Prom Series

Prom: Primers and Foundations

I decided I’m going to be doing a mini prom series of blog posts. I’ll be talking makeup, hair, and general tips for prom. Obviously there are no more proms for me, but I wanted to share the tips I’ve learned over the years. So, let’s start with foundations, primers, and finishing sprays.

As a general guideline for any occasion flash photography is involved you want to avoid SPF. Using a foundation with SPF will cause a white cast on your face in the pictures. I’ve learned this mistake the hard way, so trust me when I say it does’t look very great.

Now, I know foundations can be pricey, even from the drugstore, so I suggest saving your money so you’re able to splurge on a good foundation. You don’t want it to be sliding off your face when it gets hot and you want it to last nine plus hours. I will give options for all different skin types, (if you don’t know yours you can read my Skin Types and Products post to help.) I really recommend going into Sephora, getting color matched (without foundation on), and asking the workers what they think will work best for your skin. Since, foundations are expensive, ask the worker if you can try it out. They’ll apply it for free, you can see which one really lays on your skin nicely, and determine whether or not the product will oxidize (color gets darker as it sets on your face.) You can also ask for a sample of the product to try it out before prom. If you like the product you can go back and buy it or if you don’t go ahead and try to find something else. Keep in mind that Sephora does have an excellent return policy, so if you end up buying it and then later realizing you hate it, you can return or get an exchange.

For makeup to last all night you may need other products to help your foundation out. Some foundations do work beautifully on their own, but I never liked taking a chance. It made more sense to ensure that my face won’t melt off on the dance floor. So, I’ll link you to the best primers and setting sprays to get them out of the way.

Drugstore Primers/Setting Sprays:

  • Rimmel London Stay Matte Primer– This is great for those of you with oily skin.
  • Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer– “Instant” is not the word I would use to describe this product, especially if you have larger pores. But, it does make your foundation application smoother, and keeps your foundation on longer. I wouldn’t recommend this to keep you matte, this is good for all other skins types though.
  • NYX Matte Finish Makeup Setting Spray– Great for helping your makeup last longer. Even though the product is advertised for a matte finish, it can still be used on every skin type. I find that it isn’t drying. You want to avoid shimmer on the skin anyways, so this works for almost everyone.

High end primers/setting sprays:

  • Smashbox Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer– This is probably one of the best primers you can use for photography. It blurs fine lines, smooths out the skin, and keeps your foundation on longer. It has no SPF, so again it won’t give you the white cast flash photography can cause. I used this for my prom and I really felt it made a huge difference.
  • BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Primer Perfector– This is for those with oily skin, and I mean on the far end of that spectrum. You only need a little tiny bit in the areas where you get oily and you’ll literally see the product work before your eyes. It’s actually quite amazing. I used this only on my nose because I know that’s where the oil likes to accumulate. If you have combo skin like me, I recommend using another primer in the areas you didn’t apply this one. Since this is mainly used for oil control.
  • Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray– This is a step you really don’t want to skip. Think of it this way: when you curl your hair and spend hours doing it for prom, you use hairspray… religiously. It’s common sense, you want your curls to stay in place so all of that hard work doesn’t go to waste. Same with a makeup setting spray. This is going to lock in all of your makeup and keep it on all night.

Now, let’s move on to foundations. Three quick tips:

  • Avoid powder foundations. There are plenty out there, bare minerals loose powder foundation, MAC Cosmetics, etc. They will not last for prom and they aren’t designed to do that. They won’t give you a lot of coverage and you’ll be able to see the powder breakup during the night as you sweat.
  • Be conscious of what kind of foundation you’re getting. Some foundations aren’t designed to be long wearing, no matter the steps you take to try to ensure their longevity. So, double check that this is an actual long lasting product, (with no SPF of course).
  • Make sure you are setting your face makeup with powder (plus a setting spray). Even if you have dry skin, its necessary to make sure your foundation won’t glide off your face. (I’ll talk powders in my next prom post.)

Dry to combo skin:

  • MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation– This is a water based foundation so it’s ideal for those with dry skin. This is a runny foundation, but once it drys and sets on your face it will last for a very long time. Because this is such a light weight foundation, it will not look cakey. Or heavy. If you’re nervous about having a “full coverage” face I really recommend this. This can be built up very easily to give more coverage. Those with oily skin could potentially use this, but it isn’t designed to keep you matte. If you feel you don’t fall completely on either end or you have a slight oil problem in the T-zone or just on your nose, then go in with that BECCA primer in those areas. That will keep you matte but you’ll still be able to rock this foundation.
  • Clinque Superbalanced Makeup– For some reason I feel Clinique is super underrated and doesn’t get much rave. It’s surprising to me because I honestly love their foundations. This foundation is good for pretty much every skin type. It’s going to give you medium coverage that can be buildable or sheered out. I used this on a bride and it looked absolutely amazing in pictures and on her skin. This is designed to last long, it’s streak proof and sweat proof.
  • Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation– This foundation is specifically meant for cameras and flash photography. It’s designed to blur out all of your fine lines and give you a medium to full coverage finish. You can sheer this out using a damp beauty blender, or spraying a bit of MAC Fix Plus onto your foundation brush before application. The Fix Plus has glycerin in it, which will sheer out the product and make it go on smoother. A little bit of this foundation goes a long long way.
  • Revlon ColorStay Makeup for Normal/Dry Skin– Unfortunately, this does have SPF of 6. Because it’s from the drugstore you’ll notice that it is harder to find SPF free foundation. But, it’s a low low amount so it won’t give you a white caste face. This is probably one of the best drugstore foundations. There is an insane amount of pigmentation, so much that it will actually stain your sponge. (I don’t know if that’s really a good thing or not.) This is designed to stay on your face and it actually does a great job. It’s hard to believe that this is a drugstore product.

Oily to combo skin:

  • Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Makeup– Again Clinique is a good brand with really good prices for the quality you’re receiving. One of the cheaper higher end brands. I actually used this one for prom and really really loved the results. This is prefect for oily skin but if you have dry patches it this will cling to them. So really try to moisturize and exfoliate before applying. This is great and super long wearing.
  • Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation– This is a very thick and full coverage foundation. But, it has amazing pigmentation and is designed to last for 24 hours. Because it is so thick and can be a tad hard to blend. I really recommend using a damp sponge, (Beauty Blender, Real Techniques sponge.) A damp sponge will usually sheer out a foundation, but because this is so thick it will only make your application process easier and give you a better end result. It’s really the best way to apply something thick like this. This will look like foundation on the skin, it won’t give you a natural application. So, be aware of that when wearing it. It will still look amazing and flawless but you’re clearly going to see that you’re wearing makeup.
  • Revlon ColorStay Makeup for Combo/Oily Skin– This is the same product as above but for oily skin. It’s designed to keep your oil at bay and won’t break up because of the oil. If you have oily skin and you’ve worked with different foundations on your skin then you know some of them will breakup on your most oily areas. It is honestly the worst because you’ll apply powder to touch up but you just end up causing more breakup and it turns cakey. The foundations in this category will not do that. These are meant to be long-wearing, and finding products at the drugstore is near impossible. So when I find something that works, it’s pretty amazing. But, it’s also why I don’t mind spending the extra money on a better product. This one is great and prefect for prom.

Normal skin, and can be used for each skin type:

  • Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup– This gives you coverage with amazing pigmentation but doesn’t look heavy. Probably the only bad thing is the fact that it sets super fast. Although, using a damp sponge can give you a little more time to blend out this product. You can still use a brush, you just have to work quick. If you have dry skin and want to use this, I recommend finding a hydrating primer, like the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer. Using this primer will give you the moisture you’ll need to avoid drying out throughout the night. This foundation is great and really will last all night.

Remember prom is a special night and should be fun. Have fun getting ready and make sure you feel your best! I hope this helped! Be on the look out for more Prom Posts!


If you live in the central Ohio area, going to prom and want to get your makeup done, send me and email at heidib456@gmail.com. I’ll be doing prom makeup starting at $15.00 for an eye look and $25.00 for an entire full face look. I only ask that you bring your own foundation and mascara, a) to ensure that you have the right shade, use the tips above to get color matched, and b) it’s too easy for mascaras to get contaminated, but I will have false lashes to amp up the look.  Also, if you have a specific product(s) that you want me to use bring it along. Clarify in the email: name and contact info, the date of your prom, what you want done (send pictures, my definition of a smokey eye is probably different than yours, so be specific!! I want to make sure you are 100% happy with the end result.), and dress color. I’m a self-taught makeup artist, and I’ve done two weddings, multiple proms and homecomings.

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8 thoughts on “Prom: Primers and Foundations

  1. Does the Estée Lauder DW leave a white cast in flash photography? I’ve heard lighter skin tones see a white cast but I have a more medium, yellow toned complexion.

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    1. separation could be due to excess oil, either from your natural skin type, primer, and or foundation. if you don’t have oily skin I would recommend a longer wearing primer and foundation. some skin types just can’t hold on to makeup and need primer and a setting spray to keep it in place. it’s also possible that if you touch your face throughout the day your foundation can breakup.

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      1. I use Mac fluidline weightless foundation N too face born this way wat primers r good for them I have too faced hangover I have NYx photo nyx Hydra one I have maybelline blur N smooth I H a very nyx honey bee me up Revlon photo primer a bunch of them I don’t know wat to use with wat O N I have smashbox primer water ty

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