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Makeup Products for Hot, Humid Weather

Surviving the humidity is a topic that I receive a lot of mail about.  Just last year, I wrote about several essential products that get me through the muggy, sweltering D.C. days.  But today, I want to talk specifically about makeup.

Wearing a full face of makeup during the dog days of summer is about as pleasant as wearing a bikini in January, in Siberia.  By noon, your skin gets so shiny, you could flag down a rescue helicopter just by nodding your head and everything just feels gross.  But never fear, there are a few products that I highly recommend for sweltering summer days.

Primer. When it gets sunny and sweaty, I like to switch from my regular NARS primer to City Block from Clinique.  It’s SPF 40, so it protects against sun damage.  It’s humidity proof and it works well on sensitive skin.  And best of all, it’s only $18 and lasts forever.

Tinted Moisturizer.  Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturizer is the best one on the market, in my opinion.  I own two shades, my regular color and one two shades darker, so that I can mix them together to find my perfect shade should I decide to spend my Saturday by the pool.  

At $42, this product is a bit pricey.  So if you need to save not splurge, I recommend Boots No. 7 Soft and Sheer Tinted Moisturizer from Target and $12.

Oil-Absorbing Powder.  If you’re going to wear a liquid foundation on a day like today, you need to set it.  Again, I like Laura Mercier Smooth Focus Pressed Powder ($32).  I apply it with a large powder brush.  I also puff up my cheeks like a blowfish to make sure I get good coverage.  It looks silly, but it works.

If you’re on a budget, I also use Physician’s Formula Correcting Powder ($12).  The green tones down redness, while the pink brightens skin and the fine powder sets your makeup.  And, like the Laura Mercier, it can be applied throughout the day without looking cakey.

Eye Makeup Base. I haven’t been able to wear eyeliner for a week, because every time I apply it, it drips down onto my cheek within an hour.  Luckily, a friend recommended Urban Decay Potion ($19) to help keep my eyeliner and eyeshadow in place on a humid day.  Hopefully, it works since looking like a teary co-ed on a walk of shame is not my idea of a good look.

On that note, I should probably mention that waterproof mascara is also a must.  But since I hate every mascara that I’ve ever tried except Max Factor (which they no longer sell), perhaps some of you ladies can recommend one in the comments.  

And remember, on these hot and humid days, it’s very important to hydrate.  So grab a bottle of Aquafina, because it’s going to be a scorcher.



  1. Tohry says:

    I would suggest Trish McEvoy's Lash Curling Mascara — it's pricey but absolutely worth it. No melting during our most humid swamp-like days. And I just love how easy it is to wash off.

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  2. JW says:

    Eyeliner recommendation: MAC's waterproof liquid liner (i use brown in the summer even though i'm usually a black liner devotee) is awesome. Easy to apply and you can (and I do) swim in it without it coming off or even running. Make sure you have an oil-based eyemakeup remover though otherwise you will have eyeliner on for the rest of your life. Seriously though, this stuff does.not.budge.

    Mascara: Benefit BadGal waterproof mascara. I don't swim in it, but I work in the district (and walk 15-20 min to and from the metro every day for my commute) and it doesn't run or flake on the yuckiest of days (read: july and august).

    And I second all things laura mercier. her setting powder and tinted moisterizer are favorites of mine. As is the concealer brush.

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  3. Rachel says:

    Urban decay is a lifesaver! I usually use a layer of that and then use Makeup Forever's aqua cream in warm beige and finally apply my normal eyeshadow on top. The product is amazing. It goes on easily, and grips my powder eyeshadow on to my lids. Normally in this heat in a few hours my eyeshadow is gone–no longer!

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  4. AS says:

    I have used Clinique's High Impact Mascara for years now without any complaints. I've tried out other brands (Dior, Chanel, MAC) and have never liked any of them as much as the Clinique. Even on the hottest DC summer days, it doesn't run or flake!

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  5. DB says:

    Urban Decay's eye primer is the best 19$ I've ever spent. I was considering purchasing it on a recommendation from my roommate, but after we went to the pool (and her eye makeup stayed completely intact in the water) I knew it would be my savior in humid weather.

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  6. No Drama Momma says:

    I second Clinique. I also like Dior, but I remember you saying some time ago that you weren't a fan. Clinique has really great mascaras, though.

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  7. grlnextdoor says:

    Excellent post!

    I've tried all the expensive waterproof masceras, and found pure satisfaction with…. the cheep L'Oreal's Voluminous Waterproof: https://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?skuId=1472358&productId=14353&navAction=push&navCount=1&categoryId=cat80040&CAWELAID=801412850

    Also, I'm a huge fan of MAC's eyeshadow primer. My eyeshadow and liner has yet to drip in this weather: https://www.maccosmetics.com/product/shaded/153/969/Prep-Prime-Eye/index.tmpl

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  8. Broads of the Beltway says:

    this $3 eyeshadow primer actually works really darn well. I wear shadow and eyeliner even on days like today. https://www.eyeslipsface.com/minerals/eyes/concealers_and_primers/eyeshadow_primer

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  9. VA Gal says:

    For mascara, Cover Girl Lash Exact has become my favorite. It doesn't flake and it doesn't clump terribly like some I've tried.

    Also, gel eyeliner is awesome in this DC humidity. Bobbi Brown and Smashbox both make some good ones. In really steamy weather like this, I use gel liner, waterproof mascara and then for lipstick I use a lip color pencil and put gloss on top. The gloss needs refreshing during the day, but otherwise it doesn't budge.

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  10. Laura says:

    I've been using Maybelline Lash Stilletto Voluptuous Mascara for about two years. I live in DC and am outside all the time. this kind has never melted off but they make a waterproof version too if you're concerned about that.

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  11. Lauren says:

    Completely agree with you on the Urban Decay Potion. Seems expensive up front but lasts FOREVER. I like both the Original and Sin formulas.

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  12. Taylor says:

    I love the picture with this post–it's totally how I feel today! I'm interested that you have a problem with running eyeliner in the humidity. I definitely get frizzy hair and feel like my whole face is melting off, but my eye makeup usually stays pretty intact. Have you ever tried pencil eyeliner in the summer?

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  13. Karen says:

    I definitely agree with all the praise given for the Urban Decay primer, it's a godsend and well worth the $19. I'm also a fan of gel eyeliner although I prefer the Bobbi Brown product to Smashbox's as the Smashbox product tends to dry up prematurely in the pot for me which wastes at least half of it. I went through 3 pots of it and even tried keeping it open for less time and making sure it was closed very tightly before realizing I was wasting my money. And not to harp on the Dior mascaras if you aren't a fan but I wear Iconic on both my top and bottom lashes every day and it never does that melty below the eye thing. Love it!

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  14. mascara_queen says:

    max factor's back on drugstore.com btw. they only have black/brown (i used to use black), but i'm so happy to have it back in my makeup bag, i don't even care

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  15. mascara_queen says:

    oh, it's not their waterproof formula :/ but maybe for the not-so-scorching months ahead

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  16. Saramel says:

    I swear by Blinc Kiss Me mascara. It makes little tubes around your lashes that only comes off when you want it to but doesn't require a strong remover, just lots of warm water and then you pull them off. It lasts through humid, hot days, a dip in the pool, and major tears (happy or sad). It doesn't provide major volume but it makes my lashes look so much better and yet still natural. Well worth the price too as one tube lasts me a year (yes, I know I should replace it more often for hygiene reasons). BTW, I love your blog. I look forward to your posts everyday!

    July 21, 2011/Reply
  17. Anne says:

    Literally the best ever mascara is Fiberwig. You can get it at Sephora. I think it's Japanese. It's tiny filaments that adhere to your lashes to extend them. It's not waterproof by name, but it only comes off with soapy water and rubbing. I have oily eyelids that never hold a mascara, and I swear by this. So easy to remove — no rubbing at your eyes with removers, plus you get the longest lashes ever.

    July 22, 2011/Reply
  18. Kate says:

    I second the recommendation for Fiberwig…that stuff is GOOD. I also like the Bare Essentials “Flawless Definition” mascara.

    July 22, 2011/Reply
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    July 22, 2011/Reply
  20. janebird says:

    I just set my wedding date for August 4th next summer, and after the past week in Milwaukee (we rivaled DC's legendary swamp heat and humidity!) I have been panicked about how the h my face will look in photos on the big day. Thank you for the guide, Belle!

    July 22, 2011/Reply
  21. Saramel says:

    I also like Fiberwig when I need more oomph. It's too much for bottom lashes so I use Blinc Kiss Me on the bottom lashes.

    July 22, 2011/Reply
  22. Kim says:

    Brushing powder on lids before eyeliner works for me. And I don't wear it on the bottom lid in summer, ever (I only do at night the rest of the year). I just give up on the foundation in July/August (breakout city), and go thru a ridiculous amount of powder.

    July 22, 2011/Reply
  23. Kim says:

    Urban Decay All-Nighter is my favorite. It just works, not matter what I wear underneath it (it's a setting spray). I can't say enough good things about it.

    My favorite mascara is Aqua Smoky Eyes by Make Up For Ever. I've found that, in general, any of the MUFE waterproof products are amazing on humid days.

    July 22, 2011/Reply
  24. Kim says:

    Oh, and my humid weather/oily face fast fix for when I don't have oil botting papers is toilet seat covers. They work like a charm!

    July 22, 2011/Reply
  25. Mia says:

    I'm with JW–I love MAC's liquid liner, it really doesn't come off. I teach aerobics at night after work and rarely have time to do more than throw on my gym clothes, so having a liner that doesn't budge is key. And ditto on the urban decay. Sometimes I use the one with a tan shimmer alone for a casual day b/c it's just enough coverage and stays put, no matter the weather.

    July 23, 2011/Reply
  26. Susan MacEwen says:

    I found this article just in time for our warm, humid weather here in GA!
    The mascara I keep going back to is Maybelline’s Great Lash waterproof mascara. It seems to hold up well in the humidity here in the South.

    April 12, 2013/Reply