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Even a cursory glance at the most recent red carpet photos coming out of awards season makes it easy to assume that celebrities have perfect skin. In reality, what they have is access to great makeup artists who create perfect-looking skin. As Cate Blanchett recently told a popular beauty website, "They're like painters. They work makeup in with moisturizers and primers and really prime the canvas and massage it in so it’s living with the skin, not a layer on top of the skin." 

Cherished skin care favourites and clever makeup tricks are what keep those famous faces ready for their close ups, but what of us mere mortals who don’t have a glam squad on speed dial? Read on for must-have products and secret strategies so you too can get that A-list worthy beauty look.

Prep, Prep & Then Prep Some More

You know how you typically slap on some moisturizer, maybe a primer, and get straight to work with the tinted stuff? Yeah, makeup artists never do that. Most artists start with a toner or cosmetic water (such as Micellar water and essence), possibly combined with a soothing mask. Then they massage in oils, serums, face creams, and eye creams in small, circular motions—waiting a few minutes between each step to allow them to settle. Dehydrated skin will suck up any moisture in the product and end up making it looking fake and obvious. If you have oily skin, continue with your regular routine but don't skimp on that massage, which boosts circulation and makes the skin look brighter and better.

Prime Time

Applying a primer to a star’s skin ahead of foundation is a no-brainer but instead of just smearing it all of the face, beauty experts tend to take a cocktailing approach—smoothing on an oil-controlling primer in the T-zone and then a silicone based one to the rest of the face. If you’re thinking of skipping this step though and moving straight on to foundation, think again. Primers not only give something for your foundation to adhere to, they do everything from improve makeup longevity, create a stunning base for foundation, blur the appearance of pores, keep skin hydrated, add luminosity, and even lend your skin that coveted matte or dewy finish.

Ace Your Base

As much as we may love our BB and CC creams and tinted moisturizers, for big events, celebrities and makeup artists prefer to bring out the big guns in the form of photo-ready foundation. Opt for a sheer foundation and always apply it to the back of your hand first to warm it up and then apply with a damp (yes, damp) foundation brush or blender sponge. That keeps it from soaking up the product and makes it look far more natural instead of looking like you tried to cover something up. And above all, resist the urge to lay down a full face—simply apply it to the areas that are needed; foundation is designed to perfect, not mask.

Set it And Forget It

Beyond sandwiching skin with loose and pressed powders, for extra insurance, a makeup setting spray is a much-need staple. Just a few spritzes locks both minimalist and dramatic beauty looks into place for hours on end, and for sensitive complexions that can't use primer, it's a lightweight alternative that sits over your finished face and reduces the risk of irritation.