When It Comes To All-Night Makeup, DJs Know Best
Party-proof beauty hacks from pros behind the scenes and behind the boards.
We invest way too much time and energy in our makeup for it to simply slide off before the night is over. All too often, looks are prematurely smudged or faded, and we only have shadowy wings and dimmed highlight strobes to show for it. Any beauty enthusiast is likely already well aware of the most popular go-tos to help keep makeup intact, but there are also less commonly used hacks that are under the radar but still deliver stronger results.
So, to get the secret to long-lasting makeup, we tapped makeup artists and DJs. Why? In order to survive a set, a DJ’s makeup must be built to last through sweat, dancing, and every BPM imaginable. Keep reading for expert takes on makeup with endurance from pros behind the boards and behind the scenes.
For makeup that stays put, the right prep is key. And according to makeup artist Caroline Levin, this starts before you even moisturize. “My top tip is to use a softening lotion on your skin before your moisturizer,” she tells Coveteur. “These rich spray lotions brighten the skin, remove dead skin cells, and keep the skin soft. A smoother and polished skin surface will result in a longer-lasting look.” Her go-to is Shiseido’s Revitalizing Treatment Softener Lotion.
It’s also important to opt for a moisturizer that isn’t overly oily. While makeup artist Ashley Readings is a fan of Weleda Skin Food on a day-to-day basis, it’s less than stellar under makeup. “If I want my makeup to last, that’s going to break my makeup down real quick. You want a moisturizer that’s going to sink into the skin really quickly and won’t leave you too oily,” she explains. Instead, she’ll opt for Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream Moisturizer.
For South Africa–based DJ Doowop, in order for a look to survive her high-intensity sets, Sunday Riley’s 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum has to be her first step after cleansing. “It’s almost like a moisturizer—it’s really dope. And the finish is so smooth,” she says.
Photo: Andrew Berry, Courtesy of DJ Doowap
Though some prefer to skip primer altogether, many have it in their kit as a surefire way to keep makeup intact all night. According to Levin, it’s important to opt for a primer that promises to smooth your skin and grip your makeup. “Not only will your makeup wear much longer, but it will also blend better,” she adds. “Milk Makeup’s Hydro Grip Hydrating Makeup Primer grips makeup up to 12 hours and locks in hydration while leaving a radiant finish.” DJ Doowop prefers to spray on her primer but waits until the end of her routine to use it. “I normally use Mac’s Prep and Prime Spray at the end to hold it all together. That really, really works,” she shared.
And to make sure your eye makeup is locked in, makeup artist Lisa Kolmakova says, “Don't forget to use eyeshadow primer for eyeshadow pop-up and long-lasting effect.” For an eyeshadow primer, Readings likes to add a swipe of Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion’s to her clients’ lids.
Set It In Place
Photo: Courtesy of DJ Young Wavy
It’s not surprising that setting spray is a unanimous essential. Readings uses setting spray as a quasi-primer. “Charlotte Tilbury said that with her Setting Spray, you can use it before and after makeup, so I’ve been layering it—I’ll do a layer of it to start and that’ll be my primer.” On clients, she continues to add a spritz at each step. “I’ll do the foundation, and I’ll do another spray. Then I’ll go into the cheek color, and I’ll do a big spray at the end to finish it all. I love it—it makes products really sticky so it really grabs,” she explains.
And though powders aren’t for everyone, Kolmakova says that they can help add grip to oily skin. “For oily skin, I suggest using setting powder first and finishing on top with press powder,” she says. But with a setting powder, the key is to use restraint, since a cakey surface won’t hold your makeup in place. She names Nars’ Light Reflecting Setting Powder as one of her on-set go-tos and suggests patting it onto the spots where you’re most prone to sweating before you apply foundation.
Meanwhile, Bronx DJ Young Wavy is a Laura Mercier enthusiast. “My go-to for longevity is Laura Mercier’s Translucent Powder. You put that powder on, and Will Smith could smack you and that makeup would still be in place,” she says. “I use it mostly for under eyes, but I do take a little bit and put it on my laugh lines, a little bit on my forehead, the way that it allows makeup to stay in place, I’ve never witnessed anything like this. I let it bake for a little bit to let it set in. Four to five minutes later, I brush it off, and I’m a new person. From the beginning to the end of the party, still gorgeous.”
“It’s not a great habit to touch your face,” Readings says. “Our fingers are oily, and if you’re touching your face to get ready, you’ve already told your brain that it’s okay to touch your face throughout the night. So what’s going to stop you from touching it later?” Instead of swiping products on by hand, she recommends strictly sticking to a brush or Beauty Blender. This is especially true for touch-ups—as you would imagine, the oil from our fingers can work its way into a finished look and make it melt or fade. In this case, blotting papers or brushes are ideal. During sets, DJ Young Wavy even keeps a brush next to her turntables for touch-ups. But the type of brush is important to consider, too. Swiping powder onto a finished face with a big, fluffy brush will displace makeup, Readings says. Instead, “when I’m using powder for someone on set or someone who is going out all night, I use a smaller, denser, shorter brush, and I pat it into the skin.”
Taking a page out of Euphoria’s behind-the-scenes book, Readings says that skipping foundations is a hack for extending the lifespan of your makeup looks. “Instead of foundation, [the cast] just wore Indeed Nanoblur. It did a really beautiful job of smoothing things out, but it’s not foundation,” she says. “Gen Z has made imperfect skin a totally normal thing to accompany a bold look. Cakey makeup doesn’t look nice, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it, so if you’ve got a ton of blemishes and you’re going to sweat all night, just let it happen!”
If foundation is a non-negotiable for you, Levin says to always opt for liquid over powder or cream for longevity. On clients, she prefers to use Chanel Ultrawear All-day Comfort Flawless Finish Foundation.