I’m Melting! Beauty Survival Tips for Summer in the City

There are many lovely things about summer in New York: rooftop drinking, Manhattanhenge, rainbow sprinkle cones from a Mr. Softee truck. But there are also some things that are not so lovely. I could talk about the high rises showering you with air conditioner drippings or the crush of tourists or the smell of dozens of sweaty humans crammed in a subway car. But the thing that people most often underestimate about summer in the city if they haven’t experienced it for themselves is the heat.

New York in the summer is hot. And not a dry desert hot: I’m talking humid, heavy, walking-down-the-street-like-you’re-wading-through-pudding-because-the-air-is-so-thick hot. On top of this, most of the apartments and subway platforms you encounter are not equipped with AC (a fact that Scout and I will never comprehend: see previous rant). Standing on a platform waiting for a train is akin to descending into the depths of Mount Doom to wallow in the fiery, ring-forging magma pits: Nobody wants that. And in addition to being unpleasant, if like me you’re someone whose life regularly includes makeup, your outsides can soon begin to match your insides as every careful swipe of powder or dab of eye shadow comes melting off your face like a cosmetic lava slide.

I’m now in my second city summer, and over my time here I’ve come up with a few staples in my toolbox that help me feel like a put-together human even if the mercury is reaching astronomical levels. So without further ado, here are my tips and tricks for keeping your face in place all summer long, heat and humidity be damned.


Use primer. Primer is like superglue for your face, creating an even base for your makeup and making sure that everything stays where it’s supposed to. My favorite is Benefit’s The POREfessional (and not just because of the name, though I am a sucker for a good pun). This stuff goes on really smooth and leaves you with a nice matte finish. I usually add some BB cream and powder foundation on top, but you can also leave it as is if you just want some sheer coverage to reduce shine and even out your skin tone.

bare minerals

Kill two birds with one stone. When it’s hot, you don’t want to put on any more layers than you need to, and that goes for makeup as well as clothing. As an admittedly lazy human, I’m a big fan of products that pull double duty, so especially in the summer, I like to use a BB cream or foundation that has sunscreen in it already. This also helps you make protecting your skin a regular part of your routine, preventing damage or lobster face (a too frequent occurrence in the life of the pale and forgetful, like me). I’ve been a fan of Bare Minerals Foundation for a long time. Liquid foundations just make me feel like I’ve got a bunch of gunk on my face, so I love that the powder is super light and it has SPF 15 to boot.


Waterproof is your best friend. You know that moment when your day is going great, you’ve been witty and charming and flipped your hair just so as you smile at the cute barista, and then you step into the restroom, brimming with self confidence, only to discover that you have raccoon eyes? Waterproof mascara is how you avoid that. My favorite? Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara. No matter how much sweat, tears, or water gets thrown your lashes’ way, this stuff will stay put, and your cheeks will remain unstained.

urban decay

Spray it down. I discovered this stuff on a recommendation from my sister and it is my new best friend. Seriously, y’all, it is a GAME CHANGER. Meet Urban Decay’s All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray — the magical wunderkind you didn’t know your makeup bag was missing. Just spritz a light layer (2-4 sprays) of this over your makeup, let it dry, and that shit will not budge for the rest of the day (or night). If you’re anticipating a particularly sweaty day, you can do one layer after your primer and another after the rest of your makeup. Just make sure your face dries before you apply any powder, blush, etc. so your brushes don’t get all gummed up.


Go stain or go home. My basic summer makeup philosophy can be summarized as “Take care of as much work as possible in the comfort of my air conditioned bedroom so I don’t have to worry about it in the outdoors.” Hence my latest obsession with lip stains, particularly the new line from Cynthia Rowley Beauty, which I discovered courtesy of Birchbox (Valentine and Poppy are my favorite summer shades, and you can’t go wrong with Heartthrob as a classic red). These guys go on super smooth and moisturizing, not sticky like some stains, and the color lasts all day so you don’t need to worry about reapplying. An added bonus? Lip stains are much less likely than lip sticks to melt in your bag. RIP Benefit Espionage, 2014.

I can’t guarantee that these tips will keep you cool (temperature-wise, that is), but they will help you look your best even in the most sweltering of moments. And if all else fails, you can always pull a Scout and go makeup-commando. She’s allergic to pretty much all of this stuff anyway.


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