Beauty Tips and Tricks

Face

The Ultimate Pro Guide on How to Do Foundation Perfectly

01 Aug, 2017
By BeYou[tiful]
Your go-to makeup artist guide on how to best choose and apply your foundation for that perfectly flawless look.

There's no doubt about it; foundation is one of the trickiest things for make up passionistas to master. It's something of a Catch 22: you need foundation to smooth out your imperfections and hide your flaws, and yet when applied badly it can actually make your skin look worse.

Perfectly airbrushed skin is not something only professional make up artists with years of experience can achieve, however; you just need to have the right tools and know a few tricks of the trade. The next time you sit down to put on your face keep this cheat sheet handy; you'll have a complexion that looks selfie-worthy in no time.

Tip #1. Always Prep Your Skin Properly

It doesn't matter how well you wield a kabuki brush, if your skin isn't doing well to begin with then your foundation will never look right. It will go on unevenly, settle into your pores and cluster around all those dry flaky bits, so the first thing to do is to get your basic skin care right.
 
  • The most important step in skin care is to moisturise; even if you've got oily skin. Your skin will be hydrated and happy, and foundation will glide on easily and seamlessly.
  • Next, remember to never go to bed with makeup on - ever! Falling asleep without cleansing your skin will clog pores and can lead to breakouts, which are super tricky to apply foundation over.
  • Regular exfoliation is also a must to get rid of all those dead skin cells; make it part of your routine once a week.
  • Once you have applied moisturiser (and don't forget the sunscreen!) to your face in the mornings, let it sink into your skin for a few minutes. Applying your foundation before your moisturiser is dry will just cause streaking and uneven application.
Pro Tip: One of the most often looked-over but necessary steps is applying primer. You might think it unnecessary but once you try it you'll never go back. Primer makes your foundation glide on smoother and helps it to stay put all day. It also evens out the texture of your skin and can help minimise the appearance of pores.

If you're going to apply primer anywhere make sure it's on your T-zone, where foundation tends to discolour and melt away due to excess oil and sweat.  Our picks: Rimmel Fix & Protect Makeup Up Primer or Almay Smart Shade Perfect Correct Primer.

Related: How to Seriously Improve Your Skincare Routine in a Few Easy Steps

Tip #2. Texture Is Important

The type of foundation you use depends on your lifestyle, your skin type as well as the look you want to achieve.
 
  • If you like a natural look you should steer away from solid foundations and opt for something that says 'light-weight' - a tinted moisturiser or a BB Cream. Our picks: BioNike Defence Color Primer Tone Evening Base, LA Girl Pro HD BB Cream and Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF25.
  • If your skin is oily avoid anything with the word 'illuminating' on it, which will make you even more shiny, and go for a matte option like Revlon Colorstay Mineral Mousse Makeup, Maybelline Superstay 24 Hour Foundation or Yardley Stayfast Foundation. Also look for the words non-comedogenic – this means it won't block your pores which can be a problem for oily skins.
  • If you suffer from dry skin, however, avoid any product that has the word 'matte' on it as it will lead to flakey skin. Rather choose a product promising a moistening, dewy or glowing finish. Try Revlon PhotoReady Air Brush Effect Makeup or Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation.
  • Powder foundation is the hardest formula to get right as it often gives you an uneven look, dries you out and can sit on top of your skin. Plus, that glowing, dewy look is on-trend right now.  However, it can be your best friend if you have an oily skin – just focus on lightly dusting it over the oily patches to avoid caking on the drier parts of your face. Our pick: L'Oréal's Infallible 24 Hour Powder Foundation.
  • A general rule when it comes to coverage is that heavy coverage should be reserved for night and lighter coverage for daytime, as a thicker finish would look too garish in the light of day. A heavier coverage option is Revlon Colorstay 2in1 Compact Makeup combined with a handy skin colour matched concealer.

Tip #3. Choose the Right Colour

It sounds obvious but some estimates put the women who are using the wrong colour foundation as high as 65%! Are you maybe one of them? It is shockingly easy to choose the wrong colour even if you have help from a beauty advisor.

Here are some hints and tips to help you find the perfect shade, even without the help of an expert:
 
  • Firstly, you need to be brave and head to the beauty counter totally bare, with no foundation, powder or any other colour on your face. Once you have decided on the type of foundation you want (light-weight or heavy, liquid or powder, etc.) it's time to get colour testing.
  • One of the biggest mistakes women make when choosing their foundation is testing the colour on the back of their hand or inside their wrist, as the skin there is a totally different colour to the skin on your face. Test the three shades you think might work best along your jawline and lightly blend them with your finger.
  • Next you need to check the shade out in the light of day, because it's going to look very different there from under the fluorescent lights of the shop. A good tip is to go outside, or to the window of the shop if there's daylight coming in, and use either a mirror or your phone's front camera to inspect the shades on your jaw.
  • The colour that is right for you should just melt into your skintone so you can barely see the product. Don't be tempted to try a shade darker in an attempt to fake a healthy glow; that's what bronzer is for.
  • If you think you've found The One try covering one half of your face with it and head into the natural light again (don't worry, the shop assistants will be used to it, and think you're a foundation-choosing pro). Compare it to the other half of your face. If it's right for you it should look very similar in colour, just without all the blemishes!
Pro Tip: Before you get too comfortable about finally having chosen the right shade, you need to remember that in sunny South Africa it's quite possible that you skin may go a shade darker in summer even if you are wearing a SPF. In this case, you will have to choose different shades for summer and winter wear.

Tip #4: Ditch Your Fingers and Sponge and Use a Brush

We're all guilty of using our fingers when we're in a rush, but truly a brush is the only way you're going to get the seamless, smooth and natural-looking application you crave. Brushes are amazing for blending and use less product than sponges and fingers - so are much more budget friendly (always a plus!). While it might seem like a hassle to always use a brush (and clean them regularly) the results will be so worth it.
 
  • Different types of brushes have different finishes: a synthetic brush picks up more product so gives you fuller coverage while natural bristles hold onto less product so you get a much more sheer look. This means that just by switching your brushes you can get two different looks out of one foundation (we recommend using synthetic for night looks and natural bristles for the day time). Our product picks: the double duty Cala Dual Foundation Concealer Brush or Barbara Hoffman's Professional Foundation Brush or Foundation Brush Round.
  • Always brush on foundation in downward strokes so that you go in the same direction as your hair growth. Keeping your facial hair lying down flat will give you the smoothest finish.
  • A rounded sponge, however, can also get the job done well, if used correctly. Always use it when damp to avoid a streaky finish, and bare in mind that they do tend to waste more product due to their absorbent nature. The pointed tip of a sponge is great for touching up around the nose and under your eyes. Try Dis-Chem's Basics Cosmetic Tear Drop Blending Sponge.
Pro Tip: Use a buffing motion when you apply your foundation to avoid the product being too thick and to get a more even look. The key to a good finish is to blend, blend and then blend some more. 

Related: A How to Guide on The Brushes You Need for Super Easy Flawless Makeup

Tip #5. Personalise Your Coverage

Just because you're putting on foundation doesn't mean you need to cover your whole face in it; you might only need it on your T-Zone, or around your eyes. Identify what areas you need perfected and focus on those.
 
  • Think of the redness around your nose or chin, the darkness under your eyes, uneven skin tone and pigmentation marks, and the odd rogue blemish which needs covering up.
  • If you have some skin that is doing just fine without any make up then leave it alone; foundation is there to help cover up blemishes and minimise flaws, not to waste on the good skin parts.
  • Buffing and blending so that the product naturally merges with your good-looking bits is the path to achieve the most even but still natural look.

Tip #6. Always Apply Concealer Afterwards, not Before

It's an old wive's tale that you should apply your concealer first. If you do you'll just end up blending it away when you put your foundation on afterwards.
 
  • Always apply your foundation first, and then use your concealer to touch up any stubborn discolouration, darkness under your eyes, or blemishes. The one exception to this rule? Colour correcting concealers, which only work when applied under your foundation.
  • The best way to apply under-eye concealer is in a triangle under your eyes so you create the optical illusion of lifting and opening up the entire eye area.
  • Another myth about concealer is that you should choose one in a shade lighter than your skin tone. You should always pick a concealer that matches your skin perfectly, just like your foundation. Check out our concealer tips for a perfect finish.
Pro Tip: Your instinct might be to pile on the product when it comes to particularly stubborn blemishes but this could make it stand out even more. Also, never use your fingers, which can transfer germs to your already bacteria-infested blemish. Instead, use a clean concealer brush (like the one from Cala) to apply your products to your pimple. Dab it around and not on top of the blemish and then blend well.

Related: Insider Secrets on How to Use Colour Correcting Concealers

Tip #7. Powder Is Your Foundation’s Best Friend

If you notice that your foundation melts off within a few hours, that's because you haven't set it properly. The best tools of the trade to keep your face job intact are a colourless translucent powder and a light, airy brush. However, it's important you use the right type of powder to avoid undoing all your hard foundation work in one swift sweep of the brush.
 
  • Use translucent powder as it won't alter the colour of your make up underneath, acting rather as a setting agent to keep everything in place. Translucent powder is colourless so suitable for all skin tones and it mops up excess oil without drying you out. If you use a coloured powder over your foundation you'll end up with too much product and it will start to cake. Our picks: Yardley Absolute Translucent Pressed Powder or LA Girl Pro Powder High Definition Setting Powder.
  • Like with foundation, it's not necessary to apply powder to your whole face. Avoid super dry areas and focus on areas that are prone to oiliness, like your T-zone (the forehead, around the nose and your chin). Because you're not applying powder to your whole face you don't necessarily need a big fluffy brush, you can even use a small domed eyeshadow brush to lightly tap the powder onto the oily patches. Just make sure that the bristles are loosely packed to avoid layering on too much product.  A light and airy touch is the name of the game to ensure you look dewy, not powdery.
Pro Tip: If you struggle with oiliness throughout the day rather use blotting papers than apply more and more powder, as these will absorb excess oil without removing product.

Palladio Oil Absorbing Blotting Tissues are our choice - convenient and small enough to easily slip into your makeup bag.

And if your makeup tends to slip off your face in the heat (or because of an oil slick!), then spritz on a fixing spray to set it properly before you leave home in the morning. Try LA Girl Pro Setting Spray in a Matte Finish.
 
It might sound like a lot to remember but once you get into the habit of perfectly prepping your skin and applying your foundation with the right tools and techniques it'll start to feel like second nature and take much quicker. Your face is the most important step of the make up routine as it acts as the base canvas for the rest of your look. If it doesn’t look right, nothing will.

Shop Your Products Now

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Almay Smart Shade Perfect - Correct Primer

Barbara Hoffman Foundation Brush Round

Basics Cosmetic Tear Drop Blending Sponge

BioNike Defence Color Primer Tone Evening Base

Cala Concealer Brush

Cala Dual Foundation Concealer Brush

Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF25 - Medium

LA Girl Pro HD BB Cream - Deep

LA Girl Pro Powder High Definition Setting Powder

L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Powder Foundation - Warm Sand 245

Maybelline Superstay 24 Hour Foundation - Nude Beige 21

Palladio Oil Absorbing Blotting Tissues with Rice Powder

Revlon Colorstay 2in1 Compact Makeup and Concealer - Toast

Revlon Colorstay Mineral Mousse Makeup - Caramel 1

Revlon PhotoReady Air Brush Effect Makeup - Natural Beige

Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation - Natural Beige

Yardley Absolute Translucent Pressed Powder

Yardley Stayfast Foundation - Sand Beige

Foundation Do's and Dont's | Stephanie Lange

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