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New To Foundation? This Makes It Easy.

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    Photographed by BriAnne Wills.


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    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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    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.