How to Apply Foundation Like a Makeup Artist
By just looking at, say, red carpet photos, it's easy to assume that celebrities have perfect skin. In reality, what they have is access to great makeup artists who create perfect-looking skin. "They're like painters," Cate Blanchett told me in a recent interview. "They work makeup in with moisturizers and primers and really prime the canvas and massage it in so it’s living with the skin, not a layer on top of the skin." She said that of all her years spent in a makeup chair, this approach to foundation is her biggest takeaway.
And to her point, chances are the reason why many of us struggle to acheive that really natural, seamless finish with foundation is that we're taking a one-pronged approach: applying one given product, and that's it. But the pros see foundation as a multistep, multiproduct process: The actual foundation color is meant to be applied as a mix-in with other skincare products, and the application method itself—massaging and brushing the color into the skin—is just as essential for a poreless finish.
So what exactly goes into this process? Keep reading to discover the best foundation tips we've picked up from makeup artists, as well as the products they love.
It sounds obvious, yet so many of us get it wrong! One good trick is to match foundation to your neck rather than your wrist or arm. It might be more annoying to test this way in the store, but it's worth it when you get your perfect shade. (And since the sun tends to change our skin tone throughout the year, remember to adjust accordingly.)
Also, remember to keep your undertones in mind. Check your wrist—if your veins are greenish, then you have yellow undertones, and can opt for a pinker foundation. But if you have blueish veins (or tend to get red in general), it's wiser to stick with a yellow-based foundation to balance things out.
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Elizabeth Arden 'Eight Hour Cream' Skin Protectant ($21)
Specifically, this moisturizer, which is easily one of the most common products we see in makeup artists' kits. (Whenever you see an A-lister with a really dewy, lit-from-within glow on the red carpet, chances are they're wearing Eight Hour Cream.)
"This is my miracle cream," says Kirin Bhatty, who works with Kiernan Shipka, Jessica Paré, and Alessandra Ambrosio. "It does a million things, and I also use it as a mixing medium for pigments. It goes from a practical healer to editorial must-have in seconds." Mix it on your wrist with foundation to make a creamy tinted moisturizer (using as little or as much color as you need).
If you like a matte finish, that's cool, too—you can mix any formula you like, and more than one, too. (FWIW, Sunday Riley's SPF leaves an ultra-lightweight, velvety finish.) The point here is to customize your foundation according to your needs and preferences, and it might take some trial and error to get your method just right.
Good question—and there's no real wrong answer, particularly with cream formulas. (When using powder, most experts will tell you to use a brush.) But no matter your preferred approach, you want to make sure you're massaging the product into the skin in circular motions to boost circulation and warm the formula, so it really melts into pores. (This is essential for getting that poreless look, according to the pros.)
As for standout brushes, every expert has his or her favorite. One popular choice is this dual concealer and foundation brush from It Cosmetics—the ultra-soft synthetic bristles gently knead the product into the skin for an airbrush finish, and the smaller, concealer-sized brush reaches tough angles, like the area around the nose.
In fact, a face mist provides an extra dose of glowy hydration with zero cakiness. (And if you did apply powder, it helps sop up any excess.) Hold the bottle several inches away from your face, and gently press and pat the product into your skin.
Do you use any of these methods already? What are your all-star foundation products? Tell us in the comments below!