There are plenty of groan-inducing things in New York City summers, like getting wet by someone’s window air conditioner or smelling a 97-degree garbage smell, but perhaps the most annoying of all is feeling your makeup melt on your face the moment you step outside. When the temperatures reach a certain level (if the words “it’s hotter than hell” come to mind, chances are you’ve made it), there’s virtually no hope that the look you’ve created will last all day…unless you’re wearing sweat-proof makeup.
Feeling the frustration of my own sweaty face, I set out to find out what makes a product stand up to heat… and I tried many of them to find some that really worked. Keep scrolling for what you need to know.
What to look for in sweat proof makeup
In makeup terms, “sweat resistant” is not the same as “water resistant” or even “water resistant.” Because sweat is made up of water and oils from the skin, you’ll want to look for formulas made with both hydrophobic (aka “water repellent”) and oleophobic (aka “oil repellent”) ingredients. In these formulas, you’ll also find dimethicone and polymers that help form a film on the skin and work to keep makeup in place when exposed to water.
Shop our favorite sweat proof makeup
Milk Makeup, Hydro Grip Hydrating Primer — $38.00
Primers generally work to set makeup in place, and this oil-free option goes a step further. Thanks to the inclusion of ceramides and hyaluronic acid, it keeps the skin balanced and hydrated to prevent excess oil production.
GrandeBROW 2-in-1 Tinted Brow Gel + Brow Enhancer Serum — $38.00
This ophthalmologist-loved serum lasts twelve hours guaranteed and contains castor oil, conditioners and B vitamins to condition and protect brows. “It’s budget-proof and my choice,” says Edward Cruz, a celebrity makeup artist. It comes in four colors (red, blonde, light brown, and dark brown) and will keep your brows in place all day.
Brighter, Wowder — $22.00
One of your best defenses against your pace sweat is a light coating of setting powder. Glossier’s Wowder is vegan, talc-free, and works to minimize shine while blurring the appearance of pores, so your makeup is matte but never one-dimensional.
Beia Daily Setting & Hydrating Mist — $48.00
When looking for sweat proof beauty products, keep an eye out for polymers like copolymers on the back of the label. These are non-water soluble ingredients, so they help makeup stay in place. Look for formulas that pair them with nourishing ingredients, like Beia’s Daily Setting & Hydrating Mist, which features “a blend of skin-loving VP/VA copolymer and squalane and hyaluronic acid to keep your makeup in place while caring for your skin,” says Brittany Lo, professional makeup artist and brand founder.
How to remove sweat proof makeup
“The sweat-proof makeup formulation is stickier, so it adheres to the skin better, and ends up clogging the pores more because it prevents water from entering and exiting the skin, making it more difficult to remove,” explains Audrey Kunin MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor. She couples that with the fact that these formulas also contain fewer natural ingredients and more synthetic chemicals, which means that it can really take a toll on your skin and damage its barrier. To keep your barrier balanced, she recommends using a “good AHA/BHA-based cleanser to completely cut through makeup and follow up with antioxidants.”
How To Make Any Makeup Sweat Proof
Even if the makeup in your arsenal isn’t technically sweat proof, there are a few things you can do to give any kind of formula a little more staying power in the face of extreme heat.
1. Prepare your skin properly
To prevent makeup from instantly sliding off your face (which tends to happen in high humidity), Shuting Hu, Ph.D. cosmetic chemist and founder of academy, recommends preparing your skin with products rich in antioxidants. “These help bases last longer by slowing down the oxidation rate of the base,” she says.
Kerrin Jackson, a Los Angeles-based film makeup artist, recommends opting for something with witch hazel because “it’s an antioxidant-rich astringent and works to keep makeup in place by locking powers.”
For the rest of your routine, the ideal is to use products free of oil and alcohol, since the presence of these two ingredients can make your skin even. more oily than it would be just from moisture (in other words: very oily).
2. Use a light hand
The key to sweatproof beauty is not to overdo it – it’s easier to build up the coverage you need than to remove it. Jackson recommends opting for brushes and sponges on your fingers, as they will allow for more targeted applications. Plus, it’s the most hygienic (and least sweaty) option. “If you’ve ever looked at your fingertips with a magnifying glass, you’ll see the little pores and the little shiny dots: those dots are sweat, coming out of the little sweat glands on your fingers,” he explains. “So every time you touch your face with your fingertip, it doesn’t matter how clean you are adding sweat to your face,” she explains.
3. Set up your job
Setting powder, not sprays, should be considered your best friend for making almost any makeup sweat-proof on very hot days. “They help absorb moisture like sweat and oil,” says Dr. Hu. In addition to Glossier Wowder, W+G editors love Kosas Cloud Set ($35) and Jones Road Tinted Face Powder ($28).
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