Celeb Makeup Artist Liz Pugh Reveals Her Ingenious Tips for Flawless Skin

Skin prep is key. It is the step that every makeup artist will say is critical to how well the makeup that is applied after will look. It’s just like painting a room, you need to clean and sand the walls first, and your skin is the same! A perfect canvas not only makes product application a doddle, but less base and concealer will be needed which means no unsightly caking (and fewer visits to  the beauty hall—ideal if you have an expensive foundation habit).

Makeup artist Liz Pugh, who works with stars like Adele, Amanda Seyfried, Chrissy Teigen and Alexa Chung explains, “Skin should look beautiful and flawless, never masked in foundation”. 

Read on for Liz’s nine skin prep and makeup application steps that will give you a flawless look every time.

My favourite type of exfoliator is one with small particles, rather than an alpha hydroxy acid–based product. Scrubs tend to have a more immediate effect and I don’t always have a lot of time to prep!

My go-to exfoliators are:

I will remove the exfoliator with a hot cloth to keep the skin warm. This helps the makeup look more like skin, if the skin is cold it can just sit on top and doesn’t look as natural.

I love hydrating masks as I find most people have dehydrated skin due to the elements, even those with an oily complexion! Many of my clients are on and off long haul flights so they are super dehydrated. I love the SKII Facial Treatment sheet masks, and Sisley has amazing masks.

I apply a hydrating serum like Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Hydration Serum (£23) or Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum (£43), let this sit for a minute and then follow with either Oskia Nutri Active Day Cream (£52) or Clinique Moisture Surge Intense (£34). I massage this into the skin—it is a really important step to get the circulation going and bring the blood to the surface. It’s like a mini facial.

Liz’s Dos and Don’ts of Facial Massage:

  • Do have clean hands.
  • Do use upward strokes to lift and drain away any puffiness.
  • Don’t over moisturise an oily T-zone.
  • Do leave skin to settle before applying foundation, a couple of minutes is fine.
  • Don’t skip this step! 

I hardly work with any brushes when doing skin, your hands are the perfect tools. You can warm and massage products in, feel the cheekbone hollows when contouring, feel the top of the cheekbones when adding highlight. All you need is a packet of baby wipes as it can get a little messy!


Look for a foundation that will bring a glow to the skin. Staples in my kit are:

I apply foundation with my hands, warming and massaging it into the skin, pretty much like I do the moisturiser. I am a big fan of the BeautyBlender (£16), I literally have about 30 on the go, and I think everyone should own one! A word of warning though, it has to be the real thing, I have tried imitations but nothing compares. I use the BeautyBlender to perfectly blend the foundation into the skin. Then where I see the skin needs a little extra help I will pick up some foundation from my hand with the beauty blender and press it in to give that extra bit of coverage.

Concealer comes next; this is where you can work really delicately to complete the perfect complexion. I love Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage (£27), another staple I have used since it launched. I apply this to areas of redness, usually around the nose and lips. I don’t tend to use this under the eyes, as it is a little too heavy for the delicate skin but if I do I mix it with a little eye cream.

Next, I go over the skin strategically with YSL Touche Éclat Radiant Touch (£25). I use a lighter shade to lift the face, I apply it to the brow bones, under the eyes, the corner of the nose and to the corner of lips to plump the face, it gives an instant face-lift. Once again I go over the face with the BeautyBlender to blur everything seamlessly together.

I am a big fan of creamy textures, especially in the winter when the light is flat and we need as much help as we can get with radiance!

On the cheeks I love RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek (£28) or I use a NARS The Multiple (£29)—I apply with fingers and then again use the Beauty Blender to buff away any hard edges. A good tip: If I haven’t got the shade of blusher I want I mix a little lipstick on the back of my hand with some moisturiser and apply that!

If I’m contouring, again I tend to favour cream consistencies and use Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate (£56) or Laura Mercier Flawless Contour Palette (£35). Creams tend to enhance the skin rather than make it look too matte and flat. You’ll just look like you were born with amazing cheekbones.


I am a big fan of oils and love Goldfaden MD Fleuressence Native Botanical Cell Oil (£105)  and Oskia Restoration Oil (£60). I will often warm a little on my hands and press into the top of the cheekbones to give a lovely light to the face. It’s like strobing but without the makeup look of strobing. On very dry skin I might add a drop of oil in with the foundation at that stage.

Do you have any skin prep tips for a flawless complexion? Share them in the comment box below.