The expert-approved ways to find your perfect foundation

The expert-approved ways to find your perfect foundation

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6 minute read

For a long time, your base routine has probably looked a little something like this: read about an amazing foundation, buy and apply said foundation, believe it’s the one, only to look in the mirror five hours later and see that said foundation has literally slipped off your face. Don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Even if you’re a pro with your buffing brush, finding a foundation that stays all day and doesn’t give up when you’re feeling a little flustered can be one heck of a challenge.

Avoiding a caked on, creased or greasy base is a must – there’s literally nothing more frustrating than spending ages on your make-up only for it to go south before you can say ‘setting spray’ – so you need something you can trust. That said, years of obsessing over make-up have taught us that only a small part of creating a flawless base is down to the foundation itself – everything else lies in the hands of your skincare routine, and application.

From perfecting your buffing techniques to tracking down a fool-proof primer, here are our seven fast-track ways to get your foundation working well with your skin (with a little help from professional MUA Bridget O’Keefe.

Perfect your skincare routine

Before you even consider the product you use and the way you apply it, you’ve got to think about your skin. Your foundation will only look as good as your skin underneath, after all. “Most of making your foundation sit well is about the state of your skin”, Bridget tells us. “Make sure your skin is well looked-after and hydrated. Clean, fresh skin is going to create a great base layer to your foundation.”

Before applying any makeup, you’ll want to cleanse the skin with a daily cleanser like the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish. This will prevent clogged pores and remove any dirt which might be dulling your natural radiance.

Since foundation soaks best into hydrated skin, a moisturiser should closely follow. We love the IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream moisturiser for its ability to put a spring back in your skin’s step within seconds.

And remember to leave at least 10 minutes between applying your moisturiser and foundation. If you don’t, your foundation will simply slip off, and that’s when things get greasy.

Take time to prime

Finding a brilliant primer is crucial to creating a flawless foundation base because it turns your skin into one smooth surface.

“Primers can do various things, from tightening your pores to creating an even texture for your foundation to sit on”, Bridget says. “There are lots of primers out there, and some are better than others – but they definitely make a difference when it comes to helping your foundation last all day long.”

Decide which aspect of your complexion needs the most help (whether that’s redness, dullness or uneven pigmentation), then choose a primer which targets exactly that. Even if you don’t wear one every single day, we promise you won’t regret it when you do.

Choose your product carefully

Generally speaking, the more expensive foundations are the ones which will give you the better finish, so spending a little more money will pay off. Bridget agrees, telling us they’re made with higher quality ingredients and can be kinder to your skin.

You should also put plenty of time into colour-matching your foundation. Forty shades per-range is the new norm and for that we are thankful, but to determine exactly which shade is for you, swatch along your lower jaw line. Your true match will disappear seamlessly into the skin.

If you’re really dedicated to the cause, treat yourself to two different shades of the same foundation. Skin changes colour in the summer and the winter, so getting one foundation that’s a shade lighter and one that’s a shade darker than your natural skin tone will allow you mix things up depending on your shade of the moment.

You’re only as good as your tools

You won’t be able to achieve a flawless finish if you don’t apply your foundation with the right tools, and the best choice for you will depend on the foundation you’re using.

If your product of choice is water-based, a beauty blender is the way to go. Dampen a sponge like the Gale Hayman Soft Focus Blender Sponge before using it to buff small amounts of product into your skin. This will allow you to layer product without your foundation appearing cakey.

Alternatively, take things back to basics and ditch the tools altogether. Bridget tells us: “The warmth of your skin helps the product to move around easily and blend in well.” So perfect to create a fast, streak-free finish if you’re using a full-coverage foundation.

Whether you’re using your fingers, a beauty blender or even a trusty foundation brush, you need to use stippling motions if you want your base to look flawless. Stippling is the motion of gently tapping and pressing your foundation into the skin, while avoiding any wiping and rubbing motions which push the product around and cause creases.

Be Conservative

One of Bridget’s top tips when it comes to ensuring your foundation looks great and lasts a long time is to apply lots of thin layers instead of one thick one. This will ensure your skin still looks like skin.

Always start by applying just a small amount of product, and then build it up two or three times until you have the right amount of coverage. You should also avoid applying foundation to your entire face, instead applying it only to the areas that need the extra coverage in the centre of your face and blending the product out.

Put your concealer on afterwards

Contrary to popular belief, the best time to apply your concealer is after foundation application, so you don’t layer on unnecessary product. If you’ve got any unwanted spots, acne scars or redness, tap on a concealer with your ring finger, let it set for a couple of moments then gently press your foundation brush or beauty blender over the product to blend it out without smudging it off. That little imperfection will be hidden for hours.

Powder is key

Forget the false associations with a matte, cakey finish – powder is crucial for locking everything down and it can actually make your base look more dewy.

You’ll want to focus on the centre of your face when you apply powder, rather than buffing all over. Twirl a big fluffy brush in loose setting power, tap off the excess and gently swirl over the areas of your face which are prone to getting oily (read: your T-zone). Keep your hand light, don’t swipe too much, and if you end up looking a little chalky, don’t panic – a quick spritz of setting spray will have you looking dewy again in a jiffy.

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