Making Up with 95% Humidity

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in central New Jersey for the better part of a decade, it’s how to choose humidity-resistant makeup. (I would say “humidity-proof,” but nothing is truly humidity-proof except mosquitoes.) In a part of the world where the humidity index routinely hovers above 90% and occasionally creeps up to 100%, it’s essential to know which formulas won’t slide off my face before I even leave the house—or, at least, will look semi-decent as they slide off. In addition to living in the muggy armpit of the United States, I’m also a person who sweats a lot, particularly on my face and scalp. After my 20-minute walk to work, my face is dripping and my hair is as wet as if I’ve just showered. All this is to say that if I vouch for the tenacity of a formula, believe me: it’s tenacious.

When choosing my makeup on particularly humid mornings, I look for formulas that a) stain the skin, b) dry down completely, or c) fade gracefully. (I’m talking about color makeup, by the way: I have yet to find a humidity-resistant concealer, but please enlighten me if you know of one.) Because I don’t wear foundation, powders don’t blend out properly when my skin is damp, and brushes don’t glide across my skin as smoothly as usual. And let’s be honest: now that I’m working a 9-to-5 job, I have a newfound appreciation for products that I can mash into my face with my fingers when half-asleep. On summer weekday mornings, I gravitate toward liquid or cream eyeshadow, liquid or cream blush, matte liquid lipstick, and sheer lipstick. This post will be an overview of my favorite formulas and shades in those categories!

1. Liquid and Cream Eyeshadow

My OG humidity-resistant holy-grail shadow is Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, one of my summer staples since 2013 (this is my second one):

Bad to the Bronze is cooler-toned than most bronze eyeshadows on the market (I’d even venture to say it verges on taupe), with a formula that blends out smoothly but sets quickly. This stuff is apocalypse-proof. Unfortunately, none of the other Color Tattoos I’ve tried have impressed me as much, but I will repurchase Bad to the Bronze as long as it’s available. It’s one of the very few products that I discovered early in my makeup journey and still wear frequently today. For proof of its incredible longevity, look no further than this (rather gross, sorry) photo from earlier this week:

I took this after walking home from work on an afternoon when the heat index was about 100°. I was more sweat than woman, as you’ll see more clearly if you enlarge the photo, which I encourage you not to do. And yet, incredibly, neither my eyeshadow nor my lipstick budged. (The lipstick is Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia; more on that later.)

The Glossier Lidstars are a newer discovery. (Disclaimer: I purchased all the Glossier products in this post with store credit earned through my affiliate link.) Glossier is known for sheer, barely-there makeup, but many of their sheer products are surprisingly long-lasting. I’ve now tried every Lidstar except Herb, and I wear four of them regularly (Moon is a lost cause, and I actually sent it to an Instagram pal just yesterday):

L-R: Fawn, Cub, Slip, Lily.

Obviously, the packaging leaves much to be desired: the caps crack after a few weeks of gentle use (par for the course with Glossier, I’m afraid). But the formula is so tenacious that I can forgive the cheap packaging. These shadows dry all the way down and can be removed only with oil-based products. Sweat and tears will leave them unscathed.

Top to bottom: Lily, Slip, Cub, Fawn.

Cub and Fawn are pigmented enough that I can apply them with my fingers. Slip and Lily are sheerer, and they look patchy when finger-swiped across my lids, so I prefer to dab them on with their doefoot applicators and blend them out with a synthetic brush (I bought a cheapo one from e.l.f expressly for this purpose). This creates a beautifully smooth finish, even on my deeply creased eyelids. Here I am wearing Slip recently, as well as Glossier Cloud Paint in Storm (more on that later, too) and MAC Metallic Lipstick in Pale Rose. Slip matches my skin unnervingly well; it’s the slightly shimmery my-lids-but-better color that I’ve wanted since my earliest days of wearing eyeshadow.

2. Liquid and Cream Blush

Another longtime holy grail is Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic, a pinkish beige that matches every makeup look. I’ve owned this blush for four years, which makes me think I should toss it soon, but it hasn’t gone bad in any perceptible way. I guess I’ll just keep using it until it does? (I notice that I bitched about the Jersey humidity in my original review of Zygomatic. Some things never change.)

Zygomatic is my only cream blush, but I’ve recently discovered the glory of liquid blush, in the form of Glossier Cloud Paint. I own four Cloud Paints, and I’ve been wearing them almost every day this summer. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I used a powder blush.

Inspired by draping queen Lena of Faceonomics, I’ve changed my everyday blush placement as well. I used to apply blush to the tops of my cheekbones, where highlighter usually goes, but now I like to blend it below my cheekbones for a more contoured look. This placement is especially effective with darker blushes like Storm and Dawn, the new Cloud Paint shades. (I still apply light blushes to my cheekbones or the apples of my cheeks.) Storm is a deep rosy brown, close to the color of dried blood, and Dawn is a bold, slightly burnt orange. Here they are at full strength and blended out, in shade (top) and sun (bottom):

Dawn is the perfect shade for replicating an amazing look from a k-pop video I saw recently:

I’m not brave enough yet to go quite as bold as Taeyeon (or Lena), but this is my best attempt at sunburn-contour so far. I really like it! As always with blush photos, it looked bolder in person, I promise.

3. Matte Liquid Lipstick

As regular readers know by now, my favorite matte liquid lipsticks are the Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuits. Comfortable, long-wearing, cruelty-free, and $4.99 a pop: what’s not to love? I own five:

L-R: Rebel Rose, Nudist Peach, Missy and Fierce, Nice to Fuchsia, Goth Topic.

They also work well as sheer stains, which I learned from Julia of Spiders and Caterpillars. My favorite Catsuit for this purpose is Goth Topic, which I bought last fall but never got around to reviewing. At full strength, it’s a very dark brownish plum that’s a little much for everyday wear, especially during the summer (though my commitment to #summergoth remains strong). Sheered out, though, it’s a moody plum that delivers a desaturated goth vibe. To apply, I use the applicator to dot a few drops on my lips; then I blend out the pigment with a finger, adding more color as necessary until I reach my desired intensity:

4. Sheer Lipstick
Of course, I also own several bona fide sheer lipsticks. Yes, these fade quickly in the humidity; but at least they fade nicely, which is all I ask. What I really like to avoid on hot, humid days are opaque cream lipsticks that smear when I try, pointlessly, to wipe the sweat off my face. (Glosses are also a little more smeary than I’d like, though I do wear gloss occasionally during the summer.) Here are all the sheer lipsticks I own currently:

L-R: Urban Decay Seismic, Urban Decay Lawbreaker, Glossier Like, ColourPop Bee’s Knees, NARS Orgasm, NARS Dolce Vita.

Swatches, same order. (That’s three [!!] swipes of Glossier Like and one swipe of every other shade.)

L-R: Seismic, Lawbreaker, Like, Bee’s Knees, Orgasm, Dolce Vita.

And that’s it! What are your favorite products to wear on humid days? Do you have any tips for making makeup last when the air is almost too damp to breathe?

19 thoughts on “Making Up with 95% Humidity

  1. I loved reading this! Your recommendations are fantastic. I need to dig out my old Bad to the Bronze and give that mofo another whirl – last time I used it, I lived in a very humid and hot environment (Malaysia) and it's since been relegated to the back of my drawer. But what a gorgeous shade it is! And your liquid blush swatches and placement advice are spot-on. I always shy away from wearing liquid blush because I use powder to set my foundation (oily skin problems hayyyy), but I don't need to wear powder EVERY DAY. Liquid blush, I will use you, I promise. The blotted lip look with WnW catsuit is brilliant! It looks a bit more forgiving on the lip lines, too. I recently spent about a month in Singapore/Malaysia and the sweaty-faced makeup struggle was real. I eventually only ended up wearing eye makeup on a daily basis because my face makeup would just slide and melt off, even when I set with powder and UD all nigher setting spray. I am also a massive sweaty betty (I carried a small Hello Kitty handtowel from my olden days as an elementary school kid in Japan just for the purpose of wiping sweat from my face). My eyeshadows from Zoeva, another Singapore purchase because it's not available in the US, stayed relatively well put if I used primer underneath. MAC mascara did well in the heat, too. But my pencil eyeliner from Origins disappeared quickly when I was sweaty – a few years ago when I lived in SE Asia long-term, I used one of those liquid eyeliners with a \”3-dot\” brush, I think from Holika Holika, and that shit stayed PUT.Who knew NJ was so humid? Keep showing us your adorable light-goth office lady looks, I love them!


  2. I only have one Wet n Wild Megalast liquid lip and totally want to try it as a sheer stain now, so thanks for that tip! As someone who spent 5 years in Philadelphia, pretty close to NJ, I can totally relate to the devastating effects of heat and humidity and thus find this post really helpful. NYC is insanely humid too. I wish I had something useful to share, but I've barely been wearing makeup this summer except for some translucent powder (Rimmel Match Perfection Silky Loose Powder) and some sheer lip color (Sephora Gloss Balm in Hot Pants, Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm in Honey Nectar). I miss wearing makeup, though, which reminds me that I had something I wanted to ask you: I was eyeing Sephora's Cream Lip Stain in a new color called Cherry Moon. It looks super gorgeous, but I'm always a little scared of long wearing lip colors because they're so hard to remove. I revisited your review of the lip stain from earlier in the blog, but there wasn't any mention of whether it's a bitch to take off. Any thoughts?Hope you are having a lovely summer x


  3. My eyelids truly hate cream shadows. I've never found one that doesn't crease, Maybelline included. Humidity-proof eyeshadow for me is a good primer + powder shadow. I do kind of miss Bad to the Bronze, though – the colour is so good. I'm very much a fan of comfortable, sheer lipsticks in the heat, though; I really don't want to feel like I have a lot on my face in this weather, but I have to wear a full face for work so lightweight formulas are my friend. I feel like spring and early fall are the best times for makeup because my skin isn't too dry and the weather doesn't cause my face to melt off.


  4. Wow, thanks for including a link to my blog!! I love the Catsuit lipsticks, especially Rebel Rose and Give me mocha. Another one I love from your post is the Urban Decay Lawbreaker. I don't have any tips for humidity makeup, because I live in San Francisco. Last time I experienced bad humidity, I wasn't sure what to do, so I just went without makeup. But, I guess colourpop cream eyeshadows or stila liquid eyeshadows might work well, as they last forever…


  5. I recently got a Revlon Colorstay shadow that comes in a pot like the Maybelline Color Tattoos. It looks very similar to the Lidstars to me, rather sheer and shimmery with excellent staying power. I've only tried the one shade (a pale olive color) but I think I'd recommend them! I also really like the Colourpop Metallic Super Shock Shadows. They're really pretty, one and done, long lasting shadows for the summer. I especially enjoy Three's a Cloud and Muse, wearable metallic mustard and pink respectively(!) Setting spray also does a lot for me, although I mainly use powder products so I'm not sure if it would have the same effect for liquid and cream based stuff. In terms of a waterproof concealer, there was some sort of waterproof makeup challenge going around Youtube a while back. You might be able to find something through those.


  6. I think my biggest thing for hot makeup days is a smudge proof mascara. My blush and highlight will just fade away, but bad mascara will smear, which is way worse. I like the Benefit roller lash, because for me it stays on (or at least doesn't obviously smear). I too really like the glossier lidstars and cloud paints for the summer– they look so beautiful with no real work!


  7. \”Light-goth office lady\” is definitely the aesthetic of summer 2k18. I'm doing admin in a genomics lab and I don't think anyone there notices, let alone gives a damn, how I look (I'm definitely the only woman who wears color makeup of any kind), but I still feel the need to observe a certain restraint. Korean liquid liners can withstand anything! If I wore liquid liner anymore, I would definitely have recommended them in this post. I remember swatching a liquid liner from some Korean brand (embarrassingly, I can't remember which one), and I couldn't wash it off my hand all day. It was insane.


  8. You know, I've never actually worn translucent powder. Maybe it's that I don't wear foundation and always assumed that powder is something that goes over foundation? Anyway, I have a deluxe sample of a By Terry translucent powder, and I should really try it out and see how it stands up to the humidity.I've tried only one shade out of the dozens of Cream Lip Stains, so I don't want to generalize too much, but I find Coral Sunset really easy to remove! Then again, CS doesn't dry down fully and it seems from Temptalia's review that Cherry Moon does, so I can't make any guarantees.


  9. I can barely even PUT ON powder shadow when it's humid. This morning I used Modern Renaissance over Urban Decay Primer Potion, and the brush kept sticking to my skin and dragging. And it was far from the most humid morning we've had this summer. Bleh.I agree that spring and early fall are the best times for makeup! Well, mid-fall here; September is still pretty sticky.


  10. I should use my Stila glitter shadow this summer! I just feel weird about wearing glitter to the office. For some reason it makes me feel more dressed up than dark lipstick does. And I'm so happy you were able to get Lawbreaker–it's a really special shade.


  11. Oh man, I have Muse but it looks AWFUL on me. It's a beautiful rose gold in the pan, but on my lids it pulls very orange and makes me look sick. I should try some other shades in that formula, though, because Muse's formula is really nice.I use the Heritage Store rosewater/glycerin spray to set my makeup, but I've never tried a real setting spray like MAC Fix+. Is there a difference? This is embarrassing, but I can't figure out whether setting spray has actual fixative powers or just melts your makeup together in the same way that a rosewater spray would.


  12. I believe I read somewhere (can't find my source…eeek!) that Mac Fix+ is more of an emollient formula that will do the \”melt the makeup together\” thing and tone down powderiness. I believe that occupies the category of \”setting spray.\” Then there's \”fixing spray,\” which is like Urban Decay's All-Nighter, and those ingredients are sort of similar to hairspray in that they help form a fine barrier or film over the skin's surface so that it's not easily disturbed by sweat, exterior environmental conditions, etc. I wish I could find the link! Maybe google setting vs. fixing spray? Either way, I find that my Mac Fix + doesn't hold up in heat, whereas UD All Nighter does quite well.


  13. Korean eyeliners are bulletproof! Maybe it was Clio's waterproof pen liner? I tried a sample of it and I wasn't too keen on the traditional liquid eyeliner brush – I loved the Holika Holika one because it was stiff and had that special 3-prong thing going on, which made it pretty foolproof for a liquid eyeliner noob like me. Ooh, a genomics lab! We have one of those on my campus. They get All Da Monies. Meanwhile, it's the Hunger Games out here for us humanities/humanistic social science folks.


  14. See, this is what I was wondering about! In the YouTube beauty videos I watch, the gurus tend to use Fix+, All Nighter, and other sprays interchangeably and refer to them all as \”setting sprays,\” but it's clear that they have different properties. Thanks for clearing this up; I'm going to check out All Nighter next time I'm at an Ulta or Sephora.


  15. Oh man, this lab has so much money it's almost hilarious. The English department is housed in a building from the 1930s that I'm pretty sure hasn't been renovated since then (or if it has been, I've seen no evidence of it), whereas the building I work in was designed by Rafael Viñoly and contains a Frank Gehry sculpture. Of course, the English department building also isn't named after CARL ICAHN, which makes up for a lot.


  16. Wow! That building and its conference room-famous sculpture is amazing! And I CANNOT (but can) believe that the freaking building is named after Creepy Carl Icahn. Holy shite. That's such a big contrast to my department's building, which is austerely named, \”Social Science 1.\” Lol. Although we're a public school without Ivy Money (not to be confused with Blue Ivy Money?), so maybe that accounts for the cheapness-pawned-off-as-minimalism.


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