How to Keep Your Makeup Looking Fresh in Hot Weather

Published in: MAC Makeup, Make Up For Ever, Makeup Tips/How To, NARS, Urban Decay

how to keep your makeup fresh in hot weather

Sweating like Keith on the banks of the Mississippi…

There was a moment last week on Magazine Street in New Orleans when El Hub and I were sitting at a booth in a cafe while sipping iced strawberry lemonades to cool down when I officially realized just how unfathomably hot and muggy summertime New Orleans is/was. I was leaning back in the booth and spacing out, just staring blankly at a ceiling fan and the artwork on the walls when I leaned forward, and I felt the back of my sticky, sweat-soaked dress literally peel away from the vinyl.

Yup, ’twas pretty gross.


I think I sweated through that entire trip, but I also got some extra sweaty hands-on experience getting my makeup to stay put in hot, humid weather.

Gotta love silver linings. 🙂

I could’ve just gone barefaced and not worn anything, but where’s the fun in that?

Things to help your warpaint last through hot and/or humid weather…

  • Primer
  • Powder
  • Setting spray
  • Blotting papers (which we’ll talk about in a minute)

For me, these are all hot-weather non-negotiables.

In cooler climates, when it comes to makeup improv and leaving things out of my routine, I usually have a more go-with-the-flow attitude, but when faced with extreme heat and humidity, I think it really helps to use these products if you don’t want your makeup to slide off your face.


Starting with primer, I used two last week (the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer and NARS Pro Prime Smudge-Proof Eyeshadow Base pictured above), one for my face makeup and one for my eyes.

Really, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different kinds of primers out there, but I look for ones that do these two things to really help my makeup last longer: 1) smooth out the surface of my skin, and 2) latch onto whatever I happen to layer on top of them, be it BB cream, foundation, concealer, powder, what have you.

To apply a face primer, I blot my skin first with a tissue to remove any excess oil or moisture. Then I massage the primer on my oiliest spots — my cheeks, nose, chin and forehead.

After that, I do the same thing with eye primer, blotting first, then applying it to my lids, into my brows (to help my brow products last longer), and under my eyes (to keep my concealer in place).

I give them about five minutes to absorb, then blot one more time with a tissue before applying my foundation, concealer, etc., on top.


mac mineralize skinfinish natural

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Tan and a Chanel travel-size face brush

Next up, powder. I find that if I’m going to wear any kind of creamy product on my face (like a BB cream or foundation) when it’s ridiculously hot and/or humid, I really need to set it with a powder; otherwise, said product will slide right off my face.

My powder du jour is MAC Mineralize Skinfinish, and I brought shade Medium Tan with me on this trip.

I dust a very light layer all over my face with a face brush, which I prefer to a powder puff or sponge for this, because they tend to apply a little more powder than I like.

Setting spray

After applying powder and the rest of my makeup, I finish with a setting spray, misting it all over my face to set everything in place.

There are also many setting sprays out there, but my go-to for hot weather is Urban Decay’s All Nighter.

Blotting papers for touching up


So how do you keep that makeup looking fresh throughout those hellaciously hot days? By touching up using a travel-sized setting spray, blotting papers an powder.

When it’s time for a touchup I…

  1. Blot my skin with blotting papers to cut down on shine and oil
  2. Dust a little more powder on my skin with a powder brush
  3. Mist my entire face with setting spray to set the powder in place

I followed this process a few times throughout each of the days I was in NOLA, and it helped my makeup last from dawn till dusk. Then when we went out at night (after I touched up one more time), all I had to do was add a little extra liner and a bright lip. 🙂

And just for kicks…

nars lodhi

Oh, hai!

Here’s a better breakdown of the makeup I’m wearing in my post-beignet afterglow pic. From start to finish….

To the ladies and gents who live in hot and/or humid places, what do you do to keep your makeup looking on point and fresh? Do share with the class. 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Nivedita says:

    Considering the heat, you look immaculate! Here in Calcutta, the temperature has been hovering around 42 degree Celsius. Can’t blame my makeup if it dislodged. But, Pond’s BB cream did a surprising job.
    Ah! And no substitute for blotting papers.
    Nivedita recently posted … Dark meets Light with Arabian Night: Night time Matte look for #YouShine

  2. kazari says:

    I travel to tropical climes quite a lot, and when I go to those places I just accept a pared down make-up routine. It’s vacation, so I don’t want to spend a lot of time on make-up anyway. So I do eyeshadow primer, eyeshadow (mostly neutrals, because it looks terrible to be overdone when you’re being casual), waterproof mascara, and a bit of setting powder on the t-zone. And a LOT of sunscreen. Dewy and natural!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kazari,

      Great routine! What are your neutral eyeshadow faves for vacation?

      • kazari says:

        Actually, based on your recommendation I got the LOreal Naked Palette (is that what it’s called? i can’t remember off the top of my head) plus a few UD add-ons, is pretty much all I need. 🙂

        • Karen says:

          How do you like that palette so far? You can do a lot with it, right?

          • kazari says:

            I love it! I’m a diehard UD fan but too cheap to pick up the Naked palettes, and was debating what single pot to pick up next to complete my day-to-day neutrals build-your-own palette. I have a number of dark neutrals, which is great and I love them, but I was having problems finding the *perfect* crease and highlight shades that complemented my skin tone, and UD pots are so expensive that I can’t just buy one willy nilly to see if it’ll work or not. So this palette solved that little dilemma neatly! All the shades work on my skin, and on a day where I don’t have a lot of time I can do a complete look with just the palette without having to reach for the UD palette too. So your rec was spot on!

  3. Kwmechelle says:

    South East summers are the worst for heat + humidity. And on even given day, we can experience 90+ degree weather & a rain shower to only add to the humidity situation. I’d say your routine is pretty solid. I’ve tried the UD spray but my favorite is the Ben Nye Final Seal spray. It has a minty frangrance, like mouthwash, and I had to change the nozzle to get it to spray/mist evenly, but it works like a charm. And is cheaper. Win-win 🙂

    • Karen says:

      That humidity is KILLER. I felt like I was sweaty all day long!

      I’ve got to hunt down that Ben Nye Spray. It sounds amazing. Where do you get yours?

      • Kwmechelle says:

        There’s a local novelty shop here that sells theater garbe & a nice selection of Ben Nye products. I know some beauties purchase it online as well but look for theater stores in your neck of the woods. You’re bound to find it there. Btw, one of my besties was in San Diego last week & she commented on the lovely weather & lack of humidity. Since we both live on the East coast and she’s originally from Nigeria, the Cali weather was definitely a welcomed break from the humidity. 🙂

        • Karen says:

          I think there’s one in the next town over so I’ll check there first. I want to smell it to make sure that I like the scent (I’m weird like that, I guess).

          Re: crazy humidity. The last time I felt that sort of hot and muggy humidity was when I visited the Philippines. Hawaii can get humid, too, but there the trade winds keep things cool. I think you’d love the weather in the Bay Area. It does get hot sometimes, but it’s a dry heat. It makes all the difference.

          • Kwmechelle says:

            Understood. Most folks seem to have a love/hate relationship with it bc of the smell. And be aware the sprayer may drive you crazy. It can spray in spray botch-y at times. I just changed the nozzle to make it work for me. Hawaii is on my bucket list ☺️

          • Karen says:

            If I end up getting it I’ll probably put it in an old Urban Decay All Nighter Bottle. Those spray bottles are THE BEST.

            When you go to Hawaii let me know. I’ll give you a list of fun things to do. Plus there are a few girls who read the blog who are local (*waves hi to Nai*) who have the inside on things to do there as well. 🙂

          • Kwmechelle says:

            Deal! Take care, friend! So glad you enjoyed NOLA & didn’t melt (too much )!

  4. Lulle says:

    The problem I have with very hot/humid weather is my face sweats big time. My face is actually probably the sweatiest (or first to start sweating) area of my body. I have droplets gathering above my upper lip, and sometimes dripping in my eyes – absolutely gross, and one of the reasons I don’t do well in tropical climate. I dare not wear foundation in this kind of weather because I don’t know of one that can resist this level of face-sweating… Maybe waterproof foundations?
    Lulle recently posted … Burberry Lip & Cheek Bloom in No 03 Hydrangea cream blush is a finicky flower

  5. Lauren says:

    You look flawless for being in such heat and humidity!!

    Thanks for the tips…it’s been a super humid month here, and my face is an oil can but I just have to wear something to cover the blotches!

  6. meg says:

    I’m from Atlanta so I should be pretty used to the heat and humidity. At least I thought so until I took my own first trip to New Orleans. Girl no. It’s a whole other level.

    On the other spectrum, my family moved to San Diego for a few years when I was growing up. On moving day, one of the moving guys commented to us that he felt horrible that we were having to move in on such a humid day. It was 30% humidity. We were like get out of here this is paradise.

    Two humidity stories seems like two too many but it’s a topic of conversation here in the South.
    meg recently posted … Share a Coke


    Yayyy, I am heading to New Orleans on Sunday and this is exactly the post I was looking for, you mindreader you! You look stunning by the way!

  8. Jen C says:

    I live in a hot, tropical climate all year round (90 degrees, 70% humidity) so I think I’m pretty qualified to contribute to this topic! My must-haves are a waterproof mascara (NOT the same as water resistant), setting spray, blotting papers and Laura Mercier caviar sticks – those things don’t budge even without eye primer so I get to skip a step! I use Urban Decay’s all nightstand spray as both primer n finishing spray and that seals the deal.

  9. Katherine M says:

    Your hot-weather makeup tips are spot-on! I really love the UD All Nighter setting spray. I also have UD Chill Makeup Setting Spray – a good one for the summer. For powder, I am really loving Milani in Amber Nectar – it just has the right glow factor. My fave bronzer has been the new Physician’s Formula one that has SPF 30 in it and the picture of the NYC skyline on it (that’s an overspray, but still, it looks cool and still looks cool when the overspray wears off).

  10. Chelsea says:

    Your makeup looks amazing here! I need to find a face powder that I like… My skin tends toward dry, but it really does help with wear time.

    I have a heart condition that makes me sweat very easily and profusely, to the extent of heat rashes. For special occasions or really humid, sweaty weather, I use facial antiperspirant. Definitely not something I want to use on a consistent basis, but a must have for my condition. Talk to your doctor before doing this though!

  11. Charlene Cunningham says: should go there in August!! Not!! whew! I am heading there Saturday for a couple of days. Do you mind sharing where you stayed and ate?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlene,

      Ugh, I can’t even imagine how hot it would be in August. I would melt.

      We stayed at the Omni Royal Orleans and loved it. Very clean, and the staff is friendly. Best of all, though, is the location. It’s right in the middle of the French Quarter, so you literally walk out the front door, take a left, and you’re there! It’s ideal for walking around and exploring.

      For food — oh, the food… We were only there a few days so didn’t get to try too many places, but Nola (that’s the restaurant’s name) was great for a nice dinner, and I really liked the Po’ Boys at Erin Rose, which absolutely doesn’t look like much from the street. It looks like a tiny, old bar, but way in the back is a food counter, and their sandwiches are great. Easy and affordable way to power up for an afternoon.

      Have fun!

  12. Stephanie says:

    We went on a Caribbean cruise last year and I tried this:

    I personally wouldn’t use it regularly but I was curious about it so I tested it out. I didn’t want to sweat off my sunscreen. It definitely helps but it’s not magic.

  13. Efrain says:

    Well when I go to hometown in Veracruz (Gulf of Mexico) I have to make a plan of how I’m going to make makeup last and in my case the first thing is getting a sunscreen that doubles as a primer (look for Bioré’s ones, they’re even in Amazon and the one for oily skin is my HG I stay matte for 4-6 hours and it’s the only one which has achieved it).

    The second thing is using a powder foundation, it’s the only way to survive without many touchups and don’t care about the flat finish there’s always highlighter or wait to the heat does it works.

    And finally embrace the glowy-greasy finish unless you’re a frying pan you can have some oil and sweat with makeup.

  14. Stephanie Smith says:

    You looked great, but you spent a lot of time blotting and resetting and re powdering. I would rather slap on a bright lip and wear sunglasses and a cute hat.

  15. I luuuurve my UD All Nighter spray! And setting powder is a total lifesaver when it’s hot outside. Without a fresh layer of setting powder A) my skin would look ridiculously shiny and B) my make-up would just melt right off.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Treating thinning hair & hair loss with the Kérastase Bain Stimuliste & Aminexil Force R

  16. Michaela says:

    Hi Karen, your NOLA pictures look fabulous & it looked like you didn’t travel in a humid place! Looking at the makeup/ skincare stuff you brought, I wouldn’t have brought all that, but as I grow older I tend to grow more vain so I might have to use more ” stucco” as my husband calls my makeup paraphernalia. Gotta look good for the camera but at the same time I want to travel in comfort and not be too bogged down with stuff.

  17. Tatiana says:

    How does the Make Up For Ever primer compare to the Smashbox primer you used to use?
    I used to want to visit New Orleans, but my DH was there the week before you and he told me all about the heat and humidity and I decided I can pass. We went to London in May and it was in the low 60s and rainy and I was sticky from the humidity. I think I need to live in the desert somewhere. I do not like humidity. When my daughter lived in Houston I can remember walking out of air conditioned buildings and having my glasses instantly fog up from the humidity. So happy she moved back to the Bay Area.

  18. Karen, you look GORGEOUS on those photos!!! That dress really suits you x
    Marina (Makeup4all) recently posted … 2015 So Far. Answering Some Beauty Questions.

  19. Iris says:

    Blotting papers were a lifesaver when I was vacationing in hot climates.

  20. Rose says:

    I’ve been lurking hoping you would mention the dress… It’s so cute and I love the length! Where did you get it? It looks amazing on you, and I bet it was perfect for the weather!

  21. Anita says:

    Hey, we live across lake of New Orleans. The heat here is unreal cause of the humidity! ! Have to work alot in it. So I’m a makeup person and trying to keep it on is trying! So you need primers and good, waterproof makeup! That’s a fact! I don’t ever complain of winter here

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