting on - it's not going to stick. In such situations, moisturise at least 30 to 40 minutes prior, so that it's settled," she explained.
We've sectioned off each step below, featuring our beauty expert's top product picks and application advice. Add and subtract from your existing routine as you see fit. It's also the perfect time to splurge with Amazon's End of Season Sale. Shop with Prime to get free, fast delivery.
1. Double cleanse for squeaky clean skin
A principle dear to the K-beauty community, double cleansing rids the skin of the day's impurities. Aliya tells us it's been integral to clearing her acne-prone skin. "It doesn't matter if I'm wearing makeup or not, I'll make sure to double cleanse every single night. Over time, you'll notice that it makes a huge difference," she added.
As a rule of thumb, the first cleanser must be oil-based, like Aliya's recommended Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil. Oil or balm cleansing agents melt the makeup that has settled in the pores, along with dirt and grime. Rinse and follow it up with a second cleanser that's water-based. This usually has a watery, liquid formula, like Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser, to wash off the sebum.
2. Exfoliate to smooth out texture
Without pesky bumps and blackheads, your makeup is going to go on much smoother. One way Aliya ensures a flawless skin texture, is by using Dermalogica's Daily Microfoliant. It's a rice-based powder that combines both physical and chemical exfoliants to lift debris and even out the skin tone. Add water to turn the powder into a creamy paste, which then activates its cell turnover ingredients, like papain enzymes and salicylic acid. Besides rice bran extracts, there are natural ingredients at work, such as licorice, grapefruit, green tea and oatmeal, to brighten and calm the skin down. What's more, the exfoliant is gentle enough to be used daily. We've also added the popular liquid exfoliant by Paula's Choice, which is slightly stronger, and so, best used every other day.
3. Hydrate the skin thoroughly
When your base makeup starts flaking, it's then you wonder if your skin had been too dry to begin with. Don't hesitate to add external hydration with a serum. Aliya uses The Ordinary's hyaluronic acid (HA) right after cleansing, when the skin is still damp, so that the product is absorbed better. "Always apply products with the lightest consistency first to the heaviest in the end," advised Aliya. This HA formula features vitamin B5 for an extra boost, and, being a humectant, it attracts water to the skin. Follow it up with your moisturiser to lock the hydrating serum in. Another HA alternative is Cosrx's gel-type essence made with 84 per cent sea buckthorn water, suitable for both acne-prone and sensitive skin types.
4. Add a brightening product for a quick fix
Save this extra step in your routine for three days in a week, says Aliya. A brightening serum rejuvenates the skin overnight, so that you wake up to an undeniable glow in the morning. Our beauty expert reaches out for a 10% azelaic acid leave-on serum, whenever her skin is in need of a quick fix. Our pick is Paula's Choice booster gel that easily mixes in with your moisturiser or hydrating serum. Together with azelaic acid, salicylic acid and licorice root, the gel cream visibly reduces texture, evens tone and smoothes out redness. Vitamin C is also an excellent brightening agent, and Aliya recommends Estherderm's Intensive Vitamin C cream. It targets hyperpigmentation, as well as wrinkles.
5. Strengthen your skin barrier
Before exfoliation takes a toll on the skin, strengthen your barrier with restorative oils. "You need to make sure your skin isn't becoming too sensitive by destressing your barrier," explained Aliya. Add a few drops of a hydrating facial oil to your moisturiser to boost its nourishing properties.
Previously, Dr Shubhangi Perkar, a specialist dermatologist at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, Dubai, told us that facial oils with squalane, argan oil and jojoba oil are best for repairing a damaged skin barrier. Check out Sunday Riley's C.E.O. Glow serum-like oil for an instantaneous healthy glow. Reviewers say their foundation glides on flawlessly, thanks to the jojoba oil and turmeric in the formula. For an argan-only facial oil, Dr Organic's product receives rave reviews, as well.
6. Apply a pore-tightening face mask
Pamper the skin on the day of the event with a cooling, pore-tightening face mask. Enlarged pores will shine through the heaviest of foundation layers, no matter what. Primers can help to an extent, but you'll find targeting the source much more effective. Clay-based masks, like Innisfree's Super Volcanic pore-clearing solution, absorb sebum quickly, exfoliate and shrink pores. Reviewers who struggle with visible nose pores highly recommend the clay mask. If you'd rather wear sheet masks, pick up Mediheal's Photoready Tightening Charcoal set of ten. Its imperfection-blurring effect leaves buyers stunned in the reviews - they saw results within 15 minutes of use.
7. Wrap it up with a primer
Priming the skin before makeup is often mistaken for an all-in-one prepping solution. While it may help your makeup last longer, a primer is all the more effective with a solid skincare routine backing it. Aliya loves Essence's Hydro Hero Primer, which hydrates for 48 hours using hyaluronic acid and cucumber extract. TikTok-viral e.l.f. Power Grip primer is also worth considering for its gel-based formula. Remember to allow the product to set for some time, before applying foundation.
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