Makeup Artist Techniques: Foundation

I recently did a current list of my top 3 foundations, and I wanted to follow that up by talking about foundation a little more; what foundation to choose, application methods, etc. I therefore decided to start an MUA techniques series, to compile, compare and share some makeup techniques that most makeup artists recommend. For this first article of the series I will therefore focus on foundation.

Choosing the right foundation 
A general rule with makeup is to get to know your skin type. Besides your intended use and the environment/climate surrounding you, skin type the most important factor on which you should base your foundation choice.

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My current foundation contains SPF, and is adapted to the current state of my skin

Dry skin will thank you for a hydrating foundation. Many brands offer formulas that include hydrating agents such as hyaluronic acid, oils and even witch hazel.
Combination skin is more forgiving in terms of foundation, as it tends to take most types rather well. A good rule of thumb is to use a foundation also containing hydrating agents, but avoid oil based foundations which tend to cause breakouts and emphasize oily areas.
For oily skin, makeup artists recommend a mattifying foundation that is oil-free, to limit shine and promote coverage. Some formulas that include salicylic acid, which is used to control breakouts and prevent them; again, this will vary from user to user, so don’t expect your foundation to cure your hormonal acne 🙂

In short, these are some of the ingredients you want to look for depending on your skin type, but it’s important to remember that any product may cause breakouts and allergic reactions due to any other ingredients. It’s recommended to do an allergy test, and most importantly watch closely how your skin reacts to new products, and remember your skin type can change due to environmental, hormonal and other factors.

Prepping the skin
Now that you have your foundation, you might find yourself wondering how to use it. But before application, it’s important to always prep and prime your skin, which will promote a smooth application and contribute to getting the best results possible.

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Current primer is the Instant Pore Eraser from Maybelline and daytime moisturizer is by Clinique

Skin type once again plays a big role; a face cream adapted to your skin type will further improve the properties of your foundation by creating an already enhanced base. A thin layer is recommended to avoid product build up on the skin, but it’s definitely necessary to create a barrier against potential harmful effects from wearing makeup.

Prepped and primed.

Primer is a second supportive step if you want your skin to hold the foundation for a longer period of time. Most primers will feel tacky after application, since they are used to stick the product on the skin. I personally find this to be an unnecessary step most of the time, mainly because I don’t want to multiply the amount of certain ingredients like PEG and parabens, which can be harmful for the skin. But if you absolutely need it (photo shoot, long night or extreme weather), then go for a silicone free formula to avoid breakouts.

Choosing the right tool
Next, you’ll want to choose the right tool. This is definitely a matter of preference among makeup artists and professionals. Some will prefer using their fingers, while other will recommend using a makeup tool, namely a makeup brush or sponge.

Most times I prefer a stippling brush or a Beauty Blender

While the tips of ours fingers are a natural tool that help work the foundation in, brushes and sponges also do a good job, except for coverage which may be reduced if product is absorbed into your tool. Best is to choose tools that don’t absorb much product, such as duo fiber stippling brushes or the famous Beauty Blender, of which the composition is kept secret but which is widely popular among makeup users (and for good reasons).

Foundation application should always start at the center of the face. This is the areas where most people experience discoloration, blemishes and redness, and generally things they may want to cover or correct.

Duo fiber brushes are a great tool for combination-dry skin, but affordable options can be hard to come by.

It’s important to start with a small amount, as it’s easier to build up product than to take it off without having to start over. Building up coverage is of course possible if you want to cover acne or scars, but I will talk about that in another article on colour correction. In soft stippling motions, bring the product around to the cheeks, chin and forehead. A skin care tip here is to work your foundation in upward motions to minimalize the effects of pulling and tugging on the skin. This goes for all tools of application.

“Practice what you preach!” #babyhairfoundation

Pay attention to creased areas such as around the nose, along the jawlines and under the chin. Always blur the edges along your hairline and bring your foundation down to the neck. In natural lighting, you can always see where your foundation shade blends with your natural tone.

Finishing touches
Now that your foundation is in place, you want to help it stay that way for at least a few hours, so a good habit is to set your foundation using powder.

The drugstore is full of great powder brushes and powders. I love the E.L.F. Complexion Brush and the Maybelline Fit Me in 120 Classic Ivory.

Check for any excess product that might be sitting in creases, and dab it away using a tissue or q-Tip. I personally skip the powder on most days, thanks to my mostly dry-to-combination skin. On hot summer days, I find my t-zone needs some mattifying help, however.
After applying your foundation, wait a few seconds before using your powder, to find out how much has been absorbed into your skin before setting it. The reason this is recommended is that the bottom layer of your makeup will eventually sink into your skin, so it’s a good way to avoid your foundation doing what is commonly known as “caking up”; this is when your top layer begins to crack and expand, giving an unnatural result. I do prefer using setting sprays after I’m done with the rest of my makeup; you can check out my favorites here.


That’s it for this first of the MUA Techniques series!

Let me know in the comments if there are any techniques you would like me to include in a future article. I hope you found this one helpful!

The Foundry girl.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I purchased all products myself, and my views are based on my own experience.


3 thoughts on “Makeup Artist Techniques: Foundation

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