Skincare products for your makeup kit

From the Experts

Building Your Makeup Kit: The Best Skin Products and Brands

Celebrity makeup artist, Nathan Johnson (@nathanwalnut), is QC Makeup Academy’s Executive Makeup Artist and is based in New York City. Following his last post about understanding skin types, this month Nathan gives his advice on which skin care products and brands you should have in your professional makeup kit!

As a makeup artist, it is essential that we learn about the skin and how to best care for it. After all, it is the palette on which we practice our craft. Having a basic understanding of the skin types is an excellent start, but knowing how to best work with each type will be invaluable to your growth and mastery.

This means not only knowing what makeup products are ideal for your clients’ skin, but also what skincare products will help them make the most out of their skin type. Your clients will look to you as an expert in skincare and makeup, so the more you know, the more you can positively impact your clients’ skincare and makeup routine.

This article is a continuation of “Building Your Makeup Kit: All about Skin Types”. Please do refer to that article for more information on each skin types. In this article, we will be addressing a few key products that will most benefit the varying skin types.

Skincare products for normal skin

Normal Skin

For those with normal skin, the focus of their products should be on maintaining the health and natural balance of their skin. Even those with normal skin are at risk of dehydration and environmental damages, so the best approach to prolonging the glow of normal skin is to use products that have both hydrating and anti-aging properties.

A hydrating moisturizer like Moisture Bomb from Garnier Skin Active is a great choice for normal skin. It contains broad spectrum SPF, and antioxidants that fight free radical damage. They work together to strengthen the skin barrier layer and keeps the skin hydrated all day.

The Skinperfect Primer SPF30 by Dermalogica is a wonder. It creates a perfect base for makeup, and contains minerals that naturally tint and balance skin tone, allowing you to use less foundation. It also contains peptides and other ingredients to protect collagen, fight free radical damage, and prevent losses in skin firmness. With SPF, anti-age properties, and primer, it’s an amazing three-in-one.

Because all skin types benefit from hydration, antioxidants, and anti-age ingredients, a lighter coverage foundation with any of those properties will also be a great option. Tinted moisturizers, BB creams, and water based liquid foundations all provide light coverage that won’t mask the perfect skin below.

Skincare products for dry skin

Dry Skin

Dry skin lacks oil, so it often feels tight and itchy. In many cases, due to the lack of moisture and oil, the skin can develop fine lines and wrinkles prematurely. To fend off these negative effects, it is essential to use products that revitalize the skin with the proper oils and hydrators.

I have seen clients use the Do Not Age Time Reversing Cream by Dr. Brandt with amazing results. The negative aspects of dry skin become nearly unnoticeable! It may be on the more expensive side, but a little goes a long way, and the results speak for themselves. Made with algae extracts, essential oils, and peptides, this rich formula melts into the skin, instantly hydrating and revitalizing it.

The best primer I have found to revitalize dry skin is the Anti-Aging Primer from Cover FX. It instantly hydrates and smooths the skin with its powerful combination of antioxidants and hydrators. The peptides in the formula also work wonders on fine lines and skin texture, making this an amazing primer and treatment in one.

To banish the itchy, flaky, tightness, and rough texture associated with dry skin, I recommend Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask. By combining plant oils, antioxidants, and essential lipids in a rich emollient base, it deeply hydrates and replenishes even the most parched skin.

For dry skin, the hydrating formulation of liquid foundations will be an ideal choice.

Skincare products for combination dry skin

Combination Dry

With combination dry skin, it can be easy to make the normal skin feel greasy when treating the dry areas. My recommendation to this problem is to add oil-free hydration in as many areas of the skincare and makeup routine as possible.

Just like with dry skin, the Anti-Aging Primer from Cover FX is an ideal option. It will smooth and hydrate the dry areas, while flooding the normal areas with antioxidants. In addition, this primer will create a perfect makeup palette that will prolong the skin’s overall health.

For foundation, a great option to try is the Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder by Smashbox. Normal skin can always benefit from extra hydration (and dry skin always needs it!), so this is a perfect option. As an added bonus, it delivers anti-age minerals, amino acids, and peptides to the skin. These ingredients work together to improve skin tone, texture, and even diminishes fine lines.

As a treatment once or twice a week, a hydrating mask will help to make dry areas feel more normal. Foundations with liquid or hydrating powder formulations are two excellent options to consider.

Skincare products for oily skin

Oily Skin

The major concern one faces with oily skin is the slick and shiny appearance from excess oil production, as well as large pores and break outs. Perfect products to meet the needs of this skin type will address the underlying concerns of the skin type, while providing a matte and even base for makeup application.

The Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment by Cover FX is a phenomenal two in one. The oil-free formulation instantly mattifies the skin, clears, prevents, and heals blemishes, and minimizes the appearance of large pores. The dimethicone base will hide the large pores and smooth the breakouts, while the salicylic acid will clear the pores, heal, and prevent future breakouts.

Green tea, magnolia, tea tree, cedar and grapefruit all help to control overactive oil production, allowing for a matte finish through the day and a more even oil production over time.

The Dermalogica Skin Refining Masque will lift impurities from the skin and wick away excess oil. By lifting the impurities (which includes a buildup of skin cells), it can prevent future congestion and unclog pores preventing their enlargement.

Ideal foundation choices for this skin type will have mattifying properties. Oil free powders, matte liquids, and cream to powder formulations are great options.

Skincare products for combination oily skin

Combination Oily

Combination oily skin is oily in some areas and normal in others, due to variations in sebum production across the face. Until you learn how to meet the needs of each area, choosing the ideal products can be confusing. My recommendation is to address the oily issues in the skincare routine and the primer, then finish with a foundation for normal skin.

The Umbrian Clay Oil-Free Lotion by Fresh is great multi-purpose moisturizer for combination oily skin. It is oil-free and non-comedogenic, and uses clay to help regulate oil production, absorb impurities from blocked pores, and prevents future breakouts. The formulation is a lightweight lotion, so it hydrates, tones, and balances the complexion without making oily areas feel greasy. The antioxidants and botanicals also protects and repairs the skin from free radical damage.

The Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment by Cover FX mentioned above is also a great choice. The active ingredients will address the areas of oil production but the built-in hydrators will ensure the normal areas stay beautiful, even, and perfect.

The Dermalogica Skin Refining Masque can be used as a spot mask for the oily areas. This will help refine and realign their oil production.

Once the mattifying needs of the skin are met with the skincare routine and makeup primer, any oil-free foundation for normal skin will be a great option.

Skincare products for sensitive skin


Sensitive skin must be handled with care. It is a genetic predisposition and the visible effects can include flushed areas, splotchy or bumpy patches, and it may itch, tingle, or burn. It is important that you use products that are formulated with ingredients tested and proven to be gentle, calming, and soothing for sensitive skin.

The Dermalogica Ultra Calming Serum Concentrate is a powerhouse that uses complex calming ingredients including oat and botanical actives. These targeted ingredients work below the outer most layer of skin to interrupt inflammatory triggers, and minimizes discomfort, burning, and itching. Collagen stimulating peptides, essential oils, and botanical extracts work together to improve the skin and lessening the chance of future flare ups.

Dermalogica has always been my go-to when it comes to sensitive skin. Their Calm Water Gel is not only super gentle, but it also hydrates the skin and creates an extra barrier against environmental stressors that can cause flare ups in sensitive skin. Their Dual Hyaluronic Acid technology works with different layers of the skin to increase and lock in moisture. Botanical extracts and Glycerin hydrates and defends against dryness. And the cactus pear extract soothes sensitivity and imparts water-binding properties.

The Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask that was mentioned above is also an excellent option for sensitive skin.

Highlighter product test for professional makeup kit

Mineral foundations are excellent options for those with sensitive skin. Jane Iredale Liquid Minerals Foundation is incredibly gentle and hydrating. The loose minerals and liquids by Cover FX are also excellent options.

As mentioned before, I can say with certainty that if you are looking for amazing skincare products for any skin type, Dermalogica and Paula’s Choice are amazing resources. For foundations and primers that not only meet the needs of each skin type, but also address skin concerns and conditions, Cover FX is my go-to. They have hundreds of shades across all formulations, and each one specifically matches with individual tones and undertones.

This is not a definitive list of what is most ideal for every skin type. It is simply a list of products and brands that I have come to count on as a go-to resource in my career. I would love to know what products you love, and why they work so well with each specific skin type! Let me know in the comments below!

Are you interested in learning more about skin types and tones? Stay tuned for QC’s new Skincare course!

Nathan Johnson is a film, television, celebrity, and real women’s makeup artist with 18 years experience in the industry. Nathan believes in education and empowerment—his personal mission is to make America more beautiful one woman at a time. He brings product reviews, makeup tips, and personal experience to the QC blog.

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