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Have you been striving for a smooth and luminous makeup look, yet struggling to achieve the flawless finish you desire? If your makeup application skills are impeccable but the results aren’t adding up, the answer could lie in your pre makeup skin prep. It turns out your skincare routine can be just as important as your makeup itself in achieving a flawless finish.

Guide to Skin Prep for Makeup

Why is it important to prep skin before makeup? Put simply, those who skip skin prepping before makeup are at risk of flakiness, uneven coverage and foundation that’s more difficult to blend. On the other hand, if you take a moment or two to ensure your skin is ready, your makeup will be much easier to apply and will have greater longevity. You’ll also look more radiant and be less prone to dry patches. If you’re not familiar with how to prep skin for makeup, fear not. We’re about to break down a step-by-step skin prep process alongside product recommendations to match your skin type.

How to prep skin for makeup

Skin prep for makeup is all about starting with a clean and clear complexion and then making sure your skin is as plumped and hydrated as it can possibly be. It might sound complex, however all you need to do is follow the steps outlined below and your skin will be in an optimal state for makeup application.

Furthermore, consider that skin prepping before makeup can contain all steps outlined here, or you can cherry-pick steps to create a bespoke routine for your skin’s needs. To create a hydrated, nourished base before makeup, cleansing, moisturising and priming are the principal steps. Beyond these, you can swap steps in and out to best suit your skin each day.


The first step in how to prepare skin before makeup is washing away any dirt, pollution and other impurities with a well-formulated face cleanser. Be sure to massage the cleanser into damp skin in light, circular motions before rinsing to ensure you’re leaving yourself with completely clean, fresh skin. Pat skin dry before continuing to the next step.

Face cleansing


Evenly textured skin that’s free from flakiness is key to a long-lasting makeup look, and exfoliating is a key way to achieve flawless texture. Exfoliation skincare steps can be manual, for example by using a gentle scrub or cloth to massage away dry skin patches, or chemical, with the help of chemical exfoliant skincare ingredients. Choose between a soft cloth or a product containing a chemical exfoliant ingredient such as salicylic acid to help slough away dead skin cells and prep skin for makeup.


The next step in your skin prep for makeup should involve toners and essences. These products are designed to clarify, hydrate and plump your complexion. As a bonus, they can also help the next products in your routine absorb into skin.

Toners are a lighter-textured skincare product than facial serums, often with a watery, thin consistency. This skincare step often incorporates lightweight, hydrating ingredients to layer the skin with nourishment. Apply to a cotton pad and swipe across your complexion or dispense product into hands and pat into skin.

Face serum

Serums are a powerful way to help plump your complexion and refine skin texture. Usually a thicker texture than toners and essences, serums include efficacious skincare ingredients that can deliver a variety of skincare benefits. Beneath makeup, serums can help skin appear plumped, hydrated and radiant.
Choose one or more face serums according to your skin concerns and pat a few drops across your entire face, avoiding the area immediately around the eyes. For advice on selecting a serum, read our guide on what face serum is and why you should use it.

Eye products

Makeup is especially prone to creasing around the eye contour, so your pre makeup skin prep shouldn’t neglect this area. Using an eye cream will help keep your delicate under eye skin supple and moisturised, which in turn helps your concealer stay put. Under makeup, less is more – so take a small amount of eye cream and dot along the eye contour, before tapping into skin with your ring finger. Read our guide to the best eye creams for dark circles to learn more.

moisturising face


Although facial essences and serums are a fantastic way to increase hydration, you’ll still need to lock in that moisture with face masks, face moisturisers and facial creams. A sheet mask is the perfect additional element to add to your skin prep for makeup routine if you have the time for this additional glow-giving step. Using a face mask before makeup can deliver an extra dose of hydration and luminosity before an event or special occasion. Alternatively, opt for a face cream or moisturiser to suit your skin type.


Finally, it’s time to seal the deal with a primer to refine the appearance of pores and provide an ideal base for your makeup application. Choose either a matte or dewy primer to finish your pre makeup skin prep depending on the finish you’d prefer. Wait a minute or two after facial cream to allow product to melt into skin before applying primer in order to layer the products well.

Tips for how to prepare skin before makeup by skin type

Now you know the main elements, here are our skin prep for makeup tips for different skin types.

Mature skin

Those with mature skin should look for serums and moisturisers with anti-aging ingredients, such as our Rénergie H.C.F Triple Serum and our Absolue Soft Cream.

Dry skin

For dry skin, we recommend opting for our Absolue Oil-In-Gel Face Cleanser and our Clarifique Dual Essence. You can also read our top f  to keep learning about these ultra-hydrating products.

Combination skin

Those with combination skin should use our Tonique Confort for the toner step, followed by our Advanced Génifique Serum to help balance the complexion.

Oily skin

If you have oily skin, use our Clarifique Cleansing Foam to help remove excess sebum, followed by our Tonique Douceur to remove any remaining impurities.

Loved this tutorial? Read our makeup guides next to learn how to make the most of your skin prep for makeup. Alternatively, you might also be wondering what is facial essence and how does it work?


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