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Why Doesn't My Makeup Last All Day? 6 Steps for Long-Lasting Foundation


When applying makeup, it helps to think of your face as a canvas. When you prep for foundation application, you want to start with a fresh, flawless face. Since most people aren’t naturally flawless, you must apply a base layer of products before using foundation. When you follow these six steps, you will see glowing, long-lasting results.

6 Rules for Long-Lasting Makeup

  1. Allow your products to dry for 5 minutes before proceeding to foundation application.
  2. Always use primer.
  3. Even out the color of your "canvas" and hide flaws.
  4. Apply foundation to your face in sections.
  5. Apply a transparent matte face powder to set foundation.
  6. Use a makeup setting spray.

1. Allow Your Products to Dry for 5 Minutes Before Proceeding to Foundation Application

This means that if you use toner, moisturizer, or anti-acne treatments, you should allow them to absorb into your skin for five full minutes before moving on to the next step. If products are not allowed to fully dry, they can mix with foundation and cause it to dissolve faster.

2. Always Use Primer

You want to start with a smooth, even-colored surface. Everyone can benefit from applying face primer, as it will smooth out pores and fine lines while extending the longevity of your makeup.

  • For combination skin, try Physician’s Formula Color Correcting Primer.
  • For dry skin, use a hydrating product, like Laura Mercier’s Radiance.
  • For oily skin, do not use a liquid silicone primer, as it can clog pores. Instead, use an oil-absorbent powder primer, like Mattify ULTRA Powder for Oily Skin.
  • Don’t forget about your eyelids! When lids get oily, your shadow will crease and smudge very easily. Either apply the same primer you used for your face, or use an eye makeup primer, like Too Faced's Shadow Insurance.
Cover flaws with concealer.

Cover flaws with concealer.

3. Even Out the Color of Your “Canvas” and Hide Flaws

If you have any discoloration (under-eye circles, acne, freckles, or scarring), apply concealer that is one shade lighter than your skin tone and blend well. After blending, dot and pat (do not rub) onto any outstanding imperfections. If you have a lot of imperfections to hide, you may also want to use a color-correcting powder to neutralize redness, such as Physician’s Formula Mineral Correcting Powder.

Apply makeup in sections with your applicator of choice.

Apply makeup in sections with your applicator of choice.

4. Apply Foundation to Your Face in Sections

Select a long-lasting foundation, and mentally divide your face into four sections as you apply your foundation with your fingertips, sponge, silicone pad, or brush.

Some quality, long-lasting foundations are:

  • Kat Von D Lock-It,
  • Estee Lauder Double Wear,
  • Dinair Airbrush Liquid,
  • Yves Saint Laurent Transfer Resist,
  • Clarins Everlasting, and
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Makeup.

Long-lasting foundations typically dry fast, so blend quickly using downward motions until the entire face is covered.

Next, apply supplemental makeup, such as bronzer and blush. Cream blush that is topped with a complementary shade of powder blush normally lasts for 10–12 hours.

Apply matte oil-absorbing face powder to prevent natural skin oils from breaking down your makeup.

Apply matte oil-absorbing face powder to prevent natural skin oils from breaking down your makeup.

5. Apply a Transparent Matte Face Powder to Set Foundation

This step is a must if you want long-lasting makeup! Because skin oils are responsible for destroying makeup, the application of a matte and oil-absorbent powder will drastically slow down the rate of disintegration.

One of the best setting powders on the market is Mattify ULTRA Powder for Oily Skin. It's an all-natural powder that's completely transparent, and it sets makeup for hours before a second application is needed. As a girl who has always battled oily skin, this is my #1 go-to product to banish oiliness. After trying it, you will quickly see why!

After all of your makeup is in place, use a powder puff to pat the ULTRA Powder onto your entire face. It’s important to press the powder onto your skin in sections, rather than rub, as this thoroughly sets foundation without causing streakiness. After you’ve patted the powder onto your skin, you can lightly go over your entire face with a fluffy brush to remove any excess.

The ULTRA Powder can even help your lipstick last longer! Simply blot the first coat of lipstick with a tissue, dust some powder over your lips, and then apply another coat of lipstick. This will help the lipstick last twice as long, and it will be more resistant to transfer.

5a. Cooking or Sandbagging Your Makeup

As a side-note to step 5, it can be helpful to "cook" or "sandbag" your makeup. While these are oddly termed, the process helps makeup last several times longer and also absorbs additional oil.

To cook your makeup, take a powder puff or beauty blender and press it into the ULTRA Powder until it's fully coated. Next, press it onto your face, until your entire complexion is coated in the powder (but do NOT blend yet). Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then use a fluffy powder brush to blend. This method is also known as "baking your makeup."

To sandbag your makeup, you use the same method, except with a damp beauty blender. Make sure the sponge is damp, but not wet, and follow the same process as above. The dampness helps the powder better adhere to the skin and forms a locking mechanism with foundation—to provide exceptionally long-wearing makeup.

Mattify Cosmetics ULTRA Powder for Oily Skin Types

Apply makeup setting spray to extend the duration of coverage.

Apply makeup setting spray to extend the duration of coverage.

6. Use a Makeup Setting Spray

Once every last detail of your makeup has been applied, close your eyes, and mist your entire face with a setting spray. This will seal everything into place and prevent smudging, while still allowing your skin to breathe. Makeup without the setting spray will last about four hours, but setting makeup with this product will help it last for six to eight hours.

One of the best brands to try is Model in a Bottle Original setting spray. After trying several different setting sprays during my time as a lifeguard, I've personally found that this one provides the longest-lasting and water-resistant finish. If you have oily skin, you can even re-apply the Mattify ULTRA Powder over the setting spray throughout the day to help absorb excess oil as it accumulates.

Makeup Setting Spray by Model in a Bottle

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Ashley Bergin


tracy on April 26, 2018:

Tried all the above and still doesn't work! makeup typically lasts a couple of hours, then it's gone. eyes stay in place, but facial stuff disappears...tried so many products and combinations, just ends up costing a fortune!

josiesanches on March 16, 2017:

The only thing I'm missing is the face powder! But it should still be working!

BuyMeBeauty on July 24, 2015:

Primer is so important, especially with eye shadow. My eye shadow used to always fade within the hour, but applying it on top of a primer makes it last forever. Great post!

Katya Drake from Wisconsin on September 16, 2014:

Great tips in this hub! I do not have this problem but my best friend does. I will definitely send her here to read this!

Mackenzie Sage Wright on December 28, 2013:

Such great tips, I have to try them. when I worked outside the home I had a very busy job and rarely got a break, by the time I left the place my make up would seem to have vanished.