A Makeup Artist’s Guide To Perfect Pre-Makeup Skin

When prepping your skin to apply makeup, you can quite often find yourself at crossroads. “Do I really need to apply anything before my makeup? Will this product make my makeup greasy? Does a skincare routine really affect my makeup application?” These are some questions you may have asked yourself before. Or a few hours after applying your makeup you might find yourself questioning why, despite all your efforts and the use of high-end products, your makeup refuses to last long or look good. Well, we’re here to tell you folks, how you prepare your skin for the application of makeup plays a vital role in how well your makeup looks and lasts. If you don’t believe us, we’re sure you’ll believe it when it’s coming from an expert in the field.

We got to sit down with Aishath Dheema (commonly known as Dheekko) – the talent behind Balqis. She’s without a doubt one of the best makeup artists in Maldives and the first person that comes to the minds of a lot of Maldivian brides-to-be when they think about the biggest day of their lives. With her amazing artistry in makeup, her elegant dress designs for weddings and other occasions, her recommendations in both skincare and makeup that has a lot of her supporters flocking to skincare and makeup pages, Dheekko has an influential presence in the beauty scene of Maldives. Her talents are likely to reach international markets in the future, with her ambitious plans already set in motion.

Although Dheekko had first thought of pursuing a career in HR, she found herself unable to quench her desires of stepping into the beauty world as she describes herself as always being into ‘glam’ from an early age. She has spent almost the past 8 years making quite a mark in the beauty community of Maldives and has been a part of countless brides’ wedding days, as well as other clients’ for various different special occasions. She’s dedicated to always learning more and improving herself which is evident in the fact that she once travelled all the way to Egypt to participate in a beauty class. She has also been educated in this field from Sri Lanka, by an internationally well-known makeup artist. Due to her hectic schedules thanks to her growing business Balqis, she now learns more by taking virtual classes online to keep herself at the top of her game.

Like almost every other makeup artist in the world, Dheekko believes that skin care is crucial to having your makeup looking the best it possibly can. So here’s her guide to achieving the perfect pre-makeup skin, as well as her very own recommendations on must-have products.

She believes skincare is the key to a good makeup application.

“Having a good skincare regimen is the key to bringing out the best in the makeup you do,” says Dheekko as she explains why this is vital. She tells us that as your skin is the base on which you apply your makeup, quite like an artist looking to create a masterpiece painting, the canvas has to be in good condition and in this case, the canvas is your face. At this point in her career, she has worked with countless numbers of clients, most of which are brides who want to look their absolute best for their wedding day. Before the pandemic hit, she had been working with an average of four clients per day. So when she stresses on the importance of caring for your skin, it’s coming from someone who has worked her magic on countless faces for the past eight years. 

We asked Dheekko if it is easier for her to work on clients that follow a skincare regimen in comparison to clients that do not, to which she was quick to reply a “yes”. She explains to us that in her experience working with countless clients, even those clients who suffer from skin issues such as eczema, she has come to notice that when they prioritize skincare, their skin is easier to work with in comparison to clients that don’t use skincare. In her point of view, she believes that for your makeup to look flawless, you should first always treat your skin with the care it needs on a daily basis and secondly prep your skin right before makeup. 

“My advice is to start prioritizing skin care because the better your skin is, the better your makeup looks. Prepping your skin before makeup is also vital,” she tells us and we definitely agree. For her clients she has certain steps she follows to prep their skin before makeup application and she has a routine she follows herself when prepping her own skin.

She stresses on the importance of prepping your skin before makeup.

“Some makeup products tend to be very drying, therefore giving your skin a boost of hydration before you start can help, especially if you have dry skin. Even if you don’t have dry skin, a well-hydrated base can help your makeup look fresh and last long,” says Dheekko. She also worries over the fact that a lot of individuals do not take skincare as a priority and do not use any skin care products, not so much as even a moisturizer, sunscreen or a primer and instead start their routine straight from a foundation. 

Here’s how she preps her own acne-prone combination skin.

“My skin type is combination skin that’s also prone to acne,” Dheekko tells us as we dive into her personal experience in achieving the perfect pre-makeup skin for herself. She describes her face as being oily on the T-zone and dry on other areas. 

  1. One product she cannot live without is moisturizer!

If I don’t use moisturizer I feel like my skin becomes steel wool,” Dheekko tells us with a chuckle when asked to choose just one product that she absolutely cannot live without. She tells us that she would not be able to live without a lip product and a sunscreen either, however, moisturizer still occupies the first spot on her list. She loves the Fresh – Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream which is an advanced gel cream that provides intense hydration which lasts upto 24 hours and is powered by hyaluronic acid.

  1. She loves eye creams.

Whether it’s as part of her skin care routine or whether it’s to achieve that perfect pre-makeup skin, eye creams are a staple in her everyday life. Currently she loves the COSRX – Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream. This multi-functional eye cream is formulated with snail secretion filtrate and peptide to restore elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines, as well as niacinamide to brighten dark circles. 

  1. She always uses SPF.

As a travel enthusiast Dheekko understands the importance of SPF. Especially when living in a country like the Maldives through which the equator passes, sunscreen is of utmost importance, even on cloudy days. It doesn’t matter whether she is spending her weekend under the scorching hot sun on a sandbank, or whether she is simply putting on makeup for a casual drive around the city, sunscreen is a must in Dheekko’s routine and we couldn’t be happier. We love a beauty guru who prioritizes SPF! When she’s prepping her skin for makeup she prefers to use the Supergoop – Mattescreen SPF 40 which is a 100% mineral sunscreen that mattifies her skin and minimizes the appearance of pores. 

  1. She never skips primer!

You’ve probably heard it from so many makeup artists – not to prime is a crime (well, at least in the beauty world!). In the time we got to sit down with Dheekko, we learnt quite a lot about primers from her. In her book, primer is not a “one size fits all” kind of product like most would believe. She tells us about how she chooses different kinds of primers for different skin types when working with her clients. You’ll read more on her work with clients later, let’s first get down to the primer she uses for her skin type. For her face, she loves the Milk Makeup – Hydro Grip Primer which is formulated with blue agave extracts that help form an invisible layer to lock in makeup for upto 12 hours. This primer helps her achieve a visibly smooth skin texture for an even ‘canvas’ while also sealing in precious moisture. It is also formulated with aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, sweet cherry and vitamins B3 and B5 to help achieve a healthy looking base before makeup application and a glassy glow after.

She also loves the Urban Decay – All Nighter Longwear Face Primer which helps to smoothen and hydrate her skin while also boosting the foundation’s staying power for up to eight hours. It’s a lightweight primer which also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines.

  1. She cannot live without a lip product.

You cannot slay a gorgeous makeup look with dry and cracking lips! Applying a lip-care product is a close second to moisturizer on Dheekko’s list of products she cannot live without. Her go-to lip product is a quite simple product that we bet most of you already have available from your nearest stores. It’s the Vaseline – Lip Therapy Aloe Vera Lip Balm which helps keep her lips soft, hydrated and moisturized. The lip balm also works to soothe the lips with the help of aloe vera. 

Here are her tips, tricks and recommendations to prep different skin types. 

“During my appointments with clients I begin with asking them what their skin type is, how their skin feels and whether they tend to sweat a lot,” says Dheekko. She tells us that sometimes even dry skin types, combination skin types and even normal skin types can sweat a lot due to the weather and other factors. Therefore her first priority is getting to know about her client’s skin. This helps her choose which kinds of products to use and which areas need extra care. Here are some of her tips and tricks she uses on clients, as well as product recommendations when prepping different skin types:

  1. She always uses a serum on her clients.

Her current fav is the Caudalie – Vinopure Blemish Control Infusion Serum which she highly recommends to all skin types. This serum is formulated with natural salicylic acid, grape-seed polyphenols and organic essential oils to help reduce blemishes, unclog pores and refine skin texture. It also contains organic rose water which aids in controlling sebum levels to promote a healthy glow. 

  1. An eye cream is always a must.

On her clients she loves using the Ole Henriksen – Banana Bright Eye Crème which is an allure best of beauty award-winning product that brightens, firms, improves concealer wear and instantly reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles. She also personally prefers to use this eye cream on her own under-eye areas when she’s getting ready for a special event. 

  1. She recommends using a moisturizer that suits your skin type.

For oily skin types she recommends using a lightweight, water-based, oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin non-greasy, but without letting precious moisture escape while also hydrating your skin. Dheekko’s go-to moisturizer to use on clients with oily skin is Tatcha – The Water Cream which is oil-free. This moisturizer is formulated with japanese nutrients, powerful botanicals and optimal hydration.

For dry skin she recommends moisturizers that are creamier and more dense like the Charlotte Tilbury – Charlotte’s Magic Cream which is loved by celebrities and supermodels looking to achieve a dewy and plump looking ‘canvas’. The formula is also infused with SPF15 and supercharged skincare ingredients to flood the skin with intense moisture. 

For combination skin types she recommends using a lightweight moisturizer for the entire face and using a denser moisturizer on dry spots and areas. 

  1. Using a primer is a must and these are her recommendations.

As you’ve probably already guessed, Dheekko uses different primers on different skin types. 

For dry skin types she recommends Huda Beauty – Complexion Perfection Pre-makeup Base which is a hydrating, silky smooth formula that helps moisturize your skin while also gripping makeup to increase wearability. 

For combination skin she recommends using more than one primer, the same way she recommends choosing moisturizers. For dry areas of the face she recommends one of her personal favorites as mentioned before, the Urban Decay – All Nighter Longwear Face Primer. After using this primer, for the T-zone she recommends using Tatcha – The Liquid Silk Canvas Filter Finish Protective Primer which is a lightweight, oil-free formulation with silk extracts which help minimize clogged pores while also working to keep your makeup application better and long-lasting. 

For oily skin types she prefers using more than one primer as well, however this time on top of each other. For this she likes using another one of her favorites mentioned before; Milk – Hydro Grip Primer which she then layers with Tatcha – The Liquid Silk Canvas Filter Finish Protective Primer to better hold makeup without creasing on oily skin. 

Do’s & Don’ts when preparing for your makeup appointment.

We asked Dheekko what she would recommend her clients to do or don’t do before going for their makeup appointments and she had some very valid points to share. Here’s what she says are absolute must-do’s and must-not-do’s. 

  1. Do prep your skin with a good skincare routine.
  2. Do make sure to moisturize your skin.
  3. Do keep in mind to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  4. Absolutely do make sure to do monthly facials if you’re preparing for your wedding. 
  5. Do consult a facialist who can help you choose the best facial for your skin concerns.
  6. Do not do facials the day before your makeup appointment or on the day itself as facials provide a deep cleanse and therefore your pores are more open than usual and more likely to get clogged. They’re also more susceptible to bacteria. So give your skin a break from makeup after getting your facial. She recommends you do your facial at least a week before your makeup appointment.
  7. Do not have your facial hair waxed or shaved the day before your appointment or on the day itself. 

To achieve the perfect pre-makeup skin, she also follows a night-time and a day-time skincare routine. 

It would be near-impossible to achieve the perfect pre-makeup skin if the only time you take care of your skin is right before applying makeup. Perhaps having a good skincare routine contributes more to achieving the perfect pre-makeup skin rather than just prepping your skin right before applying makeup. One fact about Dheekko that all of her supporters without a doubt would have come to know by now, is that she always prioritizes skincare and she encourages her supporters to do so as well by sharing her favorite skincare products on her social media platforms. Here’s everything you need to know about her personal skincare routine.

  1. She double-cleanses before her skincare regimen.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the double-cleansing method by now. It’s one of the many Korean skincare trends the world has come to know and love. Double-cleansing is (just as it sounds) basically cleansing your face twice. The first step is usually an oil-based cleanser and the second step is a water-based cleanser.  With an oil-based cleanser you are able to remove impurities that are oil-soluble such as sebum, makeup and sunscreen which cannot be efficiently removed with just a water-based cleanser. By cleansing away these impurities, your water-based cleanser can then proceed to removing water-soluble impurities and also really work its way into your skin.

She absolutely loves the Banila Co. – Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm for the first step of her double-cleansing routine. This award-winning balm is a hypoallergenic cleanser that transforms from sherbet-like texture into smooth oil once applied on the skin. The innovative Zero Balance Technology deeply cleanses without stripping the skin, leaving it hydrated and fresh. 

As a water-based cleanser she uses the POND’S Age Miracle Cell ReGen Facial Foam which works to enhance the overall radiance of the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

  1. This is her “ride or die” and “absolute favorite” product!

There’s one product Dheekko has labelled as her ‘ride or die’ multiple times through her social media platforms. It is without a doubt, the one product she is extremely loyal to. The Some By Mi – Bye Bye Blackhead 30 Days Miracle Green Tea Tox Bubble Cleanser which can be used as both a mask and a cleanser. 

Once applied on the skin, the green gel-like formula turns white while foaming up and producing bubbles on the surface of the skin. To use as a mask, the product can be left on the skin for 3-5 minutes after which the skin can be massaged and rinsed. For daily use the product can be used as any other cleanser. Dheekko however loves using it as a mask. Although the cleanser is mainly meant to remove blackheads and whiteheads, she swears by this cleanser that it also got rid of her acne. “Whenever pimples start popping up on my face, I always use this cleanser as a mask and it helps get rid of all my pimples. I used it daily when I had really bad acne and now I don’t have to use it daily anymore as my skin has improved a lot,” she tells us.

The cleanser/mask is formulated with green tea for its anti-oxidizing benefits and naturally-derived BHA for gentle exfoliation of blackheads and whiteheads.

  1. She tries to keep her skincare steps very minimal and here’s why.

“As my skin is acne-prone I try to keep my skincare regimen with as few steps as possible,” says Dheekko. She doesn’t like to add too many products that may clog her pores and aggravate her acne. She identifies her skin concerns and uses products with ingredients that cater to her specific needs. If you have acne-prone and/or sensitive skin, this is definitely a good advice to follow. 

  1. She uses Niacinamide and/or a Retinoid at night.

If you’ve read our previous article you probably know what Niacinamide is, but we’ll refresh it for you anyway. Niacinamide which is also known as Nicotinamide is a type of Vitamin B-3 which can help you fight hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. However, Niacinamide alone may not be able to help you combat hyperpigmentation. Therefore it’s best to look for this ingredient in skincare when it’s combined with other ingredients. This is why it’s great that Dheekko uses The Ordinary – Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% – a serum that helps fight blemishes, target breakouts, minimizes the appearance of enlarged pores and regulates sebum production.

She either uses Niacinamide alone, or with a Tretinoin cream which is a topical medication used for the treatment of acne and sun-damaged skin. Tretinoin is also known as retinoic acid which is the generic name for synthetic Vitamin A. Tretinoin is stronger than retinol and as it is a prescription-strength medication, you will need a doctor’s prescription to purchase this product. If you’re thinking about using tretinoin, you must consult a dermatologist first and during your consultation make sure to mention it if you are or planning to be pregnant, if you breastfeed, if you’re on other medications and if you have to spend a lot of time under the sun due to occupational reasons. This is in order to understand the possible risks associated with these factors.

  1. She plans to incorporate a Vitamin C serum into her day-time routine.

Dheekko is now planning to include a Vitamin C serum in her day-time skincare routine, which is a great idea for multiple reasons. One of the reasons being the fact that Vitamin C is an antioxidant that combats free radicals which are harmful molecules that cause hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C can help tackle hyperpigmentation in more ways than one.
To read more about this check out our article: Brightening Skincare Ingredients And Products For Hyperpigmentation

As Dheekko asked for our suggestion for a Vitamin C product to incorporate into her daytime routine, we were more than happy to recommend to her the TIA’M – My Signature Red C Serum which is formulated with 20% pure Vitamin C that helps reduce blemishes, hyperpigmentation and signs of aging. As she has used Vitamin C products in the past, it’s alright for her to start with this concentration of Vitamin C. However, if you have sensitive skin and if it’s your first time using a skincare acid then we recommend you try out a gentler Vitamin C product with a lower concentration and work your way up to this serum. The best concentrations to use for effective results are between 10% and 20%. Using a concentration higher than 20% is not recommended as this could lead to skin irritation and would not increase in benefits.

  1. She keeps a travel kit. 

As we’ve mentioned before Dheekko never skips her skincare regimen, even if she’s on a vacation. She tells us that she always has a travel kit ready with her must-have products, which includes an eye cream, moisturizer and sunscreen. When she’s not applying makeup she likes to use the Supergoop – Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 which is an invisible, lightweight, scentless sunscreen that leaves a velvety finish. 

During her trips which usually includes snorkeling and spending a lot of time under the sun, she keeps her lips moisturized with the Vaseline – Pure Petroleum Jelly. This product is a mixture of natural waxes and mineral oils together to lock in moisture which helps repair and relieve dryness.

After she’s done with her trips she soothes her skin with the Palmer’s – Aloe Vera Extra Rich Moisturizing Gel which also includes Vitamin E. According to Palmer’s, this gel is a “fabulous after-sun product” formulated to be used on skin that’s been “overexposed to the elements” and is an all-over treatment for dry skin. Aloe vera and Vitamin E in the gel formula helps leave the skin smooth and soft without being sticky. The product also has a cooling effect (thanks to aloe vera) and is perfect for dehydrated skin. 

  1. She shaves her facial hair.

Dheekko uses a single-blade facial razor to shave her facial hair. In her personal experience, this has helped her makeup application to be smoother and long-lasting. In addition to removing hair, facial-shaving can also remove excess oil, debris, and dead skin cells which can offer a brightening effect for the skin. This is however not recommended for individuals with skin conditions such as eczema and for those with sensitive skin. Dry skin types can use a facial razor, however it’s very important to moisturize afterwards and to use an oil during the process.



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