Cleanse: If I wake up feeling like my skin is looking dull, dry, and tight, I’ll start off with a rich, nourishing cleansing milk/cream that contains beneficial oil(s) (read: not fragrant plant oils) like my DHC Cleansing Milk or Andalou Naturals Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk. They help to add some moisture back into the skin, and also prep it for moisturizer, and makeup. I avoid using foaming cleansers because they would just further dry out my skin. If I’m not pressed for time, I’ll mix in a few drops of oil with a hydrating mask, leave on for 15 mins, rinse off , then proceed to apply moisturizer.
Moisturizer (and SPF): Making sure that the skin is well moisturized is one of the first defenses against the dreaded cake face because it prevents makeup from sticking to dry patches, and makes the application and blending process easier. I use an inexpensive oil free moisturizer like the Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture for combination skin or the CVS (or any other store) brand version, and mix it in with my sunscreen, which is usually the Clinique Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Body Cream. I tend to mix them because that sunscreen is especially emollient, which makes it greasy looking, and unpleasant to apply on its own, if one were to use the recommended amount. The Neutrogena moisturizer is water based, and is of a thinner consistency, so mixing them creates the perfect blend for me. Other times when I’m not going to be out in the sun for long, I’ll use the Andalou Naturals DIY Booster SPF 30 Facial Serum, which is meant to go under moisturizer, not over it, as is usually the case with SPF. Lately, I’ve been using my Andalou Naturals Ultra Sheer Daily Defense Facial Lotion with SPF 18, it’s great because I get my SPF and moisturizer steps in one go. If I’m getting ready at night, then I’d skip SPF altogether, and just use either the Neutrogena moisturizer or the Andalou Naturals Acai + White Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer.
Foundation: With foundation, it’s easier to achieve a dewy look with light to medium coverage foundations. Full coverage foundations tend to be matte, and because much of the skin doesn’t show through, it requires a lot more effort to get a dewy look. And if you’re putting a million other products over a full coverage base to achieve a glow, you might run the risk of having cake-y and/or greasy looking makeup.
The most dewy foundation I own is the M.A.C Face and Body Foundation, it has light coverage but it is possible to build it up to medium coverage. This is a foundation I would only recommend for people with really dry skin because of how much of a sheen it gives. If you have oily skin, and don’t tend to reapply powder throughout the day, you might look straight up greasy by afternoon. Also, if you’re not one that likes to set your foundation with powder then I would suggest passing up on this one, this foundation does not set on its own, and it transfers really badly (by the end of the day you’ll have foundation stains all over your clothes, and hands). The L’Oreal True Match Lumi, and Boots No7 Lift & Luminate foundations are some great affordable dewy options, and they offer a little more coverage, they are not as dewy as the face and body, so I would recommend them to dry, normal, and combination skin types.
If you’re interested in throwing on something lighter, for casual days or even for everyday use, the Sleek Be Beautiful Blemish Balm, and Black Radiance True Complexion BB Cream are good options. They are both semi-matte, but get more dewy as you produce oil throughout the day. The Sleek BB cream needs powdering, but the Black Radiance one sets on its own and does not budge all day.
For the past couple of months I have found that my favorite way to achieve a dewy base is to make my own tinted moisturizer. I do this with two pumps of a semi matte, light to medium coverage foundation, my favorite is the Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Foundation mixed with a full pump (less if I want more coverage and vice versa) of the CVS Oil Free Moisturizer for combination skin. I mix them together on the back of my hand, then buff it into the skin with a brush. It doesn’t feel heavy, and the finish is very skin like, and always make me look like I have a natural glow. For extra coverage/spot concealing, I like to use the Bobbi Brown Corrector to cover dark under eyes, and other areas where I have dark spots. It is super emollient, and easy to blend, but it creases into fine lines, so powder accordingly.
Powder: I don’t believe in powdering the whole face, I usually only powder the chin, nose, middle of my forehead, (a.k.a t-zone), under the eyes, also the jawline, and neck (because I hate it when my foundation transfers on to the collar of my shirts). I avoid powdering the cheeks because that’s really the only acceptable place to be dewy. If you’re really dewy in the t-zone people assume that you’re sweaty or oily, but if your cheeks are dewy, you just look youthful.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about powdering, it is that regardless of your skin color or tone, translucent powder is always better. The thing about colored powder is that in theory it makes sense, but in practice it’s complicated. For example, there are opposing views on whether to go a shade lighter than your foundation, or go with the exact shade of your foundation. Then you have the issue of your foundation looking more red or more yellow because the undertone of the powder is different from the foundation.
With translucent powder the only issue you’ll have to worry about is finding a good quality one that isn’t chalky, and is unnoticeable on the skin. And for that, I think I have got you covered. The NYC Smooth Skin Loose Face Powder in Translucent is a great affordable option, the best way to apply it is to spread a small amount evenly on to the cover, take a small fluffy brush (I recommend the e.l.f. Studio Mineral Powder Brush) dip it in, dust of the excess, and apply on selected areas. The M.A.C Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Pressed Powder is even better if you are interested in splurging within reason. The texture is smoother, it’s travel friendly, and is definitely less noticeable. My all time favorite one is the NARS Translucent Crystal Light Reflecting Setting Powder – Pressed, I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to make this powder matte and light reflective at the same time. You only need a little of it (after you have scraped through the weird, seemingly impenetrable top layer), and your foundation/concealer/corrector will stay in place. It is also the most undetectable powder I have ever tried.
Cheeks: I don’t always wear cream blush, but when I’m trying to look really dewy, I reach for the NYX Rouge Cream Blushes, I have the shades Diva, Red Cheeks (not pictured), Orange, and Bronze Goddess (which I use as a highlighter), I love these because they are very affordable, so I can get them in a lot of shades. Plus they are very pigmented, creamy, and easy to blend, they also stay creamy, and don’t turn to powder. I apply these first with the e.l.f. Studio Small Stipple Brush, then further blend them out with my fingers for a natural look.
I also never skip out on bronzer because I like the sun kissed look it gives (even in the winter), my favorite is the e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder in Turks and Caicos. It is honestly the best $3 I have ever spent, the Turks and Caicos shade is perfect for NW47-NW50 skin, it actually shows up, and doesn’t look too red. It is the perfect neutral toned bronzer which makes it great to use for light contouring.
Lips: Nothing completes a dewy look like glossy or satin lips, I’m not really into gloss but I like the NYX Mega Shine Lip Glosses, I have the shades Trendy, Maroon, and Miami Babe. They aren’t sticky or gross, and are pretty pigmented on their own, I also really like the applicator. For satin lips, I really like the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten, it’s so pigmented, easy to throw on, not too shiny, doesn’t dry out my lips, doesn’t need a lot of reapplying, and I love the stain it leaves behind as well as the minty smell. The Jordana Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stains are also excellent dupes (without the mint smell), I love the shades Honey Love, and Cranberry Crush. The Revlon Colorburst Lip Butters in Pink Truffle, and Sugar Plum are also a favorite. They are hydrating but need a lot of reapplying. Just to add something that is not a drugstore item, the Korres Lip Butter in Wild Rose is a great lip and cheek option, and one I usually wear on casual/errand running days.
Honorable Mention: M.A.C Fix+ is always great to have handy to add a glow when you have accidentally over powdered, or want to refresh your makeup throughout the day. It sprays a fine mist so you don’t have to worry about ruining your makeup. Just try not to get it on your eye shadow, for some reason it makes them crease.