How to Apply Foundation

by Rose Wheeler

We all want glowing skin. The easiest way to achieve a flawless complexion, even out your skin tone and disguise wrinkles is by using the right foundation. In order for your skin to look amazing, you’ll need to choose a foundation that works with your skin type, apply it correctly and use the right tools. Here are a few tricks to get the most out of your foundation.

Figure Out Your Skin Type

The first step to becoming a master at applying foundation is figuring out your skin type. Start by looking at your bare face in the mirror in a room with natural daylight -- preferably near a window -- or outside. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Normal skin: Your texture is uniform and radiant with very few imperfections. Your pores are barely visible, and you have an even skin tone.
  • Oily skin: It’s shiny, with enlarged pores. Oily skin tends to break out often.
  • Sensitive: Usually has red or dry spots, and it’s allergic to certain skin care products.
  • Dry skin: Your complexion is dull and flaky. It might have red patches or visible lines and feels tight.
  • Combination: It can be oily in some areas and dry in others. There are blemishes or shine along the T-zone (nose, forehead, and chin).

Select the Right Shade

Because foundation acts as a blank canvas for the rest of your makeup, you need to choose one that matches your skin tone. Go to your local department store or makeup retailer and test foundation options. Pick a shade that you think works, but also grab the hues on the left and right of it to try them out as well. Find a mirror and swipe a stripe of the shades on your jawline. The correct color is the one that disappears without blending.

Get the Right Tools

There are three tools you can use to apply foundation: brushes, sponges and your fingers. Some makeup artists swear by brushes, while other pros think sponges are more effective. Give all three a try to find which one works for you.

Brushes:

Brushes soak up less foundation and help blend it flawlessly. Using a brush helps keep bacteria at bay if you wash it regularly.

Sponges:

For more coverage, use a lightly damp sponge. Sponges are great to apply liquid foundation, especially around your eyes. Your skin won't look cakey, and the technique will help disguise fine lines. Warning: Sponges soak up a lot of foundation, which can get pricey.

Fingers:

For your day-to-day makeup routine, use your fingers for just a little coverage and better blending.

Prep Your Skin

Before applying foundation, prep your face. Clean your hands, wash your face with a gentle cleanser and dab moisturizer on your skin. Let the moisturizer sink in for about five minutes. Don’t rush this process. Your foundation will go on more smoothly if your skin is hydrated. If your makeup needs to go from day to night, apply a primer before the foundation.

Choose the Right Formula

Foundation comes in a variety of options, including creams, liquids and sticks. Some double as moisturizers or promote skin improvements such as anti-aging. All those options can seem daunting, so here’s the rule: Select coverage based on your skin type and what you want to conceal. Here’s a quick guide for which formula will work best with your skin and how to apply it:

Normal Skin:

Because you already have a healthier complexion, you have a wider range of formulas to choose from. You can use a tinted moisturizer to add just a hint of color. A cream formula will give you medium coverage. For the most coverage, use a stick foundation. Don’t swipe it directly onto your skin; use a brush to avoid looking cakey. With the brush, dot color onto your cheeks, chin, forehead and tip of your nose. Blend with a makeup wedge.

Combination Skin:

An oil-free liquid foundation works great with combination skin. Apply with your fingers if you want medium coverage, or use a damp sponge for a sheer finish. Dot foundation at your T-zone and cheeks. With your favorite tool, blend the dots working from the center outward.

Dry Skin:

A rich cream formula will give you a natural finish. The perfect tool for this foundation type is a sponge. Dampen the sponge and use the tip to apply dots on your cheeks, chin, forehead and tip of your nose. Dab to blend the dots together.

Oily Skin and Sensitive Skin:

For both of these skin types, a powder foundation will give flawless coverage that lasts. Set aside the sponge that comes with the powder and use a fluffy face brush. Apply the powder at the center of your face with swirls and strokes and sweep it out when you get close to the edges of your face. Use the sponge on spots that need extra coverage.

Set Your Foundation

Finish your application by using concealer if necessary and setting your foundation with powder.

Concealer:

Apply concealer that's one shade lighter than your skin to trouble areas. Use a brush to gently dab a few dots under your eyes and on blemishes.

Powder:

Apply a translucent powder that matches your foundation to set it and get rid of shine.

About the Author

Rose Wheeler has been writing fashion-related articles since 2003. She has a human resources background and began her writing career in the fashion, beauty and design category for "El Nuevo Dia." Wheeler has a Master of Business Administration in human resources management from Colorado Technical University.