Fashion Bomb reader Melissa wrote in asking, “What can I do to keep makeup on my face and not everywhere else? I have a primer and I know that is supposed to help with keeping make up on my face and longevity but that just doesn’t seem to cut it, especially when I’m wiping my face or happen to rub my face against someone’s clothes. I use a foundation that is supposed to stay on your face as well. I heard that setting sprays are good but I don’t know where to start. Is there anything that you suggest?

Hey Melissa!

This is actually a pretty common thing in the world of makeup. I remember when I first started wearing makeup I was wearing a liquid foundation one day and went to hug a friend who was wearing a white as snow sweater. When I let go of the embrace guess what was all over her once pristine sweater? Yep. About half of my made-up face. *sigh*

While there isn’t a way to completely get rid of makeup rub off, there are some things you can do to limit it. Using a primer as you mentioned is one. Primers help to keep your makeup on your face longer, but using it alone won’t do much for transfer. It’s a good idea to also set your foundation with finishing powder and yes, there are some good makeup sprays out there that also help. My current fave is Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix Spray (sold at Sephora), but I also hear good things about Ben Nye Final Seal Spray and Mehron Barrier Spray. Ben Nye and Mehron can be found where professional makeup products are sold.

You can also try applying thinner layers of your makeup or switching to powder formulas which aid in absorbing your skin’s oils that add to makeup stains. Or try waterproof formulas. Makeup brand Make Up For Ever has a host of waterproof makeup from foundations to lip and eye color.

Make Up For Ever Boutique inside Sephora Soho

But before you think you’re immune from rub-off after using a setting spray, there are also some new tricks you’ll need to train yourself to do. I’m completely clumsy but over the years have managed to train myself to not touch my face. I’ve got this down so good that I don’t even touch my face when it’s makeup-free. This helps to prevent accidentally getting your makeup all over anything your hands touch like your report due at 2 P.M. or a friend’s collar. If you absolutely must touch your face, be sure to wash your hands immediately or keep some hand wipes in your purse to cleanse your hands.

You’ll also want to adjust the way you hug. Instead of a face-to-face hug, try to go in on an angle to avoid hitting your subject’s clothes. I’ve managed to keep my makeup off other’s clothes for the last five years doing all of the above. Practice makes perfect though.

Good luck!

25 thoughts on “How to Prevent Makeup from Rubbing Off”

  1. So true! I’m always washing my hands, especially at work. I hate to let go of important documents and see a brown fingerprint on the page! UGH!
    Angle-hugging is something I’ve perfected, as well! lol :)

  2. i agree with not touching your face. it took me years to finally get it, but once i did, not only did i stop leaving makeup smudges everywhere i went, my makeup lasted longer, and it helped my skin overall (your hands are dirty).

  3. Suprised more people don’t know that good old milk of magnesium (plain no flavored) spread lightly over your face is one of the best and healthiest oil absorbing primers ever.
    If u have:
    oily skin- spread mOm over face after moisturizer
    dry or normal- mix mOm with your moisturizer
    Always blend a thin layer in so there is no white film and prepared to be AMAZED

  4. Urban decay has a setting spray and I cosign the Milk of Magnesia and a face primer. I’m not trying to cough up money for urban decay’s face primer.

  5. Thanks so much for the tips Danielle! Im going to try everything you suggested, I’m also going to try the milk of magnesia too!

  6. Thank you for this article!

    I have very oily skin and more spots on my face than a cheetah (acne scarring) so makeup that can last all day is a must for me! I currently use Dr. FeelGood from Benefit cosmetics under my makeup (a combo of Dermablend and Avon’s mineral powder) so that it lasts longer and it also dissipates the oil production.

    I’ll definitely be trying the Ben Nye Final Seal product just to see if my makeup can last even longer.

  7. I guess I am the only person that uses “Model in a Bottle”, not only does it prevent oil from penetrating through the makeup but it keeps my make-up there all day. I also use Milk of Magnesia under my makeup to keep the skin matte but I only use that during the hot NY summers.

  8. @Ally Glad Model in a Bottle works for you. I didn’t get the results I wanted when I tried it years ago, but perhaps they’ve since changed the formula :)

  9. And yes I’m up on MoM but it doesn’t combat makeup transfer. At least for me it doesn’t.

  10. OMG Danielle That experience with your friend in the white shirt!? How embarrassing. I too had a similar situation but it was with one of my home boys (which made it even worst) this happened like my junior year in college. I bumped into him at a festival and he grabbed me and hugged me (caught me totally off guard!) my face ended up all over his white tee (that’s back when the crisp white tees were the thing) and I wanted to die! The most embarrassing moment of my life, so far. Anyway Yes Ally I was going to ask about Model In A Bottle…I think I read somewhere that Oprah’s makeup artist uses it. I think I will try the Ben Nye since they specialize in stage makeup. I’ve always wondered how actors avoid ruboff in the shows and movies I watch. That could be it…it’s worth a try. Revlon Color Stay also has minimal if any rub off…I love it but it breaks me out :( However, MAC’s Prolong Wear foundation provides similar no transfer results :)

  11. I’ve never tried any of the suggestions mentioned by others, such as primers and MOM. I may give them a shot, but I must say that Revlon Colorstay makeup works wonders. I’ve used it for years. It’s a bit heavy, and you will have to use a good facial wash to get it off, but it does stay on all day. I’ve also had many embarrassing makeup transfer experiences in the past, and searched high and low for a makeup that would not rub off. RCS is the best. Very minimal, if any transfer to clothing, hands and even cell phone. Every now and then, I try other brands to see if anything better has come along (even high end brands), but I always end up going back to RCS.

  12. hello. I know this post is old but I hope you would answer danielle. i googled and that is how I found you. I wear Dark Opal Concealing Foundation bc I have black acne sores on my forehead, between my yes, on my cheeks, and on my chin. I look shiny 1 hour later. If I put on moisturizer, then primer, then concealing foundation will I stop looking greasy? Or do i still need to put pressed powder on as final step to stop looking greasy/shiny. Thanks.

  13. I am curious to find out what blog system you happen to be working with?
    I’m experiencing some small security problems with my latest website and I’d like to find something more safe.
    Do you have any solutions?

  14. I’m a straight guy that where’s foundation to Cover up the dark spots on my face and I’ve also had to adjust the way I hug…smh it’s something I’m embarrassed about but I do it no one notices ¯\( ˘͡ ˘̯)/¯ But I still hate when I’m having intercourse and my makeup rubs off on her shirt lol then I try to blame it on her

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