Foundation—many women have a love/hate relationship with it. Love the potential for creating the appearance of even-toned, blemish-free, flawless skin. Hate that it can be so tricky to actually look like you aren’t wearing anything at all. That’s why you need a multi-pronged strategy to achieve natural-looking foundation.
First, you have to find the perfect foundation match. The new Superbalanced Silk Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15 feels weightless on skin, yet provides long-wearing medium coverage. The best part: it helps control oil-prone areas, while hydrating dry patches—genius! You can also take this quiz to discover more formulas that are best for your skin type.
Next, you have to know how to apply it like a pro. We’ve got you covered. Here are all the pro foundation application tips to achieve complexion perfection.
1. Start with a clean canvas.
Your foundation will only look as good as the skin underneath, so maintaining a consistent skin care routine is key. Right before applying foundation, it’s important to cleanse your skin to help prevent clogged pores and remove any dirt that may be dulling your natural radiance. Next, gently exfoliate your skin to sweep away any dry, dead skin cells that may cause foundation to go on unevenly or look flaky. Finally, apply moisturizer; foundation sinks best into hydrated skin. (Think of how a wet sponge soaks up water more readily than a dry sponge.) Check off all these boxes with the 3-Step Skin Care System. Here’s how to customize one for you.
2. Take the time to prime.
Ok, a primer may add an additional step to your makeup routine, but it will go a long way to ensure that your foundation looks flawless because it turns your skin into a perfectly smooth surface. If you have skin concerns like redness, dullness or uneven pigmentation, a color correcting primer helps even out your tone for a shade that ultimately looks truer.
3. Be conservative.
Always start by applying just a little bit of foundation, and then add more until you have just the right amount of coverage. The goal is to only apply foundation where you need it, so that your skin still looks like skin. And let’s face it: there’s nothing worse than ending up with a face caked in foundation. (Hint: If you have to apply foundation all over your face for it to look even, then you’re using the wrong shade.)
4. Work from the inside out.
Concentrate the foundation in the center of your face where redness and blemishes tend to be more problematic. Apply just a dab of foundation on each side of your nose, and in the center of your forehead and chin, then blend outward. “After it is all blended in, pinpoint any other areas of the face where blemishes are visible and apply an additional light layer of foundation in those specific areas,” advises Clinique Colour Pro Florrie White.
5. Stipple, don’t rub.
Whether you’re using a foundation brush (synthetic bristles are best) or your fingertips, apply foundation in a stippling motion, which means gently tapping it into your skin. Avoid any wiping or rubbing motions because that will only push the foundation around and cause streaks. “I like to press foundation gently into the skin. The warmth of the fingertips helps to make the skin and foundation melt together and appear as one,” says Florrie. Another option: The densely packed bristles of the Foundation Buff Brush gently buffs foundation into skin and can be used with liquid, powder, cream or stick formulas.
6. Don’t forget your ears!
Often overlooked, your ears are a part of your face, too. If you’re prone to red lobes, lightly sweep your foundation brush over them so that they blend in with the rest of your face.
7. Go sonic for an airbrushed effect.
If you’re looking for a hyperflawless airbrushed effect, try a sonic application device that uses vibrating motions to evenly distribute foundation for a super smooth finish. Tip: The Sonic System Airbrushed Finish Liquid Foundation Applicator & Device also has an interchangeable cleansing brush head so you can use it to wash your face and apply your makeup.
8. Set it and forget it.
Most people associate powder with a matte, cakey look, but dusting a silky loose setting powder, like Blended Loose Powder, over your foundation will ensure it won’t budge without dulling its finish. Dip a large, fluffy powder brush into the powder, then tap or shake your brush once to remove any excess—you should be able to see the bristles through the powder. Lightly sweep it across your face, using a heavier hand on areas that tend to get shiny, like your T-zone, chin and undereyes, if necessary.
9. Stack concealer only where needed.
If there are any areas where foundation simply wasn’t enough, such as dark undereye circles, red spots or blemishes, dab a concealer over them, then tap it into your skin to blend seamlessly without rubbing your foundation away. A good one: Airbrush Concealer has optical diffusers and skin-brightening benefits that work to highlight face contours.
Portraits: Christine Hahn | Still Life: Yasu + Junko | Words: Katie Livanos