6 Tricks for Flawless Foundation

Wendy Rodewald
A makeup artist applies foundation to a model

Photo: Luca Cannonieri/GoRunway.com

Foundation is without a doubt the most anxiety-inducing product in our makeup bags. Unlike, say, eyeliner, where you have a bit of wiggle room (it’s not smudged, it’s smoky), when foundation is done wrong, there’s no hiding the mistake. (No wonder all those much more approachable BB creams have become so popular!)

According to a new study commissioned by Make Up For Ever through the research firm The NPD Group, a whopping 73 percent of women admit that finding the right foundation is a challenge. Despite the rows and rows of foundation shades that line shelves at stores like Sephora (or maybe because of it), 54 percent of women say finding their color match is their number one issue, and 62 percent have problems applying foundation correctly.

To help remedy this confusion, Make Up For Ever is kicking off their Foundation Nation campaign with more than 100 events at Sephora stores across the U.S. and Canada from September 20th to October 5th. During the events, the brand’s professional makeup artists will offer one-on-one consultations to “diagnose” clients’ biggest foundation issue and teach them how to solve it by using the correct techniques and products.

The brand is also working with celebrity makeup artist Troy Jensen, whose clients include celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kim Kardashian, to spread the gospel of flawless foundation. At an event for editors, Jensen dropped so much foundation knowledge that even we (who have written about 5,000 articles on the topic over the course of a lifetime) learned a few surprising tricks.

1. Use a brush.
Fifty-two percent of women don’t use a tool to apply their foundation, but most makeup artists, including Jensen, insist that using brush is a must for an even, flawless finish. Jensen uses a brush with a domed head—Make Up For Ever’s 152 Brush ($37, sephora.com)—to buff foundation into the skin with light, circular motions. This technique also lets you use less product and build coverage, since it’s easier to add more foundation than to take off excess.

2. Mix and match formulas.
When Jensen’s celebrity clients step out for appearances, “I need their foundation to last for 10 to 12 hours,” he says. “The formula is really important.” Instead of loading up the face with powder, which can look chalky, Jensen uses a mattifying foundation, such as Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + ($36, sephora.com) on oilier areas in the T-zone, and a dewier formula around the perimeter of the face.

3. Prevent creasing.
There’s no magic formula that won’t crease in fine lines, but there are techniques you can use to minimize creasing. “If my client is wearing eye cream, I’ll blot off the eye cream with a tissue because the more emollient the skin, the more likely that the foundation will crease,” Jensen explains. For lines around the mouth, after applying foundation, “I’ll go with a fine brush and I’ll just remove it from those lines.”

4. Color correct deeper skin tones.
Jensen says that brown skin often needs to be prepped with an orange color corrector to counteract dark purplish tones around the mouth and under the eyes. Try MAC Cosmetics Studio Finish Skin Corrector in Pure Orange ($13, maccosmetics.com).

5. Apply foundation everywhere. No, really. Everywhere.
Seriously, it’s not just for your face. You probably already know to blend foundation past your jawline and onto the neck, but if your décolletage is showing, you’ll want to blend the color there too. Plus, don’t forget the ears! Fair-skinned complexions in particular are susceptible to redness on the ears. For Jensen’s clients who like to fake a tan with their foundation — he refers to them as “dipped” — he applies color to their legs and arms, too. (You don’t have to do this as long as your foundation is a general match for your complexion).

Also, be sure to blend a light layer of foundation over your eyelids and lips. This will help your eye shadow and lipstick shades go on truer to their shades.

6. Use highlighter before foundation.
We’ve always whipped out the YSL Touche Eclat after applying foundation, but Jensen reverses the order. “I like the glow to look more natural, from within,” he says. “With full coverage foundation, it can tend to look a little dull or matte as the day progresses. Having the highlighter underneath gives that glow.” We’re so trying this tomorrow.

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