Expert Tips for Applying Liquid Foundation Flawlessly

Expert Tips for Applying Liquid Foundation Flawlessly
Photo: ImaxTree

Applying liquid foundation can go from easy-peasy to a hot mess in seconds when you’re approaching it as a newbie, not to mention there’s more than one way to do it, depending on the current condition of your skin, the type of coverage you want, and the amount of time you have to apply it. If you’re in need of back-to-basics tips, ahead is the pro advice you need to fix your coverage crisis.

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Treating your skin to a little TLC is essential to a healthy-looking complexion. For starters, always use a makeup remover as part of your routine.

“A face wash is not a makeup remover. In order for your face wash to clean, the skin needs to be completely free of makeup,” says Nick Lujan, Make Up For Ever pro educator. “The best removers are not abrasive and do the job quickly and effectively. Cold-cream cleansers like Make Up For Ever’s So Divine, are skin-friendly and break down everything including waterproof makeup.”

If you’re applying makeup in the morning, be sure to nourish and clean the skin the night before, so your skin care can perform its magic while you sleep, without the interruption of makeup. In other instances, use a micellar water product to remove any leftover skin-care, oils, sweat, and free radicals (dust, smoke, grime).

From there, plump up skin cells with a water-based product, followed by a hydrating serum and nourishing primer, such as Step 1 Skin Equalizer (Hydrating for dehydrated skin or Nourishing for dryer skin), to smooth the skin and create a flexible barrier between the skin and the makeup.

“Give all your skin-prep products a few minutes to do their jobs before applying makeup,” says Lujan. “Let the skin plump and the primer smooth. This is the perfect opportunity to work on hair or have a few sips of coffee in the morning.”

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Once you’ve prepped the skin, but before you can apply your foundation, it’s time to determine the type of coverage you want, which will depend on a couple of different factors, such as the state of your skin and the weather.

Contrary to popular belief, your “natural” or “no-makeup makeup” look shouldn’t require a ton of products. Simply use a sheer, lightweight, and/or water-based formula, such as Make Up For Ever’s Ultra HD Perfector or Water Blend, so your skin can truly shine through.

Lujan’s only caveat is to avoid mattifying skin-prep products, as this will change the natural glow of your skin.

Natural satin coverage foundations can be sheered down to a very light coverage or built up to a medium/fuller coverage. They are versatile, can be used as concealer, highlight, and contour, and are available in a wide range of shades.

Matte (or medium to full coverage) foundations are the formulas you can rely on in times of complexion crisis.

skin care products cost a ton Expert Tips for Applying Liquid Foundation Flawlessly


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Like coverage, how you choose to apply liquid foundation simply comes down to personal preference.

Beauty Sponge:  Sheerest Application of Them All

Before using a beautyblender or other makeup sponge, saturate and squeeze it out with water. This will ensure you get a smooth application without absorbing all of your foundation product.

“Begin by dotting your foundation in that areas that need the most coverage. Next, a bouncing action is the way to go. Use your sponge in a soft bouncing motion to stretch your product from the areas of coverage, outward,” says Lujan. “Build coverage by allowing the product to self-set, then applying another layer with the same technique.”

Remember to avoid swiping as that will just remove the product.

Fingers: Quick and easy, but a bit more coverage

First, make sure your hands are clean and sanitary. Then start by dotting the foundation in the areas that need the most coverage. Then dab and swipe outward and down. The outward and down motion will help smooth down peach fuzz.

“The more you work the foundation with your hands, the more coverage you will build. Use this knowledge to your benefit. If you need extra coverage in areas, work the foundation in your hands for a bit to build the coverage then dab and pat in the areas of concern,” says Lujan.

Flat Foundation Brush: Professional, Precise, Perfected Coverage

Although we love a bargain, remember that when it comes to brushes, you get what you pay for. Inexpensive or poorly manufactured brushes fall apart, lose fibers, and create unwanted texture, so choose wisely. If you prefer applying your foundation with a flat brush, Lujan recommends Make Up For Ever’s Artisan Brush #108 for a precise, professional result.

“Start by dotting foundation in the areas that need the most coverage first. Next, with the flat side of the brush, using light pressure, stretch your foundation outward and down. This motion tends to hug the muscles and shape of the face nicely, while smoothing down peach fuzz at the same time,” he says. “You can always load a little extra foundation on the brush and gently dab to build additional coverage in areas of concern.”

The added benefit of a flat brush is that its shape will allow you to get closer to the hairline, brows, eye area and also lip line.

Fluffy Buffing Brush: Quick and airbrushed finish

On the other hand, if you want coverage on a time crunch, a buffing brush, such as Make Up For Ever’s Artisan Brush #122, can speed up the process and give a quick and even application.

“For this application, dot foundation where you need the most coverage first and the quickly buff in circular motions outward and down with a light pressure,” says Lujan. “To build coverage, give the foundation a few seconds to set between layering.”