If you’re after immaculate-looking skin, foundation is one of the most important components to achieving the most polished look. There are tons of different formulas, price points, and (finally) shades to choose from, so the good news is that finding the perfect foundation for you has never been easier.
Unfortunately, foundation can be tricky to apply. It seems like foundation should be the easiest thing in the world to put on (it’s just a base for your makeup that matches your skin tone, after all), but in reality, it’s much harder than it seems. We’ve all experienced the horrible realization that after painstakingly applying our chosen foundation, it looks like a total mess.
The key to applying foundation seamlessly is a combination of applying the right skin prep, using the correct brushes, and choosing a formula that looks seamless on the skin. I spoke with celebrity makeup artist Renée Loiz for the rundown on how to apply foundation so it looks like a professional did it every time. Keep reading for a step-by-step tutorial following Loiz’s advice.
Save your heavy-duty, rich, textured creams for your nighttime skincare routine. When applying skin prep before foundation, it’s best to keep things light. “Before applying foundation, I like to use Glow Recipe Dew Drops to hydrate and smooth skin and the undereye area,” says Loiz. “The foundation lays beautifully on top of this serum and leaves your skin with the most beautiful, natural glow.” She also recommends the Olay Vitamin C + Peptide 24 Brightening Face Serum for similar results.
If you’re applying foundation in the morning, we also recommend topping it with a lightweight sunscreen. Many sunscreens are formulated to help prime skin—but it’s important you look at the ingredients to make sure they don’t make your foundation pill.
There’s nothing worse than when you follow every possible piece of advice for putting foundation on only to end up with a balled-up mess of product on your face. In general, a good rule of thumb is to always apply products that have the same base ingredient—so stick to only oil-based products with an oil-based foundation, or water-based products with a water-based foundation. Be sure to also allow plenty of dry time in between products.
According to Loiz, flawless foundation is all in the technique. “I like to use a foundation brush to pat on the foundation. I never swipe it on because I feel like that results in a streaky foundation. When using a makeup sponge, make sure you wet the sponge completely and squeeze out the excess water before applying your foundation. You can also use your fingers to apply foundation, just make sure your hands are clean.” Apply foundation before your concealer to help even out your skin tone, then use concealer sparingly and as a spot treatment if needed.
If you have oily skin, you may want to opt for a mattifying formula, while if you have drier skin, you may want a more moisturizing foundation with a dewy finish. Loiz says that you can use any method to apply any foundation finish. If you find that a method isn’t working for you, it could actually be the amount of foundation you’re trying to use that’s messing you up. “I always start out with minimal product and add more as need for the desired finished,” says Loiz. Try picking the foundation up from the back of your hand rather than applying it straight to your face to control how much product you use.
To set foundation after applying, Loiz recommends using the Mally Beauty Face Defender, which plays well with most formulas (and won’t result in pilling or caking!). If you’d rather use a powder, try pressing it into your skin with a powder puff rather than swiping it on with a brush for an undetectable finish that’s resistant to creases.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.