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6 Tricks to applying foundation like a makeup artist


We might not all be Kardashians and have a glam squad on call 24/7. But with some expert tips and tricks, celeb-worthy makeup is attainable for anyone.

Foundation is the building block of any solid beauty look, and yet it mystifies so many. From finding the right shade to knowing which formula to use, creating the perfect foundation look can be tricky. But no more! We recruited top makeup artist Robert Greene to share insider secrets to a flawless foundation application. Every single time.

1. You should always, always, always color test

Finding a foundation to match your skin tone is the first step to creating an expert beauty look. “Spot-test the foundation on the back of your hand, your chest, or on your jawline,” says Greene. “You want the color to disappear into your skin. If you don’t see it, then you know you have the right color.”

More: 10 Makeup hacks that will make you a beauty genius

2. Foundation formulas are not created equal

Another thing to take into consideration is the type of formula of foundation you choose. From pressed to liquid, determining your best option can be tricky. “If your skin is oily, lean towards foundations that have a matte finish like a matte pressed powder foundation,” explains Greene. “They offer great coverage and have oil-absorbing properties.”

More: How to choose the right foundation for your skin

Liquid foundations are buildable and are more suitable for a variety of skin types. Liquid foundation formulas are also great for someone with sensitive skin, as they can be worn sheer, Greene says. For dry skin, no matter what formula you choose, Greene recommends building your foundation in layers with a wet sponge. “This helps to add extra moisture to the skin,” he explains.

3. It takes more than just foundation

The real secret to foundation that lasts throughout the day begins with prep. Think of your face as a blank canvas you must prep in order for the paint (in this case makeup) to look how you want. Before applying makeup, Greene says skin should be clean and moisturized. He prefers cleansing skin with a gentle cleanser like Bioderma Sensibio H2O (, $13). Next, he recommends applying a thick layer of moisturizer all over the face and neck. Lastly, Greene says to spray skin with thermal water to work the moisturizer into the skin more. Once skin is air dried, he says it’s ready for foundation.

4. The motion you apply your foundation in matters

The actual how of applying foundation varies based on the formula you choose. For liquid foundation, apply in layers. “Start out in small increments and build one layer at a time,” Greene says. “Most liquid foundations offer good coverage, so build your foundation until you’re comfortable with the coverage.” Remember, you want your foundation to be seamless and invisible, so often times less is more. This philosophy will also keep skin from looking cakey if paired with setting powder.

In general, using a buffing technique, especially with liquid formulas, will guarantee an even, natural-looking coverage. “This really allows the makeup to be worked into the skin allowing your skin to shine through,” Greene explains.

More: Why wearing foundation might be healthier than going makeup free

For powder foundation, Greene says it’s best to use a sponge in a stippling motion, slowly working from the center of the face outwards. Be sure to leave areas that don’t need as much coverage free from makeup to get a natural finish to the skin. This application technique will also help avoid looking too powdery or ghostly.

But of course whatever you’re comfortable with is the best application option. “In the end, whatever method works for you is what you should go with,” he says. “What we want is a natural flawless finish, however we achieve it!”

5. There are different tools for different finishes (and skin types)

If you’ve ever walked down the tools section of Sephora, you know there is a brush for just about everything. But which one to use is really up to you. “This is purely personal preference,” says Greene, who personally prefers a buffing brush, thanks to its natural finish.

More: 6 Serum foundations for an effortless ‘no makeup’ look

But brushes aren’t the only option on the market. Blending sponges are also great for building and blending foundation. Because a blending sponge is meant to be used damp, it gives a very natural glossy finish to the skin, explains Greene. “A blender is also great if you have acne-prone skin, since we want to stipple when we apply the foundation, versus smoothing or buffing like we would with a brush,” he says. This stippling motion is more gentle and less irritating on skin.

6. The worst mistake you can make is to not banish “the mask”

Lastly, if you want your foundation to look Kardashian worthy, you’ll need to banish the dreaded foundation “mask.” The mask is the result of failing to properly blend in foundation around the hairline, ears, neck and creases. “Blend the foundation under your jawline and onto your neck smoothing downwards, blending out until it disappears,” Greene explains. To banish the mask effect in small, hard-to-reach places like the nose or eyes, simply use your fingertips or a fluffy eyeshadow brush to buff in foundation.

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