Ahhh foundation, it is the quintessential love/hate relationship. We love it because it is the one thing we do that makes us look like we really did wake up like this! But we hate it because there are hundreds of different options, shades, formulation, and finishes. Well grab some tea and cookies cause we are about to break this down.
The biggest thing that people do wrong with foundation is not knowing what YOU want. Tons of Makeup Artist or friends can tell you what is hot right now or what product they use, but if that is not how you want your skin to look, it’s not going to work period! The way I am going to break down this topic for you is by how you should pick your foundation. There is no right, there is no wrong, and it might take a few sample tries to figure out how you really want your foundation to look but once you do (AAHAHHHH the angels sing)
Step 1: The Finish
Matte Finish: This finish is the flattest of finishes. There is zero shine, almost a powdery look to your skin. These types of foundations tend to be medium to full coverage. The best skin group to use this is oily or combo. If you have very dry skin I would moisturize well before using, because it can enhance the look of dry skin patches once this type of foundation is on.
Natural Finish: This is a my skin but better finish. It is one level up on the shine spectrum from matte. This finish can come in all types of coverage and if you are starting out with foundation this is the easiest finish to choose. Most BB and CC creams come in this finish.
Radiant Finish: Can also be called Satin Finish. It is two levels up on the shine spectrum. It will give your skin a healthy radiant just out of the sun glow. It can come in every type of coverage. Perfect foundation for spring and summer. This is also a great finish for mature skin. A lot of the times mature women’s skin can lose elasticity and glow, but with this finish of foundation it can really revive the skin. Also if you are oily then powder your T zone.
Dewy Finish: The highlighted skin on fleek coverage. This is the top of the shine spectrum. Many people love this type of finish because it really makes their skin look hydrated and glowing. If you are oily or have acne this glow may emphasize those things so be careful and sample before you buy. This is another great option for mature and very dry skin types.
Step 2: Pick your Coverage
BB/CC Creams: 2 out of 10 in coverage. They are the new version of a tinted moisturizer. If you are someone who is blessed with good skin (I am jello) then this small amount of coverage will be great. It just slightly evens out your skin tone and most have SPF. A perfect summer foundation for those looking for small coverage, hydration and SPF.
Sheer Coverage: 3 out of 10 in coverage. This is what some may call a clean base. It will even out your skin, hide a small amount of imperfections, but not acne or scarring. If you are new to foundation, have more mature skin, a teenager or just starting makeup this is your target coverage. You can build it up if you need to in areas, but a good starter.
Medium Coverage: 6 out of 10 in coverage. This is the coverage type a majority of the foundations brands put out. The reason for that is you can put less on and it will be sheer. Or put two layers on and build it up to be full coverage. Medium Coverage will cover light acne and a bit of scarring.
Full Coverage: 10 out of 10 in coverage. Expect to have a new layer of skin on if you choose full coverage foundation. Start out with less product than you think you need and build up in spots that might need more coverage. Sometimes full coverage takes a min to sink into your skin so really push the products well into you’re your skin and wait a few mins before you move on with your makeup. This step allows you to have a less likely chance of getting cake face. This will cover acne, scarring, freckles and anything else you are not a fan of on your face. Also great for photos and events to make you look extra flawless.
Step 3: Applicators
Beauty Blenders: Also called Makeup Sponges. Do not confuse that word for the crappy white sponge that everyone used in the 90’s. Throw those out!! NOW! Beauty Blenders hit the market a few years ago and made a big splash (sponge, splash, get it lol). The great thing about beauty sponges is 1) they make application of products so much easier and more seamless. You have a less likely chance of the products looking like it is sitting on your skin. 2) They can really take one foundation and change up how it looks on your skin. 3) You can use it for more than just foundation. You can use it for primers, foundation, concealer, power application, baking, cream blush and bronzer, cream highlight or just dabbed on top of a powder highlight to make it super shiny. My favorite Beauty sponges are the Real Techniques Sponge, seen below, and the black Beauty Blender Pro.
How to Use: There are two ways to use a beauty blender on any product. Try it both ways and see how you feel.
- Wet: Take your beauty sponge and run it under water. Makes sure you are squeezing it the whole time, like you would a dry kitchen sponge. It should grow to be twice the size. Then ring it out. Using a towel or napkin, squish all excess water out of it. This is what people call using your makeup sponge damp or wet. When you watch makeup tutorials and they say I apply my foundation with a damp beauty blender that is what they mean. When the beauty blender is damp, take the foundation and dot it around your face. Take the sponge and really push it into your skin in a pouncing motion, this will keep your foundation at a fuller coverage. If you want to thin it out a bit, swipe the makeup around like you would with a brush and it will take down the coverage just a bit.
- Dry: Most people do not use them dry as they tend to soak up more product when you are applying liquids. But there are a few instances where I think the dry sponge comes in handy. If you are trying to cover up a larger zit I find that if I blend out my concealer with the dry sponge I get a fuller coverage with less amount of concealer and it doesn’t look like a little mound of makeup. Also if you are applying a cream blush, a dry sponge helps press it onto your skin and give you a hint of blush vs a neon pink cheek. Finally, if you accidently put too much foundation on just take your dry sponge and press it into your skin all over for a minute or two. It will soak up all the extra foundation for you. Cake face gone!
Synthetic Hair Kabuki Brush: These are about as popular and user friendly as a brush can get. Most Kabuki brushes look similar they are rounded with two toned synthetic hairs that are tightly packed. One of those brushes that you pick up and can’t believe how soft they are. I have tried several of these brushes, because let’s face it every brand has made their own version of it by now, but my two favorites are the Real Techniques Brush, seen below, and Morphe Deluxe Buffer. Both are at great prices and just make my application flawless and super easy to clean. * I know the Sigma Kabuki is very popular, I own it, but it sheds 24/7, soaks up tons of product, and I feel like it never gets super clean. Not worth the money in my opinion. *
How to Use: This by far is such a simple brush to create a beautiful base. I first take my foundation and dot it evenly all over my face. Take your brush and blend the foundation in small circles all over your skin. Make sure you bring the color down your jaw line to your neck. Once my whole face is covered in foundation, I then go in for my second round with the brush and push the product into places on my face that need a bit more coverage ( my nose, chin and forehead). Blend until your little heart feels the foundation has become one with your face. You can use this type of brush for concealer blending. Or if I happen to go a big heavy handed with my bronzer or blush I run this brush around the perimeters of the products and soften it a bit without putting more product on my face.
Duo Hair Brush: I know that most people do not use duo fiber brushes for foundation but instead for a thin application of powders (blush, face powder and highlighters). However I do think it can have a seat at the table with foundation brushes. This is the optimal brush for people who want the no makeup/ makeup look. Really blends BB/CC creams in so well. My favorite is super cheap but works like a dream, the Elf large Stippling Brush, seen below.
How to use: With this type of brush it will give you the sheerest amount of coverage possible because the brush hairs are so lightly packed. Instead of dotting the liquid foundation all over my face, I instead work in sections of the face. Apply the amount you want to one section at a time, I always do chin, cheek, nose, cheek then forehead. Similar to the kabuki brush rub the products into your skin in circular motions until it is totally blended out.
Paddle Foundation Brush: I am adding this brush to the list not because I think you should buy it, but because brands quickly try to sell this brush to people but never teach them how to use it. I honestly think this brush is a waste of time. If you have one of the three products above you don’t need this. This type of brush is used a lot by Pro’s because they understand how to use it and have the time to use it.
CONS: This brush makes putting on foundation twice as long. You have to work in very small sections and make sure your swiping motions of the product are not too big or you get brush marks on your face. If you have acne or a lot of texture to your skin I find that this makes the foundation lay on top of it vs. blending and becoming one with the skin.
PROS: The positive to this type is that because you have to work slowly and precisely you will get the highest amount of coverage possible. If you have severe acne on your face, this might be a brush to think about. If you apply a layer of foundation on the acne with this brush then go over your whole face with a second layer of foundation with a Kabuki or sponge it can be a concealing superhero.
Leave comments below on your favorite Foundations and Application products