Ask any makeup artist, and they'll tell you prepping your complexion with high-quality, strategic skincare products before going in with foundation, concealer and powder is just as (and perhaps more) important than the makeup application itself. In order for your makeup to look amazing, the goal is to get your skin looking and feeling its absolute best. We're not talking perfection; we're just talking coaxing your skin into living its best and glowiest life courtesy of A+ products. Think about it this way: You wouldn't show up for a marathon without putting in ample work and training beforehand. And in a way less dramatic sense, the same goes for your skin.
Celebrity makeup artist Pati Dubroff (who works with Margot Robbie, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Kate Bosworth and more) once said she nurtures and prepares the skin for at least 40 minutes before starting the makeup process pre–red carpet. Of course, we don't expect you to go to those kinds of lengths (for the record, we're not attending red carpets and hardly have that kind of time or patience), but something can be learned from that type of expert-level stratagem.
Even though we know most celebrities have an army of experts, products, and in-office treatments to help keep them looking right and tight, we asked three of the most sought-after makeup artists in the industry (from Paris, London, and New York, no less!) to share the absolute best skin-tightening face creams they swear by for their lifting perks. Then, we took it even further by asking them to share their stash of reinforcements, aka the skin-tightening lineup of serums, masks, massaging tools and anything else they love to use in tandem with said lifting creams. Curious to get in on their age-defying routines? Keep scrolling!
"I know most people start applying their face creams from the centre and then spread outwards, but I like to do the exact opposite, and here’s why. Most of us have dry cheeks since the skin doesn't produce as much sebum there as it does other places like the T-zone. Therefore, applying most of the product to the cheeks and sides of your forehead will give you more hydration exactly where you need it.
"This cream from Sisley is one of my favourites. It's a super-lightweight formula that's great for creating radiance and a nice lifting effect."
"I actually use this mask as a moisturiser for super-dry or dehydrated skin. It plumps the skin and provides an immediate tightening effect. It’s truly an extraordinary product. I apply a small amount so I make sure there is no excess product on the skin, and then I continue with foundation. It's probably my most effective trick when I am working with someone who has very dry skin."
"This is a rich formula that hydrates the skin and leaves it with a healthy-looking glow."
"This is my personal favourite. I use it on my clients and on my own combination skin. No formula has worked better for giving my skin lots of hydration, elasticity and radiance without that greasy feeling so many other rich creams can leave behind. This is a versatile, all-year-round kind of moisturiser—it's truly magic!"
Amina Muaddi, celebrity client
"If I have a few extra minutes, I like to use a mask that helps brighten and give a nice lifting and tightening effect. My favorite is the Biologique Recherche PIGM 400 Sheet Mask. It has a high concentration of vitamin C, and I can see a difference in the skin right away."
(Editor's note: To view pricing for Biologique Recherche's products, you'll need to visit the Embassy of Beauty website, create an account and complete a skin analysis.)
"Moisturiser is key before makeup application, but you'll get an even better finish if you pair your cream with a serum. I love a good vitamin C serum before applying moisturiser because it will help plump, lift and brighten the skin. Then, your moisturiser will hydrate and seal all that goodness in. I'm currently obsessed with the vitamin C serum from Alpha H."
"I adore the Dior Capture Totale Cell Energy Cream. The formula is rich without being greasy, so it really plumps and firms the skin while also wearing well under makeup."
"For something affordable yet effective, I like Olay’s 3-Point Age-Defying Cream. It’s easily absorbed yet still hydrating, smoothing and firming.
"To apply serums and moisturisers, I like to start from the centre of the face and smooth upward and outward. Any extra moments you can spend on massaging during your application, your skin will thank you for! Remember to be gentle around the eyes and pay the jawline and lymph area (at the sides of the neck) extra attention."
Demi Moore, celebrity client
"These sheet masks from 111Skin are super handy to have in my kit on the go. They're easy to apply and have noticeable lifting and firming effects."
"This is one of my favourite masks to really brighten and tighten skin before makeup."
"This primer has been a staple in my kit since I first discovered it. It works well over moisturiser on all skin types to create a smooth, velvety base for makeup application."
"I love the IS Clinical Youth Complex, which is full of antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and retinol which are all great ingredients to tighten the skin while improving skin texture and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. I have become a huge fan of using retinol-infused skincare products, as they've made a night-and-day difference with improving my skin texture and making my complexion smoother and plumper. I highly recommend this product!"
HoYeon Jung, celebrity client
"When I have the time, I love to give my clients a mini facial. I start by applying a face mask, and my favorite for skin-tightening is the Eden Instant Lift Mask from Joanna Vargas. It instantly brightens the face and firms the skin. Taking the time for a face mask is so important because it gives a boost of hydration, which will allow the skin to really soak in all the ingredients, and it will also enhance the absorption of the face cream afterward."
"Then, I like to use a jade roller to massage the rest of the mask onto the skin to really activate the blood circulation and wake up the muscles! There are a few face rollers that I like, but my favourite is Sentara Holistic's Pink Quartz Roller. It has two sides—one for the under-eye and a bigger side for the face. They are eco-responsible and have very low production to make sure every crystal is ethically sourced. They also take the time to recharge them over the full moon to maximise the crystal efficiency! I absolutely love them."
(Editor's note: Martini's fave isn't available in the UK, but we're huge fans of this luxe alternative from Herbivore.)
More Skin-Tightening Creams Our Beauty Editors Love
I'm extremely loyal to just a handful of moisturisers, and this cult-classic pick from Charlotte Tilbury is one I can count on when I want my skin to look plump, tight, and super-dewy. It's loaded with amazing ingredients like the brand's BioNympth Peptide Complex (which kick-starts collagen production, discourages wrinkles, plumps and moisturises) along with luxe, delicate oils from rose hip and camellia, damask rose water and organic aloe vera. It's genius under makeup, especially if you top it off with Tilbury's Wonderglow Instant Soft-Focus Beauty Flash Primer (£31).
You'll believe in magic after trying this ridiculously lovely moisturiser from IS Clinical. Not only does the brand make some of the most coveted skincare products in the industry to begin with, but it also partnered with top makeup artists when it conceptualised and created this cream. It imparts a deeply hydrating, subtly luminous finish, and thanks to the addition of copper peptides, each application stimulates collagen production to help firm and minimise wrinkles.
QMS Medicosmetics is one of the most sought-after skincare lines around. I was lucky enough to receive a facial from one of its expert aestheticians late last year, and I've been hooked on this skin-tightening elixir ever since. It can be used morning or night and is especially strategic in that it's designed to improve your skin's line of defence thanks to a roster of skin-identical proteins along with hydration-inducing squalene and hyaluronic acid.
Last but not least, my beauty partner in crime Courtney Higgs really likes Murad's Resurgence line if you're after lifting and skin-tightening benefits. The formula is preposterously rich in the most amazing way possible. Ingredients like shea butter and natural fruit oils secure hydration, wrinkle-reduction and lots of bouncy elasticity.