Sweat-proof make-up and skincare: The products you need when it gets hot

Summer in the UK can bring sunshine (sometimes), the occasional heatwave and of course, increased humidity levels, which can lead to a lot of things, from sleepless nights to frizzy hair.

However, it can also wreak havoc on your skin, as the sticky weather can leave your complexion feeling greasy and congested.

It often requires swapping out heavier products for lighter, hydrating formulas that help prevent water loss and dehydration.

For make-up fans, it’s also a common bugbear that can disrupt your perfectly applied products too.

Adeola Gboyega, make-up artist and UK education and artistry manager at Pat McGrath Labs, told The Independent: “Humidity can cause your make-up to move or even separate on the skin.”

To help you through the heatwave while still looking presentable and feeling cool, this is the skincare and make-up arsenal you need at your disposal.

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First up is cleansing, which should be done morning and evening. Not only is it an essential step for removing make-up, it also gets rid of sunscreen and pollution you have come into contact with throughout the day.

Heat also causes increased sebum production from your oil glands, which is why skin can often look greasier or shiny in summer. When cleansing, it’s imperative that you remove this build-up in order to avoid pores becoming clogged, which can lead to breakouts.

In the morning, we’d suggest using a lightweight gel cleanser such as this CeraVe hydrating cleanser (Look Fantastic, £11.25). Massage into damp skin before rinsing off to make sure your face is free from any sweat build up.

Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55, recommends double cleansing at night. This means using a rich balm or oil cleanser first to breakdown make-up and dirt, followed by a milk or gel cleanser to thoroughly cleanse the skin.

“Oil production peaks mid-afternoon and ensuring sunscreen, sebum, dirt, sweat, grime and pollution are thoroughly removed from the skin surface is important,” she explains.

This Wishful clean genie cleansing balm (Cult Beauty, £31) has a butter-like texture that melts down any make-up, pollution, dirt and grime in seconds and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth, with no oily residue that could clog pores.

Hydrating face mists provide a welcome burst of refreshment that you can keep on hand for instant top-ups.

The La Roche-Posay serozinc face toner mist (Boots, £10) is ideal for oily, blemish-prone skin that can often feel greasy, even without soaring humidity levels.

Designed to be applied to cleansed, dry skin, it’s mattifying, reduces oil production and helps clear breakouts from clogged pores thanks to its formula that’s rich in zinc.

It’s free from alcohol and fragrance and is also non-comedogenic, which means it won’t irritate sensitive skin, cause breakouts or clog pores. Simple spritz over your face and leave to absorb.

When it comes to moisturising, ditch rich creams and lotions during the heat. Instead make the switch to lightweight, oil-free gel formulas such as this Philosophy renewed hope in a jar water cream (John Lewis and Partners, £35.50).

The sorbet-like texture is fast absorbing – think of it as an ice-cold glass of water for your skin. It’s rich in hyaluronic acid, an ingredient which holds 1,000 times its weight in water. This will help your skin to retain moisture and prevent any water loss.

Sunscreen is, of course, vital all year round, but it’s especially important during the summer months when we’re more exposed to UVB rays, the more damaging form of UV radiation.

A gel formulation with a matte finish will keep skin shine-free but properly protected from the sun’s rays, too much of which can cause increased pigmentation, accelerate the appearance of ageing and heighten risk of skin cancer.

This Heliocare 360 oil-free gel SPF50 (Sknclinics, £30) is a mattifying, non-comedogenic formula that doesn’t leave a greasy film on your skin, nor increase breakouts.


While your makeup routine may have fallen by the wayside during lockdown, now that we’re able to meet friends and family from different households – as long as social distancing measures are followed – it’s a great time to dive back into your make-up bag.

“A primer is a great way to improve longevity of make-up during the summer months and when it’s humid,” says Gboyega, as “they create a barrier between your skin and make-up, to prevent movement and excess shine”.

She recommends looking for primers that provide a matte finish, which will help minimise a shiny T-zone.

Our favourite is the Fenty pro filt’r instant retouch primer (Harvey Nichols, £24). For anyone who thought that their skin was just too oily to keep make-up in place all day, this product is a game changer. It’s thin and easy to spread, which means a little goes a long way.

It feels moisturising underneath your make-up and our reviewer found, when paired with foundation, it can take a formula from average to outstanding. While you can apply it before your base, our tester found that she got the longest wear out of her make-up when she mixed the primer with her foundation and applied with a sponge rather than a brush.

If you plan on wearing a foundation, Gboyega recommends using an oil-free, lightweight formula, applying light layers to build up coverage. “This will mean that the foundation is easier to wear on the skin and won’t feel sticky or greasy,” she says.

Try the Giorgio Armani luminous silk foundation (John Lewis & Partners, £43). It has a silky texture but is oil-free and buildable so you can adapt the coverage depending on the occasion.

It blurs out imperfections without feeling heavy on the skin and is available in 30 shades.

Face powders are essential for oil control and help to keep your make-up looking fresh. “I would recommend only using powder on the areas you need to, such as the T-zone (where most people get oily) as opposed to using it all over the face,” says Gboyega.

The Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder (Cult Beauty, £32) is a cult-classic for a reason.

The finely-milled powder blurs out the appearance of pores and fine lines but doesn’t crease or cake with wear. To apply, lightly dust onto skin using a fluffy brush.

Waterproof mascaras are a godsend for sweaty, humid weather. In our guide to the best waterproof mascaras, we loved the Bobbi Brown no smudge formula, (Look Fantastic, £25).

This silver tube has a fat bristled brush that would be easy to dismiss as being too chunky for precise application.

However, with a single coat, our reviewer found it made sparse lashes look instantly longer, more defined and voluminous.

It lasted from morning to evening without clumping, smudging or smearing, with no crumbled product on the lower lash line either.

“When you have finished applying your make-up, use a setting or finishing spray to help fix it,” recommends Gboyega. Her favourite is the Urban decay all nighter spray (feel Unique, £25.08).

Spritz over skin to ensure your base products, statement eye looks and bold lipsticks stay put, no matter what the weather.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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