Glowing Skin: Experts Reveal the Essential Skin-Care Steps Before Makeup

As if we needed more indication that glowing skin is very much in, we saw many iterations of natural and minimal looks this season at New York Fashion Week. Fendi, Proenza Schouler, and Khaite—to name a few—sent models down the runway sporting what appeared to be a pared-back makeup approach bolstered by strategically placed highlighter and sheer, lightweight coverage.

But if one thing’s for sure, it’s that the right skin-care products are a must for that fresh-faced glow. If you want to look like you just received a facial, you must give your skin that VIP treatment even before digging into your makeup bag. At Altuzarra, celebrity makeup artist Diane Kendal crafted naturally glowing complexions with none other than Merit’s effortless beauty staples. Before the brand’s makeup favorites—its creamy blush, clean mascara, and buzzy sheer bronzer—were applied, a not-yet-released Merit product was massaged into models’ skin: a nourishing serum. Et voilà, Merit’s Great Skin Instant Glow Serum made its runway debut, and now it’s available to shop.

slide 10

Merit Great Skin Instant Glow Serum

“We’ve never set out to replace your entire routine, but we wanted something that made your skin just look instantly plump, awake, really well-rested, and hydrated,” explains Aila Morin, Merit’s senior vice president of brand, growth, and innovation. “That was the genesis for the formula, and then we developed it to be the perfect base for the minimalist.” She continues that with the brand’s “skin-first” approach in mind, the team was keen to only include ingredients that benefit your skin, targeting intensive hydration and skin-barrier protection.

The serum, formulated in partnership with celebrity esthetician Biba de Sousa, is designed with sensitive and reactive skin types in mind. The elixir contains four types of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, caffeine-rich cacao seed extract, and Japanese goldthread root to reveal a smooth and glass-like skin sans irritation. Morin muses that Merit’s entire lineup is meant to be “impossible to mess up” amongst a marketplace of cosmetics that can be quite difficult to understand—making a busy person’s regime that much simpler.

“We all know that it’s so much easier to have great makeup if you have a great base, right?” Morin says. “Hydrated, healthy, and glowing skin is so much easier to do makeup on.” With this in mind, it raises the question of what truly is the best way to prep skin before makeup. Read on to discover what the pros deem the essential steps.

What are the qualities of a good pre-makeup skin-care routine?

“A good pre-makeup skin-care routine needs to be focused on putting the skin in prime condition to accept makeup,” explains celebrity makeup artist Sean Harris. “The routine should appropriately hydrate, smooth, and prime the areas where makeup will be applied.” Essentially, you’re looking to ensure your makeup blends onto the skin properly, while avoiding too much moisture or oiliness that could affect long-wear.


Naturally, any skin-care regimen starts with a good cleanse. To gently slough away any remaining impurities, celebrity makeup artist Brittany Whitfield prefers a micellar water like Bioderma’s beloved formula. Otherwise, La Roche-Posay’s moisture replenishing cleanser is always reliable.

Image may contain: Bottle, Shaker, and Shampoo

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water

Image may contain: Bottle, Shaker, and Shampoo

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

Beauty Tools

“Personally, I love using microcurrent tools prior to makeup application during skin prep,” Whitfield says. “It literally exercises the face for you, bringing blood to the surface of the skin and tightening those pesky fine lines.” She’d recommend the NuFace Mini “to tighten around the eyes, forehead, and frown lines beneath makeup,” but we may also reach for Face Gym’s Pure Lift Face, which stimulates facial muscles through randomized electrical impulses.

slide 2

NuFace Mini Facial Toning Device

Image may contain: Bottle, and Shaker


Merit’s new Great Skin serum boasts the perfect dosage of hydration pre-makeup, and its quick-dry formula is equally as excellent for skin prep, particularly when you’re in a hurry. Another rather convenient pick is Noble Panacea’s radiance serum, which has become a Vogue editor favorite for lightweight nourishment housed in travel-friendly sachets.

slide 10

Merit Great Skin Instant Glow Serum

slide 8

Noble Panacea The Brilliant Prime Radiance Serum

Eye Creams

For Harris, a lightweight eye cream is the ideal next step. “Tatcha Serum Stick is my go-to for the eye and cheek area,” he says of the multitasker. “This serum stick will hydrate just enough to allow concealers and foundations to glide on effortlessly.” Or you could reach for Whitfield’s pick by Drunk Elephant. According to her, its silky texture is only half the draw: “It absorbs nicely into the skin while still giving a supple, sauna-like glow [without] an oily slip.”

Image may contain: Cosmetics, Lipstick, and Bottle
Image may contain: Cosmetics, and Deodorant

Drunk Elephant Ceramighty AF Eye Cream


Afterward, selecting the right moisturizer based on your skin type is key. “If your skin is on the drier side, and you live in Los Angeles (think: little to no humidity), you’re likely fine to use richer moisturizers or illuminating primers to keep the skin looking youthful, fresh, but long-lasting,” Whitfield notes. However, if you have oily skin, something with lightweight and dewy wear would be more suitable.