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12 best long-lasting make-up products

Keep your face looking fresh from day to night with cosmetics that will last the distance

Freshers’ week: it’s that time of year again, when chances are you’re partying harder than ever before. And when you’re out meeting people all day, clubbing all night, and staggering home first thing in the morning - just in time for lectures - it’s important to know that your make-up is working as hard as you are.

Any modern woman also needs her make-up to stand the test of time, especially when going straight from a hard day’s work to a roaring Happy Hour. If you’ve taken the trouble to apply a full face in the morning, you don’t want to be bothering with constant touch-ups or worrying about panda eyes.  

To get make-up to last all day the key is to start with a good primer. This is normally a cream that you can apply to your face and acts as a base for the rest of your make-up. It also helps you apply products more evenly. Another area to watch is the creases you get under your eyes and on your eye lids, buying no crease concealers and eye shadows should solve this. And lastly always set your makeup with a good setting spray. This will make sure your make-up won’t budge throughout the day.

To select the best in long-lasting make-up, we’ve subjected a range of products to the 24-hour-‘Triple Test’ – a full day’s work, a night out, and returning home late at night with no touch-ups allowed. Through sweat, tears, coffee and commuting, only those who survived this Olympic marathon of cosmetic testing made the final cut. 

1. Ark Skin Protector SPF 30 Primer: £36.00, Ark Skincare 

When it comes to long-lasting make-up, this primer should be the first item in your shopping basket. Unlike others on the market, the Ark primer also functions as a moisturiser and high factor suncream, making this three-in-one combo a morning timesaver. It’s smooth, creamy, subtly scented, and it absorbs remarkably quickly. It also worked equally well with both oily and dry complexions. Most importantly, it held up our make-up like a hero, vastly improving the efficacy of every other product. 

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2. Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Make-up SPF 10: £31.00, Boots

This foundation wins gold in the 24-hour ‘Triple Test’. It’s the only one that survived a full day and night without fading. But because of its super strength, we found it can sometimes feel a little dry on the skin. If this irritates you, add a few drops of moisturiser into the mix to loosen it up. It’s available in over 40 shades, so there’s one to suit every skin tone and it’s pretty powerful stuff, so only apply a little for full coverage. 

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3. Urban Decay All Nighter Long-lasting Make-up Setting Spray: £22, John Lewis

Another long-lasting essential is this Urban Decay setting spray. We found that some we tested made our skin feel too dry, while some left us with an oily complexion, but this funky purple aerosol blew away the competition. Even the not so long-lasting foundations we also tested clung on. Not only is it oil free, which is useful for combination skin, it has a pleasant yet subtle scent. And the bottle itself is large enough to last for years, but also comes in a handbag sized version for those who want to use it on the go. 

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4. Sleek Idivine Eye Palette – A New Day: £8.99, Boots 

The whole Sleek brand is a smorgasbord of affordable and long-lasting products, but it’s the eyeshadow palette that truly stands out. The mineral-based powders have a high colour pigmentation, meaning you don’t need to apply much and it lasted all day, with no creasing. There are over 15 palettes to choose from, each with 12 colours in a range of mattes, shimmers, natural and dramatic colours - it’s easily the most versatile of long-lasting eyeshadows. 

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5. Rimmel Exaggerate Automatic Waterproof Eye Definer: £3.99, Boots

Ever-dependable Rimmel comes out top with this waterproof eyeliner, at a fantastic price. Not only does it have remarkable staying power, which lasted even through a shower, but the handy twist design means you won’t need a sharpener. Its inbuilt sponge is perfect for a smoky look too, while the fine tip achieved defined lines on the upper lid. It would be great to take on holiday - just smudge a tiny bit under each lash lid, and it’ll last a day at the pool.

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6. WunderBrow 1-Step Brow Gel: £19.95, Boots

In these Cara Delevigne and angry Hausfrau brow times where big and bold eyebrows are on-trend, it’s important to make sure your product can keep up. This award-winning brow gel works as an all-in-one pencil, gel and groomer, comes in five shades to match your natural colour – and it does not budge. Pro tip: after painting it on with the little brush, leave it to dry for thirty seconds before using the brush to groom your brows into place. It’s not exactly semi-permanent as advertised, but it is waterproof, smudge-proof, and even pillow-proof. 

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7. BareMinerals Mineral Veil Finishing Powder: £21.00, Boots

No long-lasting look is complete without a finishing powder to lock in the foundation and stop it oxidising. BareMinerals, beloved in the powder foundation world, admirably withstood the 24-hour test with this translucent cashmere powder. Unlike other setting powders, it’s not completely transparent or white, but has a range of very subtle colours. It’s also lightly illuminating without actually sparkling on your face. The innovative container means you can release the product bit by bit, without getting covered in powder every time you open the pot. 

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8. Mii Mineral Irresistible Face Base: £21.00, Amazon 

For those who prefer to avoid a liquid or cream foundation during the day, comparatively unknown Mii Cosmetics – a British brand loved by make-up artists - impressed us with their mineral-based loose powder. Available in eight shades, this was the only powder foundation that truly stood the test of time, and gave almost as much coverage as a liquid foundation. It feels like silk on the skin, and can vastly speed up your morning routine with a full-faced look that goes the distance. 

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9. Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara: £25.50, Boots

Time and time again Dior comes out on top for best mascaras – not least for its fantastic selection of choices (lash lengthening, volume, and treatment) – and this Overcurl is best for long-lasting. The innovative curled brush, combined with the long-lasting formula, kept eyes looking wide open well into the night. With no smudging, wilting curls or even running under the eye, this mascara will make sure you stay looking good until the early hours. Tip: avoid the waterproof version, we found it was too difficult to get off.

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10. Chantecaille Just Skin Anti-Smog Tinted Moisturiser SPF15: £58.00, Harvey Nichols

French brand Chantecaille is known for their nature inspired products and although you might gulp at the price tag, we were impressed at how great this tinted moisturiser still looked after 24 hours. It gives you excellent coverage for a tinted moisturiser - it was the only one to come close to the durability of a foundation. Thick and velvety, it also smells divine: all Chantecaille products have a rose scent. Unlike most tinted moisturisers, it also comes in seven different shades. 

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11. Mac Casual Colour Blush: £18.50, John Lewis 

This blusher from beauty experts Mac was the only one to make it from morning well into the night. Unlike many blushers, it didn’t dry out skin or cling to pores, and while it had a very slight illuminating glow, there was no undesirable sparkly cheek effect. Even after 24 hours, the colour had only slightly faded, and it’s also portable enough to pop in your handbag should you desperately need a top up. 

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12. Nars Semi-matte lipstick: £21.00, Nars

It’s rare to find a long-lasting lipstick that doesn’t dry out the mouth and have you licking your cracked lips like a lizard. But then we met Nars semi-matte. It held through coffee, lunch, and all the way into the evening without caking – there was no transfer onto cups either. The colours aren’t flat like some fully-matte lipsticks, and there’s a huge range to suit any skin colour – we loved the Scarlet Empress. Like good lingerie, you forget you’re wearing it but still look great.

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Verdict

For sunscreen, skincare and preparation for your long-lasting face, Ark’s gorgeous all-in-one primer is our stand out product. For those on a tighter budget, Rimmel’s ridiculously cheap eyeliner and Sleek’s eye palette are ideal. And for eyebrows that won’t budge, you can’t fault WunderBrow.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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