Luminous, dewy, bronzy, matte, semi-matte — as much as we love those adjectives, we really just want our foundation to make our skin look like, well, skin (minus the redness, acne scars, fine lines, and sun spots, natch). And while foundation can sometimes do a really good job of this, other times, not so much. Pigments settle into fine lines. Powders cake over blemishes. Textures clash. Shades don’t match. That foundation that you applied to make your skin look better, actually ends up making it look a lot worse.
No longer.We tapped top makeup pros for their tips on applying the most natural-looking foundation possible. Click ahead for a no-makeup makeup masterclass — and never curse out your pigments again.
How To Make Foundation Look Like Skin
Prep, Prep, & Then Prep Some More
You know how you typically slap on some moisturizer, maybe a primer, and get straight to work with the tinted stuff? Yeah, makeup artists never do that. “Backstage, skin can be a 20-30 minute process then the makeup is two minutes,” says Tim Quinn, makeup artist and national director of creative artistry for Armani Beauty.
Most artists start with a soothing toner or mask (makeup artist Molly Stern loves Jurlique’s Rosewater Mist), then they massage in oils, serums, face creams, and eye creams in small, circular motions — waiting a few minutes between each step to allow them to settle. “If you don’t have proper hydration in the skin and you go to put on foundation, that’s when your skin freaks out,” says Quinn.
Dehydrated skin will suck up any moisture in the product and end up making it looking fake and obvious, Stern adds. If you have oily skin, continue with your regular routine but don’t skimp on that massage, which boosts circulation and makes the skin look brighter and better.
Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist, $35, available at Jurlique.
Rethink Your Primer
Just because it’s called primer doesn’t mean you should smear it all over your face. Makeup artist Daniel Chinchilla (who works with Ariana Grande) recommends cocktailing formulas — smooth on an oil-controlling primer in the T-zone and a silicone-based one for the rest of the face. (He loves using Smashbox Photo Finish Primer and CoverFx Mattifying Primer.)
“Most people who have oily skin really have some form of combination skin,” says Chinchilla. “And if you put a matte primer over a dry area, it will take away the moisture and make it look cakey.”
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, $36.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
If you want to give off the impression of being au natural with coverage, that doesn’t necessarily mean foregoing most routine steps.
Without some bronzer (or even very subtle highlight), your face can appear 2D as opposed to supple and healthy.
Swipe on some of the darker shade and blend out to reveal depth to your bone structure before applying foundation.
Wander Beauty On-The-Go Bronzer and Illuminator, $45, available at Sephora.
Go Drop By Drop
The majority of women use way too much foundation, says Quinn. If you can, buy a foundation with a dropper rather than a pump — as one pump typically over-dispenses product (and you’ll feel guilty wasting it). Blend a few small drops from the center of the face outward with a damp Beautyblender or a damp (yes, damp) foundation brush.
“That keeps it from soaking up the product and makes it look more natural, not like you tried to cover something,” says Quinn. And resist the urge to lay down a full foundation. Just apply it in the areas you need it, says Quinn. “It’s meant to perfect, not to mask.”
Beautyblender The Original, $20, available at Sephora.