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How Sandra Saenz Preps Skin for Makeup

06 Dec 2021

Professional makeup artist Sandra Saenz has been in the makeup industry for a long time. The first hijabi makeup artist to have agency representation in the U.S. and the first to sign a contract with a top cosmetic brand, Saenz is currently acting as the global brand ambassador for KVD Beauty. Yet, twenty years in, with extensive experience in editorial makeup and the world of beauty campaigns, Saenz’s most important makeup tip is still the same:

“Do not forget skin prep!” Saenz urges. “Skin prep is the most important thing for makeup application.”

You heard her. Below, find out the steps Saenz follows to effectively prep the skin for makeup.

Preparing the canvas

“The most basic skin prep would be: cleanse, tone, and moisturize, and if you really want amazing results, exfoliate as well, or get a toner that is going to help with exfoliation,” says Saenz.

According to Saenz, basic routines are helpful, but all skin prep is not created equal. It’s best to customize your skin prep to your own skin goals. Depending on the client or model she’s working with, Saenz will modify her skin prep for their skin needs.

“We can have the most luxurious, expensive makeup out there, or the best brand, [but] if the skin is not prepped, if we don't exfoliate right or we don't moisturize... you're going to get a patchy-looking complexion,” shares Saenz. “Skin prep is incredibly important! I’ve always said this and I am a skincare fanatic for this reason, because nothing else will look great unless you have your skin prepped.”

Saenz recommends using a cleanser or cleansing balm like the Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm to break down dirt or debris. 

“Usually, because models come in with a little bit of mascara from going to a casting or something, I would use the Cleansing Balm to break down that makeup,” she says.


After cleansing, Saenz’s surefire method for achieving a smoother base on her clients on set is exfoliation. 

“When you don't exfoliate and you just apply moisturizer, as you're [later] applying the foundation, either with a brush or fingers or a beauty blender, you will see a little bit of skin coming off, almost like lint,” Saenz says. “It’s all dead skin. If you exfoliate, then that doesn't happen! Then, your skin is really absorbing the moisturizer and [makeup] lays on top nicely versus adhering to the dead skin cells.”

Saenz says that exfoliating toners like the Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner and liquid leave-on exfoliants like the Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant do just the trick of clarifying pores and evening skin texture and tone.

Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize again

“Always, always apply moisturizer,” Saenz urges. “I cannot stress the importance of using moisturizer before [applying] your makeup enough. The makeup is not going to really get in and clog your pores, because you’ll have that little barrier of moisturizing cream on top of the skin.”

Saenz’s ideal duo for hydration is the Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream and the Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activated Mist—in that order.

“We did a massive shoot with 44 models that we had to get skin prepped and ready, and it was the Adaptogen Mist that just kept things fresh,” Saenz says. “It was a complexion shoot, so we were shooting foundations. We didn't have whole powder trays or anything, so we sprayed the mist on top to keep the skin hydrated and the makeup dewy in between. That’s what worked for us!”

Final tip: remember the eyes

With Saenz’s routine, the result is a clean and smooth canvas for any look. But to really ensure that your skin is prepped, protected, and nourished underneath makeup, Saenz reveals a pro tip: remember to prep the eyes.

“I think prepping the under eye area is very, very important,” she says. “We use products under there as well, we’re color correcting or using concealer. The eyes are equally important for skin prep. A lot of people just use eye creams at night, kind of like a treatment, but I would definitely try not to forget that area as well when prepping any time of day.”

Saenz’s go-to eye cream is the Superfood Hydrate + Firm Eye Cream, which she says is light enough for basic skin prep, but still effective to help avoid creasing.

“A little goes a very long way,” Saenz says. “The size of a rice grain [is enough]. Tap it with your ring finger and then just [swipe] the under eye area, and that's it. You really need very, very little.”

Written by Kaitlyn McNab for Youth To The People

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