Good news, friends: It doesn't have to be that way. If you're a foundation fan (as we are), but you can't get your base quite right, fear not. Thanks to some of our favorite makeup artists, we’ve solved seven of the biggest foundation issues — so you'll never need to worry about making a face faux pas again. Get ready to get it right, and to make people wonder how you just happen to have gloriously radiant skin (it'll be our little secret.)
Hey, foundation is liquid, so it will totally hide dry, flaky skin — right? So wrong. NYC-based makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci stresses the importance of good skin care and the proper foundation formula to avoid that patchwork-complexion look.
“By drinking tons of water and moisturizing, you're ensuring your dry skin is at its healthiest,” she says. Also, if you're not exfoliating already, get on it. “If the surface of your skin is cluttered with dead skin cells," she adds, "your foundation will never look smooth and even.”
The key is formula selection. “Pick a foundation that's rich in texture and packed with ingredients like collagen and elastin,” Ciucci says. “Use a wet sponge to stipple on for great coverage without overdoing it.”
Nothing says, “I’m wearing war paint” like streaky foundation. A simple solution? “Use your fingers,” says NYC-based makeup artist Andrew Colvin. “It warms up the product, which I find makes for a more natural finish,” he says. And, don't feel that you have to use a lot, because, well, you don't. "I like to apply a tiny bit to the center of the forehead, nose, and chin, then blend out," he says. "Should you have a natural flush in the cheeks, leave it.”
Spackle is for walls, not your face. So, before you slather on that ultra full-coverage foundation, know that fine lines and wrinkles are inevitable. To avoid this, says Ciucci, it's all about prep.
“Use a silicone-based primer to fill in imperfections,” she says. “It makes your skin smooth as silk and acts as a barrier between foundation and fine lines.” Ciucci also recommends using a foundation that has more of a satin or natural matte texture. “The creamier the foundation, the more likely it is to settle where you don't want it to,” she notes.
Finally, Ciucci suggests setting your foundation with a super-sheer powder. Make sure it doesn’t budge, but don’t build too much texture, either. “Use a large fluffy powder brush to apply,” she says. “Give yourself a spritz with a spray of toning water to take away any powdery finish.”
Decades ago, foundation often looked like makeup. These days, though, it can look like actual skin — if you have a little know-how. First, choose a modern formula. Los Angeles-based makeup artist Desirae Cherman recommends using one with light-diffusing pigments that illuminate the skin (after moisturizing properly, of course).
Then, the key is to use only as much as you really need. “You don’t need to apply too much when you take your time and do it right,” Cherman explains. “Buff the makeup onto your skin with either an oval-shaped sponge or a brush with tight stiff bristles. Press and buff the foundation into your skin — almost like you're giving yourself a mini massage." Got blemishes? Cover them with a small concealer brush instead of applying foundation all over.
Heads are turning, all right — because your face doesn't match your neck. Easy, now. It can happen to anyone. “The majority of women suffer this problem, as our necks rarely receive any sunlight,” says Cherman. So, don't forget your neck: “Bring the foundation down onto your neck from your face while blending."
She recommends using a downward buffing motion, working from the chin out toward the jawline and down onto the neck, while constantly moving in a circle to avoid streaks or patches. “Don’t apply too much; you don’t want to be fully covered,” Cherman says. “You are only trying to bring up the color on your neck.” Of course, that assumes you have the proper foundation shade. That brings us to our next issue.
We’re all guilty of throwing shade — the wrong shade for your skin tone, that is. But, how do you choose the perfect hue? Colvin recommends the swatching method.
“Swatch multiple colors vertically against your jawline,” he says. “Seeing the colors in the bottle can be deceiving. When you do a small swatch, you can see the colors against each other, and it makes it much easier to eliminate the wrong color.”
Just as important: Test those shades in natural light. “The lighting inside of a store is very neutralizing; therefore, it's harder to see the hues your foundation pulls,” Colvin says. “Shop for foundation when the sun is out, and check how it looks outside before buying it. You'll annoy the counter people, but it really is the best way.”
He slips your black coat over your shoulders after dinner. How romantic...but now, your collar is stained with blotches of foundation. How do you keep your "face" on your, well, face? It's all about providing a good base, says Cherman, and that goes back to skin care. “Cleanse, tone, and moisturize," she says. "[When] properly moisturized, skin won’t feel dry and clogged under the makeup, which causes it to go into overdrive and produce too much oil,” she says. “That results in makeup sliding off and becoming friends with everything it touches.”
Cherman recommends using a waterproof long-lasting foundation formula, too. “When you apply the makeup, buff it into the skin so that it is not sitting on top," she says. “Then, give the foundation time to set and really become a part of your skin.”
Setting your makeup with a translucent powder will help, too. And when you can, keep your hands to yourself. “Most importantly, try not to touch your face throughout the day," Cherman advises. "The oils from our fingers transfer.” Follow this advice, and your foundation won't either.
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