New To Foundation? This Makes It Easy.

Photographed by BriAnne Wills.
Sometimes the basics can be the hardest to get right. Factor in myriad product options — in an almost-infinite number of shades and finishes — and you have a serious challenge for even the most seasoned beauty pro. But fret not: We’re here to help! We’re breaking down the beauty basics to make it easy to create a flawless, customized look of your own. Welcome to Beauty 101.

Besides sticky-and-sweet lip gloss — and maybe even hair glitter — the first cosmetic many of us reached for during our formative years was some sort of base product. But, as you likely know, that doesn't make the art of perfect foundation any easier today.

Color complexion products help create an even canvas to build any beauty look from, not to mention that they help diffuse and cover any unwanted blemishes or discoloration on the skin. But in today's beauty world there's an overwhelming number of different primers, alphabet creams, concealers, foundations, and powders on the market — and it's not always clear how to use 'em.

Worry not, because on the slides ahead we're breaking down every type of base product and how to apply it. We warn you, however, not to think of the information as hard-and-fast rules: A lot of pros apply products in a lot of different ways. Instead, think of the advice ahead as tips and tricks for helping you discover the way that works best for you.

Click through for a crash course on complexion perfection.
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Primers

While most primers are designed simply to make your foundation last longer, many can refine pores, mattify, illuminate, and hydrate. Before applying a drop of makeup, dot a pea-sized dollop of primer on the face and smooth it over skin evenly. This will anchor your makeup and keep it from budging as you go about your day.

Try: L’Oréal Studio Secrets Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer, $12.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Liquid Foundations & Concealer Pens

Liquid formulations are some of the most common types of foundation on the market because they are relatively easy to use. Use a foundation brush, applicator brush, or your fingers to evenly smooth over your skin (only where you need it), then buff or stipple with a damp makeup sponge to blend away any edges and make the makeup look like your own skin.

Try: Revlon ColorStay Foundation, $12.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Cream Foundation & Foundation Sticks

Cream foundations tend to provide more coverage than their more viscous counterparts on the previous slide. (These solid formulations are also great for travel!)

Dot or draw cream foundation onto your skin where you need coverage and blend out with a brush, your fingers, or a damp makeup sponge, always working away from the center of the face. Your fingers make short work of these thicker formulas, since the heat from your body helps to soften the formulas. Remember: Your ring finger has the lightest touch, making it your best tool.

Try: Iman Second-to-None Stick Foundation, $16, available at Iman Cosmetics.
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Powder Foundation

Those with oily skin will love powder formulas, as they reduce shine and pack buildable coverage. Load a dense brush with powder foundation by lightly swirling or dipping it in the product — this works for loose, mineral, and pressed formulas — then tapping off excess. Then simply dust it on, starting with areas that need more coverage.

This method provides sheer coverage all over the face, allowing your skin to show through. It’s always better to start sheer and build up more as needed, as this prevents skin from looking cakey. For more coverage, press it into the skin with a foundation brush or a makeup sponge, and buff off the excess with a fluffy brush.

Try: NYX Cosmetics Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder Foundation, $9.50, available at NYX Cosmetics.
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Cushion Foundation

Housed in a convenient compact, cushion foundations have the buildable coverage of liquid foundation without the mess. Simply press the included sponge applicator, or a foundation brush, into the sponge to pick up product. Then press it into the skin and blend, adding more layers as needed.

Try: L’Oréal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation, $14.99, available at Target.
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Brightening Concealer

Concealers loaded into a pen can be applied in a similar way to the liquid foundation on slide two: Apply where you need coverage, then lightly buff and blend until the product disappears into the skin. Brightening concealer, however, requires the right placement.

It is a great option for anyone looking to illuminate under-eye circles or subtly highlight the skin and conceal in one fell swoop. These concealers are often formulated with shimmer or color-correcting pigments to brighten dull skin. Using your ring finger, dot the product under the eye and blend down towards the cheeks in a gentle tapping motion. This ensures the lightest touch since the skin around the eye is more delicate than the rest of the face.

Try: Black Opal Even True Brightening Concealer, $8.95, available at Black Opal.
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Multi-Purpose Liquid Concealer

These are the most versatile of the bunch — they're light enough to use under the eyes, but offer the same amount of pigment as creamier concealers to hide any flaws. Those with a doe-foot applicator makes it easy — all you have to do is dot the concealer onto the areas where you need more coverage with your finger, a brush, or a makeup sponge, and then blend. Again: Your ring finger has the lightest touch.

Try: Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Concealer + Corrector, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Stick Concealer

Potted and stick concealers offer full coverage and tend to be drier than liquid concealers — perfect for covering up a surprise zit or anything else that requires fuller coverage. You can apply the formula directly onto your blemishes from the tube, or use a small brush for more precise results — then blend with your fingers.

Most makeup artists would suggest layering concealer after you’ve applied your foundation, but feel free to try before or after to see what looks best on you. If you want a more fresh-faced approach, skip the foundation altogether and just blend the concealer into your bare skin where it’s needed.

Try: Revlon PhotoReady Concealer, $8.99, available at Target.
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Setting Powder

Powders are often used to set liquid and cream makeup to ensure that it doesn’t slip or slide around the skin — especially for those with oily or combination skin. This is, by far, the easiest product in this slideshow to apply — you just need a big, fluffy powder brush and a good helping of restraint, because less is more.

Setting powders are widely available in the form of a translucent powder, which appears white or very light, but sets and blends well on many skin tones. Setting powers also come in various shades that match a variety of skin tones.

While there are many techniques you can use to set your makeup, two of the most popular include dusting or pressing the powder onto the skin with a powder brush or puff, respectively.

Try: Rimmel Stay Matte Powder, $3.99, available at Target.
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Setting Spray

Setting sprays are the secret weapon to keeping your look in place for hours without touch-ups or product building in fine lines — or all over your clothes. While most formulas can leave skin super matte, there are hydrating formulas available for a dewier finish. Simply spray a few spritzes onto your face after completing your makeup for the day and allow it to dry down before you head out for a long-lasting look.

Try: E.L.F. Mist & Set Spray, $2.99, available at E.L.F.
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