Building Your Makeup Kit: The Best Skin Products and Brands - QC Makeup Academy

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 professional makeup artists, we must 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 exactly how to work with each type will be invaluable to your career growth and your mastery of your field.

This means not only knowing the makeup products that 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”. If you’re not comfortable with identifying skin types just yet, check out that article! Now, in this post, we will be addressing a few key products that will most benefit the varying skin types.

Skincare products for normal skin

Normal Skin

The focus of the products designed for normal skin should be on maintaining the health and natural balance of the skin. Even those with normal skin are at risk of dehydration and environmental damage, so the best approach to protecting 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. The products work together to strengthen the skin barrier layers and keep the skin hydrated all day.

The Skinperfect Primer SPF30 by Dermalogica is great. 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-aging properties, and primer, this product is an amazing three-in-one defense system.

Because all skin types benefit from hydration, antioxidants, and anti-aging ingredients, a lighter coverage foundation that helps in any of these areas is also be a great option. Tinted moisturizers, BB creams, and water based liquid foundations all provide the light coverage that covers but does not mask the perfect skin below.

Skincare products for dry skin

Dry Skin

Dry skin lacks oil, so it may often feel tight and itchy. In many cases, due to its 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 smooth 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

Many people have a combination of dry and normal skin on their faces. It can be easy to make the normal skin feel greasy when you are 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.

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

For foundation, a great option to try here 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-aging minerals, amino acids, and peptides to the skin. These ingredients work together to improve skin tone, texture and even diminish fine lines.

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

Skincare products for oily skin

Oily Skin

Oily skin appears slick and overly shiny because it produces excess oil., This kind of skin also tends to produce overly large pores. The skin is prone to frequent breakouts of spots and pimples. The 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 treatment. 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.

Products with green tea, magnolia tea tree, cedar and grapefruit extracts all help to control overactive oil production, allowing for a matte finish that holds up 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 the production of sebum across the face. Until you learn how to satisfy the needs of each area, choosing the ideal products can be really confusing. My recommendation is to address the oily issues in the skincare routine and the primer, then to finish with a foundation for normal skin.

The Umbrian Clay Oil-Free Lotion by Fresh is a 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 prevent future breakouts. The formulation is a lightweight lotion, so it hydrates, tones, and balances the complexion without making the oily areas feel greasy. The antioxidants and botanicals also protect and repair 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 address the areas of high oil production but the built-in hydrators ensure the normal areas stay fresh, 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 the oil production of the skin in those areas.

Once the skincare routine and use of the makeup primer, have successfully addressed the mattifying needs of the skin, any oil-free foundation for normal skin can be a great option to achieve a flawless look.

Skincare products for sensitive skin


You will sometimes encounter clients whose skin has become sensitive. The skin may have been damaged by the environment or affected by an underlying medical issue. However, most of your clients with sensitive skin will simply have been born this way. Their skin is naturally sensitive. Whatever the reason, your clients who have this skin type require great care. The visible effects of sensitive skin can include flushed areas, splotchy or bumpy patches, and the skin may itch, tingle, or burn. 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 product 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 minimize discomfort, burning, and itching. Collagen stimulating peptides, essential oils, and botanical extracts work together to improve the skin and lessen the risk 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 the different layers of the skin to increase and lock in moisture. Botanical extracts and Glycerin hydrate and defend against dryness. And the cactus pear extract in the product soothes sensitivity and imparts water-binding properties.

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 mineral and liquid products 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 excellent resources. For foundations and primers that not only meet the needs of each skin type but also address many 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 go-to resources 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? Check out QC’s new Skincare course!

Author Nathan Johnson

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