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Sweat-Proof Makeup Secrets from the Singapore Pros

makeup for humidity
ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExpertsStyle & BeautyPost Category - Style & BeautyStyle & Beauty - Post Category - Style For YouStyle For You

We live in a battle zone, mama: where makeup is at constant war with Singapore’s oppressive humidity. Here’s how to fight it (and stay looking gorgeous all day long)

Wearing make up in sweaty Singapore poses a plethora of problems. How do you stop your foundation from melting off your face? What makeup brands are best for this climate? How do you get that dewy look without a greasy T-zone oil slick? So many questions, so little time!

Because we want the bestest, most sweat-proof products from big name labels to cheap high street brands, we didn’t just go to our nearest makeup counter for advice. Oh no. We roamed the island in search of bias-free advice from freelance makeup artists and asked them to spill their secrets on the best sweat-proof makeup (check out our cheap buy list at the end!). You are welcome, mamas!

Sweat-Proof Make Up Secrets

So it turns out the one big secret to keeping your makeup on is Primer! Prime everything (your skin, your eyelids). One of our makeup artists even multi-primes (matt primer for T-Zone, illuminating primer for the rest). Seriously, if you aren’t priming, you haven’t a hope in Hawaii of getting your foundation to stay put. As for the other secrets – read on!

Primer Poll
We asked our makeup artists for their all-time favourite primer:
Primer Winner: POREfessional and Stay Flawless by Benefit ($54)
Runners Up:
Make Up For Ever Step 1 Matte Primer
Dermalogica Hydrablur
The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost
VDL Lumilayer Primer

Meet the Make Up Artists:

makeup artist andrea claire

Introducing: Andrea Claire

The Low-Down: Canadian-licensed celebrity hairstylist & makeup artist with over 20 years experience including editorials and TV makeover shows. Already featured in our round-up of Singapore’s best at-home beauty services!

Charges: $150/hr + $50 travel fee.

What You Get: Andrea Claire comes to your home and will bring her entire kit  (a suitcase worth of makeup) plus daylight mimicking lights (these kind of make you feel like a celebrity for the session). Andrea does everything from a 10-minute daytime look to colour update suggestions to a full makeup step-by-step tutorial (plus a shopping list if your make up bag needs a re-vamp). If you gather some girls, Andrea can demo a few different looks on each while you all watch and drink wine take notes.

Good to Know: Andrea Claire does makeup AND hair (everything from haircutting to hair styling tutorials) – perfect for when you need someone to give you the full makeover for a big party or event.

Top tips for applying or wearing makeup in sweaty humid climates? 

  1. Avoid powder. This just tells your sebaceous glands that they need to produce more oil so you end up in a non-stop powder-oil-powder freefall. Powder can oxidize (change colour) in the sun, coagulate and look chalky, and it can also age you by filling in fine lines and exaggerating them.
  2. Use Clean & Clear blot film instead of powder.
  3. Use a makeup finishing spray like Skindinavia that absorbs oil – your skin remains looking like skin and it doesn’t alert your oil production to start.
  4. Base makeup with good skincare. If your mascara keeps bleeding it might be your eye cream so don’t be too quick to blame makeup or the climate!
  5. Primer! I multi-prime. T-zones are better matte, whereas the rest of your skin is lovely dewy so use a luminous primer plus eye primer to base your shadows and to keep from creasing or traveling. Try Benefit Birthday Suit creaseless cream shadow for light to medium skin or Rich Fawn for medium to darker skin on their own for day or an amazing base for night makeup.
  6. Look for products that say water-resistant.

Biggest Mistake people make with their make up in the tropics?
Choosing the wrong skincare products; using powder and not using primer.

makeup artist samina malik

Introducing: Samina Malik

The Low-Down:18 years’ experience as a makeup artist, having initially trained with Benefit Cosmetics, with further training in bridal makeup by celebrity makeup artist Sana Kermani. Samina’s got hundreds of satisfied clients in Singapore, and is the fairy godmother of mama makeovers!

Charges: $150-400

What You Get: Overwhelmed by choice or not sure which products suit you best? Samina does personalised makeup shopping and hands-on makeup tutorials, either inside Sephora or at your home. For the at-home service Samina can teach you how to apply your own makeup, or will bring her own stash if you’re looking for a new look. Samina very much focuses on teaching you how to apply the makeup – she demonstrates on one side of your face, then gets you to learn by doing the other side yourself. This is a great way to remember her makeup application techniques.

Good to Know:
Samina is one of the ONLY freelance makeup artists who can give you a proper sit-down makeover tutorial inside Sephora itself. This is so useful as instead of being tied to one brand like makeup artists on counters, Samina can race around Sephora picking up different products for you to try while giving her opinion on correct foundation shades – plus there is no hard sell on what you decide to buy (if anything).

Top tips for applying or wearing makeup in sweaty humid climates? 

  1. Always use a hydrating lotion, not cream.
  2. If you have generally good skin, use a color corrector (like MAC Conceal and Correct Duo) on areas that need correction rather than opting to cover your entire face with foundation.
  3. Use contouring and highlighting to create a natural look that takes away from the “foundation look”. I like Sculptor Contour stick by Tarte Cosmetics, which you can use on moisturised skin without having to use foundation and you will still look put together whilst feeling light.
  4. Use a matt highlighter with little sheen to avoid a shiny look as skin tends to grease up a bit as the day progresses.
  5. Carry a water aerosol like Bio Miracle in your bag and mist to keep skin hydrated, thus stopping your skin from producing more oils from within.

Biggest Mistake people make with their makeup in the tropics?
They tend to use powder foundation which easily shows and doesn’t last .

makeup artist laura tait

Introducing: Laura Tait

The Low-Down: trained in Fashion Makeup at the Make Up For Ever Academy in Singapore and CIBTAC Level 2 Beauty Therapy at the Aesthetics International Academy in Singapore.

What You Get: Laura Tait can go shopping with you and help you choose the correct foundation, colours and makeup tools before heading home with you for a makeup lesson to show you use to apply your new kit or give you advice on how to better use your own make up. Laura can also pop over for a full glam makeover with her own makeup before a night out or big event.

$90 – $115 plus transport

Good to Know: Laura Tait can give you a full body makeover at home, too, as she does waxing, spray tanning as well as eyebrow shaping and bow/lash tints. Laura is big on dramatic eyebrows but can tailor to your needs and style if you prefer something more low key.

Top tips for applying or wearing makeup in sweaty humid climates?

  1. Using a damp Beauty Blender Sponge to apply your face makeup allows for even, flawless coverage. Pricey for a makeup sponge but an amazing investment with great results!
  2. Make sure your skin is moisturised before starting your makeup, and allow 3-5 minutes for your moisturiser/serum/sunscreen to set into the skin before starting your makeup. This allows your makeup to adhere to an even layer of skin when you start applying.
  3. If you have a lot of blemishes or pigmentation then let your concealer do its job instead of layering on the foundation, which could look cakey and may set your make-up up for a “meltdown” later.
  4. Go Oil-Free: Products that contain oil are more likely to cause that melting effect, and can also cause clogged pores.
  5. Setting Spray: Like hairspray for your face, it allows makeup to last longer, and prevents creasing, smudging or fading. I like Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray.

Biggest Mistake people make with their make up in the tropics?
Not using a primer! Face and eye primer acts as grip for make up and gives make up longevity.

makeup artist nur syazana hishamuddin

Introducing: Syazana Hishamuddin (Sassy Mama’s in-house beauty guru!)

The Low-Down: This millennial whiz-kid was self-taught for seven years, and briefly trained with local bridal makeup artist Nora Zee of ISHQ by Nora Zee. Her before-and-afters on Instagram are amazing!

Charges: From $100

Good to Know: Syazana is available for event makeup services, engagement ceremonies, and editorial photos.

Syazana’s best CHEAP sweat-proof products – $25 and under!


Mascara: Catrice Lashes to Kill Waterproof Mascara ($7.90 at Guardian)

I love this one because the formula feels wet at first (ensuring that it lasts longer than most drier waterproof mascaras), but it’s great at holding a curl to even the straightest eyelashes.


Smudgeproof Eyeliner: Essence Eyeliner Pen Waterproof ($11.90 at Watsons)

Waterproof, yet easy to remove. Lasts all day and doesn’t transfer.


Foundation: Revlon Colorstay Foundation ($33.90 at Watsons, Guardian & Sasa)

OK so I cheated here (it’s not under $25 BUT it’s worth that extra nine bucks!). The long-wearing formula lasts the day even through sweat — just dab lightly throughout the day with tissue or blot film.


Eyeshadows: Colourpop Super Shock Shadows (online from US$5)

Made of an amazingly unique moussey formula that glides on the eyelids yet sets to a dry finish that does. not. budge. At these prices you hoard all their many beautiful colours – from the rich metallic shimmers to bright neon shades.


Lipstick: Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip and Ultra Satin Lip range (US$6)

Very affordable, long-wearing and comfortable.


Fixing sprayUrban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray (Sephora travel-size for $22)
Locks all your makeup in place for hours – the travel size is great if you’re feeling iffy about spending so much on the full-sized bottle ($48).

Colourpop eyeshadows image sourced via Funny Face Beauty.

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