Foundation Application: 10 Mistakes Most Of Us Are Making (And 10 Things We're Doing Right)

Most of us find ourselves stressing about specific makeup techniques such as applying the perfect winged eyeliner or knowing exactly where to contour and highlight. What we should be doing instead, is putting as much effort and emphasis on the basics as we do with the more complex, detail-oriented parts of our makeup routines. Putting foundation is essentially like setting up a canvas for the real artistry. Think of yourself as a Michelangelo of makeup, you have to prep and plan your routine before you get down to the masterpiece itself.

We often don't even bother educating ourselves on proper foundation application, since we assume it's just so simple. In reality, there are many factors that come into play when applying the perfect foundation since you want it to seamlessly blend into your skin unnoticed. We've rounded up a list of 10 common mishaps we make with our foundation, such as applying it with our fingers or wearing the same shade year-round, and 10 things we're absolutely doing correctly, such as knowing what type of applicator to use for the desired effect we're after. Read on to find yourself knowing exactly how to prep your canvas for the most beautiful painting of all - you!

20 Foundation Don't: Applying It With Your Fingers


We know, a lot of us are guilty of this one. Applying foundation with your fingers seems really easy, and we've watched so many YouTube makeup gurus do it as well. However, unless you're an absolute pro at makeup application, you should find yourself using something a bit more accurate, as your fingers can sometimes leave really bold and noticeable lines on your skin.

Instead, opt for a brush or a sponge such as a Beauty Blender.

If you go for a brush, blend the foundation in circular motions, as per Stylecaster. This will give you an airbrushed finish with less product. If you want a more dewy, natural look, use a sponge and dab, thus avoiding those harsh lines.

19 Foundation Do: You Can Use Multiple Foundations!


You shouldn't be afraid of blending and mixing liquids if need be. According to Cheat Sheet, it's totally fine to blend two foundations to get your perfect, custom shade. As skin tends to tan and get darker in the summer and remain lighter in the winter, this is a method that gives you a perfect color regardless of the season.

All you have to do is buy two foundations: one that's lighter than your skin tone and one that's darker. Then, start blending a few drops of each one on the back of your hand. Start testing your concoction on your jawline - you'll know you've found your perfect combination when the color blends seamlessly to your skin!

18 Foundation Don't: Using A Dry Beauty Blender


While we're already on the topic of using a Beauty Blender, we should know how to use it properly. The item that's been touted by makeup gurus everywhere as the perfect tool for foundation application is one that people truly misuse then chuck when they're not getting the ravishing results they're expecting.

The number one issue being, using it while it's dry.

As per Marie Claire, pro makeup artists use a damp sponge not only because it makes your foundation go on smoother, but because it's cost effective. Since a Beauty Blender is a sponge, having it damp means the foundation won't get absorbed by it. Before you start, get your sponge completely wet then squeeze out all the excess water. Start applying your makeup as necessary right after.

17 Foundation Do: Keeping Your Brushes Clean


Keeping your brushes clean isn't just for hygienic purposes. As per Byrdie, when they're dirty, your brushes actually leave streaks on your skin. This is a tell-tale sign of wearing makeup, a huge no-no when you want to trick everyone into thinking your foundation is actually your skin.

If you find yourself without a cleaner, simply grab a plate and put two parts antibacterial dish soap to one part extra-virgin olive oil. According to Popsugar, the soap will disinfect your brushes while the olive oil will condition them in the process. Then, grab your first brush and wet it slightly, proceeding then to dip it into your mixture and coat it. Work the mixture into the bristles using your hands and fingers, and continue until you're free of soapy residue.

16 Foundation Don't: Testing The Colour On Your Hands


We've all done it, walked into Sephora and been absolutely overwhelmed by the number of options when it comes to foundations. Rows and rows of shades and having no idea what to choose, we sometimes opt for testing different foundation tones on our arms. Instead, we should be testing on our jawlines, underneath our eyes, and around our noses to find that perfect match.

If you feel uncomfortable doing any of the above, just go up to Sephora's Pantone Colour IQ service.

According to Stylecaster, an employee will hold a gadget up to your face and identify exactly which foundations and brands work perfectly with your complexion.

15 Foundation Do: Using Concealer To Cover Up Your Dark Circles, Then Going Light On The Foundation


Foundation is meant to even out your complexion but still let your skin shine through, not cake it on. Since everyone is going for an au-naturel look, you're doing a great job by covering up your blemishes and dark circles, and then going light on the foundation, using it solely to even out your skin tone. Even better, you can even get a color correcting concealer to tackle any sort of redness as well. As per Cosmopolitan, use a yellow-based concealer for olive skin, pale pink to target spots on fair skin, and orangey-pink to cancel out spots on dark skin.

14 Foundation Don't: Applying Concealer Under Your Foundation


The purpose of a concealer is to conceal whatever blemishes or insecurities you may have on any given day. What you don't want it doing, is nothing at all, or even worse, accentuating them.

When you apply concealer under your foundation, then apply foundation over top, you're actually thinning out the concealer that you placed on your problem areas.

Another issue is to overapply your concealer over top of your foundation, causing it to cake and crease. The creases then make everything look more accentuated, such as attempting to cover up dark circles under your eyes. Instead, put your foundation on first, then proceed to add a very small layer of concealer wherever you deem necessary.

13 Foundation Do: Knowing Different Prepping Techniques, First


The way you prep your skin sets the tone for how your foundation will stay on throughout the whole day. Finding different techniques and what works best for you is very crucial to having long-term healthy skin. As per Allure, skincare is critical to achieving a glowy look. Celebrity makeup artist Matin uses face oil before priming skin and then following it up with foundation. Patrick Ta, on the other hand, combines face oil and moisturizer on cheekbones, chin, and the peak of your forehead for a completely natural glow.

If you find yourself without any face oil, another alternative is to mix some water into your foundation right before putting it on. It'll give your skin some moisture, giving you a nice, subtle sheen.

12 Foundation Don't: Forgetting To Prime Your Skin First


The horrendous realization mid-day that you're looking orange is all-too-familiar for some of us. Why is that, you may ask? As per Stylecaster, your foundation can change color as the pH in the oil of the skin mixes with the pigment in the foundation.

If you don't want this oxidation to happen, use a primer first your first line of defense!

Harking back to the idea of having a clean canvas ready for the real makeup, primer is essential in having a natural, clean look. Not only does it create a smoother and more hydrated surface, it'll also hold your makeup in place hours.

11 Foundation Do: You're Allowed To Use Multiple Primers!


It turns out, there are different varieties of primers out there for different skin tones. If you have combination skin that's normal in most areas but oily in some, you can actually combine two different primers! Makeup artist Daniel Chinchilla told Cheat Sheet that mixing two different primers gets you a cocktail of benefits. He recommends putting an oil controlling primer just in your T-zone and sticking to a silicone-based one for the rest of your skin. Chinchilla makes a point to mention that while most people think they have oily skin, it's actually much more likely that it's simply combination!

10 Foundation Don't: Wearing The Same Shade Year-Round


Much like how you put away your winter clothes in time for the summer, you should also consider swapping out your foundation as the seasons change. As Mai Quynh explains to Teen Vogue,

"If you live someplace that experiences all four season, I recommend having a 'winter' foundation and a 'summer' foundation..."

"...Not only should you be thinking about how your skin color is darker in the warmer months thanks to the stronger sun, but humidity or dryness in the air also plays an important role." In the winter when your skin needs moisture, you can consider wearing a tinted moisturizer. In the summer, however, if you have oily skin, the moisturizer won't work well with the sweat and humidity going on as well.

9 Foundation Do: Knowing What Consistency To Use For Your Desired Finish


Knowing what sort of coverage you like the best is crucial for developing the sort of look you're going for. Generally, there are three types of coverage: sheer, medium, and full. If you go for sheer, try something like a skin tint or tinted moisturizer. If you still want to cover up some redness or blemishes, medium would be your optimal coverage. As for wanting a full face of makeup, go for something a little bit thicker and more opaque. If you're between shades, try a face test, swiping 3 similar shades on your face and seeing which one works best for you.

8 Foundation Don't: Slathering On A Thick Layer On Your Entire Face


With brands and people alike all jumping on the less-is-more makeup trend, you want your foundation to appear dewy and natural. The biggest mistake people make is slathering on a thick layer of foundation all over their faces, instead of only putting it on where they have to.

As per Teen Vogue, you should be applying makeup to wherever your face has more tissue.

This means that places, where your skin is thinnest such as your forehead or around the eyes, should get the thinnest amount of foundation. Areas such as cheeks or jaw should get more because the thickness of these areas can support a more opaque product.

7 Foundation Do: Using The Right Applicator For The Finish You Want


Just how you should know what sort of coverage you want to achieve a certain look, you should also know what applicator you want to use to get your desired finish as well! According to Stylecaster, going for a Beauty Blender will give you sheer coverage, bouncing as you put it on.

A flat foundation brush gives you precise and very professional coverage.

You first dot your foundation in areas that need the most coverage, then using the flat side of the brush, stretch. your foundation outward and down. Since the brush is flat, the shape lets you get into those hard-to-reach places near your hairline, brows, and eye area. Lastly, you can also opt to use a fluffy buffing brush, as that'll give you a quick and airbrushed finished throughout, using it to quickly buff in circular motions.

6 Foundation Don't: You're Setting it All Wrong


A lot of people use powder foundations on top of their liquid foundation underneath. Not only can this make it look caked on, but it can also make you more oily in the process. Alternatively, if you use too much translucent powder, it can make you look whiter, especially in photos. Try dusting only a light amount on top, and have blotting papers handy throughout the day to dab if need be. If you can skip any powder altogether, that's even better! According to Teen Vogue, using a makeup setting mist is a more useful alternative, as it also hydrates your skin in dry weather.

5 Foundation Do: Mixing It With An Illuminator For A Light Glow


Wondering how to get that naturally radiant and dewy look, without spending a fortune on balms, moisturizers, and liquid highlighters?

Drop a tiny amount of luminizer on the back of your hand, followed by a quarter-size amount of foundation, as directed by Cosmopolitan.

Then, blend them and apply all over your face. If you only want to highlight certain parts like your cheekbones or bridge of your nose, only apply the combination to those areas. The luminizer is a great option as opposed to typically highlighting your face, as it gives you a fresh-faced and youthful look.

4 Foundation Don't: It's Darker Than Your Neck

One tell-tale sign someone is a rookie at foundation application? Their face isn't the same shade as their neck.

A golden rule of putting on the foundation is to blend it into your neck and behind your ears, too, if the color isn't the perfect shade that matches them already.

Just be careful not to stain your clothes! As per some people suggesting using a foundation slightly darker for your face so you appear tanner? Just buy a bronzer and contour where the sun would naturally hit your face. If you want an ultra-realistic glow, try going for a liquid bronzer, it'll blend even easier into your skin.

3 Foundation Do: Starting From The Center Of Your Face And Working Outwards


When applying foundation, it's always best to start from the center of your face, on the apples of your cheeks, and move outwards, since it leaves you with the most natural, and least caked-on looking finish, as per Cosmopolitan. If you apply it from the edges and work inside, your foundation will be visible like a mask around the perimeter of your face. You can also skip the bridge of your nose since it's not really necessary to have any on there - it makes your freckles peek visible, too! Also keep in mind to skip the creases of your nostrils, because the foundation is known to cake there as the day goes on, making it even more visible.

2 Foundation Don't: Using The Wrong Undertone


This is a common issue that many of us don't even consider. Knowing your undertones are crucial in maintaining your skin looking healthy, and not tired or washed out. As per Refinery 29, "Women with darker skin especially should make sure that their foundation has the right undertone to prevent their skin from looking ashen. Yellow and red are predominant undertones for Indian, South Asian, and most Black women. Ebony tones — think Alek Wek — actually pull blue."

Again, you can always ask a Sephora employee in some help figuring this out.

Once you know what tone you have, shopping for makeup is so much easier, as some brands specifically cater to undertones!

1 Foundation Do: Knowing Exactly How To Fix Your Mistakes


The final, most important tip in foundation application is a combination of everything we've learned thus far. Knowing your skin and what works best for you is crucial for mishaps that happen to all of us. Sometimes, we accidentally end up overapplying too much foundation, making us look cakey and overdone. Cheat Sheet recommends that the easiest way to counteract your damage is to apply some moisturizer.

The easiest way to do this is to dip a large powder brush into a basic moisturizer, then proceed to sweep it over your skin the same way you would apply any powder. Easy!

References: Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, AllurePopsugar,

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