African American woman with clean skin touching face


What Is The Difference Between Skin Care and Skin Prep?

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Skin Care vs. Skin Prep

Skin Care vs. Skin Prep Blog Image

Since everyone loves a good analogy, I’ll make the first one that comes to mind… Skin care is to healthy lifestyle as skin prep is to shapewear.

African American woman with clean skin touching face

Does that make sense? If not, it will at the end of this post. (P.S. I didn’t do that well in the SATs!)

But in all seriousness, if you are reading this blog then you are for certain old enough to be taking care of your skin. Skin care should start at a young age. As a matter of fact, I’m teaching my two small kiddos how to take care of their skin NOW so that it’s a good habit they can carry and practice with them for a lifetime. I’ll tell you right now that I have one boy and one girl. This is important to remember, as I’ll touch on gender in a second. 

Skin care is something you must do everyday. Non-negotiable. I don’t really have time to argue. If you don’t believe me, you can just close out of this blog post right now!

“But Natalie, I don’t wear makeup!”

Just because you don’t wear makeup doesn’t mean you get a free pass to skip the skin care!

If you wear makeup…whether sparingly or regularly, having a strong skin care game is even more essential for a beautiful makeup application. So is skin prep, but I’ll get to that in a second. 

Skin care is NOT just for WOMEN

As a matter of fact, because skin care has become hyper-feminized (at least in the United States), there are a lot of men out there wondering why they all of a sudden look so old when they look in the mirror at or around their mid-life crisis. That’s also helps explain why shows like Queer Eye is so popular and resonates with men and women alike. 

I can’t tell you how many men have approached me, as if on a covert mission, asking me in a faint whisper, what types of products they need to take care of their face and if they should wear concealer. I tell them the same thing I am telling you. You have to take care of your skin if you want to age gracefully (or handsomely, whatever). You are a human with skin on your face, right? Yes. OK. You have to take care of your skin. I don’t care if it’s packaged in a pink bottle or gray one, nobody cares. Just do it.

(I do want to talk about gender bias in cosmetics packaging, eventually… let me know in the comments below if this is something you’d like to see from me). 

Male skin care is important. Period. And ::gasp:: makeup can also be tremendously life changing for men too. The same way a small bit of mascara can make a woman feel like Joan of Arc, a little bit of bronzer, concealer, or no-color powder and men feel like George Clooney’s and Brad Pitts. Digressing, as usual. 

You Don’t Have Wrinkles Until You Have Them

You might remember one of my most popular posts “4 Things A Makeup Artist Can and Can’t Do For You” where I talk about how I can’t, as a makeup artist or non-Botox carrying professional, make wrinkles go away. 

But guess what can help wrinkles go away? You guessed it, skin care.

The only problem is, you can’t always see “skin care.” You can only trust that if you are taking care of your skin on a daily basis, that you are preventing wrinkles from making unexpected arrivals. Wrinkles still might (and probably) be inevitable but they might’ve arrived earlier and way deeper, longer, noticeable. You won’t really know until you’re in your 60s and everyone thinks you are in your 40s. Yes. I meet tons of people who take care of their skin and guess what, they look way younger.

Woman removing makeup with a cotton pad

So if you want to prevent wrinkles, ya gotta practice skin care. Basically, whether you wear makeup or not, skin care is 100% a must. Skin care doesn’t discern gender or race… if you want to have an enjoyable, stress-free retirement, you can’t start saving when you’re 50 (unless you plan on winning the lotto or something). 

So, What is Skin Care?

Skin care, in a nutshell includes, but is not limited to:

  • Cleansing and moisturizing your face in the morning and evening, before bed 
  • Protecting your face from the sun with SPF or staying out/physically protecting your face from UV rays daily (yes, even in winter when it’s gloomy out)
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Eating healthy

Optional but not necessary:

  • Getting regular facials (maybe 1x a quarter or 2x a year; do what you can). I like to use the comparison of getting your teeth cleaned… you get your teeth cleaned 2x a year but you have an issue getting your face cleaned professionally? Doesn’t make sense. Schedule a facial, you and your skin will love it!
  • Botox. Retinoids. Prescription strength anti-aging stuff. You have extra money to spend and time to add certain products to your skin care routine. By all means, go for it. Botox is best when done before you have wrinkles. So are retinoids. So don’t wait until it’s too late and these expensive treatments won’t be as effective. 

Please keep in mind when buying products for your skin care routine…

#1 There’s no “miracle” cream that is going to cure your skin from age.

#2 As we age and go through life, our skin changes and also gets used to products. You may have to change up your game here and there.

#3 Skin care doesn’t work if you don’t take care of your specific skin type. If you “think” you have dry skin but aren’t 100% sure, and you are using products formulated for oily skin… well, you aren’t doing your or your skin any favors. Just saying. To thine own skin type stay true. 

Bonus: If you don’t know your skin type, you can find out today, right now, for free in my Skin Type Guide! Download it here.

skin type guide

Now, Onto Skin Prep

Now that skin care is pretty well hammered into your soul, let’s talk skin prep, shall we? Skin prep is short for skin preparation aka preparing your skin for xyz. In this context, I’m talking about preparing your skin for a makeup application. 

Skin care and skin prep assortment via Unsplash

Yep, before you put makeup on, you have to get your skin ready for the makeup. 

Depending on what kind of makeup I’ll be wearing or how long I’ll need my makeup to last or if I’ll be photographed, I may use different products so that my makeup will do what I need it to do.

Skin prep, when applied correctly, will hydrate in the right place, or brighten (temporarily), or reduce puffiness (temporarily), or lift (temporarily)… you see where I’m going with this.

Using a face mask once before you apply makeup will not change your skin in the long term. It will change it for the next few hours (if it’s a great quality and high performing mask designed to do that). Using that mask on a continued and consistent basis (skin care) will keep your skin looking like that.

Note: if I’m just running errands all day but not wearing makeup, I’ll apply my normal toner and a light, SPF moisturizer — maybe an eye cream. But that’s about it. If I’m not wearing makeup, I usually stick with a really thoughtful skin care routine and skip the skin prep altogether.

What Do I Recommend for Skin Prep?

Sonia Roselli Skin Prep Line

Personally, I love the entire line from Sonia Roselli for skin prep. Her line is beloved and used for makeup skin prep by sooo many professionals, and there’s good reason! Her line was formulated and made by a makeup artist who couldn’t find any other products on the market that could do what she needed her products to do — prepare the skin for makeup. The products are made in Japan with the best ingredients, including water (which is a central ingredient to her line). Water is an ingredient that works well for all skin types and when you are a working makeup artist, it’s awesome when you can use one product on a variety of skin types.

I think the following will work best for most skin types:

  • Quartz roller
  • Toner
  • Time (1 minute)
  • Moisturizer (the type may be different from day to day)
  • Time (1 minute)
  • Primer (if needed)
  • Time (1 minute)

Read more: Makeup for Beginners: My Easy 4-Step Application

It is SO important to allow a little bit of time between each product to allow the skin prep to “soak in” to your skin. This is something I see people neglect all. the. time.

Do you have any questions about skin care or skin prep? I would love to answer them for you!

The best place to ask your questions (and make sure they don’t get lost in the abyss of the Internet) is here. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does! Your questions will remain anonymous but they may be featured in an upcoming blog post!

Stay hydrated and glowy!


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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

kevyn aucoin