Primed for Summer Heat
Primed for Summer Heat
KJ turning up the heat


By Kevin James Bennett

As I was writing this column from a climate-controlled hotel room recently, I nonchalantly glanced at the online thermometer and discovered it was almost 90 degrees outside—at 9 a.m.! Let’s face it: The dog days of summer are here and extreme measures are necessary to keep make-up intact.

Working as a make-up artist on TV and movie sets has taught me a lot about heat-proofing my work. I have had to figure out ways to keep make-up from becoming a melted mess no matter how hot the studio lights or how steamy the set. So I’d like to share some great tips and product choices to keep you looking fresh no matter how sizzling the summer becomes.

Prep work is the key to guaranteeing that your make-up keeps its cool. You MUST prepare your skin with the correct skin care and primer prior to make-up application.  The most important consideration is your skin’s moisture level. Although many of us have skin that produces excess oil, none of us produce moisture. In fact, human skin loses essential moisture as it evaporates through the pores. This happens at a very advanced rate when we perspire or become overheated. When the surface of our skin becomes dehydrated due to excessive moisture loss, it triggers oil secretion in combo/oily skins or causes a rough, scaly texture on normal/dry skins. Neither is your most attractive look.

In high-heat environments, you have to make sure that your skin has plenty of moisture on reserve, which means it’s time to get out the serious skin care. This is where I turn to serums. These high-tech skin-care products pack a lot of punch in what appears to be a weightless gel or fluid. Many are oil-free and offer a burst of hydration, then bind to the skin, keeping it fresher even when exposed to high heat and humidity.

Key ingredients to look for include:

Sodium Hyaluronate - A mineral salt derivative that improves elasticity and hydration by attracting and retaining one thousand times its own weight in water from moisture in the air

Mucopolysaccharides - Highly effective moisture regulators derived from sugar. They bind moisture to the skin even under the most stressful environmental conditions.

My picks for serious skin drenching summer serums are:

  • Skyn Iceland Antioxidant Calming Serum - Hydration specifically designed to calm “stressed” skin 
  • Peter Thomas Roth viz-1000 - Extremely intensive hydration for severely dehydrated skin
  • SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel - Hydration and healing for irritated skin
  • Malin+Goetz Replenishing Face Serum - Hydration packed with vitamins and amino acids to nourish skin
Now it’s time to prime. Most modern make-up primers are extremely lightweight without feeling like an additional layer of product on your skin. Many also have amazing skin-care benefits (antioxidants, vitamins, sun protection, etc.) so you’re getting extra bang for your buck. Using a primer before you apply foundation is no different than priming a canvas before you begin a painting. Paint will run, bleed and often be absorbed into un-primed canvas.  Your foundation will behave the same way on your skin if you don’t start out with a barrier. The correct primer will create a perfect base for the foundation/concealer and insure that both products stay where they belong—no matter how steamy the weather gets.

PERSONAL NOTE: I prefer silicone-based primers because they provide a perfect barrier to keep environmental debris and other make-up products out of your pores. Cosmetic-grade silicone is inert (very safe for sensitive skin), will not absorb into skin, isn’t likely to clog pores and remains flexible on the skin surface.

My picks for Perfect Primers:

  • CoverFX SkinprepFX—Silicone-based and packed with a laundry list of antioxidants and premium skin care benefits.  It has so much good stuff in it, you can use it in place of moisturizer on combo/oily skins.
  • Make Up For Ever All Mat Face Matifying Primer—Sometimes you need a little more than just a primer alone.  This silicone-based primer combines the benefits of oil-absorbing ingredients with a soft matte finish.  This product is especially beneficial for those of us that have serious t-zone shine or excessively oily skin.
  • Laura Geller Spackle Under Makeup Primer—OK, so, this product might not a very flattering name for a beauty product, but it does what it says it will: the silky silicone-based cream helps create a significantly smoother surface for foundation application on skin that suffers from rough textures brought on by aggravated acne, rosacea or eczema conditions.
  • Korres Face Primer—For those of you that like a water-based option, this is the only non-silicone primer that makes my list. It creates a superior base for make-up application and is full of natural ingredients that are good for your skin.
Adding these simple steps prior to your daily make-up routine will create a HUGE difference in how your make-up stands up through a sweltering day or a sultry summer night.

Extra Credit: I've never understood the reasoning behind using a store-bought tinted moisturizer. You're often faced with a limited color range and may not be getting the best moisture levels for your skin-type. Primers with skin care ingredients are a great way to create custom tinted moisturizers or sheer foundation. In the palm of your hand, mix a little of your primer with a drop of your regular foundation. The result is a sheer version of your make-up, in your perfect color, which will stay where it belongs. Try this trick and you'll never buy a "tinted" product again.

Don't forget to send your questions to kjbennett@make-up411.com, and KEEP COOL!